Globally, there is a visible shift towards holistic health and wellbeing. Here’s how Marigolds protect us from heart diseases, cancer, along with promoting eye health and blood flow
Marigold, a bright colored commonly used flower in the Indian subcontinent is in fact a native of the Western Hemisphere. Of many different species (~50), only 2 species of marigold are edible – Calendula and Tagetes. The flower is highly valued as a healing herb and has various health benefits, that are enumerated below:
Lutein, a type of Carotenoid, found in the flower is an important Vitamin for maintaining eye health. It is an essential antioxidant for the eyes. Lutein, also has anti-inflammatory properties, which aids in protecting the eye tissues from sunlight. It is also known to improve or even prevent age-related macular disease which is the leading cause of vision impairment.
The extract of the flower contain chemical components known as triterpenes, flavonoids, polyphenols, and carotenoids comprise of anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties.
Marigold is rich in Carotenes and Carotenoids – the two compounds responsible for the flower’s vibrant yellow colour and many medicinal properties. These compounds also serve as precursors for the production of Vitamin A.
Lycopene found in marigold is reported to reduce the risk of prostate cancer and heart disease. The plant is also rich in Iodine, Carotene and Manganese, which promote skin cell regeneration.
Studies suggest that marigolds are capable of promoting growth of new and healthy tissues, increasing blood flow to the wounded area; hydrate dry skin; boost skin-strengthening collagen production and speed up the process of skin repair. Glycoproteins and Nucleoproteins, present in this flower support skin healing.
The flower’s antimicrobial and antiseptic properties are effective in treating sore throats and mouth ulcers. Gargling with marigold tea helps soothe the mucus membranes of the throat and eases the pain.
While these are the chemical constituents found in the flower and its plant, there are many other uses of the flower. In modern western culture, marigolds symbolize positive emotions and energy. They are effective in bringing joy and optimism owing to their vibrant colours, which probably is the reason for their inclusion in festivities in India.
The flower is also used as a trap crop especially for tomatoes, potatoes, and chilli pepper and its flowering herb is used in topical applications to stop the bleeding during hemorrhoids and piles. The flower is also used as a natural bug repellent to prevent insect bites.
Yet another key aspect is the economic impact the cultivation of the flowers bring; 10,000 acres of land cultivation, 45,000 tons of marigold production touching lives of approximately 9000 farmers and multiplying their income from INR 25,000-30,000 per acre to INR 2-3 lakhs per acre – this is was conceived and delivered in less than 10 years.
In 2010, the Association of Herbal and Nutraceuticals Manufacturers of India (AHNM) experimented and ventured for vertical integration of marigold flowers with 1,000 acres of land. Contract farming not only helped in obtaining the crop with the required specification and quality standards but most importantly, it brought huge economic benefit for the farmers.
Nature-based science and preventive care are gaining center stage. A variety of herbs and medicinal plants like marigold has immense potential either as a direct application or converting them into formulations. With increasing focus on health, it is becoming essential to dig deeper into the herbal heritage that is available to us. How many of us knew the benefits that marigold blooms with?
Globally, there is a visible shift towards holistic health and wellbeing. The consumption pattern is changing towards organic and natural health solutions. With a strong demand scenario, it is imperative to spread awareness about many such medicinal plants and herbs and their benefits. Turmeric, Ginger, Chillies, Black Pepper, Ashwagandha, or Coleus, etc are a few amongst many such herbs that are still underexplored. India is the dominant supplier of these and ranks among the top three producers in the world.
The need is to spread awareness about the health benefits of these medicinal plants, and supplements that use the extracts of these plants by converting them into edible formulations, available for consumption.
Marigolds protect a wide variety of plants from pests and weeds. It provides a protected environment for other plants to foster, similarly protecting our bodies and nurturing them.