Updated: Feb 14
Can herbal treatments be used on the vulva, perineum or vagina?
As more people start to look for proof before they part with their money, scientific research has crept in to find real usefulness in some "old wives' tales" - and of course, find nothing but craziness in others.
One of the herbal treatments with positive research results is Calendula Officinalis– a particular type of marigold.
If you know how, Calendula can be used safely and effectively to relieve discomfort and even treat underlying conditions.
Why Use Calendula?
Studies have repeatedly found Calendula to have antibacterial, antifungal, antioxidant and even some antiviral effects.
Trials of its use have found it comfortable and soothing to the skin, with fewer side effects than prescription antibiotic treatments.
One of the appealing features of Calendula is that it has been found useful for a range of vaginal conditions, so it can be an appropriate choice for those who have ongoing unpleasant symptoms and have been cleared of more serious issues such as STIs.
What Can Calendula be Used For?
Various studies have shown Calendula to be useful in
reducing post-menopausal vaginal discomfort
supporting the body’s ability to defend against damage
treating Bacterial Vaginosis
Calendula products are also commonly used for nappy rash, for cracked nipples during breastfeeding, and for minor wounds and burns.
If you are using one product for multiple purposes, be very careful that you don’t transfer germs. Always use something clean to collect the product from its container, and never ‘double dip’.
Calendula Vs Antibiotics
Importantly, Calendula has been compared directly to antibiotic treatment in studies. In the treatment of Bacterial Vaginosis, Calendula was found to resolve symptoms without causing unwelcome side effects.
In the treatment of Thrush (Candidiasis), Calendula was found to be more effective than clotrimazole, a commonly prescribed antifungal. The treatments were applied for seven days.
Calendula relieved the symptoms of Thrush more quickly than the prescription antifungal.
The prescription antifungal had a higher clinical cure rate than calendula after 7 days of treatment ... BUT... the cure rate for those who had used calendula continued to increase after treatment stopped!
To put that another way, the clotrimazole worked, but a month later two thirds of that group had their Thrush back again. The calendula relieved symptoms early and that group saw a steady increase in cures as the next month passed.
What's the Catch?
The studies found Calendula effective in the right dosage.
It was safe and comfortable on intimate tissues when it was prepared for exactly that use.
Extracts of Calendula Officinalis are used in many creams and other products available from herbalists, pharmacies and many online outlets.
Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to find out the details of the ingredients in most commercial products. The amount of calendula might not be useful, and the base it has been added to might not be suitable for vaginal use.
Using Calendula on your skin is considered safe during pregnancy. I do not recommend applying anything internally to the vagina during pregnancy, unless you are told by a healthcare professional that it is safe in your individual case to do so.
If you have a choice, it seems that a methanol extract of calendula performs better against Thrush than an ethanol extract.
Professionals have access to quality low-alcohol calendula tinctures which can be diluted and used as a rinse over the perineum. These are specifically designed for topical (skin) rather than oral use. One quality option is made by Medi-herb, but your professional may have access to others that they supply or recommend. At the time of writing, I'm not aware of any options for buying these as a retail consumer.
There is one product on the Australian market (also ships internationally) that is both specifically intended for safe female genital application, and formulated by experts to ensure an appropriate dosage of the herb. There may be other sources of safe, quality products.
Aunt Vadge’s Delicate Cuts Cream is available from
(I receive no benefit from ‘promoting’ this cream. Price may display in USD but the company is located in and ships from Australia.)
Check out the rest of the series on Vaginal Health HERE!
(Butterfly on calendula Photo by Anastasiya Romanova on Unsplash)
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