Study: can calendula cure BV?

Calendula and BV

Researchers looked into calendula to see what effect an extract-based cream would have on bacterial vaginosis after one week, versus a metronidazole antibiotic cream.

Calendula pessaries

Eighty women underwent the treatments, which consisted of either 5g of either treatment nightly for one week vaginally, with both groups being symptom-free after one week.

The study participants were not pregnant, of fertile age (18-45), and married. It must be noted that this is an extremely short treatment duration and does not account for biofilm formation or recurrences, which typically occur after one week.

What this study does show us is that there are many other non-antibiotic options for treating BV that require further study. (For our effective, non-antibiotic treatment for BV, read Killing BV.)

Result of the calendula/antibiotic treatments

  • The calendula group had more itching than the antibiotic group during treatment (23 per cent versus 2.5 per cent)
  • A week after treatment, both groups were symptom-free
  • No side effects were seen from either treatment in either group
  • Both metronidazole and the calendula preparations were considered to be effective against BV
  • An aqueous solution had an antibacterial effect against gram-negative and gram-positive bacterial strains
  • Calendula was as effective in women with Candida albicans as clotrimazole

Flaws with this study that need to be understood to put the results into context

The evaluation was just one week after the treatment, which is not long enough no matter what. Treatments should check in at the three-month mark to be useful to us. Antibiotics clear BV up after a week, even in stubborn cases, so it can’t be taken as a ‘cure’.

The calendula preparations

Fresh Calendula officinalis flowers were powdered with a vaginal cream made of extractions from the powder using methanol, which is thought to be more effective than ethanol.

Fresh flowers and leaves are believed to be more effective than the roots of C. officinalis. Other studies have found calendula preparations to be effective against vulvovaginal itching, burning, redness and dryness in postmenopausal women and has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and wound-healing effects on vaginal cells.


Zahra Pazhohideh, Solmaz Mohammadi, Nosrat Bahrami, Faraz Mojab, Parvin Abedi, and Elham Maraghi, The effect of Calendula officinalis versus metronidazole on bacterial vaginosis in women: A double-blind randomized controlled trial, J Adv Pharm Technol Res. 2018 Jan-Mar; 9 (1): 15–19. doi: 10.4103/japtr.JAPTR_305_17  

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Jessica Lloyd - Vulvovaginal Specialist Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

Jessica is a degree-qualified naturopath (BHSc) specialising in vulvovaginal health and disease, based in Melbourne, Australia.

Jessica is the owner and lead naturopath of My Vagina, and is a member of the:

  • International Society for the Study of Vulvovaginal Disease (ISSVD)
  • International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health (ISSWSH)
  • National Vulvodynia Association (NVA) Australia
  • New Zealand Vulvovaginal Society (ANZVS)
  • Australian Traditional Medicine Society (ATMS)