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Medically reviewed on Jun 12, 2018

Scientific Name(s): Calendula officinalis L. Family: Asteraceae (daisies)

Common Name(s): Calendula , garden marigold , gold bloom , holligold , marygold , pot marigold


Potential uses include treatment of radiation therapy-associated dermatitis and other inflammatory skin conditions. Few clinical trials are available to support traditional uses.


Clinical trials are lacking. Commercial topical preparations are available.


Contraindications have not been identified.


Limited evidence is available to guide usage in pregnancy.


None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

Allergic reactions, contact sensitization, and one case of anaphylaxis have been reported.


The plant appears to have a low potential for toxicity.


Calendula is believed to be native to Egypt and has almost worldwide distribution. There are numerous varieties of this species, differing primarily in flower shape and color. Calendula grows to about 0.7 m in height and the wild form has small, bright yellow-orange flowers that bloom from May to October. It is the ligulate florets, incorrectly referred to as flower petals, that have been used medicinally. This plant should not be confused with other members of the marigold family. 1 , 2


The plant has been grown in European gardens since the 12th century, and its folkloric uses are almost as old. Tinctures and extracts of the florets were used topically to promote wound healing and to reduce inflammation; systemically, they have been used to reduce fever, control dysmenorrhea, and treat cancer. The plant is listed in the German Commission E Monographs for wound healing and anti-inflammatory actions. 2

The dried petals have been used like saffron as a seasoning and have been used to adulterate saffron. 3 The pungent odor of the marigold has been used as an effective pesticide. Marigolds are often interspersed among vegetable plants to repel insects. 4


A number of studies have described the chemistry of calendula. The plant contains a number of oleanolic acid glycosides. 5 Flavonol and triterpene glycosides have been isolated from C. officinalis via high pressure chromatography. 6 , 7 Calendulin (also known as bassorin) has been identified in the plant as have sterols and fatty acids such as calendic acid. 8 , 9 , 10 Additionally, the plant contains triterpenoid in free and ester forms, 11 , 12 , 13 tocopherols, 14 mucilage, and a volatile oil. 2 Enzymatic activity of calendula extracts has been described. 15 The carotenoid pigments have been used as coloring agents in cosmetics and the volatile oil has been used in perfumes. 2 , 16 , 17

Uses and Pharmacology

Despite the history of calendula use and the detailed studies of its chemistry, there are few clinical studies available.

Animal data

Triterpenoid-containing extracts of calendula have been investigated in chemical-induced inflammation in mice. 7 , 12 Calendula extracts alleviated signs of chronic conjunctivitis and other chronic ocular inflammatory conditions in rats 18 ; the extracts also had a systemic anti-inflammatory effect.

Clinical data

Clinical trials are lacking.

Dermatitis/Skin conditions
Animal data

Calendula extracts have been used topically to promote wound healing, and experiments in rats have confirmed a measurable effect. An ointment containing 5% flower extract in combination with allantoin markedly stimulated epithelialization in surgically-induced wounds. On the basis of histological examination of the wound tissue, it was concluded that the ointment increased glycoprotein, nucleoprotein, and collagen metabolism at the site. 19

Clinical data

A single-blind, randomized trial investigating the efficacy of a calendula preparation in preventing grade 2 or higher radiation therapy-associated acute dermatitis in breast cancer has been published. 20 A decrease in grade 2 or higher dermatitis was found with the calendula preparation containing 4 g fresh plant in 20 g petroleum jelly; however, application of the preparation proved difficult in 30% of the participants. A reduction in pain was also reported for calendula. 20 , 21 , 22

Other uses

Calendula extracts have demonstrated in vitro antibacterial, antiviral, 7 , 23 , 24 , 25 and immunostimulating properties. 26 , 27 Cytotoxic, hepatoprotective, and spasmogenic and spasmolytic properties have been demonstrated in in vitro experiments. 7 , 27 , 28 , 29


Commercial topical preparations are available. 20 An ointment containing 2% to 5% flower extract has been used for topical wound healing. 30


Limited evidence is available to guide usage in pregnancy. 31


None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

There are few reports describing serious reactions to the widespread use of calendula preparations.

