Calendula cream: A soothing remedy for itchy skin

Calendula cream – created from a cottage-garden favourite – makes for a handy addition to your first-aid kit.

You might have admired the bright petals of pot marigolds in people’s front gardens when you’re out for a walk.

But did you know the dazzling yellow and orange flowers can be turned into a gentle skin product that aims to soothe and repair?

The pot marigold, also known as calendula or calendula officinalis, is not, technically, a marigold – more like a distant cousin.

And when it comes to uses, many people believe it’s nothing short of a blooming marvel.

How can calendula be used?

Calendula can be eaten – the yellow and orange petals add a bright, spicy note to salad, and it can be drunk as herbal calendula tea.

The garden stunner is also used in many soothing skincare products, such as nappy-rash cream and moisturisers, and it is also the primary ingredient in calendula cream.

What is calendula cream?

Herbalist Jo Morgan explains calendula cream is applied to the skin to help soothe and heal wounds, rashes, irritations, burns, infections and inflammations.

“It’s amazing,” Jo says.

“I use calendula in most of my topical preparations (skin products).

“It increases what we call epithelialisation, which is the process of a skin wound coming together.

“It also has the bonus of being antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral, so it’s a really great first-aid treatment.”

Many herbalists and companies make calendula cream and it is available online or off the shelf from outlets including chemists.

How safe is calendula cream?

Community pharmacist and master herbalist Gerald Quigley says calendula cream is very safe to use.

“If you weren’t sure what to put on your damaged, dry, wounded or infected skin, you could safely select calendula cream without any risk of aggravating your skin,” the popular House of Wellness TV and radio show co-host says.

In the extremely rare event that you are sensitive to the daisy family, asteraceae, which calendula belongs to, you might see a reaction such as a rash.

“But, my goodness, in 52 years of herbal medicine, I’ve never seen an issue with calendula,” Gerald says.

“Anyone can use it.”

What research has found

While there is little scientific research into the benefits of using calendula, one study has shown calendula was highly effective at preventing acute dermatitis in people receiving radiation treatment for breast cancer.

In another study, a calendula ointment significantly accelerated the healing of leg ulcers.

Calendula as an age old remedy

Gerald says calendula has been a favourite of herbal medicine practitioners for centuries.

“It was originally popular in ancient Greece and then in India and Arabic cultures,” he says.

“It’s not some newfangled plant that’s been discovered.

“In the herbal world, it’s given enormous respect.”

And his advice for those purchasing calendula cream?

“Like other herbal remedies, don’t expect a miracle overnight,” Gerald says.

“Give it a chance to work, and use it frequently.”

Written by Joanne Trzcinski.