Calendula (Calendula offcinalis) AKA Marigold

You probably recognize the flower, since it’s quite popular and grows easily in many parts of the world. But what you might not realize is how powerful this plant is as a medicinal herb.

The phytochemical components of this plant contribute to the wide variety of action. They include trepenoids, flavenoids, carotenoids, and volatile oils, among others. These contribute to a wide variety of activity that makes calendula a perfect herb for healing certain infections, inflammation, cuts, bruises, sprains, and strains.

Uses for Calendula:

  • Anti-fungal and anti-bacterial, especially useful for acne, periodontal bacteria, and against various forms of Candida overgrowth.
  • Anti-viral activity, research has linked calendula to suppressing herpes simplex and influenza.
  • Anti-inflammatory useful for topical inflammation and swelling, as well as a systemic inflammation with activity comparable to NSAIDs (medications like ibuprofen or naproxen).
  • Immune-stimulation and anti-cancer activity. Studies have shown that phytochemical extracts from calendula are effective in boosting certain parts of immunity while inhibiting tumor growth.
  • Antioxidant activity, especially useful for wound healing or improving skin healing and texture.
  • Useful topically as a balm for inflammation due to sprains, strains or bruising.

Oil Pulling and Calendula

I decided to experiment by making my own oil extract of calendula (pictured above) with the intention of using the end product for oil pulling.

Oil pulling is an Ayurvedic technique shown to be effective for improving oral health and preventing gum disease and cavities. The antiseptic properties of calendula oil enhance the effectiveness of the practice.

How to Enhance Oil Pulling with Calendula:

  1. Use about 5-10ml (1-2 teaspoonfuls) of oil to swish in your mouth. Coconut oil is a great option for this, as is sesame oil or grape seed oil.
  2. Ideally you want to swish for 20 minutes. This might be challenging at first, so I recommending starting small with 5 (or even 3 minutes) and building up slowly.
  3. Do not swallow! You just spent 20 minutes extracting bacteria, toxins, plaque, and whatever else was living in your mouth, don’t swallow it and let it back in. Spit it out (might be a good idea to spit into the trash to avoid clogging your sink.
  4. Brush your teeth, preferably with natural toothpaste. Luckily there are some great options out there in health food stores or Whole Foods. You can also try making your own.

You can make an oil infusion with Calendula to boost the benefit of antiseptic properties of the herb. There’s various mathods for making the oil preparation, the simplest being a slow diffusion:

  1. Grind whole calendula flowers, either in a herb grinder or using a mortar and pestle.
  2. Using a high quality oil (sesame or olive oil would work well here), preferable cold pressed and unrefined, pour enough oil to cover the herb, then add more so that there’s about ¼ inch more oil than herb.
  3. Allow to sit in a glass container, protected from light for about 10 days. Shake occasionally. You may leave in the sun to help speed the infusion process.
  4. You can add a few drops of essential oil like tea tree or peppermint, or cinnamon oil for added benefits and flavor.

Alternatively, there’s some calendula infused oils available at most health food stores or online.


Muley, B., Khadabadi, S., & Banarase, N. (2009). Phytochemical Constituents and Pharmacological Activities of Calendula officinalis Linn (Asteraceae): A Review. Tropical Journal of Pharmaceutical Research Trop. J. Pharm Res.

Ehrlich, S. (2013, March 3). Calendula. Retrieved May 28, 2015, from

Plants Profile for Calendula officinalis (pot marigold). (n.d.). Retrieved May 28, 2015, from

How to use Oil Pulling to Improve Oral Health. (2013, January 15). Retrieved May 28, 2015, from