Sunday, 17 February 2019

Women Helping Women Isn't Just A Rallying Cry. It's Good Business

Women Helping Women

 Together is better than alone!

The power of community hasn’t always been clear to me. To this day, my parents like to tease me about how I was held back in kindergarten because I failed the sharing portion of the “curriculum” (I’m an only child, so cut me a tiny bit of slack here!).
In high school, I started to realize the power of the pack when I started my first business with my best friend. Party Professionals served food and cleaned up after our parents’ parties and got new “clients” through their friends. When it came to making a few extra bucks, we discovered that your network alone wasn’t as powerful as our combined network.

It’s been in recent years that I’ve come to realize the real power of the combined voice of women and the importance of helping and lifting your community. It’s everything from telling women’s success stories so that girls can #SEEHER to banding together to make collective impact like so many Women’s Marches have done in the past couple of years.
Among all the women I talk to, the overall sentiment is that the energy of women helping other women is at an all-time high. We’re in a moment where women are less competitive and more willing to help each other succeed. We’re all starting to understand that lifting each other up doesn’t mean you put yourself down.
Research backs it up, too: In a recent poll by Berlin Cameron and Ellevate Networks, an overwhelming 79% of respondents believe that women are supporting women now more than ever before. In another study by Berlin Cameron and Refinery29 called "This is Women’s Work: Stepping Up Startup Culture" and which was released at CES, we also found that female-led startups are two times as likely to turn to crowdfunding as a source of investment, and that women crave even more networking and mentorship opportunities with other successful women.
On the heels of launching LLShe at this year’s CES—a media platform designed to help women-led businesses founded on the need for more exposure, support and community for such businesses—I wanted to dig into the power of community a bit more, so I talked to a handful of female founders about what community means to them, and how we can use it to uplift and support other women:
Mentors are an important part of our successes. According to the Berlin Cameron and Refinery29 study, 50% of women responded that they are more comfortable at work when they have a mentor to look up to. Everyone I spoke to felt the same way. “A community is a group of people who are active participants in your success, and having a personal board of advisors in your corner helps you to move faster, make better decisions and be more confident overall,” says Kristy Wallace, CEO of Ellevate Network.
We network differently than men—and female connections are our secret weapons. A recent study from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that high-performing women have one thing in common: they have a tight-knit circle of other women who help them with “gender-specific private information and support.” In other words, questions about work culture, hostility towards women and gender diversity. The study found that women with a tight female-dominated inner circle had a job placement level 2.5 times higher than women with a male-dominated inner circle. It’s more important than ever that we build these important relationships with other women.
Look outside the usual suspects to make connections. You may think that you should only network with people within your industry, but having a diverse group of connections can be rewarding too. “When women get in front of each other and realize that even if they’re in different fields they have the same struggles, that’s where the magic happens,” says fashion designer and co-founder of the Female Founder Collective Rebecca Minkoff. “Getting advice from someone who isn’t doing what you’re doing every day can be really helpful.”

Saturday, 16 February 2019

Do Schools Kill Creativity?

Sir Ken Robinson makes an entertaining and profoundly moving case for creating an education system that nurtures (rather than undermines) creativity. This talk was presented at an official TED conference, and was featured by our editors on the home page.

About the speaker Sir Ken Robinson · Author, educator Creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson challenges the way we're educating our children. He champions a radical rethink of our school systems, to cultivate creativity and acknowledge multiple types of intelligence.

Friday, 15 February 2019

Top Tips to Cope With Seasonal Affective Disorder

Beat the Winter Blues

 Valuable information about this debilitating condition!

