Common Names

  • Gold-bloom
  • Marigold
  • Marybud
  • Pot Marigold

For Patients & Caregivers

How It Works

Topical application of calendula may reduce painful swelling and irritation associated with radiation therapy. It has not been shown to treat cancer.

Naturally occurring chemicals derived from the marigold plant have been shown to reduce inflammation in laboratory studies. These chemicals, which are called triterpenoids, also inhibit HIV virus and some tumors. When applied to the skin, extracts of calendula help to heal wounds and inflammation after radiation therapy. More research is needed.

Purported Uses

  • To heal burns and scalds
    Laboratory and animal studies show that calendula, when applied to the skin, has anti-inflammatory properties, and reduces burn tissue injury in animals. However, studies have not been undertaken to determine if this corresponds to faster healing of burns and scalds. Also, clinical studies in humans have not been performed.
  • To treat painful menstruation
    No scientific evidence supports this use.
  • To prevent skin inflammation
    Calendula ointment applied to the skin reduced painful swelling and irritation associated with radiation therapy in breast cancer patients.
  • To treat spasms
    No scientific evidence supports this use.
  • To treat varicose veins
    This claim is not backed by scientific data.

Do Not Take If

  • You are allergic to plants in the Asteraceae/Compositae family.
  • You are pregnant or lactating because safety data are lacking.

Side Effects

  • Calendula can cause allergic reactions.
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For Healthcare Professionals

Scientific Name

Calendula officinalis

Clinical Summary

Extracted from the flower of the marigold plant, calendula is used topically for wound healing (1). Major constituents of the leaves and stems of the plant include lutein and beta-carotene (2). Extracts from calendula demonstrated anti-inflammatory properties (3), which may improve wound healing (4), and antibacterial, antiparasitic (5), anti-HIV (6), cytotoxic and anti-tumor effects (9) (10) both in vitro and in vivo. Further, studies done in mice indicate hepato-, reno- (14), photo- (15), and cardioprotective (16) properties.

An herbal formulation containing calendula was found effective in reducing earache in children with acute otitis media (7) (8). Topical application of a calendula cream was shown safe and effective in infants as well for treating diaper dermatitis (21).

Preliminary data support use of topical calendula for prophylaxis of acute dermatitis during radiation therapy (11) (13); and a mouthwash containing calendula against chemotherapy-induced stomatitis (17).  Larger studies are needed to confirm these observations.

Purported Uses

  • Conjunctivitis
  • Eczema
  • GI disorders
  • Inflammation
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Menstrual disorder
  • Radiation therapy side effects
  • Spasms
  • Varicose veins

Mechanism of Action

The triterpenoids present in calendula have anti-inflammatory (3) and anti-HIV (6)effects, and a calendula extract suppressed cell fusion, which may inhibit early events in the HIV replication cycle (6). The most active triterpenoid is a monoester of faradiol (1). Calendula also exhibits hepato- and reno-protective effects which are likely due to its antioxidant activity (14). The photoprotective effect of topical gel formulations containing calendula is thought to be associated with an improvement in collagen synthesis in the sub-epidermal connective tissue (15). Calendula also affords cardioprotection that involves modulating the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory pathways by activation of Akt (a serine/threonine protein kinase) and Bcl2 (a protein that regulates apoptosis), and down regulation of tumor necrosis factor (TNF alpha) (16). In another study, calendula was shown to inhibit human gingival fibroblast-mediated degradation of collagen and matrix metalloprotease (MMP-2) activity (18).

The essential oil from calendula flowers was shown to have sun protection activity (19). And application of a cream containing essential oil of calendula prevented UV-B-induced alterations in the skin in a study of rats (20). Calendula extract also accelerated healing of experimentally-induced thermal burns in rats by increasing collagen-hydroxyproline and hexosamine, which are two bio-indicators of wound healing (4).


Calendula should be avoided during pregnancy and lactation because safety data are lacking  (1).

Adverse Reactions

Calendula is known to cause allergic reactions (1) (12).

Dosage (OneMSK Only)


  1. Barnes J, Anderson LA, Phillipson JD. Herbal Medicines. London: Pharmaceutical Press; 2002.

  2. Bako E, Deli J, Toth G. HPLC study on the carotenoid composition of Calendula products. J Biochem Biophys Methods. Oct-Nov 2002;53(1-3):241-250.

  3. Akihisa T, Yasukawa K, Oinuma H, et al. Triterpene alcohols from the flowers of compositae and their anti-inflammatory effects. Phytochemistry. Dec 1996;43(6):1255-1260.

  4. Szakiel A, Ruszkowski D, Grudniak A, et al. Antibacterial and Antiparasitic Activity of Oleanolic Acid and its Glycosides isolated from Marigold (Calendula officinalis).Planta Med. Nov 2008;74(14):1709-1715.

  5. Kalvatchev Z, Walder R, Garzaro D. Anti-HIV activity of extracts from Calendula officinalis flowers. Biomed Pharmacother. 1997;51(4):176-180.

  6. Sarrell EM, Cohen HA, Kahan E. Naturopathic treatment for ear pain in children. Pediatrics. May 2003;111(5 Pt 1):e574-579.

  7. Sarrell EM, Mandelberg A, Cohen HA.Efficacy of naturopathic extracts in the management of ear pain associated with acute otitis media. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. Jul 2001;155(7):796-799.

  8. Boucaud-Maitre Y, Algernon O, Raynaud J. Cytotoxic and antitumoral activity of Calendula officinalis extracts. Pharmazie. Mar 1988;43(3):220-221.

  9. Reider N, Komericki P, Hausen BM, et al. The seamy side of natural medicines: contact sensitization to arnica (Arnica montana L.) and marigold (Calendula officinalis L.). Contact Dermatitis. 2001 Nov;45(5):269-72.

  10. Kassab S, Cummings M, Berkovitz S, et al. Homeopathic medicines for adverse effects of cancer treatments. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2009 Apr 15;(2):CD004845. Review.

  11. Preethi KC, Kuttan R. Hepato and reno protective action of Calendula officinalis L. flower extract. Indian J Exp Biol. 2009 Mar;47(3):163-8.

  12. Fonseca YM, Catini CD, Vicentini FT, et al.  Efficacy of marigold extract-loaded formulations against UV-induced oxidative stress. J Pharm Sci. 2011 Jun;100(6):2182-93.

  13. Ray D, Mukherjee S, Falchi M, Bertelli A, Das DK. Amelioration of myocardial ischemic reperfusion injury with Calendula officinalis.  Curr Pharm Biotechnol. 2010 Dec;11(8):849-54.

  14. Saini P, Al-Shibani N, Sun J, et al. Effects of Calendula officinalis on human gingival fibroblasts. Homeopathy. 2012 Apr;101(2):92-8.

  15. Mishra A, Mishra A, Chattopadhyay P. Assessment of In vitro Sun Protection Factor of Calendula Officinalis L. (Asteraceae) Essential Oil Formulation. J Young Pharm. 2012 Jan;4(1):17-21.

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