What Is Calendula?

Learn about the anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial benefits

Calendula oil, cream, and dried petal tea

Verywell / Anastasia Tretiak

Calendula is a marigold plant that has long been used for its skin health benefits, such as helping with wound healing.

Calendula petals are rich in naturally occurring compounds called flavonoids. These compounds are said to have anti-inflammatory, anti-thrombogenic, antidiabetic, anticancer, and neuroprotective effects.

This article will go over how calendula is used. You will also learn about the possible side effects and risks of using calendula.

What Is Calendula?

Calendula is a member of the Asteraceae/Compositae family of plants, from the Asterales order. The medicinal part of the Calendula Officinalis plant is a beautiful, deeply rich colored orange and yellow flower.

Common Names for Calendula

  • Calendule
  • English Garden Marigold
  • Scotch Marigold
  • Fleur de Calendule

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), calendula is native to Canada and the lower 48 states.

Calendula is an annual plant that's easy to grow in average, moderately fertile, well-drained soils that get full sunlight. It can be planted in flower beds, borders, cottage gardens, cutting gardens, or pots or containers.

In a garden, the fragrant leaves of the plant attract butterflies. The petals are a popular choice for floral displays and potpourri mixes. They can also be cooked and eaten.

Calendula oil is made by infusing the flowers in carrier oils such as olive oil or coconut oil. The oil can be used on its own or as an ingredient in ointments, balms, creams, or lotions. It can also be made in a tincture and tea or put into a capsule.

Do not confuse calendula with ornamental marigolds of the Tagetes genus, which are commonly grown in vegetable gardens.

What Is Calendula Used For?

Calendula has been used to treat a variety of skin conditions. Research has shown that calendula may treat diaper rash, wounds, vaginal yeast infections, and other conditions.

Calendula has also been used as a pain and inflammation reducer, as well as a way to relieve treatment-related side effects for people with cancer.

Some people say that calendula makes a good sunscreen or a skin moisturizer. More research is needed to prove it has these benefits.

While there has been some research suggesting its positive effects, the long-term use of calendula has not been studied and more research is needed. Always ask your provider before you start using any treatment or supplement, even a natural one.

How Does Calendula Work?

Calendula petals are rich in naturally occurring compounds called flavonoids. These compounds are said to:

The active ingredients of the calendula flower are naturally occurring chemicals, such as:

  • Triterpene saponins (oleanolic acid glycosides)
  • Triterpene alcohols (α-, β-amyrins, faradiol)
  • Flavonoids (quercetin and isorhamnetin)

Topical gels made from calendula may help with the collagen in the skin, may promote new tissue growth in wound healing, and help decrease skin inflammation.

Wounds and Pressure Ulcers

Studies in animals have shown that calendula might help with wound healing, but what about in humans? Here is what research has shown:

  • A study published in The Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care looked at the effectiveness of calendula ointment on Cesarean-section (C-section) scars in 72 women. Compared to getting the standard hospital treatment for the wound, the women who were treated with calendula ointment healed faster and reported that their incisions were less red and swollen.
  • In a 2016 study published in The Journal of Wound Care, researchers used Calendula officinalis extract on people with venous ulcers on their legs. The researchers measured "healing velocity" in a week and found that the people who were treated with calendula had a 7.4% healing velocity, while the people who did not use the extract only had a healing velocity of about 1.7%. The researchers also noted that there weren't any bad side effects of using the extract.
  • Other studies have suggested that using a calendula spray in addition to standard care and hygiene might prevent infection and decrease odor in people with long-term foot ulcers from diabetes.

Eczema, Diaper Rash, and Other Skin Conditions

Calendula is often marketed as a treatment for eczema and dermatitis, but there is not much research supporting its effectiveness for these conditions.

Since the plant has anti-inflammatory properties, putting it on areas affected by skin conditions may reduce inflammation. However, there is no real evidence that doing so works or that it's safe.

The use of calendula could be irritating for children with severe eczema, especially if they have an allergy to ragweed, daisies, marigold, or any other plant in the same family as calendula.

Ask your pediatrician before using calendula on your child's skin.

Using calendula creams on diaper rash could be more helpful than other treatments like aloe vera gel, but research has shown it's not as good as using a bentonite solution.

One study showed that when infants were treated with bentonite, 88% of the lesions got better within the first six hours, but only 54% of the lesions in the group treated with calendula did.

