By Sarena-Rae Santos, Natural Health Blogger
What is Calendula
Calendula is also known as garden marigold, marygold, pot marigold, or its scientific name Calendula officinalis. Calendula is a fragrant annual with colorful flower petals ranging from goldish-yellow, orange, and reddish-burgundy with simple green leaves that are easy to grow in average, moderately fertile, well-drained soils in full sun (1).
Health Benefits of Calendula
Calendula has been used for centuries, both internally and topically, to heal wounds, burns, and rashes, but it does so much more, including, but not limited to:
Rich in Antioxidants
Antioxidants can help fight damage from harmful free radicals. The buildup of free radicals has been linked to chronic diseases, such as cancer and heart disease (2). Thankfully, calendula extract possesses several potent antioxidants, including triterpenes, flavonoids, polyphenols, and carotenoids (3,4,5,6).
Antioxidants also contain beneficial compounds that neutralize the harmful effects of oxidative stress in your body (7). One animal study discovered that rats fed monosodium glutamate (MSG) had significantly reduced oxidative stress and reduced the depletion of antioxidant levels by up to 122% after calendula extract (8).
Spasmolytic & Spasmogenic Properties
Spasmolytic properties reduce excessive smooth muscle contractility, responsible for cramping and discomfort in the abdominal area, caused by multiple conditions affecting the gastrointestinal, biliary, or genitourinary tract (9). Spasmolytic properties work by either enhancing the inhibition level or reducing myocyte excitation (10). Data from one study showed that the crude extract of its flowers relaxed spontaneous muscle contractions and provided a scientific base for this herb’s use in abdominal cramps and constipation (11).
An antiviral property is when a substance, or in this case, an herb, can kill a virus or suppress the virus’ ability to replicate, multiply or reproduce (12). Calendula shows some evidence of antibacterial, antiviral, and antitumor activity (13). For instance, plant pharmacological studies have suggested that calendula extracts have antiviral properties in-vitro (14).
An antifungal property is when a substance, or in this case, an herb, can fight the growth of specific pathogens that could harm your health, such as ringworm, athlete’s foot, tinea versicolor, toenail fungus, and jock itch (15). Studies have found the essential oil of calendula to have antifungal properties (16). In test-tube studies, the oil from calendula flowers was effective against 23 strains of candida yeast, including common fungi that can cause oral, vaginal, and skin infections (17).
May Promote Wound Healing
According to studies, calendula extract may regulate the expression of certain proteins that promote wound healing (18). For instance, a test-tube study determined that calendula extract increased the amount of collagen in wounds as they healed, which is necessary to form new skin (19). In animal studies, rats treated within an eight-day window had a 90 percent closure of their wounds, compared to only 51 percent of those who had not used the plant-based topical treatment (20).
Thankfully the benefits don’t end at test tube and animal studies. In a 12-week human study, 72% of those treated with calendula extract experienced complete healing of venous leg ulcers, compared with 32% in the control group (21). In another study of 41 adults with diabetes-related foot ulcers, 78% of participants achieved complete wound closure after daily treatment with calendula spray (22).
May Improve Skin Health
Thanks to calendula’s antioxidant content that reduces skin damage caused by oxidative stress (23), calendula has anti-aging properties that may improve skin health (24). Studies demonstrate that calendula extract may enhance skin hydration and stimulate its firmness and elasticity, which may delay signs of aging (25). A 10-day study in 66 children with diaper rash determined that calendula ointment may be a safe and effective treatment (26). Finally, a test-tube study found that calendula oil has a sun protection factor (SPF) of 8.36 (27), which is why natural sun protectants like Earthley’s Sun Shield contain calendula.
May Support Heart Health
High blood pressure, high cholesterol, and obesity are all risk factors for heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in the United States (28). Research indicates calendula’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties may reduce heart attack risk. Still, these effects were only seen in a single test-tube study (29), so human studies are needed to confirm this benefit.
May Support Oral Health
Calendula has become a popular additive in toothpaste and mouthwash over the past years due to its powerful antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, especially for gingivitis (30). Gingivitis is a common and mild form of gum disease (periodontal disease) that causes irritation, redness, and swelling of the part of your gum around the base of your teeth, also known as gingiva (31).
A test-tube study determined that a calendula-based mouthwash reduced the number of microorganisms on suture materials used for tooth extraction (32). A study involving 240 human subjects demonstrated that calendula mouthwash could significantly improve gingival index, plaque index, sulcus bleeding index, and oral health information suite indices after three months of treatment (33). In another clinical trial without a control group, marigold dentifrice reduced gingival index, plaque index, and bleeding on probing in 40 patients with established gingivitis (34).
Several studies have been conducted to determine the potential anticancer properties of calendula. Research indicates that the extract activates proteins that kill cancer cells while simultaneously blocking other proteins that would otherwise interfere with cell death (35). Test-tube studies suggest that calendula’s flavonoid and triterpene antioxidants may fight leukemia, melanoma, and pancreatic cancer cells (36,37,38).
Thankfully the benefits don’t end at test tube studies. In animal studies, calendula fights carcinogenic activity within tumors and activates the lymphocytes, which fight against foreign and infectious invaders (39). Research has found that calendula extracts and isolated compounds have demonstrated a reliable potential in cancer management in treatment and palliative care (40). Additionally, calendula appears more effective than typically recommended topical agents at reducing and preventing the incidence of dermatitis caused by radiation used for breast cancer treatment (41).
According to the mainstream, when taken orally, calendula is safe for most people, but they say not to take calendula by mouth if you are pregnant, claiming it is likely unsafe and concerned that it might cause a miscarriage. They also claim it’s best to avoid topical use until more is known. Additionally, they state that there isn’t enough reliable information to know if calendula is safe to use when breastfeeding and recommend staying on the safe side and avoiding use (42).
