The Flower of Abundance

“The marigold, that goes to bed wi’ the sun and with him rises weeping”, wrote Shakespeare. In our region, marigold water is used as a facial wash for Đurđevdan (Saint George’s Day). In the West, it was believed that marigold water rubbed into the eyes could make one see fairies. Since time immemorial, girls used to give this flower to their suitors not to pine after them. If the plant failed to grow in a girl’s garden that would mean that she would pine after someone. Girls thus needed Marigold to show them the way to the right partner. The power of marigold to cure love pains can be traced to Ancient Greek mythology – a young girl falls in love with Apollo, the Sun god, but his rays burn her and what is left behind are only marigold flowers. That is why it has been believed for a long time that marigold has the power to heal the pain of unrequited or lost love.

Long wreaths of yellow marigold flowers can be seen all over the place during Indian holidays and at Indian weddings. Since they were brought there by the Portuguese, people have worn those festive wreaths around the neck and have been decorating their houses to attract prosperity. Early Christians used marigold during celebrations dedicated to the Virgin Mary, hence its English name, marigold – Mary’s gold. Its scientific name, Calendula officinalis, is associated with a heavenly remedy. No wonder, as its healing properties are numerous.

The Aztecs regarded marigold as a sacred plant, and a legend has it that where innocent victims of the Spanish conquest fell marigold grew.  In Mexico it is used on Day of the Dead, 1 November, in order to show the souls of the dead the way to the altar. In olden times in England, marigold had another superstitious use – it was placed under the bed as protection against thieves; if robbery still took place, marigold would give the victims visionary dreams to help them identify the miscreants.

No wonder this plant is woven into the mythology of many a nation: marigold is full of the magic of abundance, from the moment when it flowers in early spring, throughout the summer up to late autumn, remaining yellow and cheerful all this time. It grows in many types of soil, in different climates, it is self-pollinating and does not require much care. This is how it gives us a lesson about both physical and mental vitality and reveals the secret of abundance, as if whispering to us that no matter what situation we find ourselves in, we should always flower, turn to the Sun and never give up.

Marigold is a plant with a potentially longest and most diverse application throughout history. The German Commission E (a scientific advisory board of the German Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices) has confirmed its medicinal properties used in wound healing and for soothing inflammations. That is only one of many applications of this incredible plant. Let’s see what it can do:

  • the estrogenic effect of marigold helps women balance the menstrual cycle, reduce discharge, candida, protect the uterus, relieve the symptoms of menopause, and soothe breast pain and mastitis in breastfeeding women;
  • it is great in dermatology: it soothes skin inflammations, hives, eczema, psoriasis, seborrhoea, herpes, baby rash, ulcers, it moisturises the skin and prevents dandruff, relieves itching from insect bites, prevents infections and pressure sores in bed-ridden patients, protects burnt skin and helps its healing, and is also beneficial for mucous membranes and in gingivitis;
  • it occupies a special place in cosmetics: it prevents and heals acne, tightens, softens and nourishes the skin, both face and body; it rejuvenates, it reduces the appearance of wrinkles, closes enlarged pores, protects from the sun, removes age spots and pigmentation;
  • it is excellent in diets as it helps to flush out excess water from the body, it stimulates the lymphatic system, increases sweating, detoxifies the body and increases metabolism;
  • it has a beneficial effect on the digestive system: it calms the stomach, soothes cramps, gastritis, stomach and duodenum ulcers, cleanses the liver and the gallbladder;
  • it is excellent for blood vessels, it has a soothing effect on varicose veins and bruises, it is good for arteriosclerosis, it reduces cholesterol, improves circulation, calms palpitations and is extremely efficacious against haemorrhoids;
  • cold marigold infusion is used as an eye rinse, against inflammations and conjunctivitis;
  • it strengthens the immunity, it has antibacterial, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-cancerous and anti-carcinogenic effect; latest research shows that it is effective in fighting HIV.

It is also used outside herbal medicine: marigold’s natural colour is used as a food additive, which has given it the name of “a pauper’s saffron”. Marigold is edible and is full of vitamins C and A; its petals can be added to salads, or in its dried form it can be used as a spice. Marigold is also known in folklore as a natural barometer: if its flowers are closed in the morning it will definitely rain.

Apart from being very therapeutic, marigold flowers embody the image of abundance with their beauty and scent. Its magic shines like the sun: always and everywhere.

