The Many Benefits of Calendula Officinalis (Marigold)

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In addition to being a beautiful living decoration, the common garden plant marigold is also a powerful healing agent that boasts a wide variety of health benefits

That marigold on your windowsill can go in your salad, become a soup, soothe your sore throat or treat your eczema. Although a common garden plant, marigold (Calendula officinalis) has a long history as food and medicine. The Egyptians employed calendula as a rejuvenating herb, while the ancient Greeks utilized the golden petals to garnish and flavor food.

Long used in Europe as a culinary plant, the beautiful orange flower petals are a vibrant addition to a salad and are added to cheese and butter for color. Calendula is a delicious, velvet textured base for broth, soup or rice dishes. Children particularly like the taste, and it's well suited to their health needs. You can even have a sip of calendula wine.

Although not a strong herbal medicine, calendula is a multipurpose standout. It's anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, antiviral, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial. It heals wounds, increases bile flow, and cleanses the lymph system. In Europe, calendula was known to comfort the heart, soothe agitation, strengthen eyesight and draw evil spirits. Calendula has a long history of use for headaches, jaundice, red eyes, and toothaches. 

The most popular medicine use for calendula is in treating irritated membrane conditions. During the Civil War, doctors used calendula leaves were by to treat open wounds on the battlefield. Calendula flower is among the most soothing of herbs for salves. For soothing children's skin, herbalist Aviva Romm, author of Natural Healing for Babies and Children, uses it along with chickweed leaf, plantain leaf, comfrey leaf, and chamomile flower. One study of calendula for wounds showed that it noticeably stimulates physiological regeneration and skin healing.[i]

Calendula salve heals wounds, rashes and inflammatory skin lesions with itching, burning, and swelling. Rub the flower into sites of bee stings to reduce swelling and pain.[ii] Or make a compress for burns, scalds, sore nipples or stings by chopping the flowers and moistening with water.[iii] The sap from the fresh stem is used to eliminate calluses, warts, and corns.[iv]

For diaper rash, apply calendula cream with yarrow oil. To soften and moisturize tired feet, use lotions containing calendula flower with chickweed leaf, plantain leaf, comfrey leaf, and chamomile flower.

Calendula cosmetic creams will soften and smooth the skin, heal pimples and reduce large pores.[v] A preliminary study showed that, used twice a day, the herbal rinse with calendula reduced plaque by 50% and reduced gum pockets by 1-2 mm.[vi]

Internally, calendula helps heartburn (gastritis). A Bulgarian study of 137 patients found that a mixture of comfrey and calendula eliminated pain in 90% of the participants.[vii] The tea will treat internal hemorrhage, inflammation of the throat and nasal passages and menstrual cramps. Apply the tea externally as a wash for conjunctivitis and earache. A 2001 study found that a naturopathic herbal extract eardrop containing calendula treated earache as well as anesthetic eardrops.[viii] Suppositories help colitis and vaginal irritation. In one older study from Europe, twenty-four patients received an herbal mixture containing dandelion, Saint Johnswort, lemon balm, calendula and fennel. Ninety-five percent had total relief of colitis symptoms in 15 days.[ix]

Calendula is mildly anti-viral. Herbalists say that it seems to have an affinity for the lower half of the body, where it combines synergistically with echinacea. The mild diaphoretic action of calendula also helps shorten colds. For the lymph system, calendula targets the breast and pelvic tissues, where it stimulates the drainage of enlarged, inflamed lymph nodes. Naturopathic physicians use it as poultice to drain fibroid breast cysts.[x]

Calendula is a general remedy for liver disorders. It contains a resin, calendulin, which promotes bile flow, aiding digestion.

Who would have thought that such a pretty little plant could be such powerful medicine?

Diaper Rash Powder

All very finely powdered:

2 parts calendula flower

2 parts slippery elm bark

1 part lavender flower

1 part dry clay

Mix. Put in shaker.

What to Take


2 tsp. per cup


Brew 1 Tbs. in 1 cup of water


6-10 flowers in a pot of soup


up to 15 ml per day


Apply to sores and rashes

For more information on herbs and traditional knowledge, visit the database on the subject.

You can also view the Calendula research database.


