The petals of the calendula plant (Calendula officinalis) have been
used for medicinal purposes for centuries. Often referred to as pot marigold or
garden marigold, calendula is native to Mediterranean countries but is now grown
as an ornamental plant throughout the world. It is important to note, however,
that not all household plants called marigold are members of the calendula
Folk medicine healers in Europe used infusions, extracts, and ointments
prepared with calendula petals to induce menstruation, produce sweat during
fevers, and cure jaundice. Calendula preparations were also used in the United
States during the 19th century to treat stomach ulcers, liver complaints,
conjunctivitis (pink eye), and wounds. Researchers soon discovered that
compounds in calendula petals help reduce inflammation and control bleeding.
Today, the dried petals of the calendula plant are used in tinctures, ointments,
and washes to speed the healing of burns, bruises, and cuts, as well as the
minor infections they cause.
Calendula is an annual plant that thrives in virtually any soil but can
typically be found in Europe, Western Asia, and the United States. Its branching
stems grow to a height of 30 to 60 cm. Calendula has a flowerhead situated on a
well-defined green floral receptacle. The inner portion of the flowerhead
consists of orange-yellow, tubular florets (often called petals).
The dried petals of the calendula plant are used for medicinal purposes.
Medicinal Uses and Indications
Burns, Cuts and Bruises Calendula tinctures, ointments, and
washes are commonly used to speed the healing of burns, bruises, and cuts, as
well as the minor infections they cause.
Professional homeopaths often recommend ointments containing homeopathic
doses of calendula to heal first-degree burns and sunburns. In fact, some
homeopaths consider this remedy the treatment of choice for children.
Homeopathic calendula ointments may also be used in the healing stages of
second- and third-degree burns to stimulate regrowth of skin and to diminish
Ear Infection Homeopathic doses of calendula also appear to
reduce pain caused by ear infections in children. In a study conducted in
Israel, 103 children with ear infections were given herbal ear drops or drops
containing pain-relieving medications. The herbal ear drops contained a variety
of herbal extracts including calendula, St. John's wort, mullein flower, and
garlic. The researchers found that the combination of herbs in the ear drops
were as effective as the medication ear drops in reducing the children's ear
HIV Preliminary laboratory studies also suggest that extracts
of dried calendula petals inhibit the activity of the human immunodeficiency
virus (HIV) in test tubes. Calendula has not been studied in people with HIV,
however, so it is not clear whether this herb is safe or effective for people
with this condition.
Fresh or dried calendula petals are available in tinctures, liquid extracts,
infusions, ointments, and creams.
Calendula products should always be protected from light and moisture, and
should not be used after three years of storage.
How to Take It
Use only topical and homeopathic preparations for children.
Calendula can be used externally in the form of creams and ointments in
dosages of 2 to 5 g calendula per 100 g cream or ointment.
For homeopathic dosages follow instructions on product labeling or consult a
Recommended adult doses are as follows:
Infusion: 1 tsp dried florets in 8 oz water; steep 30 to 40 minutes; drink
two to three cups per day
Fluid extract (1:1 in 40% alcohol): 0.5 to 1.0 mL three times per day
Tincture (1:5 in 90% alcohol): 2 to 4 mL three times per day
Ointment: 2 to 5 g crude drug in 100 g ointment
The use of herbs is a time-honored approach to strengthening the body and
treating disease. Herbs, however, contain active substances that can trigger
side effects and that can interact with other herbs, supplements, or
medications. For these reasons, herbs should be taken with care, under the
supervision of a practitioner knowledgeable in the field of botanical
Frequent skin contact may result in an allergic reaction to the herb.
Calendula is also known to affect the menstrual cycle and should not be used
during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
There are no known scientific reports of interactions between calendula and
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Review Date: April 2002
Reviewed By: Participants in the review process include: Jacqueline A. Hart, MD,
Department of Internal Medicine, Newton-Wellesley Hospital, Harvard University
and Senior Medical Editor Integrative Medicine, Boston, MA; Gary Kracoff, RPh
(Pediatric Dosing section February 2001), Johnson Drugs, Natick, MA; Steven
Ottariono, RPh (Pediatric Dosing section February 2001), Veteran's
Administrative Hospital, Londonderry, NH; R. Lynn Shumake, PD, Director,
Alternative Medicine Apothecary, Blue Mountain Apothecary & Healing Arts,
University of Maryland Medical Center, Glenwood, MD; David Winston, Herbalist
(December 1999), Herbalist and Alchemist, Inc., Washington, NJ. All interaction
sections have also been reviewed by a team of experts including Joseph Lamb, MD
(July 2000), The Integrative Medicine Works, Alexandria, VA;Enrico Liva, ND, RPh
(August 2000), Vital Nutrients, Middletown, CT; Brian T Sanderoff, PD, BS in
Pharmacy (March 2000), Clinical Assistant Professor, University of Maryland
School of Pharmacy; President, Your Prescription for Health, Owings Mills, MD;
Ira Zunin, MD, MPH, MBA (July 2000), President and Chairman, Hawaii State
Consortium for Integrative Medicine, Honolulu,
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currently marketed or in investigative use. This material is not intended as a
guide to self-medication. The reader is advised to discuss the information
provided here with a doctor, pharmacist, nurse, or other authorized healthcare
practitioner and to check product information (including package inserts)
regarding dosage, precautions, warnings, interactions, and contraindications
before administering any drug, herb, or supplement discussed