Macer’s 12th-century herbal recommends simply looking at the Calendula plant will improve eyesight, clear the head and encourage cheerfulness. 

In Culpepper’s day, Calendula was taken to ‘strengthen the heart’ and highly regarded for treatment of smallpox and measles. 

Will keep the skin healthy and strong.

Latin binomial: Calendula officinalis

Common name(s): Calendula or Marigold

Family: Asteraceae

Part(s) used: The flowers are primarily used, but the stems, younger leaves, seeds and roots all have medicinal properties. Wood says the the medicinal qualities are in the resin that is found in highest amounts underneath the flower head, and in lesser qualities under the petals, leaves and stems. 

Qualities: Neutral with cooling potential, dry, slightly bitter, sweet, salty, pungent
(Holmes). Indicated in ‘damp’ conditions (of wound or in the tissues).


  • Flavonoids (anti-inflammatory)
  • Resins (OH soluble > vulnerary)
  • Triterpenol alcohols 2-4% (OH soluble > vulnerary)
  • Triterpenoid saponins 2-10% (antiviral, antifungal, antibacterial)
  • Volatile oils (antibacterial, antifungal)
  • Polysaccharides (in vitro immunostimulant)
  • Carotenoids > vulnerary (orange flowers) (yellow > xanthophyll)
  • Polyacetylenes
  • Bitter substances

“Somme use it to make theyr here yelow…not being content with the colour…” – William Turner, 1551


  • Antimicrobial
  • ‘Bacteriostatic’ – doesn’t kill bacteria, but contains them, keeping wounds clean to allow healing
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Wound healing
  • Reduces oedema
  • Antioxidant
  • Immunomodulator
  • Lymphatic 
  • Antispasmodic activity
  • Hypoglycaemic activity
  • Hypolipidaemic activity
  • Hepatoprotective (Braun & Cohen, 2010)
  • Astringent, vulnerary, anti-fungal, cholagogue and emmenagogue (Hoffman)


  • Wounds – pulls tissues back together 
  • Burns
  • Swollen lymph – chronic lymph node tenderness.
  • Stagnant lymph – unresolved.
  • Lingering infection – poor immune function due to sluggish lymphatics
  • Low immunity – use petals from flowers in salads, sprinkled on soups etc. during winter to boost lymphatic and, therefore, immune function
  • Gastrointestinal inflammatory disorders (in combination)
  • Gingivitis
  • Thrush / vaginal discharge – ‘issues where the sun don’t shine’.
  • Nappy Rash (Braun & Cohen, 2010)
  • Topical Tx – for inflammation of the oral and pharyngeal mucosa, burns, inflammations of the skin, wound healing, eczema, acne, nappy rash, impetigo
  • Eyebath in conjunctivitis (diluted!)
  • Fungal infection e.g. candida and Trichomoniasis infections (low OH diluted 1:20)
  • Varicose veins, haemorrhoids, venous circulatory problems e.g. leg ulcers

Calendula may be used safely where there is inflammation of the skin, whether it’s due to infection or physical damage (Hoffman).

Will benefit in slow healing wounds and skin ulcers.  Ideal for first aid treatment of minor burns and scalds.

Wounds that look ‘like a cat scratch’ – red swollen, tender, puffy – looks infected (Wood). Herbal sunshine that dries up the wound.

It has a reputation for helping delayed menstruation and painful periods. It is a general normaliser of the menstrual process (Hoffman). Pelvic congestion.

Contraindications/cautions: Use with caution in patients with confirmed allergy to herbs or foods from the Compositae family (Braun & Cohen, 2010)

Combinations: For digestive problems it may be used with Marshmallow Root. As an external soothing lotion it can be combined with Slippery Elm. A useful antiseptic lotion will be produced by combining it with Golden Seal and Myrrh (Hoffman).

Dose: 10-30mL of 1:2 LE per week (25% OR 90% OH)

Infusion 3-12 g per day – 1 cup boiling water over 1 tablespoon of petals; steep for 10 minutes

DROP DOSE: 1 to 10 drops (Wood)


  • PETAL INFUSION: Take for menopausal problems, period pain, gastritis and for inflammation of the oesophagus
  • PETAL TINCTURE: Take for stagnant liver problems including sluggish digestion, also for menstrual disorders, particularly irregular or painful periods
  • PETAL COMPRESS: Apply pad soaked in infusion to slow healing wounds or varicose ulcers
  • PETAL MOUTHWASH: Use infusion for mouth ulcers and gum disease
  • PETAL CREAM: Apply for any problem involving inflammation or dry skin including scalds and sunburn or sore nipples
  • INFUSED OIL: Use on chilblains, haemorrhoids and broken capillaries. Impetigo / school sores
  • ESSENTIAL OIL PESSARIES: Each should contain 2-5 drops of calendula oil and 2-5 drops of tea tree oil, apply 1-2 times day for vaginal thrush
  • OIL: Add 5-10 drops in bath water for nervous anxiety or depression 

Reference used: Braun, L. & Cohn, M. (2010) Herbs & Natural Supplements; An evidence based guide. Elsevier: NSW

Hoffman, D. (1990). Holistic Herbal. London: Thorsons

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