Marigold For Skincare

marigold in skincare

I have been working on some baby products recently which involved researching the benefits of marigold for skincare.  This is generally known by the scientific name Calendula. When I was young I used to love the bright orange flowers my grandfather grew in his front garden, but Inever knew then just how interesting this plant is. It is a member of the daisy family and originates in the Eastern Mediterranean. (There is another plant also called Marigold that originates from Mexico, but which isn’t at all related to the Pot Marigold and hasn’t yet been shown to have any medical benefits.) It is mainly grown for decorative purposes but both the leaves and the petals can be used in salads.
Marigold is a true folk remedy with a long history of use, probably back to ancient times. It continues to be used to this day and is approved by the German commission as an antiseptic and to heal wounds. Dukes Ethnobotanical reference lists it as a pain killer (analgesic). It is widely accepted as a treatment for nappy rash. Some folk remedies are simply twaddle. Others have never been properly investigated. But there are some that have been investigated scientifically to be truly effective, and marigold is one of them. Marigold has been the subject of extensive research and has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. It is even known in some detail how it might work. Pentacyclic triterpene trihydroxyalcohols, flavonoids, and saponins have been isolated from it, and these are believed to stimulate granulation and increase glycoprotein and collagen metabolism at wound sites. It also shows in vitro antimicrobial and immune-modulating properties.

What this means is that it should be useful to calm down red skin that is reacting to something, and should help to prevent it from getting infected. Being safe, natural and effective lends itself very well to baby products. It should also work well in natural skin products, but I am surprised by how few of them there are.

The most impressive evidence I have come across in support of the use of calendula as an anti-inflammatory is a paper detailing a study in Lyon where it was used on skin damaged by radition following treatment for breast cancer. This was a big study with 254 patients involved over two years. Calendula was found to be more effective at reducing the level of dermatitis and the number of treatment interpuptions than trolamine. I was a bit surprised to learn that trolamine was considered the reference material for this purpose. I would have expected a steroid would have been better – but I am not a cancer specialist. They must have their reasons. But the strong performance of the calendula in this study carried out under the most medical of conditions you can imagine is very interesting. It is a shame that there are not more studies of this standard around for herbal remedies.

The preferred way of using it is to dry the flowers and grind them to a powder. It has a very pleasing orange colour. From this powder a tincture can be made in water or they can be suspended in oil. This makes it a very different proposition to essential oils which are steam distilled and tend to have strong smells. Calendula is almost odourless.


Brown DJ, Dattner AM. Phytotherapeutic approaches to common dermatological conditions. Arch Dermatol. 1998;134:1401-1404.

Monica K. Bedi, MD; Philip D. Shenefelt, MD Herbal Therapy in Dermatology Archives of Dermatology Vol. 138 No. 2, February 2002

Bisset NG, ed, Wichtl M, ed. Herbal Drugs and Phytopharmaceuticals. 2nd ed. Boca Raton, Fla: CRC Press; 2001.

Peirce A, ed, Fargis P, ed, Scordato E, ed. The American Pharmaceutical Association Practical Guide to Natural Medicines. New York, NY: Stonesong Press Inc; 1999.

Brown DJ, Dattner AM. Phytotherapeutic approaches to common dermatological conditions. Arch Dermatol. 1998;134:1401-1404.

Upton R, ed, Goldberg A, ed. Botanical Safety Handbook. Boca Raton, Fla: CRC Press; 1997.

P. Pommier, F. Gomez, M.P. Sunyach, A. D’Hombres, C. Carrie, X. Montbarbon Phase III Randomized Trial of Calendula Officinalis Compared With Trolamine for the Prevention of Acute Dermatitis During Irradiation for Breast Cancer Journal of Clinical Oncology, Vol 22, No 8 (April 15), 2004: pp. 1447-1453

photo credit: Incandescent via photopin (license)

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