Recently on one of the professional online forums I participate in, the fine herb Calendula was brought up and I thought I would post a part of the monograph from my upcoming book (2nd volume) on using Western herbs in Chinese medicine. Enjoy!
jīn zhăn jú (金盏菊)
Favor and Qi:
acrid, bitter, cool
Functions & Indications: Clears heat, quickens blood, engenders flesh for external application for wounds due to knocks and falls. The combination of clearing heat, moving blood, and engendering flesh gives calendula an important place in the materia medica. Wounds and trauma frequently lead to heat due to accumulation of blood and qi.
Clears heat, quickens blood, resolves toxicity, and engenders flesh for internal application for damaged tissue to do repletion (evil toxin) or yin vacuity heat. This application is essentially the same as above for external application. The use of this herb internally in this application uses all the same principles as above, but for application to the tissue of the stomach and intestines. See combinations below for delineation of usage.
Cautions: none noted.
Dosage and Preparation: 2-6g light decoction, 1-2ml fresh plant tincture, externally as a plaster or salve, also as an oil for use in the ear
Combine with chamomile and Oregon grape root for heat-toxin in the lower burner. Add golden seal and/or huang lian for complications associated with dampness.
Combine with plantain leaf and notoginseng for damp-heat toxin in the intestines with painful bloody stools. Add elecampane and trichosanthus root for watery stools with phlegm. Add bai zhi for more serious pain.
Combine with St. John’s wort and arnica for external application to knocks and falls
Combine with garlic and St. John’s wort for middle ear infections. For this an oil is prepared and applied via a cotton ball placed in the ear.
Commentary: Calendula is a classic medicinal in European herbal medicine and is one of the first herbs that many Western herbalists learn to use. It is found in an abundance of external preparations from skin care to hair care. It is also an important medicinal used to help heal tissue that has been damaged by chronic inflammatory conditions of the digestive tract. This common “pot herb” is found in many gardens in Europe and America and I have seen it beginning to be used in plantings in China. It is extremely easy to grow and is self seeding so once you plant it is will remain in your garden as long as you want it there and even when you don’t it can be very difficult to get rid of…haha.
Calendula is one of many plants that is under-utilized by many herbalists. It is well known (and used) for its external applications and yet internally it appears that many do not appreciate this medicinal. It has a very positive effect on heat in the stomach and intestines, and is especially useful when that heat is chronic and has led to accumulation of heat toxin and blood stasis. Thus, many of the chronic diseases seen clinically today such as IBS and (the other major bowel one) as well as chronic constipation will yield to this medicinal. This medicinal does not, however, have any marked effect on dampness and so must be combined with the appropriate medicinals to treat these diseases.
Translation of Available Source Material: This medicinal is considered bitter and cold and is said to clear heat and resolve toxin, and regulates menstruation. It is used to treat inner ear inflammation, and menstruation not regulated. The Yunnan Materia Medica also states that it quickens the blood. It is taken in 5-15 g doses as a decoction and the leaf is used externally to treat ear inflammation.