Allergic reactions, contact sensitization, and one case of anaphylaxis to other members of the Asteraceae family have been described. 32 , 33


In animals, doses of up to 50 mg/kg of extract had essentially no pharmacologic effect and induced no histopathologic changes following acute or long-term administration. 34 Saponin extracts of C. officinalis are not mutagenic. 35


1. Calendula. USDA, NRCS. 2007. The PLANTS Database ( , February, 2008). National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA.
2. Hamburger M , Adler S , Baumann D , Förg A , Weinreich B . Preparative purification of the major anti-inflammatory triterpenoid esters from Marigold ( Calendula officinalis ) . Fitoterapia . 2003 ;74(4):328-338.
3. Duke JA. Handbook of Medicinal Herbs . Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 1985.
4. Lewis WH, Elvin-Lewis MP. Medical Botany: Plants Affecting Man's Health . New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons; 1977 .
5. Kasprzky Z , Janiszowska W , Sobczyk E . Metabolism of a new series of oleanolic acid glycoside in Calendula officinalis shoots. Acta Biochim Pol . 1973 ;20(3):231-235.
6. Pietta P , Bruno A , Mauri P , Rava A . Separation of flavonol-2–O-glycosides from Calendula officinalis and Sambucus nigra by high-performance liquid and micellar electrokinetic capillary chromatography . J Chromatogr . 1992 ;593(1-2):165-170.
7. Ukiya M , Akihisa T , Yasukawa K , Tokuda H , Suzuki T , Kimura Y . Anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor-promoting, and cytotoxic activities of constituents of marigold ( Calendula officinalis ) flowers . J Nat Prod . 2006 ;69(12):1692-1696.
8. Chisholm MJ , Hopkins CY . Calendic acid in seed oils of the genus Calendula . Can J Biochem . 1967 ;45(2):251-254.
9. Badami RC , Morris LJ . The oxygenated fatty acid of Calendula seed oil . J Am Oil Chem Soc . 1965 ;42(12):1119-1121.
10. Szakiel A , Kasprzyk Z . Distribution of oleanolic acid glycosides in vacuoles and cell walls isolated from protoplasts and cells of Calendula officinalis leaves . Steroids . 1989 ;53(3-5):501-511.
11. Auguscinska E , Kasprzyk K . Studies on the labelling of terpenoids in shoots and cells or protoplasts from Calendula officinalis leaves . Acta Biochim Pol . 1982 ;29(1-2):7-15.
12. Neukirch H , D'Ambrosio M , Sosa S , Altinier G , Della Loggia R , Guerriero A . Improved anti-inflammatory activity of three new terpenoids derived, by systematic chemical modifications, from the abundant triterpenes of the flowery plant Calendula officinalis . Chem Biodivers . 2005 ;2(5):657-671.
13. Neukirch H , D'Ambrosio M , Dalla Via J , Guerriero A . Simultaneous quantitative determination of eight triterpenoid monoesters from flowers of 10 varieties of Calendula officinalis L. and characterisation of a new triterpenoid monoester . Phytochem Anal . 2004 ;15(1):30-35.
14. Janiszowska W , Jasinska R . Intracellular localization of labelling of tocopherols with [U-14C]tyrosine in Calendula officinalis leaves . Acta Biochim Pol . 1982 ;29(1-2):37-44.
15. Chudnicka A , Matysik G . Research of enzymatic activities of fresh juice and water infusions from dry herbs . J Ethnopharmacol . 2005 ;99(2):281-286.
16. Tyler VE. The New Honest Herbal . Philadelphia PA: G.F. Stickly Co ; 1987 .
17. Kishimoto S , Maoka T , Sumitomo K , Ohmiya A . Analysis of carotenoid composition in petals of calendula ( Calendula officinalis L.) . Biosci Biotechnol Biochem . 2005 ;69(11):2122-2128.
18. Marinchev VN , Bychkova LN , Balvanovich NY , Giraev AN . Use of calendula for therapy of chronic inflammatory diseases of eyelids and conjunctiva [in Russian]. Oftalmol Zh . 1971 ;26(3):196-198.
