What is it?
Calendula flower is used to prevent muscle spasms, start menstrual periods, and reduce fever. It is also used for treating sore throat and mouth, menstrual cramps, cancer, and stomach and duodenal ulcers. Calendula has also been used for measles, smallpox, and jaundice.
Calendula is applied to the skin to reduce pain and swelling (inflammation) and to treat poorly healing wounds and leg ulcers. It is also applied to the skin (used topically) for nosebleeds, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, inflammation of the rectum (proctitis), ear infection, gum disease, peeling lips (exfoliative cheilitis), diaper rash, vaginal yeast infection, and inflammation of the lining of the eyelid (conjunctivitis). Essential oil of calendula has been used as an insect repellant.
Don’t confuse calendula with ornamental marigolds of the Tagets genus, which are commonly grown in vegetable gardens.
How effective is it?
Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.
The effectiveness ratings for CALENDULA are as follows:
Insufficient evidence to rate effectiveness for...
- Anal tears (anal fissures). Early research suggests that that applying calendula to the affected area may reduce pain in people with anal tears who do not respond to treatment with sitz baths and the medication nifedipine.
- Diabetic foot ulcers. Early research shows that using a calendula spray in addition to standard care and hygiene might prevent infection and decrease odor in people with long-term foot ulcer from diabetes.
- Diaper rash. Some early research suggests that applying a calendula ointment to the skin for 10 days improves diaper rash compared to aloe gel. But other early research shows that applying calendula cream does not improve diaper rash as effectively as bentonite solution.
- Peeling lips (exfoliative cheilitis). Early research shows that using calendula ointment for 15 days might help stop peeling lips.
- Gum inflammation. Early research shows that rinsing the mouth with a specific calendula tincture for 6 months might decrease plaque, gum inflammation, and bleeding by 10% to 18% compared to using water to rinse. Other early research shows that rinsing the mouth with a combination mouthwash containing calendula, rosemary, and ginger for 2 weeks decreases plaque, gum inflammation, and bleeding compared to placebo mouthwash. In fact, it the combination mouthwash seems to work as effectively as chlorhexidine mouthwash.
- Insect repellant. Applying calendula essential oil to the skin does not seem to repel mosquitoes as effectively as applying DEET.
- Ear infections (otitis media). Early research shows that applying a specific product that contains mullein, garlic, calendula, and St. John’s wort to the ear for 3 days reduces ear pain in children and teenagers with ear infections.
- Pressure ulcers. Early research shows that using a specific calendula product might improve the healing of long-term pressure ulcers.
- Skin inflammation due to radiation therapy (radiation dermatitis). Early research suggests that applying calendula ointment on the skin might reduce radiation dermatitis in people receiving radiation therapy for breast cancer. However, other early research shows that using a calendula cream is no different than petroleum jelly for reducing radiation dermatitis.
- Thinning of the wall of the vagina (vaginal atrophy). Early research suggests that applying a gel containing calendula, Lactobacillus sporogenes, isoflavones, and lactic acid to the vagina for 4 weeks reduces symptoms of vaginal atrophy such as vaginal itching, burning, dryness, and pain during intercourse.
- Vaginal yeast infection. Early research shows that applying calendula cream inside the vagina for 7 days does not treat yeast infections as effectively as using clotrimazole cream.
- Leg ulcers. Early research shows that applying a calendula ointment to the skin speeds up the healing of leg ulcers caused by poor blood circulation.
- Wound healing. Early research shows that applying calendula ointment along with routine care does not improve the healing of surgical cut of the vagina made during childbirth.
- Muscle spasms.
- Promoting menstruation.
- Treating mouth and throat soreness.
- Varicose veins.
- Other conditions.
How does it work?
Are there safety concerns?
Special precautions & warnings:Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Don’t take calendula by mouth if you are pregnant. It is LIKELY UNSAFE. There is a concern that it might cause a miscarriage. It’s best to avoid topical use as well until more is known.
There is not enough reliable information about the safety of using calendula if you are breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
Allergy to ragweed and related plants: Calendula may cause an allergic reaction in people who are sensitive to the Asteraceae/Compositae family. Members of this family include ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, daisies, and many others. If you have allergies, be sure to check with your healthcare provider before taking calendula.
Surgery: Calendula might cause too much drowsiness if combined with medications used during and after surgery. Stop taking calendula at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
Are there interactions with medications?
- Sedative medications (CNS depressants)
- Calendula might cause sleepiness and drowsiness. Medications that cause sleepiness are called sedatives. Taking calendula along with sedative medications might cause too much sleepiness.
Some sedative medications include clonazepam (Klonopin), lorazepam (Ativan), phenobarbital (Donnatal), zolpidem (Ambien), and others.
Are there interactions with herbs and supplements?
- Herbs and supplements that cause sleepiness and drowsiness
- Calendula might cause sleepiness and drowsiness. Taking it with other herbs and supplements that have this same effect might cause too much sleepiness. Some of these include 5-HTP, calamus, California poppy, catnip, hops, Jamaican dogwood, kava, St. John's wort, skullcap, valerian, yerba mansa, and others.
Are there interactions with foods?
- There are no known interactions with foods.
What dose is used?
To learn more about how this article was written, please see the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database methodology.
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