An Herb For Thought: Calendula
Calendula has been used medicinally for centuries. Traditionally, it has been used to treat conjunctivitis, blepharitis, eczema, gastritis, minor burns including sunburns, warts, and minor injuries such as sprains and wounds. It has also been used to treat cramps, coughs, and snake bites. Calendula has a high content of flavonoids, chemicals that act as anti-oxidants in the body. Anti-oxidants are thought to protect body cells from damage caused by a chemical process called oxidation. Oxidation produces oxygen free radicals, natural chemicals that may suppress immune function.
Calendula has been considered beneficial in reducing inflammation and promoting wound healing. It has been used to treat a variety of skin diseases and has been seen effective in treatment of skin ulcerations, eczema, juvenile acne and dry phthiriasis. Improvement has been seen in as little as 3-4 days of treatment according to the Universitatea de Medicina si Farmacie.
Calendula is one of several herbs used traditionally to treat conjunctivitis and other eye inflammations as it helps to reduce the swelling and redness of eye infections. It is also believed that calendula may have some anti-spasmodic action, and as such, it has been used to relieve menstrual cramps.
Calendula is used to aid the healing of wounds and internal and external ulcers. It is an anti-septic and improves blood flow to the affected area. Some clinical studies validate the early treatment of stomach ulcers, although further research is needed (Chakurski 1981; Krivenko 1989).
Calendula cream is good for acne and nappy rash. An infusion is good for digestion and relieves colitis and symptoms of menopause. As an anti-fungal agent, it can be used to treat athlete’s foot, ringworm, and candida. The tincture applied neat to cold sores encourages healing.
Calendula contains chemicals, which have been shown in animal studies to speed up wound-healing by several actions that include increasing blood flow to the affected area and promoting the production of collagen proteins. Calendula also possesses anti-septic and anti-inflammatory effects due to its flavonoid content. In mouthwashes and gargles, calendula soothes sore throat or mouth tissue; in solutions, it has been uses to treat haemorrhoids.
Compresses of calendula blossoms are helpful for varicose veins. Results from recent animal and laboratory studies show that calendula may also have some anti-infective properties, particularly against fungal infections and against viruses.
Calendula’s high-molecular weight polysaccharides stimulate immune system activity (Wagner 1985) and has been researched for immune system activity. It was initially determined to have some potential therapeutic activity against the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV): extracts significantly inhibited HIV-1 in vitro, and reduced HIV-1 reverse transcriptase in a dose- and time-dependent manner (Kalvatchev 1997).
Calendula today, is being investigated for it’s anti-cancer properties. In conjunction with other herbs such as Echinacea purpurea, Scorzonera humilis L., and Aconitum moldavicum, there has been evidence of success in treating certain cancers (Heren’s carcinoma) according to the Fedkovich Chernivtsi State University in the Ukraine.
In one small study of about 250 women undergoing radiation therapy after surgery for breast cancer, a commercial calendula ointment reduced the amount of skin irritation better than another commonly-used commercial preparation. Women who used the calendula ointment also reported less pain from the radiation. Investigations into anti-cancer and anti-viral actions continue.
Calendula is a plant. The flower is used to make medicine.
Calendula flower is used to prevent muscle spasms, start menstrual periods, and reduce fever. It is also used for treating sore throat and mouth, menstrual cramps, cancer, and stomach and duodenal ulcers.
Calendula is applied to the skin to reduce pain and swelling (inflammation) and to treat poorly healing wounds and leg ulcers. It is also applied to the skin (used topically) for nosebleeds, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, inflammation of the rectum (proctitis), and inflammation of the lining of the eyelid (conjunctivitis).
Don’t confuse calendula with ornamental marigolds of the Tagets genus, which are commonly grown in vegetable gardens.
- Muscle spasms.
- Varicose veins.
- Promoting menstruation.
- Treating mouth and throat soreness.
- Leg ulcers.
- Other conditions.
Side Effects & Safety
Calendula is safe for most people when taken by mouth or applied to the skin.
Special Precautions & Warnings:
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Don’t take calendula by mouth if you are pregnant. There is a concern that it might cause a miscarriage. It’s best to avoid topical use as well until more is known.
If you are breast-feeding, don’t take calendula either. There isn’t enough safety information about use during breast-feeding.
Allergy to ragweed and related plants: Calendula may cause an allergic reaction in people who are sensitive to the Asteraceae/Compositae family. Members of this family include ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, daisies, and many others. If you have allergies, be sure to check with your healthcare provider before taking calendula.
Surgery: Calendula might cause too much drowsiness if combined with medications used during and after surgery. It is suggested to stop taking calendula at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.