19. Klouchek-Popava E , Popov A , Pavlova N , Krusteva S . Influence of the physiological regeneration and epithelialization using factions isolated from Calendula officinalis . Acta Physiol Pharmacol Bulg . 1982 ;8(4):63-67.
20. Pommier P , Gomez F , Sunyach MP , D'Hombres A , Carrie C , Montbarbon X . Phase III randomized trial of Calendula officinalis compared with trolamine for the prevention of acute dermatitis during irradiation for breast cancer . J Clin Oncol . 2004 ;22(8):1447-1453.
21. McQuestion M . Evidence-based skin care management in radiation therapy. Semin Oncol Nurs . 2006 ;22(3):163-173.
22. Bolderston A , Lloyd NS , Wong RK , Holden L , Robb-Blenderman L ; Supportive Care Guidelines Group of Cancer Care Ontario Prgram in Evidenced-Based Care. The prevention and management of acute skin reactions related to radiation therapy: a systematic review and practice guideline . Support Care Cancer . 2006 ;14(8):802-817.
23. Dumenil G , Chemli R , Balansard C , Guraud H , Lallemand M . Evaluation of antibacterial properties of marigold flowers ( Calendula officinalis L.) and mother homeopathic tinctures of C. officinalis L. and C. arvensis L. [in French]. Ann Pharm Fr . 1980 ;38(6):493-499.
24. De Tommasi N , Pizza C , Conti C , Orsi N , Stein ML . Structure and in vitro antiviral activity of sesquiterpene glycosides from Calendula arvensis . J Nat Prod . 1990 ;53(4):830-835.
25. Iauk L , Lo Bue AM , Milazzo I , Rapisarda A , Blandino G . Antibacterial activity of medicinal plant extracts against periodontopathic bacteria . Phytother Res . 2003 ;17(6):599-604.
26. Wagner H , Proksch A , Riess-Maurer I , et al. Immunostimulating action of polysaccharides (heteroglycans) from higher plants [in German] . Arzneimittelforschung . 1985 ;35(7):1069-1075.
27. Jiménez-Medina E , Garcia-Lora A , Paco L , Algarra I , Collado A , Garrido F . A new extract of the plant Calendula officinalis produces a dual in vitro effect: cytotoxic anti-tumor activity and lymphocyte activation . BMC Cancer . 2006 May 5 ;6:119.
28. Bashir S , Janbaz KH , Jabeen Q , Gilani AH . Studies on spasmogenic and spasmolytic activities of Calendula officinalis flowers. Phytother Res . 2006 ;20(10):906-910.
29. Rusu MA , Tamas M , Puica C , Roman I , Sabadas M . The hepatoprotective action of ten herbal extracts in CCl4 intoxicated liver . Phytother Res . 2005 ;19(9):744-749.
30. Gruenwald J, ed. PDR for Herbal Medicines . 2nd ed. Montvale, NJ: Thomson Medical Economics; 2000: 497-498.
31. Ernst E . Herbal medicinal products during pregnancy: are they safe? BJOG . 2002 ;109(3):227-235.
32. Wintzen M , Donker AS , van Zuuren EJ . Recalcitrant atopic dermatitis due to allergy to Compositae. Contact Dermatitis . 2003 ;48(2):87-88.
33. Reider N , Komericki P , Hausen BM , Fritsch P , Aberer W . The seamy side of natural medicines: contact sensitization to arnica ( Arnica montana L.) and marigold ( Calendula officinalis L.) . Contact Dermatitis . 2001 ;45(5):269-272.
34. Iatsyno AI , Belova LF , Lipkina GS , Sokolov SI , Trutneva EA . Pharmacology of calenduloside B, a new triterpene glycoside from the roots of Calendula officinalis [in Russian]. Farmakol Toksikol . 1978 ;41(5):556-560.
35. Elias R , De Meo M , Vidal-Ollivier E , Laget M , Balansard G , Dumenil G . Antimutagenic activity of some saponins isolated from Calendula officinalis L., C. arvensis L. and Hedera helix L. Mutagenesis . 1990 ;5(4):327-331.

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