[i] Klouchek-Popova E, Popov A, Pavlova N, Krusteva S. Influence of the physiological regeneration and epithelialization using fractions isolated from Calendula officinalis. Acta Physiol Pharmacol Bulg 1982;8(4):63-7 Standard skin wounds have been surgically induced in Wistar albino rats. The wounds were covered with 5% unguentum containing fractions C1 and C5, isolated from the flowers of Calendula officinalis belonging to fam. Compositae, in combination with allantoin. Epithelization has been determined in dynamics as a percentage compared with the beginning of the experiment, using the formula (formula: see text), where t is the wound surface in mm2 and n is the respective day after the beginning of the experiment. The wound exudate has been studied cytologically using light- and fluorescent microscopy on the 8th, 24th and 48th hour after inflicting the wounds. The histological changes in biopsy material taken from the edges of the wounds on the 10th day have also been investigated. The drug combination applied markedly stimulates physiological regeneration and epithelialization. This effect is assumed to be due to more intensive metabolism of glycoproteins, nucleoproteins and collagen proteins during the regenerative period in the tissues.


[iii] Kaplan, B. Homoeopathy: 3. Everyday uses for all the family. Prof Care Mother Child. 1994 Oct;4(7):212-3.

[vi] Natural Health, Sept.-Oct. 1996

[vii] Chakurski I, Matev M, Stefanov G, Koichev A, Angelova I. [Treanntment of duodenal ulcers and gastroduodenitis with a herbal combination of Symphitum officinalis and Calendula officinalis with and without antacids] Vutr Boles 1981;20(6):44-7 A total of 170 patients were treated--137 only with the herb combination (78 with duodenal ulcer and 59 with gastroduodenitis), 33--with the herb combination together with antacid (21 with duodenal ulcer and 12 with gastroduodenitis). As a result from the treatment, the spontaneous pains disappeared in 90 per cent of the patients--in the group with and in the group without antacid, the dyspeptic complaints faded in over 85 per cent but in the patients, treated with herbs and antacid the mentioned complaints disappeared several days earlier. The palpitation pains, in both groups, disappeared in more than 90 per cent of the patients within the same time. Gastric acidity, in both groups, showed a statistically insignificant tendency to decrease prior and post treatment. The gastroscopically control revealed that the ulcer niche, in both groups, was healed in almost the same percentage of the patients.

[viii] Sarrell EM, Mandelberg A, Cohen HA. Efficacy of naturopathic extracts in the management of ear pain associated with acute otitis media. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 2001 Jul;155(7):796-9Pediatric and Adolescent Ambulatory Community Clinic of General Health Services, Hairis 7 Moshav Gan-Haim, 44910 Israel. [email protected] OBJECTIVE: To determine the efficacy and tolerance of Otikon Otic Solution (Healthy-On Ltd, Petach-Tikva, Israel), a naturopathic herbal extract (containing Allium sativum, Verbascum thapsus, Calendula flores, and Hypericum perforatum in olive oil), compared with Anaesthetic (Vitamed Pharmaceutical Ltd, Benyamina, Israel) ear drops (containing ametocaine and phenazone in glycerin) in the management of ear pain associated with acute otitis media (AOM). DESIGN: Children between the ages of 6 and 18 years who experienced ear pain (otalgia) and who were diagnosed with eardrum problems associated with AOM were randomly assigned to be treated with Otikon or Anaesthetic ear drops, which were instilled into the external canal(s) of the affected ear(s). Ear pain was assessed using 2 visual analog scales: a linear scale and a color scale. Pain assessment took place throughout the course of 3 days. The mean score of pain reduction was used to measure outcome. SETTING: Primary pediatric community ambulatory centers. PARTICIPANTS: One hundred three children aged 6 to 18 years who were diagnosed with otalgia associated with AOM. RESULTS: Each of the 2 treatment groups were comparable on the basis of age, sex, laterality of AOM, and the effectiveness of ameliorating symptoms of otalgia. The 2 groups were also comparable to each other in the initial ear pain score and in the scores at each application of Otikon or Anaesthetic drops. There was a statistically significant improvement in ear pain score throughout the course of the study period (P =.007). CONCLUSIONS: Otikon, an ear drop formulation of naturopathic origin, is as effective as Anaesthetic ear drops and was proven appropriate for the management of AOM-associated ear pain.

[ix] Chakurski I, Matev M, Koichev A, Angelova I, Stefanov G[Treatment of chronic colitis with an herbal combination of Taraxacum officinale, Hipericum perforatum, Melissa officinaliss, Calendula officinalis and Foeniculum vulgare]. Vutr Boles 1981;20(6):51-4 Twenty four patients with chronic non-specific colitis were treated with a herb combination. As a result from the treatment, the spontaneous and palpable pains along the large intestine disappeared in 95.83 per cent of the patients by the 15th day of their admission to the clinic. Defecation became daily in the patients with obstipation syndrome, but a combination of Rhamus frangula, Citrus aurantium, C. carvi was added to the herb combination already indicated. Defecation was normalized in patients with diarrhea syndrome. The pathological admixtures in feces disappeared.

[x] Bastyr University Monograph

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