Common names: Marigold, Pot marigold
Botanical name: Calendula officinalis
© Martin Wall
Parts used and where grown
Calendula grows as a common garden plant throughout North America and Europe. The
golden-orange or yellow flowers of calendula have been used as medicine for centuries.
Calendula has been used in
connection with the following conditions (refer to the individual
health concern for complete information):
Historical or traditional use (may
or may not be supported by scientific studies)
Calendula flowers were historically considered beneficial for reducing inflammation, wound healing, and as an antiseptic. Calendula
was used to treat various skin diseases, ranging from skin ulcerations to eczema.1 Internally, the soothing effects
of calendula have been used for stomach ulcers
and inflammation. Traditionally, a sterile tea was topically applied in cases of conjunctivitis.
Flavonoids, found in high amounts in
calendula, are thought to account for much of its anti-inflammatory activity.2
Other potentially important constituents include the triterpene saponins3 and carotenoids.
Investigations into anticancer and antiviral actions of calendula are continuing. At this
time, insufficient evidence exists to recommend the use of calendula for cancer. Nevertheless, test tube studies have found
antiviral activity for calendula.4 5 The constituents responsible for
these actions are not clear, however, and the relevance of these actions for human health care
has not been established.
How much is usually taken?
A tea of calendula can be made by pouring 1 cup (250 ml) of boiling water over 1–2
teaspoons (5–10 grams) of the flowers; the tea is then steeped, covered for ten to
fifteen minutes, strained, and drunk.6 At least 3 cups of tea are recommended per
day. Tincture is similarly used three times a day, at 1/4–1/2 teaspoon (1–2 ml)
each time. The tincture can be taken in water or tea. In addition, prepared ointments can be
used topically for skin problems, although wet dressings made by dipping a cloth into the
cooled tea are also effective. Topical treatment for eye conditions is not recommended, as
absolute sterility must be maintained.
Are there any side effects or interactions?
Side effects are rare with the use of calendula. Some people may experience a skin rash
with topical use and should be tested to see if they are allergic to the herb.
At the time of writing, there were no well-known drug interactions
1. Leung A, Foster S. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used
in Food, Drugs and Cosmetics, 2d ed. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1996,
2. Weiss RF. Herbal Medicine. Gothenburg, Sweden: Ab Arcanum,
3. Della Loggia R, Tubaro A, Sosa S, et al. The role of triterpenoids in
the topical anti-inflammatory activity of Calendula officinalis flowers. Planta
4. Bogdanova NS, Nikolaeva IS, Shcherbakova LI, et al. Study of antiviral
properties of Calendula officinalis. Farmskolto Ksikol
1970;33:349–55 [in Russian].
5. De Tommasi N, Conti C, Stein ML, et al. Structure and in vitro
activity of triterpenoid saponins form Calendula arvensis. Plants Med
6. Wichtl M. Herbal Drugs and Phytopharmaceuticals. Boca Raton,
FL: CRC Press, 1994, 118–20.