Is inflamed skin a problem for you?  Would you like a natural and effective way to knock out acne causing inflammation?  Here’s the rundown on one of the most powerful plants that’s been used since ancient times to heal skin.


Calendula (Calendula officinalis) is of the daisy family Asteraceae. Calendulas have characteristic yellow-orange flower heads and are often known as marigolds.   Calendula oil is still used medicinally in China, Europe, US, and India.  The flower head has long been used to treat skin disorders because it promotes healing and reduces inflammation.

In herbalism, Calendula is used topically to treat acne and reduce inflammation.  There isn’t much research from clinical trials but, in vitro (lab based) research shows antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory actions.  The leaves and flowers reportedly possess these pharmacologic activities:

  • antioxidant
  • anti-inflammatory
  • antibacterial and
  • antiviral


What makes calendula one of the best herbs for treating a variety of skin conditions? Calendula’s slightly anti-microbial properties help it balance skin bacterial flora.  It’s anti-inflammatory properties make it a gentle option for soothing and cleansing skin. Calendula contains flavonoids (quercetin and rutin), which are known to be anti-inflammatory.

Although calendula contains other beneficial elements like carotenoids, essential oils, saponins, carotenes, glycosides, and resins, it’s the flavonoids that pack the biggest anti-inflammatory punch.  Considering inflammation plays a big role in the formation of acne, it isn’t surprising that calendula has been incorporated in many topical treatments for acne.


One of the methods for preparing calendula for medicinal purposes is in tincture form.  The tincture method involves adding an herb, either fresh or dried, to a concentrated hydro-alcohol solution (either 25% or 90%, depending on the herb and its parts).

The liquid, or tincture, is allowed to sit for days or weeks.  The benefit of using an alcohol base is that it pulls out certain parts that can’t be drawn out by using water based methods.  Vinegar or glycerin can also be used in place of alcohol.  Another benefit of tinctures is that they can last many years.

As they age they still retain their strength and medicinal qualities.  Only a small amount is needed to reach an effective dose.  Tinctures are also easily absorbed.  Naturopathic doctors still use tinctures frequently.  They can easily make tailor made formulas to fit each person.

Tinctures are typically prescribed by teaspoon.  Depending on the dose, it may be taken once a day or even two or more times a day.  Calendula is also available as a cream, to be used as an herbal moisturizer.  You can even make your own calendula based skincare product.


Calendula can be prepared as an infusion, or in tea form.  Once the tea has been made, you can it put it in a misting bottle.  Simply spray the toner on your face for a hydrating, DIY remedy. The slightly astringent, anti-inflammatory toner will promote healing of the skin.    Regardless of the application method you choose, it’s best to apply the product after washing the face (in the morning and again before bed).

Calming Calendula Toning Mist:


  • 6 oz. distilled water
  • 1/4 cup dried organic calendula flowers
  • 1 TBSP. organic aloe juice


  • Bring water to a boil
  • Add herbs
  • Steep for 20 minutes
  • Strain herbs
  • Add 1 TBSP of aloe juice
  • Pour into PET plastic or glass bottle
  • Shake before use
  • Follow with moisturizer
  • Put toner back in refrigerator after each use
  • Store in refrigerator for one week before making a new batch.

Health foods stores sell calendula flowers.  You can also purchase them online.

NOTE:  Since calendula plants are known to cause allergic reactions, usage during pregnancy should be avoided.


Although dosage can be an issue with botanical medicine, herbal manufacturers now test batches in labs to ensure consistent purity and potency.  The U.S. Food and Drug Adminstration along with Canada’s National Health Products Directorate are creating regulations and standards for dosage. Why is this important?  After all, aren’t herbs safe?  While it maybe true that herbs are natural, it’s key to recognize that not all herbs are safe at any dose. Herbs can change the effect of drugs.  They may increase or decrease the actions of drugs.  Drug and herb interactions can have unwanted consequences.  It is best practice to consult with a licensed health professional who is knowledgeable about herb-drug interactions before starting any herbal medicine.

Join the Conversation

My favorite part of doing these posts is getting your feedback. Each week, I ask a question. This week, it is this:

What experience have you had with herbal treatments?

The information contained on this site is provided as an information resource only.  It is not to be used or relied upon for any treatment or diagnostic purposes.  This information is not intended to be patient education.  It should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment.   The statements on this site have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.   This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.  Please consult your healthcare provider before making any healthcare decisions or for guidance about a specific medical condition, such as if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a mental condition.  Please read all product packaging carefully and consult with a healthcare professional before starting any diet, exercise, supplementation or medication program. Cosmetic products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.

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Cyndi Gilbert, ND, “The Essential Guide to Women’s Herbal Medicine, 2015, pages 32-33, 36-38.

Mishra Priyanka, Patidar A., Gupta D. and Agrawal S., “Treatment of Acne with Herbal Remedie – Calendula officinalis:  An Overview, International Journal of Pharmaceutical & Biological Archives 2011; 2(4):1020-1023, received May 4, 2011, revised June 10, 2011, accepted June 25, 2011, available online at

Nand, Drabu, Grupta, “Phytochemical and antimicrobial screening of medicinal plants for the treatment of acne,” Indian Journal of Naturals Products and Resources Vol 3(1) 2012, Bibliografia Calendula Oficinalis,