Story at-a-glance

  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that occurs seasonally, typically ramping up in the fall and winter months and disappearing come spring
  • An estimated 20 percent of Americans are affected by SAD each winter
  • Common SAD symptoms include oversleeping, intense carbohydrate cravings, overeating and weight gain. Some people also have trouble concentrating and withdraw socially
  • Two of the most important treatment strategies for SAD are optimizing your vitamin D level and sun exposure. Light therapy has been established as the best available treatment for SAD
  • Other lifestyle strategies that can be helpful in the treatment of SAD include exercise, eating a healthy whole food diet and getting sufficient amounts of marine-based omega-3 fats, optimizing your sleep and addressing your gut health. Energy psychology and cognitive behavioral therapy can also be effective
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that occurs seasonally, typically ramping up in the fall and winter months and disappearing come spring.1,2,3 It's been estimated4 that as many as 20 percent of Americans are affected by SAD each winter.
What differentiates SAD from regular depression is that a full remission occurs in the spring and summer months. Common SAD symptoms include oversleeping, intense carbohydrate cravings, overeating and weight gain. Some people also have trouble concentrating and withdraw socially, preferring to "hibernate" indoors instead of carrying on with their normal day-to-day activities.5
Dr. Norman Rosenthal, clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown University School of Medicine, was the first to describe SAD, writing in a 1984 journal article6 that the "depressions were generally characterized by hypersomnia, overeating and carbohydrate craving, and seemed to respond to changes in climate and latitude."
Indeed, rates of SAD vary depending on location, with people living farthest from the equator in northern latitudes being most susceptible. In the U.S., for instance, SAD affects just 1 to 1.4 percent of Floridians compared to 9.7 percent of people living in New Hampshire7 and 9 percent of Alaskans.8

The Importance of Vitamin D

Many have become familiar with the importance of sun exposure for optimizing your vitamin D level,9 and there is research showing that not only is SAD more common in people with low vitamin D, but raising your level also improves symptoms of SAD.10,11
Your body produces vitamin D through exposure to UVB light. Unfortunately, for those living in northern latitudes, this may only be an option for a few short months each year. As a general rule, you have to live below 22 degrees latitude if you want to produce any vitamin D at all during the winter. The charts below display the likelihood of vitamin D synthesis across the U.S. by month.
While supplementation may be required during months when you cannot produce sufficient amounts through sun exposure, it's important to get your vitamin D level tested before you start taking supplemental vitamin D. This will help you fine-tune your dosage over time.
For optimal health, including mental health, you'll want a vitamin D level between 60 and 80 ng/mL12 (150 to 200 nmol/L), with 40 ng/mL being the lower cutoff for sufficiency. GrassrootsHealth has an online vitamin D calculator that can help you estimate the oral dosage required to get you into a healthy range, based on your starting blood level.
Considering vitamin D's impact on mental health and brain function, it would certainly be prudent to make sure your vitamin D level is optimized if you struggle with SAD. Vitamin D is only part of the equation, however, as sunlight influences your mood in general, and SAD specifically, in other ways as well.

SAD Linked to Circadian Rhythm Disruption

Your body's circadian rhythm, which directs a whole host of physiological processes, is calibrated by exposure to natural sunlight and darkness. When sunlight is lacking, it can disrupt your circadian rhythm, triggering SAD.
For instance, sunlight helps keep your level of the protein SERT low. As a key player in transporting the neurotransmitter serotonin, known to play a role in mood, having a low level is a good thing, as higher SERT levels are linked to lower serotonin activity and increased depression. As noted in the journal Depression Research and Treatment:13
"In one study,14 people with SAD had 5 percent more SERT, a protein that assists with serotonin transport, in the winter months than in summer … Throughout the summer, sunlight generally keeps SERT levels naturally low. But as sunlight diminishes in the fall, a corresponding decrease in serotonin activity also occurs."
Melatonin is another important player that is influenced by your circadian clock and exposure to bright full-spectrum light. Your master biological clock resides inside the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) of your brain, which is part of your hypothalamus. Based on signals of light and darkness, your SCN tells your pineal gland when it's time to secrete melatonin and when to turn it off. One of melatonin's primary roles is regulating your body's circadian rhythm.
When it gets dark, your brain starts secreting melatonin (typically around 9 or 10 p.m.), which makes you sleepy. Levels typically stay elevated for about 12 hours; then, as the sun rises, your pineal gland reduces your production and the levels in your blood decrease until they're hardly measurable.
In people with SAD, melatonin production appears to be disturbed. Some may overproduce melatonin, leading to feelings of sleepiness and lethargy. In others, melatonin production may be phase-delayed, which means it's produced at the wrong time.15
The combination of low serotonin and excess melatonin may prove to be especially problematic for your circadian rhythm, and there's evidence that, for people with SAD, "the circadian signal that indicates a seasonal change in day length has been found to be timed differently, thus making it more difficult for their bodies to adjust."16

