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Calendula flowers are one of my favorite herbal remedies to grow because they are very effective for health and on top of that, an attractive addition to a garden. Calendula has a rich yellow and orange color (depending on variety) that is beautiful and healing.
Spring is the best time to start growing calendula (more on that below), but I recommend keeping some on hand year round for use in tinctures, creams, and more.
First things first:
What Is Calendula?
Calendula (Calendula officinalis), also known as pot marigold, is an annual flower that blooms regularly through the growing season. Native to the Mediterranean, calendula got its name because it seems to bloom with the calendar.
Its other name, pot marigold, is thought to come from “Mary’s Gold,” a name given to the flower in honor of the Virgin Mary.
Are Calendula and Marigold the Same Things?
Calendula is a kind of marigold. There are two genera of marigold — taget and calendula. Taget marigolds, also known as French marigolds, are the marigolds many people plant in their flower gardens or kids plant in school. Of the two kinds of marigolds, calendula is the one used internally (and externally) for its health benefits.
Benefits of Calendula
Calendula flowers have many benefits that may surprise you. Traditional herbalists have known the benefits of calendula flower for centuries and science is beginning to back those claims.
1. Protects Against Inflammation and Cancer
Calendula contains flavonoids and linoleic acid which both help fight inflammation. A 2009 study shows that calendula inhibits pro-inflammatory cytokines.
Calendula has also been found to fight cancer. A study published in BMC Cancer found that the anti-inflammatory and immunomodulating properties of calendula make it an interesting remedy to explorer for cancer treatment. In the study, calendula inhibited cancer cell proliferation and increased lymphocyte production (white blood cells of the lymph system).
2. Eases Muscle Spasms
Calendula is used traditionally in creams and lotions to ease muscle spasms. One Pakistani study found that calendula relaxed spontaneous muscle contractions.
Because of its ability to relax muscles, calendula is beneficial for menstrual cramping, diarrhea, and spasming or sprained muscles.
3. Aids in Menstruation
Amenorrhea (an abnormal absence of a monthly period) is one ailment that calendula can help with. Calendula has been used traditionally to help induce menstruation. It can also help ease PMS symptoms like cramping.
(Note: Because calendula can induce menstruation, pregnant women should avoid consuming it.)
4. Promotes Skin and Wound Healing
One way in which calendula can help with wound healing is by stimulating tissue and collagen production.
Calendula is used to heal:
- insect bites
Animals treated with topical calendula in one study published in the journal of Basic and Clinical Physiology and Pharmacology had a 90 percent wound closing compared to 51 percent in the control group. The study concluded that there was “potent wound healing” observed.
Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, calendula may reduce pain and swelling too. A 2004 study found that it can relieve the pain of dermatitis in breast cancer patients undergoing radiation.
5. Acts as an Antiseptic and Antifungal
One of the most interesting benefits of calendula is that it is antiseptic and antifungal. Because of this, calendula oil, tea, and ointment can be used to treat minor skin and eye infections as well as general skin conditions. A 2013 review found that calendula has antiseptic, antiviral, and antifungal, and can be used successfully to treat skin conditions.
Topical calendula can be used to treat conjunctivitis, diaper rash, and skin wounds among other uses.
Calendula can also help reduce gingivitis and plaque because of its antiseptic property, according to a 2013 study.
6. For Beauty & Color!
Calendula is an amazing natural remedy but it can (and has for centuries) been used in other ways.
Calendula can be used as a food or fabric dye, to brighten summer salads (yes the petals are edible!), and for spiritual and religious uses. They are also beautiful so they make a wonderful table decor. Since it blooms throughout the summer you’ll never be without flowers!
How to Use Calendula
I always keep calendula around the house. I make calendula-infused oil to make many of the following products. You can also use calendula essential oil if you don’t have fresh or dried calendula flowers to infuse.
I frequently use calendula in:
- homemade lotion
- homemade lotion bars
- healing salve
- baby care recipes like diaper cream and baby powder
- homemade shampoo and conditioner
- calendula tea (used topically, internally, or as a mouthwash)
- sprinkled on a salad (calendula is high in beta-carotene and flavonoids!)
- in soap (to soothe irritated skin)
- to get rid of stretch marks
- as a natural food dye
- added to skin care products like face wash
- eaten straight from the garden!
- in natural herbal hair color recipes
There are infinite ways to use calendula and because it’s so mild you can safely experiment with adding calendula to your favorite personal care products.
Is Calendula Safe?
Calendula is generally considered safe. However, those with allergies to the Asteraceae (daisy) family could have side effects that include rashes and other allergic reactions.
Additionally because calendula can induce menstruation, most medical professionals would advise pregnant, breastfeeding, and trying-to-conceive women to avoid the herb. As always check with your doctor to see if calendula is right for you.
Calendula is so easy to grow even those who think they have a black thumb can do it. Calendula has very funny looking seeds that look a little bit like dried up worms ( making them a fun seed to plant with kids). One seed grows a huge plant (about 2 feet tall) and produces many flowers.
To grow: Plant calendula seeds in the spring outside in full sun after the risk of frost. You can also start them inside 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost. Calendula can also be grown indoors with enough sunlight or a grow lamp.
To harvest: Cut flowers just after they’ve bloomed. Cutting the flowers stimulates the plant to produce more. Because calendula blooms every month, you can get a good supply of calendula from just one or two plants. The seeds are really easy to save too!
