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What Is Calendula Used For?

Calendula has also been used as a pain and inflammation reducer, as well as a way to relieve treatment-related side effects for people with cancer.5

Some people say that calendula makes a good sunscreen or a skin moisturizer. More research is needed to prove it has these benefits.

While there has been some research suggesting its positive effects, the long-term use of calendula has not been studied and more research is needed. Always ask your provider before you start using any treatment or supplement, even a natural one.

How Does Calendula Work?

Calendula petals are rich in naturally occurring compounds called flavonoids. These compounds are said to:

  • Reduce inflammation (anti-inflammatory)
  • Prevent blood from clotting too much (anti-thrombogenic)
  • Have positive effects on blood sugar levels (antidiabetic)
  • Help fight cancer (anticancer)
  • Protect the brain (neuroprotective effects)6

The active ingredients of the calendula flower are naturally occurring chemicals, such as:

  • Triterpene saponins (oleanolic acid glycosides)
  • Triterpene alcohols (α-, β-amyrins, faradiol)
  • Flavonoids (quercetin and isorhamnetin)

Topical gels made from calendula may help with the collagen in the skin, may promote new tissue growth in wound healing, and help decrease skin inflammation.

Wounds and Pressure Ulcers

Studies in animals have shown that calendula might help with wound healing, but what about in humans? Here is what research has shown:

  • A study published in The Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care looked at the effectiveness of calendula ointment on Cesarean-section (C-section) scars in 72 women. Compared to getting the standard hospital treatment for the wound, the women who were treated with calendula ointment healed faster and reported that their incisions were less red and swollen.7
  • In a 2016 study published in The Journal of Wound Care, researchers used Calendula officinalis extract on people with venous ulcers on their legs. The researchers measured "healing velocity" in a week and found that the people who were treated with calendula had a 7.4% healing velocity, while the people who did not use the extract only had a healing velocity of about 1.7%. The researchers also noted that there weren't any bad side effects of using the extract.8
  • Other studies have suggested that using a calendula spray in addition to standard care and hygiene might prevent infection and decrease odor in people with long-term foot ulcers from diabetes.9

Eczema, Diaper Rash, and Other Skin Conditions

Calendula is often marketed as a treatment for eczema and dermatitis, but there is not much research supporting its effectiveness for these conditions.

Since the plant has anti-inflammatory properties, putting it on areas affected by skin conditions may reduce inflammation. However, there is no real evidence that doing so works or that it's safe.

The use of calendula could be irritating for children with severe eczema, especially if they have an allergy to ragweed, daisies, marigold, or any other plant in the same family as calendula.

Ask your pediatrician before using calendula on your child's skin.

Using calendula creams on diaper rash could be more helpful than other treatments like aloe vera gel, but research has shown it's not as good as using a bentonite solution.10

One study showed that when infants were treated with bentonite, 88% of the lesions got better within the first six hours, but only 54% of the lesions in the group treated with calendula did.11

Bacterial Vaginosis and Vaginal Yeast Infections

In one study, researchers compared calendula ointment to metronidazole in 80 women who had been diagnosed with bacterial vaginosis. After one week, both groups were cured of bacterial vaginosis and none had any side effects.12

The researchers concluded that if people wanted to avoid taking medications to treat bacterial vaginosis, calendula ointment could be an option.

One study published in Women and Health found that calendula cream was effective for treating vaginal yeast infections, but that it did not work as fast as the standard medication (clotrimazole) that's used to treat them.13

There have been claims that calendula can be used to treat symptoms related to menstruation but more research is needed.14

Sun Protection

Research on using calendula as sunscreen has only been done in the lab, not in people. These studies have suggested that some properties of calendula might help cells rejuvenate, but more research is needed to prove these effects.15

Radiation Dermatitis

There is mixed research on using calendula to treat skin irritation from radiation treatment. There is not enough evidence that it's more effective than using other topical products like petroleum jelly.

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