Proper Light Exposure Is Crucial Treatment for SAD

According to an overview of SAD in the journal Psychiatry,17 "Light therapy is established as the best available treatment for SAD." Indeed, light therapy alone has been found to be more effective than the antidepressant Prozac.18 Even placebo was more effective than the drug — a finding that highlights the fact that drugs are not the answer for this condition.
Interestingly, while daylight as a whole is beneficial to fight off the winter blues, blue light has been found to be particularly beneficial. According to one 2010 study,19 blue light appears to play a key role in your brain's ability to process emotions, and its results suggest that spending more time in blue-enriched light could help prevent SAD.
It may be even more effective than the bright white light typically used in light boxes to treat SAD and other forms of depression. In a previous interview, researcher Dan Pardi explains the peculiar effect blue light has on your brain, which sheds further light on why it's so important to expose yourself to blue light during daytime hours, and why you need to avoid it at night:
"[R]ods and cones in the eye ... are specialized cells that can transduce a photo signal into a nerve signal ... In the mid-90s, a different type of cell was discovered ... [called] intrinsically photosensitive Retinal Ganglion Cells (ipRGC).
It does the same thing as rods and cones: It transduced light to a nerve signal. But instead of the signal going to your visual cortex, it goes to your master clock. Those cells are most responsive to blue light.
If you can block blue light, you can actually create something called circadian darkness or virtual darkness. What that means is that you can see, but your brain doesn't think that it's daytime; your brain thinks that it's in darkness.
That is actually a practical solution for living with artificial light in our modern world ... With more awareness, future digital devices will adjust lighting in the evening to automatically dim and emit amber/red light [instead of blue]. This is much better for healthy circadian rhythms and sleep quality."
Blue light is prevalent in outdoor light, so your body absorbs the most during the summer and much less in the winter. Because of this, the researchers suggested that adding blue light to indoor lighting, as opposed to the standard yellow lights typically used, may help boost mood and productivity year-round, and especially during the winter.

Timing and Intensity of Light Exposure

If you know that SAD symptoms tend to come back for you every winter, you may want to start light therapy in late summer. Keep in mind, however, that blue light at night should be avoided as it will inhibit melatonin production and impair sleep.
So, to be clear, you only want to expose yourself to blue light in the morning, and possibly afternoon, but not in the evening. Findings differ on the issue of the most effective timing, but at least one meta-analysis20 found the largest mean effect size among those exposed to bright light in the morning and evening.
To be on the safe side, I'd suggest avoiding light therapy once the sun begins to set, to avoid further disruption of your circadian rhythm. The light intensity is also important. Outdoor light is in the neighborhood of 10,000 lux, and this is the level of intensity you're looking for.21
This is about 100 times stronger than a normal light bulb, so to be effective, you'll need to get a special light box, and make sure it generates at least 10,000 lux and emits white and blue light, not yellow or infrared. As noted by the authors of a 2015 paper addressing the assessment and treatment of SAD:22
"In the Scandinavian countries, light rooms, where light is indirect and evenly distributed, are available. Typically, light boxes filter out ultraviolet rays and require 20 to 60 minutes of exposure to 10,000 lux of cool-white fluorescent light daily during fall and winter."

