Botany: Calendula, or pot marigold, is a hairy annual to perennial (if freezing is absent) 20-50 cm high plant from the Asteraceae family. Leaves are oblanceolate to oblong; flowers are yellow or orange 4-7 cm in diameter. It is widely cultivated in Europe and North America; it is naturalized in south and west Europe. The parts used are the flower and leaves.

History and/or folklore: In traditional medicine the flower was historically considered vulnerary, antiseptic and styptic. It is used externally as a lotion or ointment for burns and scalds, bruises, cuts, rashes, sore nipples, abscesses, wounds, bleeding and eczema. Internally it is used for stomach ailments, gastric and duodenal ulcers, and jaundice. The plant and its preparations are used to stimulate circulation, promote healing, for gastric haemorrhage, ulcers, spasms, glandular swelling, jaundice, and anaemia.

Biochemistry: The flowers of Calendula officinalis contain flavonol glycosides, triterpene oligoglycosides, oleanane-type triterpene glycosides, saponins, sesquiterpene glucosides, caffeic acid, and carotenoids. The major carotenoids are lycopene and lutein.

Products: Calendula officinalis botanical extract


Calendula officinalis botanical extract
Calendula preparations show anti-inflammatory, immunomodulating and wound-healing, antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, and anti-parasitic activities. They stimulate granulation at wound site, increasing glycoprotein, nucleoprotein and collagen metabolism.

In vitro and animal tests have shown topical anti-inflammatory effects due to ψ-taraxasterol, isorhamnetic glycosides, and triterpenoidal fatty acid esters found in extracts of calendula flowers. Also reported was stimulation of phagocytosis in vitro, choleric activity. Isolated polysaccharides have shown in vitro and in vivo tumour-inhibiting activity and immunostimulating activity in the carbon clearance and granulocytes tests. An ethanol extract of the flowers enhanced the in vitro proliferation of lymphocytes.

The carotenoid lycopene is a strong antioxidant and free radical scavenger and the carotenoid lutein is strong antioxidant with anti-inflammatory and photoprotective properties. The mechanism of lutein’s anti-aging and anti-carcinogenic effects include inhibition of metalloproteinases (MMP) to tissue inhibitor of MMP (TIMP) ratio in dermal fibroblasts and melanoma cells, inhibition of cell loss, membrane damage and elastin expression in ultraviolet radiation exposed fibroblasts. Caffeic acid, also a component of calendula, is a selective inhibitor for leucotriene biosynthesis and can inhibit arachidonate lipoxygenase activity. Plants containing caffeic acid are used for drainage and reduction of swelling and for the strengthening of cell membranes in the skin.

Preparations of calendula flowers are used externally to treat dermal and mucous membrane inflammations, hard-to-heal wounds, leg ulcers, dermatitis, mild burns, sunburns, bruises, boils, and rashes. Internally they are used to treat inflammatory lesions of the oral and pharyngeal mucosa.

They are used in diverse body care products, including face, body, and hand creams, lotions, night creams, ointments, shampoos, suntan products, baby products, eye makeup, and others.

A cream containing an extract of calendula was tested in a Phase III clinical trial and was found to provide good protection against acute dermatitis in women treated with radiation therapy for postoperative breast cancer.


No dermal irritation was detected.

No sensitizing effects were found in humans from occlusive patches supplying cosmetics containing 1% calendula extract, but further safety data to support the use of the flowers in cosmetic preparations should still be made.

No genotoxic effects were found from a herbal tea of the flowers and none was found from six saponins isolated from the flowers. A fluid extract of the flowers was non-mutagenic in animal tests.

However, in vitro genotoxic effects were found. In rat cell cultures, unscheduled DNA synthesis was inhibited by nanogram concentrations of various solvent extracts of the flowers. Genotoxic effects were only found with high concentrations.



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