No matter what you call it, calendula—Mary’s gold, pot marigold or poor man’s saffron—offers a goldmine of skin benefits. And while it looks similar, it is not the same as the popular annual marigold plant grown in gardens across the country. (This is French marigold, which has a very different makeup and is not considered edible.)
Calendula’s reputation began in ancient times: The ancient Egyptians prized calendula for its effectiveness in rejuvenating their skin, while the Greeks and Romans delighted in culinary appeal. In India, calendula has been used for millennia to decorate the statues of Hindu deities as well as in other religious rituals.
Since at least the 12th century, the flower petals of the calendula plant (Calendula officinalis), or pot marigold, have been used for health-supporting purposes—typically stomach upset and skin conditions. Its biggest claim to fame is its unusually high concentration of flavonoids, plant-based antioxidants that protect cells from being damaged by unstable molecules called free radicals. Originally, calendula was native to Mediterranean countries and southwestern Asia but is now grown as an ornamental plant throughout the world.
These days, calendula is often used topically, as a skin ointment. The dried petals of plant are used in an array of tinctures, ointments, creams and sprays to treat skin irritations of all sorts, including burns, chapped skin, blisters and even diaper rash. Some studies suggest that it can help wounds heal faster, possibly by increasing blood flow and oxygen to the affected area and supporting tissue growth.* It’s also a champion moisturizer and soother for skin of all ages, and should be a part of anyone’s medicine cabinet.
Here are three great ways to try calendula:
For sore throats, spray the throat three to four times a day with a calendula tincture.
For a cut, try applying an ointment made from calendula to help support blood vessels and cell regeneration.*
For inflamed or irritated skin, a calendula cream supports your skin’s natural ability to regulate and replenish. It’s the perfect balm for skin that’s been ravaged by the environment, be it sun, wind or pollution.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.