Additional Treatment Strategies for SAD

In addition to optimizing your vitamin D and getting daily light therapy, the following strategies may also be helpful in the treatment of SAD:
Exercise — Exercise is a well-recognized tool for improving your mental health. In my 2008 interview with Dr. James Gordon, a world-renowned expert on mind-body medicine for the treatment of depression, he stated that physical exercise is at least as good as antidepressants for helping people who are depressed, as it increases serotonin.
It also boosts brain cells in your hippocampus, which are sometimes reduced in people with depression. He's far from the only one to come to this conclusion.
A 2013 meta-analysis23 published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews found exercise is moderately more effective than a control intervention, which in some cases was pharmaceuticals, for reducing symptoms of depression.
Other research24 published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that aerobic exercise "at a dose consistent with public health recommendations" is an effective treatment for mild to moderate depression.
If you can, do your workouts outdoors so you can get some sunlight exposure at the same time. As Dr. Meir Kryger, professor of medicine at Yale School of Medicine, told NBC News,25 "The worst thing you can do is stay indoors and not be exposed to natural sunlight at all." As an alternative, Rosenthal suggests doing your workout in front of a full-spectrum light box.
Optimize your sleep — You were designed to go to sleep when the sun sets and wake up when the sun rises. If you stray too far from this biological pattern you will disrupt delicate hormonal cycles in your body, which can affect both your mood and your health.
The link between depression and lack of sleep is well established. More than half of people diagnosed with depression struggle with insomnia. In one study, 87 percent of depression patients who resolved their insomnia had major improvements to their depression, with symptoms disappearing after eight weeks.26
While there are individual differences, as a general rule, aim for eight hours of sleep per night. If you struggle with insomnia or poor quality sleep, review the many suggestions listed in "Sleep — Why You Need It and 50 Ways to Improve It."
Clean up your diet — A factor that cannot be overlooked is your diet. Foods have an immense impact on your mood and ability to cope, and eating a diet of fresh, whole foods as described in my nutrition plan will best support your mental health.
Refined sugar and processed fructose are known to have a very detrimental impact on your brain function and mental health in general. A classic book on this subject, "The Sugar Blues" by William Dufty, delves into this topic in great detail. Cutting out artificial sweeteners will also eliminate your chances of suffering their toxic effects.
Interestingly, vegetarians are four times more likely to suffer from SAD than nonvegetarians, so a primarily plant-based diet may not be ideal during the winter season. Vegetarians are also twice as likely to suffer from nonseasonal depression,27 which suggests nutrient deficiencies may be involved in both.
Optimize your omega-3 status — One nutrient that is extremely important for healthy brain function and mental health is marine-based omega-3, found in small fatty fish such as sardines and anchovies. Wild-caught Alaskan salmon is another good source, as is krill oil, if you need a supplement. As with vitamin D, your best bet is to get tested, to ensure your omega-3 index is at 8 percent or above.  
One 2009 study28 showed that people with lower blood levels of omega-3s were more likely to have symptoms of depression and a more negative outlook while those with higher blood levels reported the opposite emotional states.
Optimize your gut health — Fermented foods such as fermented vegetables are also important for optimal mental health, as they are key for optimizing your gut health. Many fail to realize that your gut is literally your second brain, and can significantly influence your mind, mood and behavior.
Energy psychology — Energy psychology can be likened to psychological acupressure. It's based on the same energy meridians used in traditional acupuncture, but doesn't require needling. One form of energy psychology is the Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), which has proven effective against depression, anxiety and other emotional challenges.
Speaking to CBS News, Pittsburgh area therapist Joan Kaylor stated, "By tapping on these points, this can have an effect on seasonal affective disorder by removing the sadness, by removing both the emotional component, as well as any physical sensations."29
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) — Another option is CBT, which helps to modify behaviors, thoughts and emotions that may be affecting your mental health and happiness, and has been shown to be effective for those with SAD.
Research published in the American Journal of Psychiatry found CBT works the same as light therapy in improving SAD symptoms,30 and you may want to consider a combination of the two. Speaking with NBC News, Dr. Norman Rosenthal, clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown University School of Medicine and author of "Winter Blues: Seasonal Affective Disorder: What It Is and How to Overcome It," said:31
"Several controlled studies have shown that CBT can be extremely valuable not only in helping people who have SAD, but in preventing subsequent episodes. SAD is an illness where your behavior will have a major play.
Also, if you don't know what's going on, you begin to blame yourself and think you're a failure. CBT can correct dysfunctional behaviors that may [arise from SAD] like lying in bed late with covers over your head, which is the worst thing you can do as you're depriving yourself of natural light when it is most effective: in the morning."
In closing, it may be worth noting that it's natural for your body to want to slow down somewhat in the wintertime. While this can be difficult when your work and personal life dictate otherwise, allowing yourself to slow down a bit and surrender to the overwinter process32 may ultimately help you to respect your body's circadian rhythm and recharge.
That said, this doesn't mean you should plant yourself on the couch for the winter and not venture outdoors. On the contrary, staying active and spending time outdoors during the day are among the best "cures" for SAD.

