The Spartan Guide to Calendula
The Claim Chemicals in calendula, a pretty orange herb from the daisy family, seem to decrease swelling and help new tissue grow in wounds. Herbologists have long heralded it as a natural topical healer.
The Evidence A lotion or liquid made from the flower can quickly ease burns, hives, and eczema, says Svetlana Kogan, M.D., author of Diet Slave No More who grew up in Ukraine. “In Eastern Europe in the ‘70s, there were hardly any medications available,“ she says. “So people used calendula a lot for its soothing and calming topical properties.” Today, she recommends it to patients who come in with eczema but don't want to use typical steroids, like cortisone.
In small studies, the herb proves effective. By calming inflammation and promoting healing, it has been shown to help heal diaper rash, dermatitis from radiation therapy, leg ulcers, and anal fissures.
How to Use It Creams, lotions, gels, and ointments are widely available (Dr. Kogan recommends gel from the French company Boiron), but some people prefer to buy dry calendula and make their own soother. To try it, brew a handful of the flower in boiling water like a tea, strain it, and then pour the liquid into an ice cube tray and store it in the freezer. “In the morning, take out one ice cube and wipe it across your face like a toner to treat rosacea, eczema, or any itchy, inflammatory issue there,” Dr. Kogan says. (The same idea applies to treating skin problems on other body parts.) The cool temp further helps soothe inflammation, boosting calendula’s effect.