Marigold is the inevitable ingredient of Herba Svet products: in Femisan A it protects women in their reproductive age; in Femisan B it helps to reduce the symptoms of menopause. In Equigal, it is used to help detox the body, to shed extra weight and reduce cellulite, while in Devi skin regeneration balm all its dermatological and cosmetic powers are present.

A Cup of Grandma’s Mint Tea a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

To understand the delightful scent of the mint herb (Mentha) and its healing properties we must go back to ancient times and Greek mythology. Myths and deities were pretty much like today’s soap operas: filled with intrigue, happy or unrequited love, infidelity and revenge. Such was the story of the famous couple, Hades and Persephone.

Hades, today mostly known as the Underworld, the world of the dead, in ancient Greek times, however, was a god, later called Pluto in ancient Rome. His two brothers, Zeus, the god of the sky and thunder, and Poseidon, the god of the sea were both attractive and desirable, but the goddesses were not really mad about Hades. He was in love with Persephone, but he had to kidnap her to make her marry him. However, the story didn’t end there. Despite being in love with Persephone, the lustful Hades was restless, and very soon the beautiful nymph Minthe caught his eye. Enraged by Hades’ infidelity, Persephone took revenge on Minthe by turning her into a plant. Hades, miserable for not having the power to reverse the spell, gave Minthe a delightful scent that would lavish anyone walking on her green leaves.

Hades also had his temple at the foot of the mountain Minthe in ancient Elis, and throughout history, he had been passed on from myth to myth until he ended up in Christianity as the place where the souls of sinners go. And what happened to Minthe? Called Meta in Rome, she was the symbol of the metamorphosis of beauty. But, as she sailed from myth into reality, turning into the fragrant and delightful plant called mint, it has become an integral part of our lives.

Mint has been used since prehistoric times; from the ancient Egyptians, through Hippocrates, Dioscorides, Pliny, Islamic medicine and Serbian herbalists, all the way to modern industry. Whether used as a herbal tea or in chewing gums it has become indispensable. The fact that associated it with Hades in ancient times was that, along with rosemary and myrtle, it was an essential part of funeral rites.

The classification of genus Mentha contains many species, but the ones most important to us are the wild mint, Mentha spicata, better known as spearmint used in toothpastes and chewing gums, and Mentha piperita, also known as peppermint. It was as early as the 14th century that mint ended up in a toothpaste, and in the 17th century the famous English herbalist, Nicholas Culpepper used its healing properties to treat over 40 ailments.

It is no accident that in Serbia, the word “nana” is used for both the plant and as a nickname for grandma. Grandma is always there when we are in pain, to comfort us with her warmth and gentleness. Just like what a healthy cup of mint tea does to our body. But whether it be made by our grandma or by a scientist in a laboratory, the undeniable fact is that this herb has exceptional antimicrobial properties and a very beneficial effect on the gastrointestinal tract and nervous system. According to experts, its ingredients that make wonders are: pulegone, menthon, isomenton, menthol, borneol and piperitone. Mint as a remedy is not just an old wives’ tale. It has been scientifically proven to be of help for digestive disorders. Menthol relaxes intestinal muscles, thus relieving the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, which has been confirmed in nine clinical studies with over 700 participants. It is also an excellent remedy for indigestion, abdominal pains and cramps, bloating, gases, belching, nausea and diarrhea.

The German Commission E, which regulates the use of medicinal herbs in this country, has approved mint leaf for the treatment of cramps in the gastrointestinal tract, bile and for the alleviation of gases in the intestines. The wonderful scent that Hades had bestowed upon the nymph Minthe is really powerful: a study with 144 participants proved that peppermint oil improves memory and alertness. It also reduces fatigue, anxiety and frustration. When inhaled, mint oil helps relieve cold symptoms. And we all know that a mint successfully kills bad breath.

Apart from being therapeutic, mint can also be used in cooking: it can be added to lemonades, sauces, salads and cocktails. In hair treatment, a mint infusion strengthens the hair and gives it gloss, and mint leaves added to our bath help us relax and sleep better. Dried sprigs of mint and lavender will get rid of moths in the closet.

It is the beneficial properties of mint in treating digestion disorders that made this plant become a part of Equigal – the all-natural preparation based on 6 medicinal plants that promotes digestion, eliminates constipation and gases, and prevents water retention. It is great for spring and autumn body cleanse and, as it reduces the feeling of hunger, it helps us reach the desired weight in a healthy way and get rid of cellulite. If you don’t believe it, ask your grandma!