Thursday, 14 February 2019

The brain benefits of deep sleep — and how to get more of it

There's nothing quite like a good night's sleep. What if technology could help us get more out of it? Dan Gartenberg is working on tech that stimulates deep sleep, the most regenerative stage which (among other wonderful things) might help us consolidate our memories and form our personalities. Find out more about how playing sounds that mirror brain waves during this stage might lead to deeper sleep -- and its potential benefits on our health, memory and ability to learn.

 This talk was presented at an official TED conference, and was featured by our editors on the home page. About the speaker Dan Gartenberg · Sleep scientist TED Resident Dan Gartenberg has spent his adult life trying to make seven and a half hours feel like eight hours.

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Mammograms Helped Save Up to 600,000 U.S. Lives Since 1989: Study

Mammograms save lives

 A staggering statistic!

By Robert Preidt, HealthDay Reporter
MONDAY, Feb. 11, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- Widespread mammography screening and big advances in breast cancer treatment have saved hundreds of thousands of American women's lives since 1989, a new study estimates.
Researchers tracked 1990-2015 U.S. data on breast cancer deaths, along with general data, on women aged 40 to 84. They found the number of breast cancer deaths prevented during that time ranged anywhere from 305,000 to more than 483,000, depending on different approaches to interpreting the data.
They then extrapolated those results out to 2018, and calculated the number of breast cancer deaths prevented since 1989 at anywhere from 384,000 to 614,500.
In 2018 alone, between 27,000 to almost 46,000 breast cancer deaths were prevented, the investigators said.
The findings should help reassure women who wonder about the value of mammograms, said study author R. Edward Hendrick, of the University of Colorado's School of Medicine in Denver.
Recent studies "have focused media attention on some of the risks of mammography screening, such as call-backs for additional imaging and breast biopsies," he said. But those reports have also often neglected "the most important aspect of screening -- that finding and treating breast cancer early saves women's lives," Hendrick said.
Mammography screening first became widely available in the mid-1980s. The new study estimates that regular screening plus improved treatments cut the expected rate of breast cancer death in 2018 by between 45 to 58 percent, according to the study published Feb. 11 in the journal Cancer.
"Our study provides evidence of just how effective the combination of early detection and modern breast cancer treatment have been in averting breast cancer deaths," Hendrick said in a journal news release.
One breast cancer physician applauded the new research.
"We have new immune therapies and improved surgical techniques that are important advances against breast cancer," said Dr. Alice Police, who directs breast surgery at the Northwell Health Cancer Institute in Sleepy Hollow, N.Y.
"However, the biggest factor in literally centuries to lower the mortality rate from this devastating and extremely common disease is the humble screening mammogram," she said. "Nothing else in detection or treatment has even come close."
But Hendrick noted that only about half of U.S. women older than 40 get regular mammograms.
"The best possible long-term effect of our findings would be to help women recognize that early detection and modern, personalized breast cancer treatment saves lives, and to encourage more women to get screened annually starting at age 40," Hendrick said.
Dr. Kristin Byrne is chief of breast imaging at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. She agreed that, in keeping with guidelines from the American Cancer Society, women aged 40 and over should consider getting regular mammograms.
Byrne said the new study "is further evidence that early detection and improved treatment saves lives."
"Over 335,000 women were diagnosed with new breast cancer in the United States in 2018," she noted, and "eight out of ten of these women have no family history of breast cancer. "
According to current American Cancer Society guidelines, "women ages 40 to 44 should have the choice to start annual breast cancer screening with mammograms [X-rays of the breast] if they wish to do so. Women age 45 to 54 should get mammograms every year. Women 55 and older should switch to mammograms every 2 years, or can continue yearly screening."

More information
The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more on breast cancer.
Copyright © 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Duo helps women find their strengths

A Scheme To Help Women Find Their Strength

Always great to read about such schemes!