Bacterial Vaginosis and Vaginal Yeast Infections

In one study, researchers compared calendula ointment to metronidazole in 80 women who had been diagnosed with bacterial vaginosis. After one week, both groups were cured of bacterial vaginosis and none had any side effects.

The researchers concluded that if people wanted to avoid taking medications to treat bacterial vaginosis, calendula ointment could be an option.

One study published in Women and Health found that calendula cream was effective for treating vaginal yeast infections, but that it did not work as fast as the standard medication (clotrimazole) that's used to treat them.

There have been claims that calendula can be used to treat symptoms related to menstruation or even used to induce a period, but more research is needed.

Sun Protection

Research on using calendula as sunscreen has only been done in the lab, not in people. These studies have suggested that some properties of calendula might help cells rejuvenate, but more research is needed to prove these effects.

Radiation Dermatitis

There is mixed research on using calendula to treat skin irritation from radiation treatment. There is not enough evidence that it's more effective than using other topical products like petroleum jelly.

Possible Side Effects of Calendula

You should not use calendula if you are allergic to ragweed, daisies, marigold, or plants in the Asteraceae/Compositae family, as it could cause you to have an allergic reaction.

People who are pregnant or breastfeeding should also not use calendula because it can change their hormone levels and may even cause a period.

If you take medications or have to have surgery, ask your provider before you try calendula. It might not be safe for you to use calendula if it could affect your medications or make complications from surgery (like bleeding) more likely to happen.

Calendula Dosage and Preparation

Calendula dried petals
Verywell / Anastasia Tretiak

There is no set dose for calendula because it has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

How much calendula you use will depend on what form you're using and what you are using it for.

If you decide to grow your own calendula plant, you can get the benefits of calendula by drying the petals. You can dry calendula petals by picking a flower and putting it on a paper towel away from the sun.

The dried petals can be used to steep tea and make oils. If you are making calendula tea you can also use fresh flowers as garnish.

How to Make Calendula Tea

Here are the steps for making calendula tea:

  1. Bring water to a boil
  2. Add about two teaspoons of dried flowers to a tea infuser or teapot
  3. Pour hot water over the leaves and allow it to steep for 10 minutes
  4. Strain and add any type of flavoring you'd like such as cinnamon, vanilla, honey, etc.

How to Store Calendula

Store calendula products in a dry, dark place free of moisture. If you buy calendula at the store, look at the package for a "best by" date. Make sure you use it up before it expires.

If you are storing the dried petals, put them in an airtight container. If you've made an oil, tincture, or cream with calendula, store it in an airtight container and keep it in a cool, dry place.

Buying Calendula: What to Look for

Companies that claim calendula is an effective treatment for certain health conditions have to follow up the claim with a disclaimer that states, "these statements have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration" because the FDA has not approved therapeutic claims for calendula.

Getting calendula from a reputable source is important because it helps you avoid getting a product that has harsh substances or chemicals added to it. Look for organic products or products that have a third-party certification.

Instead of buying products, you could also purchase seeds and grow your own calendula at home.


Calendula is touted as having anti-inflammatory properties that could help with skin conditions and wound healing. Calendula can be added to lotions and balms, made into teas and oils, and used as a garnish.

You can buy products made with calendula or grow your own at home and dry it yourself.

Calendula is not approved by the FDA. You should always ask your provider before you use any kind of natural supplement, even a "natural" one that comes from plants.

If you're allergic to ragweed, daisies, marigold, or plants in the Asteraceae/Compositae family, you shouldn't use calendula. You also should not use calendula if you're pregnant or breastfeeding.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can I eat calendula petals?

    The petals of the calendula flower are edible. Some people like to use them as garnish. The flavor profile is thought to be mildly sweet and peppery.

  • Is calendula used in beauty products?

    The petals of calendula are used as coloring agents in personal care and beauty products, and the oil has been used in perfumes.

  • Can I use calendula as a dye for coloring fabric?

    Calendula has been used as a natural yellow dye for coloring wool and other clothes.

  • Can you put calendula on an open wound?

    Calendula can help with wound healing, including incisions from surgeries like a C-section. However, you should ask your provider before you put it on a healing wound.

  • Does calendula raise blood pressure?

    Some animal studies have shown that when very high doses of calendula are used, it can actually lower blood pressure not make it higher. It's not clear whether that effect would also happen in humans.

15 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Barbie Cervoni MS, RD, CDCES, CDN
Barbie Cervoni MS, RD, CDCES, CDN, is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes care and education specialist.