Contrarily, trusted herbalist Richard Whelan says calendula is an extremely safe herb that can be used by all ages, including the very young and old. Likewise, it is perfectly safe for pregnant or breastfeeding mothers. When addressing the mainstream concern, Richard Whelan states to have scoured medical literature and found no evidence for the mainstream claims.
Additionally, Richard Whelan warns that as a member of the Compositae family, there is a small risk (less than 1%) of an allergic reaction from being in contact with the fresh calendula and states reports of sensitization to Calendula are extremely rare (43).
How to Use Calendula
You can find calendula in dried bulk, pills, powders, teas, extracts, or tinctures. Tinctures always contain the most concentrated amount of herbs. Teas and soups are also options, especially when following ayurvedic medicine recipes. If you’re a DIY person, some great starter recipes are:
Follow the recommendations of any supplement; some of my recommendations include:
- Earthley’s All-Purpose Salve is the perfect remedy for minor scrapes, cuts, rashes, burns, and more. Safe for all ages, this multi-purpose salve stick is a must-have for any family.
- Earthley’s Anti-Itch Soap cools the itch of poison ivy, sumac, and oak using nourishing oils to soothe and heal the skin naturally. Say goodbye to the dry itch and hello to beautifully radiant skin.
- Earthley’s Baby Balm is a natural diaper cream that is a pure, clean salve to protect your little one’s skin and help it heal. Safe for cloth diapers, this salve is made to help those diaper rashes and minor burns, cuts, and scrapes. Comes in a mess-free tube.
- Earthley’s Blueberry-Hemp Moisturizer relieves skin inflammation and stimulates pro-collagen production. Heal damaged skin, improve signs of premature aging, and naturally cool the face with nature’s power.
- Earthley’s Breast Balm is an all-natural, herbal salve created to help soothe sore nipples and relieve breastfeeding pain. It also contains anti-fungal properties to help fight thrush. Since it’s edible and safe for babies, there’s no need to wipe it off before nursing.
- Earthley’s Calendula-Rose Body Oil is perfect for your sensitive skin. It can help smooth fine lines, diminish redness and hydrate. Use it as a light lotion or massage oil. A little goes a long way!
- Earthley’s Candida Cleanse helps to fight yeast and candida overgrowth to restore gut health. Made with 100% natural ingredients, this herbal tincture is safe and effective in bringing the relief you’ve been looking for.
- Earthley’s Detox Bath can support your body during a detox, during an illness, or just because you want to relax in a lovely scented soak. This blend can help with joint and muscle pain, headaches, lymphatic congestion, and rashes.
- Earthley’s Elderberry Elixir (Kids Formula) is a liquid supplement combining elderberries with other immune-supporting herbs for everyday wellness. It’s an elderberry tincture (not syrup) that’s a potent cold and flu fighter, shelf-stable for up to 2 years, and super concentrated, which makes it the most cost-effective option.
- Earthley’s Eye Serum smoothes wrinkles, nourishes delicate skin, and banishes dark circles under the eyes. Earthley infused a blend of oils (blueberry seed, rosehip seed, and prickly pear) with herbs (comfrey, calendula, ginger, licorice root) to improve circulation and reduce inflammation.
- Earthley’s Gut Health Oil is an herbal tincture created to help detox your gut for improved health. This product can help to eliminate candida, parasites, and other stomach issues like bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea, and more. It’s also a prebiotic, which encourages the growth of good bacteria in your gut to support better wellness.
- Earthley’s Herbal Baby Powder uses three natural herb powders blended to create a healing alternative that keeps the baby dry. This natural baby powder benefits cord care, soothes diaper rash, and much more.
- Earthley’s Herbal Soothing Bath is the natural way to enjoy an at-home spa night. This floral soak is safe and beneficial to sensitive skin with no artificial fragrance or ingredients. Cleanliness and postpartum healing go hand-in-hand when you bathe with our organic bath tea. Soak away soreness, enjoy aromatherapy, and promote healing, all while relaxing.
- Earthley’s Immune-Biotic is the perfect go-to herbal remedy for feeling under the weather and needing something fast. This tincture uses the natural power of immune-supporting herbs to give your body a jump start to fight off a cold. Take for three to seven days and kick sickness to the curb.
- Earthley’s Lymphatic Cream is a lotion created to help relieve achy body parts caused by swollen lymph nodes. This cream tackles lymphatic congestion at the source and gently encourages drainage to help detox, reduce soreness, and improve overall wellness.
- Earthley’s Moisturize Me! (Oily Formula) is an all-natural and botanical moisturizer designed specifically for the face. Formulated with non-comedogenic and essential oils, this product hydrates and replenishes the skin. Moisturize Me is food for the face that will nourish skin to relieve concerns like acne and dry, flaky skin.
- Earthley’s Prebiotic Mask feeds your skin’s microbiome resulting in glowing, even-toned skin! Your skin has natural bacteria on it, just like your gut. So don’t forget to show your skin’s microbiome some love too.
- Earthley’s Soothing Skin Balm is made with 100% natural and pure ingredients to soothe eczema and other skin issues effectively. From dry skin to psoriasis, this balm helps to provide relief from symptoms of a variety of conditions.
- Earthley’s Sun Soothe is an all-natural, after-sun lotion to help calm skin overexposed to the sun. This cooling lotion helps to relieve pain and redness, prevent peeling, and moisturize the skin.
Disclaimer: This post is not intended as medical advice. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA, and nothing in this post is intended to diagnose, treat, or cure anything. If you have questions, please do your own research or seek advice from a health professional.