Kristin Clark and Madlin Mangrum help navigate women through life’s changes. (Photo by Helen’s Photography)
With it being a new year, many people are looking for ways to jump-start something new and need guidance to make it happen,” said Kristin Clark, a Gallup-certified strengths coach.
She and Madlin Mangrum, another Flower Mound resident, host Women’s “What’s Next” weekend retreats in the area.
They help women get through times of change in their lives– divorce, empty nesting, loss of a job, starting a new career or a desire to make their current situation better– by guiding them through goal-setting and using their natural talents, based on the CliftonStrengths 34 Assessment test.
Strengths Finder, a self-help book written in 2001 by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton, is the basis for the internet-based “Clifton Strengths Finder;” an online personal assessment test that outlines the user’s strengths. The authors advocate focusing on building strengths, rather than focusing on weaknesses.
The theory behind the book is that each adult individual possesses a certain number of fixed universal personal-character attributes– or traits– defined by the authors as “talent themes,” which, combined, result in an individual’s tendency to develop certain skills more easily and excel in certain fields in a sustainable way.
The Gallup Organization claims to have distilled the trait theory into practice by interviewing 1.7-million professionals from varying fields. Having quantified the different traits of the people they interviewed, they came up with 34 distinct patterns, or “talent themes,” that best-describe the range of human uniqueness observed from their research.
According to “personality trait” theories, like the Gallup Organization’s CliftonStrengths 34 assessment, for example, introversion and extraversion are part of a continuous dimension; with many people in the middle. Personality traits could be interpreted as quantitative differences, embodying a smaller-grouping of behavioral tendencies.
Many people have taken other assessment tests, such as the Myers–Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), an introspective self-report questionnaire with the purpose of indicating differing psychological preferences in how people perceive the world around them and make decisions.
It’s used in corporate Human Resource Departments to assess a person’s personality type, based on a total of 16 categories. It uses psychologist Carl Jung’s conceptual theory that humans experience the world using four principal psychological functions – sensation, intuition, feeling and thinking; and, that one of these four functions is a dominant type for a person most of the time.
These “personality type” assessments involve qualitative differences between people. According to type theories, for example, introverts and extraverts are two fundamentally different categories of people.
“After I took the CliftonStrengths 34 test myself (March 2017), it was so revolutionary for me that I had my family take

Monday, 11 February 2019

Can You Eat Marigolds?

Eating Marigolds

A colourful flower which has so many benefits.  See below:

Story at-a-glance

  • There are two types of marigolds, both of which have edible species; however, it is the calendula genus, available in a number of edible varieties that has many medicinal qualities
  • Calendula officinalis are easily grown at home in your garden or containers; they are useful in protecting your plants from insects, pests and deer, and add a beautiful pop of color to a vegetable garden
  • Calendula products are useful in the treatment of wounds and burns and in improving oral health, and have hypoglycemic and antihypertensive properties
  • Consider making your own tea, oil and salve at home using flowers you know were grown using organic methods without pesticides and insecticides, to easily enjoy its antiaging properties
Marigolds provide a pop of color to any garden or vegetable plot. They range from creamy pale yellow to bright yellow, orange or variegated reds and orange. When planted with your vegetables, they help protect against certain pests and attract valuable insects, including bees necessary for pollination.
Marigolds help protect your tomatoes against nematodes, slugs and hornworms, are low maintenance and add color and beauty.1 They may also help protect your vegetables and garden area against mosquitoes and aphids.2
At the end of the season, turn the marigolds under so the roots decay in the soil and provide organic matter for the following year. Before adding them to your garden and your salad plate, be sure you get the right species. What you want is Marigold (calendula), native to Europe, not the French Marigold (tagetes), an American plant in the daisy family, as they are not interchangeable.3

Pick Calendula for Medicinal and Health Benefits

Not all marigolds are created equally. While both types offer some of the same benefits to your vegetable garden, they don't have the same health benefits. The tagetes varieties are often purely ornamental while most of the calendula variety delivers health benefits.4
Although both go by the same common name, and species of both may have medicinal value, they cannot be used interchangeably. For instance, Tagetes lucida is Mexican tarragon and used medicinally as a digestive aid, especially by the Mayan people in Guatemala.
However, Tagetus is a large genus of plants and not all species will have the same medicinal uses.5 For instance, Tagetes erecta is another species common to Mexico but causes short-lived dermatitis from phototoxic thiophene derivatives found in all parts of the plant.6
If you're planting marigolds in your garden to eat, ask for calendula seeds or pot marigolds. The seeds can be planted outdoors directly in the soil a few weeks before the last frost in the spring. They may also be started indoors in small pots and transplanted after the soil has warmed, or may be grown easily in containers.
The seeds take approximately two weeks to emerge from the soil and enjoy full sun to partial shade. Calendula plants are annuals that are easy to care for and may bloom throughout the summer.7 The flowers are deer resistant and attract butterflies. Deadhead the flowers and pinch them back to keep the plant from becoming bushy. If flowering dwindles in midsummer, cut the plants back severely for regrowth.