Where to Buy Calendula
The best and least expensive option is to grow it yourself during the summer, but if that isn’t an option, it can be ordered online here.
This article was medically reviewed by Jessica Meyers, MPAP, PA-C, RH(AHG), who specializes in herbal protocols and functional medicine. You can also find Jessica on Instagram. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.
Have you ever used calendula? How did you use it? Share below!
Discussion (50 Comments)
Hi Wellness Mama 😉
I was going to make a salve for my daughters eczema and purchased some calendula essential oil (it says it has olive oil as well) … Anyway it’s a smaller bottle, maybe 2oz… Wondering how I might add this to the salve with the proper ratios since I’m not making the calendula infused oil on my own…. Any suggestions?
Hi- I make lip balms and lotion bar sticks and have also know about the benefits of calendula for a long time so I infused dried calendula petals in grapeseed oil this winter. I took a half gallon jar and packed it full with dried petals that I had bought- Frontier brand, I believe. Using a wooden spoon I pressed the petals into the jar until we couldn’t get any more in. Not sure if that was necessary, but I didn’t really want to go through the process very often, so that’s what I did. Then I poured grapeseed oil in on top. It surprised me how much I needed because I thought we had packed so many petals in there there wouldn’t be room for all that oil! I think it took 1.75 quarts. Then I let it sit in a warm but dark spot for three months. After that I tipped it onto a colander over a bowl and it all came out. The petals have just a slight greasiness to them! Was way easier than I expected. So, I made some lotion sticks using that oil, shea oil, coconut oil, and a small amount of beeswax and it really seems to help ease my eczema when it’s open and scabbed. I’ve used it on other sores, but am not sure if the calendula really is increasing the speed of healing or just the fact that I’m putting oil on it. Either way I’m using it often and like it! The oil, which is naturally light green to begin with, became quite yellow and smells somewhat of dry hay with a hint of floral in it. Not too strong! I added a touch of lavender to some of the sticks, but the natural scent mixed with the beeswax is quite pleasant and mild.
To Cheryl. Can we be friends on facebook my name is tara taura maluleke. I’m teaching myself to make lipbalms and just experienced an error, it does not stay solid it melts and I’m trying to figure out where I went wrong. I used coconut oil, olive oil, almond oil beeswax, honey. I was wondering if U can tell Me how to solidify it, what do I need. I’m busy researching more and I think I might need shea butter. If My interest does interest U, please respond via my email and befriend My on facebook. To Cheryl.
Question-is it good for eczema? My teething 9 month old son has eczema bad on his cheeks, chin & upper lip from the constant drool. Doctor prescribed a steroid that doesn’t seem to help. I’ll take any advice. Thanks!
Blair, see my comment below, but it does help my eczema on my hands. I think it just helps heal it, not necessarily make it go away, but healing the open areas is great too. I doubt highly that it could hurt. I have put the mixture on my lips and although it doesn’t stick on as much because I made it with much less beeswax than I normally would for lip balm, it still feels nice and feels good. I also wonder if this isn’t more just irritation vs eczema or possibly both, but I’m sure it would help it some! BTW, you don’t need 3 months to infuse your oil like I did it. You can follow Wellness Mama’s directions for infusing herbs under the Healing Salve link. And mine infused for 3 months just because I didn’t get around to taking care of it any sooner, too! Good luck to you and your son!
Where can I get just the pure essential oil. Not one that is infused with the flower.
Propolus is good for eczema.
I would say Yes. I have used the prescribed creams that actually made my babies (twins) worse. An herbalist saw us in the store and gave me an oil blend of calendula and lavender. The eczema was completely gone in 3 day (no lie).
That was 5 years ago…I have never used anything else and there hasn’t been a breakout since.
I grow these every spring-summer in my garden! I grow it for my dear bunny! Its great for him, full of antioxidants and other great stuff :)) I harvest them when they are fully grown and I air dry most of them for the autumn-winter so my bunny can enjoy them then too! I havent done any tincture yet but I use calendula extract in my hemp and tamanu face oil!
I actually have newly taken shots with my bunny eating calendula (yeah I’m such a proud bunnymama!) you can check him out on my instagram! Aleron_Q
I always wondered if you use the leaves or the flowers, since we have a bunch of these in our yard. Looks like you use the flowers. Should I pick them at their peak to dry?
If I want to grow my own calendula; does it matter which variety? I have found 3 or more varieties and assume one is no different than the other?
I’ve been eatin’ up all this great info you have here…just saying THANK YOU and I’m excited to get going on the recipes:)
Great information! One question: How do I use it? Boil it? Grind it, toss it in whole? It’s all new to me, so I feel like I am asking a ton of questions….
….my husband says I’m turning into a witch doctor– the oils and powders and herbs now gracing my shelves… but I don’t hear any complaints, lol! =)
You can drink it, infuse it in oil, or really do whatever you like with it. Consult some herbals and see how they’re using calendula! Nothing except trial and error (which can be costly) takes the place of consulting books written by our elders or seeking them out personally <3
Homeopathic Calendula cream and coconut oil are the only things that ever grace my baby’s delicate bottom! I also used it for c-section incision healing and my doctor couldn’t believe how fast and well it healed. It’s a wonderful herb.
Thanks Welness Mama, we use the homeopathic cream Calendula at home for minor cuts and I applied it on a scar following surgery… now the scar is almost gone!!