Calendula spp.

Other Names: Calendula, Holligold, Goldbloom, Golds, Mary Bud, Ruddes, Mary Gowles, Holigold, Marybud

The Common Marigold is familiar to most, with its pale-green leaves and golden orange flowers. It was not named after the Virgin; its name is a corruption of the Anglo-Saxon merso-meargealla, the Marsh Marigold. Old English authors called it Golds or Ruddes. It was, however, later associated with the Virgin Mary, and in the seventeenth century with Queen Mary.

Calendula contains high amounts of flavonoids, plant-based antioxidants that protect the body against cell-damaging free radicals. Researchers are not sure what active ingredients in calendula are responsible for its healing properties, but it appears to have anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antibacterial effects.

Flower of Grief?

marigoldMarigold is sometimes described as “the flower of grief.” This is due to the droplets that gather in the flower during the night. In the morning, the droplets drip off like tears when it opens. This characteristic moved Shakespeare to write in A Winter’s Tale: “The Marigold that goes to bed with the sun, and with him rises weeping.”

On a brighter note, Culpepper and Gerard refer to this herb as a “comforter of the heart and spirits.”

Marigold as an Herb for Medicinal Uses

Only the common deep orange-flowered variety is of medicinal value. The flower petals of the marigold have been used for medicinal purposes since at least the 12th century. The plant has a strong, unpleasant smell.

Marigold is a great first aid remedy. It relieves headaches, earaches, and reduces fevers. It is excellent for the heart and for the circulation. It is also used externally to heal wounds and bruises. An infusion of 1 ounce to a pint of boiling water is given internally, in doses of a tablespoonful, and externally as a local application.

It has been asserted that a marigold, rubbed on the affected part, is an admirable remedy for the pain and swelling caused by the sting of a wasp or bee. A lotion made from the flowers is most useful for sprains and wounds, and a water distilled from them is good for inflamed and sore eyes.

An infusion of the freshly-gathered flowers is used to treat fevers, as it gently promotes perspiration which is thought to reduce a fever – a decoction of the flowers is still much in use in country districts to bring out smallpox and measles, in the same manner as Saffron. Marigold flowers are in demand for children’s ailments.

The leaves, when chewed, will at first have a viscid sweetness, followed by a strong penetrating taste of a salty nature. Snuffed up the nose it promotes sneezing and a discharge of mucus from the head.

Marigold Flowers have been approved by Commission E for:

  • Inflammation of the mouth and pharynx
  • Wounds and burns

The leaves, eaten as a salad, have been considered useful in the scrofula of children, and the acrid qualities of the plant have caused it to be recommended as an extirpator of warts.

An infusion, used as a hair rinse, brings out the shine and highlights in blonde and brunette hair.

Marigold has been used extensively as a folk medicine. Externally it is used for varicosis, vascular disease wounds, inflammatory skin disease, anal eczema, proctitis, conjunctivitis. It is a constituent in treatments for sore, dry skin, bee stings and frostbite.

Homeopathic Uses: Calendula officinalis is used for frostbite, burns to the skin and poorly healing wounds. The efficacy of the homeopathic uses has not been proven.

Today, topical applications of calendula are more common, especially in Germany. More recently, calendula has been shown to help prevent dermatitis in breast cancer patients during radiation.

The herb is used in Russia for strep throat, on the Canaries for coughs and cramps and in China for irregular menstruation.

Tea Tip: Store the dried petals in airtight jars and have them ready to use in tea mixtures at the rate of 1/2 teaspoon per cup.

Sore Throat and Inflammation, tea: 1 to 2 grams in one cup of water, steep 10 to 15 minutes.

Peptic Ulcer, tea: 1 to 4 grams in one cup of water, steep 10 to 15 minutes. Take three times daily (Mills, 1991).

Wound Treatment, ointment 2 to 5 percent: Apply topically to the affected area (Bisset, 1994).

Wound Treatment, compress: Steep one tablespoon herb in 500 milliliters water for 10 to 15 minutes and apply as a moist compress (Weiss, 1985).

Culinary Uses of Marigold

Marigold has been cultivated in the kitchen garden for the flowers, which are dried for broth, and said to comfort the heart and spirits. Formerly its flowers were used to give cheese a yellow color.

Lemon Gem (Annual): The only edible variety of marigold flowers. Leaves and foliage smell and taste like lemon. Recommended for this herb is use in salads or a dessert sauce for sponge cake.


  • Calendula was considered a magical plant. It was associated with the masculine gender, had the sun as its associated planet, and represented the element fire.
  • If you carried marigold flowers in your pocket while in court, its powers reputedly included protection, psychic powers and triumph in legal matters.
  • Calendula was used as protection against evil influences and disease, including the plague, and victims of thievery were said to be able to identify their robbers if they wore the flower.
  • The flowers were strewn around doors to prevent evil from entering the house and scattered under the bed to protect one during sleep.
  • It was once said that the flower could give one prophetic dreams and make dreams come true.
  • In the bath, calendula flowers were said to strengthen the spirit, helping one to win the admiration and respect of others.

Did you know?

Marigold is the “Flower of the Month” for October.


There are no known scientific reports of interactions between calendula and conventional or herbal medications.

Marigold (calendula) is generally considered safe for topical application. It should not be applied to an open wound without a doctor’s supervision. People who are sensitive to plants in the daisy or aster family, including chrysanthemums and ragweed, may also have an allergic reaction to calendula (usually a skin rash).

Marigold (calendula) is also known to affect the menstrual cycle and should not be used during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Theoretically, calendula may affect conception when taken by a man or woman, so couples trying to get pregnant should not use calendula.

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