Calendula Comes in Several Varieties

Calendula flowers readily self-seed, are noninvasive and work well as cut flowers in your centerpiece or as edible landscaping. While there are several different varieties, those with single petals have the best flavor. Cornell University shares this list of varieties:8
Dwarfs — Color variations (apricot, cream), brown centers, single and double form flowers.
Art Shades Mix — Flowers are bright variations of yellow and orange, in single colors or as bicolors. Showy dark brown centers provide an interesting contrast. Tolerates poor sites well.
Bonbon Series — Very dense, pom-pom-like flowers in shades of yellow and orange on dense, compact plants. Flowers earlier in the season than most calendulas. Good for container growth.
Touch of Red Mix — Flowers come in shades of yellow and orange with red tipped petals.
Calypso Series — These compact, dense plants are good for container growing. Flowers are double, and come in shades of orange and yellow. The flowers have dark colored centers.
Pacific Beauty Series — These flowers are heat tolerant and bear flowers in shades of yellow and orange on long, strong stems.
Prince Series — The best for cut flowers. Shades of yellow and orange flowers on long, strong stems. Heat resistant. Prolific flowers.
Kablouna Series — This series is mildew resistant with flowers in shades of orange and yellow. Petals are arranged around tufted and pronounced centers.
Greenheart Orange — Orange petals are arranged around a large, lime green tufted center. Very different from typical Calendula flowers. Showy plants are 1 1/2 to 2 feet tall.
Radio Extra Selected — Very unusual cactus-like blooms are orange, with quilled petals. The plants grow from 1 1/2 to nearly 2 feet tall.
Prolifera — These flower heads resemble hens-and-chicks.

Harvesting Marigold Flowers

The flowers need to be picked every couple of days in order to prolong the flowering season. Use screens or large area baskets in a ventilated warm area to dry the flowers. By tossing them several times a day, you promote even drying throughout the plants and reduce the risk of mold development.
The colorful flowers can be eaten fresh or dried for later use. The flowers are more flavorful than the medicinal tasting green base. Once dried, the flowers can also be rehydrated for use in salads, salsas, scrambled eggs and frittatas, adding color, flavor and health benefits.
Dried flowers can be added to soups and stews in the winter. They were also once added to breads and syrup in medieval Europe. In one account written in 1699, the author wrote:9
"The yellow leaves of the flowers are dried and kept throughout Dutch land against winter to put into broths, physical potions and for divers other purposes, in such quantity that in some Grocers or Spice sellers are to be found barrels filled with them and retailed by the penny or less, insomuch that no broths are well made without dried Marigold."
The bright colors of the flower make a wonderful addition to ice cubes and can be used to cool down ice tea along with a sprig of mint for contrast. The flowers may also be made into tea or added to a sugar scrub to leave your skin soft and glowing.

Enjoy These Health Benefits Using Calendula From Your Garden

Calendula has been used for centuries in homeopathic remedies to treat or prevent a number of conditions. The flowers are high in flavonoids, carotenoids and fatty acids.10 The plant is also rich in potassium, magnesium, calcium and iron and a rich source of amino acids.11 Each of these contributes to a host of health benefits when using the flower or oil you can make at home.12,13,14
Skin health — Calendula may help reduce the risk of radiation dermatitis15 and reduce the pain caused by radiation.16 It's been found to reduce diaper rash17 and improved a skin condition causing dry peeling lips.18 In a cell study, calendula essential oil reduced oxidative stress, helped prevent skin aging and protected against sunburns.19
Wound and burn healing — In a study of 111 women following an episiotomy during childbirth, the study found those using pot marigold ointment experienced decreased swelling and improved healing. It's also been shown to help heal diabetic foot ulcers20 and burns.21
Oral health — In a study of 240 people with gum disease,22 a mouth rinse with pot Marigold twice a day for six months reduced dental plaque and improved gum disease. Another study23 using participants with oral inflammation and mouth wounds, the researchers found pot marigold gel decreased the size of the wound within one month. Oral mucositis from radiotherapy24 responded quickly to pot Marigold mouth rinse.25
Menstrual cramps — Calendula mint oil topical application was found to reduce menstrual cramps and pain,26 including the need for painkillers during menstruation. In animal studies, pot marigold soothe muscle cramps and reduce pain in the gut and stomach, believed to be the result of blocking calcium channels and decreasing spasms.27
Lower oxidative stress — Calendula has been shown to lower inflammatory cytokines, block inflammatory Cox-2 enzymes28 and prevent cell injury.29
Diabetes — In an animal study, calendula improved diabetes-induced impaired learning and memory and helped the animals to lose weight.30
Cardiovascular — In another animal study, calendula helped reduce blood pressure and decrease total and LDL cholesterol.31
Urinary tract infections — Calendula has nephroprotective activity and may help in the treatment of urinary tract infections.32

