Calendula Benefits & Uses for Skin, Insect Bites, Anti-Cancer & More

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Wellness Mama » Blog » Natural Remedies » Calendula Benefits & Uses for Skin, Insect Bites, Anti-Cancer & More

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:

  • cuts
  • scrapes
  • burns
  • bruises
  • 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:

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.

Growing Calendula

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!

Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


51 responses to “Calendula Benefits & Uses for Skin, Insect Bites, Anti-Cancer & More”

  1. Sherryl Avatar

    I love, love, love, calendula. I have used it for many things. My husband was hit with a sudden and strong tooth pain. I cut about 3×3 cotton fabric square, put a pinch if calendula petals in the center and folded it into a pouch. I dipped the pouch in boiling water and told him to hold in his mouth between his cheek and gum when it’s cool enough. He took it out of his mouth about an hour or so later when he went to bed. His dentist appointment was more than a week away, but his tooth stopped hurting that night and didn’t bother him again before his appointment.
    I use calendula and rosehip tea for constipation, I’ve used it in a weak tea for an eye wash and infuse oil with it for lotions and foot cream to help dry skin. I call it my little miracle herb.

  2. Deborah Avatar

    When my son was about 11 months old he fell and hit his forehead on a large wooden coffee table. A very large knot about the size of the length of my pinky popped out . I’ve never heard such screaming come out of a baby. I had a few drops of calendula distilled in glycerin left so I put it on a Cotten ball and taped it to his head and nursed him to sleep, kept very close watch throughout the night. The next morning I removed Cotten ball and there was nothing, no bruise no knot, just a slight indent where he hit. I had already been using it for cuts and bug bites. My son acted like he never even fell. I never ran out of it while my children where little.

  3. Autumn Avatar

    I have been using your homemade face wash recipe for years using chamomile tea as a base instead of plain water. Recently, I started using calendula in place of the chamomile because it works better for my husbands auto-immune related skin issues. Thanks so much!

  4. Sarah Avatar

    I recently bought the California Baby brand’s Soothing Calendula cream at Target to help my facial skin heal after using face masks too often which totally dried out my skin like never before. I had terrible irritated flaky patches all over my face. The first time I used the cream it instantly soothed my skin and brought it back to almost normal. The cream has a good amount of calendula in it and my skin is grateful for it.

  5. Felicia Avatar

    I make a Sunflower & Calendula soap that we(family)love so much I started making a Sunflower & Calendula Body Lotion too. I think the healing properties for skin make it the perfect oil to add to soap and lotion. It has a great fresh scent too.

  6. Cristina Avatar

    I think, Calendula it’s not Marigold, looks like it, but it is not.

    1. JM Avatar

      Calendula IS one of two types of marigold. Read the article above and you’ll see where Wellness Mama explained the difference between them and which is used for skin care etc. Good luck.

  7. Terry Avatar

    Can you use calendula extract to make tea? If so how many drops would you use to make a cup of tea?

  8. Christy Avatar

    I was told to put calendula oil – which I bought from a health supplement store- on a small dry / red/ itchy spot under my eyes; possibly eczema. How long should I leave it on my skin & how often should it be reapplied?

    Thank you!!

  9. Jim Pengilley Avatar
    Jim Pengilley

    I am using calendula on my lips an old skin cancer always makes my lip better. Where can i purchase Calendula tea is there such a product. Hoping someone may be able to help. Thanks

  10. Anna Avatar

    Hi Katie, I had some spare calendula flowers and some very stong (forgotten about!) kombucha vinegar so I steeped the flowers in the vinegar for several months. I now have a large jar of calendula kombucha vinegar in my fridge but have no idea what I could use it for. Do you have any suggestions please? Thanks, Anna 🙂

  11. Kim Avatar

    I just started my infused oil yesterday, I used 1.5 cups coconut oil and half a cup of olive oil. Today it has solidified. Do I need to make sure it stays melted or mix it up or something or will it still infuse in its solidified state? I’m so excited to start making my own calendula cream. I saw some at the market and it was like $30 for a small tin. No thank you. Much more cost effective to make it yourself not to mention fun! Thanks so much. Love love your website. Any time I wanna make something I type it in google and am always brought back here.

  12. Abdulhaleem Avatar

    I am suffering from chicken pox scar.
    Will calendula cream cure the scar of chicken pox if i use it consistently???

  13. Eliana Harding Avatar
    Eliana Harding

    I have scar tissue from surgery can I use calendula oil
    Do help for it
    And for skin rejuvenate?

  14. Annie Avatar

    Hello. I’m a newbie at all this and I’m buying my supplies to start making lotions and such for the first time. One thing I’m wondering is, in recipes that say use a flower like Calendula or Yarrow (or any other leaf or flower), is it okay to use an essential oil version instead? Does using an essential oil instead of the herb have an impact on the effectiveness? Thank you for your wonderful blog and guidance to non-toxic living!

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar

      You can use essential oils, but you may want to find recipes that specifically use the oils rather than plant parts. Since essential oils are very concentrated, the amounts to use will vary significantly from how much dried herbs you would use instead…

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