How to Prepare Calendula

Calendula may be used in a variety of ways at home. Apart from adding the bright flowers to your table centerpiece, there are several techniques that may be utilized in your daily routine so you may enjoy the health benefits of these flowers:
Decoction — Decoctions may be used to ease dizziness and headaches. This is a method of extracting active ingredients of a plant through heat. The common dosage is 3 teaspoons taken three times a day. However, to be sure you're taking the right amount for your condition, it's best to consult a health practitioner.
Infusion — Consider adding dried flowers to your tea cup and steeping for 15 minutes.33 Strain off the flower and use immediately or drink within two days after being stored in the refrigerator. You may also rinse your mouth with the infused tea to help canker sores, herpes and other mouth injuries heal, including sore gums after dental procedures.
The tea may be added to your homemade diaper wipes to help prevent and soothe diaper rash, or as an antiseptic face wash to help prevent and treat acne. Soaking your feet in the infusion may help treat athlete's foot and rinsing your hair may help reduce itchy scalp conditions.
Topical solutions — Sometimes you need a topical application with a bit more body. Calendula oil or salve may be used to treat ringworm, sunburned skin or chapped lips. The antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties make it an excellent treatment for minor burns and insect bites.

Make Your Own Calendula Oil and Salve at Home

Calendula oil is an active ingredient in lotions, soaps and creams because it has such a positive effect on your skin. You can opt to use a homemade infusion, ensuring you are using organic ingredients. Although the oil may be made using a hot infusion, the cold process is recommended to avoid damaging the calendula.

Calendula Oil34

  • Dried organically grown calendula petals
  • Carrier oil (olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil or almond oil)
  • Clean lidded glass jar
  1. Put your desired amount of dried calendula petals in a clean, dry glass jar.
  2. Cover the flowers with the carrier oil of choice by an inch.
  3. Place the jar in a paper bag to protect the oil from UV light and place in a sunny window to infuse for four weeks.
  4. Give the jar a good shake a couple of times a day.
  5. Drain the petals from the oil and store the oil in a container with a lid for up to one year.

Calendula Salve35

4 ounces of infused oil (recipe above)
1/2 ounce beeswax
25 to 50 drops of essential oil such as tea tree, frankincense, lavender or chamomile
  1. Heat the beeswax in a double boiler.
  2. Once melted add the calendula oil.
  3. Allow the mixture to stay over the heat for 60 seconds until thoroughly mixed.
  4. If adding essential oil, stir it in.
  5. Pour into a clean dry container and allow it to cool.
  6. This recipe makes enough to fill three 2-ounce tins.

Consider These Precautions Before Using

Before you start using calendula, it's best to consult a health practitioner for the right dosages. However, if you're pregnant or breastfeeding, the product should be avoided as there is a lack of study in this area and the plant has been known to prompt menstrual periods.
People who are allergic to plants in the daisy or sunflower family, such as ragweed, chamomile and echinacea, should avoid marigold products as it may trigger a serious allergic reaction, such as anaphylactic shock.36
Calendula has a calming effect and may induce sleepiness, so taken together with a sedative drug may trigger excessive sedation. In rats, it lowered blood pressure, so combining with blood pressure lowering medication may lead to very low blood pressure. Combination of blood sugar lowering drugs may further lower blood sugar to dangerous levels.