- Pot Marigold
For Patients & Caregivers
How It Works
Topical application of calendula facilitates wound healing, and may reduce painful swelling and irritation associated with radiation therapy. It has not been shown to treat cancer.
Naturally occurring chemicals derived from the marigold plant have been shown to reduce inflammation in laboratory studies. These chemicals, which are called triterpenoids, also inhibit HIV virus and some tumors. When applied to the skin, extracts of calendula help to heal wounds and inflammation after radiation therapy. More research is needed.
- To heal burns and scalds Laboratory and animal studies show that calendula, when applied to the skin, has anti-inflammatory properties, and reduces burn tissue injury in animals. However, studies have not been undertaken to determine if this corresponds to faster healing of burns and scalds. Also, clinical studies in humans have not been performed.
- To treat painful menstruation Evidence is lacking to support this claim.
- To prevent skin inflammation Calendula ointment applied to the skin reduced painful swelling and irritation associated with radiation therapy in breast cancer patients.
- To treat spasms Evidence is lacking to support this claim.
- To treat varicose veins Evidence is lacking to support this claim.
Do Not Take If
For Healthcare Professionals
Derived from the flower of the marigold plant, calendula is used topically for wound healing (1). Major constituents of the leaves and stems include lutein and beta-carotene (2). Calendula extracts demonstrated anti-inflammatory properties (3) that may improve wound healing (4); and antibacterial, anti-parasitic (5), anti-HIV (6), cytotoxic and anti-tumor effects (9) (10) both in vitro and in vivo. Studies in murine models reported hepato-, reno- (14) (22), photo- (15), and cardioprotective (16) properties.
An herbal formulation containing calendula was found effective in reducing earache in children with acute otitis media (7) (8); and a topical application of a calendula cream was found to be safe and effective in infants for treating diaper dermatitis (21). Preliminary data also support the use of topical calendula for prophylaxis of acute dermatitis during radiation therapy (11) (13); for the treatment of diabetic foot (23) and venous leg (24) ulcers; and for treating vaginal candidiasis (25). A mouthwash containing calendula was shown useful for reducing dental plaque and gingivitis adjunctive to scaling (25), for reducing chemotherapy-induced stomatitis (17), but was ineffective in preventing mucositis associated with chemo-radiotherapy (26). Larger studies are needed to confirm these observations.
Mechanism of Action
Triterpenoids present in calendula have anti-inflammatory (3) and anti-HIV (6) effects, and a calendula extract suppressed cell fusion, which may inhibit early events in the HIV replication cycle (6). Calendula also has hepato- and reno-protective properties, that are likely due to its antioxidant activity (14). The photoprotective effect of topical gel formulations is thought to be associated with an improvement in collagen synthesis in the sub-epidermal connective tissue (15). In addition, calendula affords cardioprotection that involves modulating the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory pathways by activation of Akt (a serine/threonine protein kinase) and Bcl2 (a protein that regulates apoptosis), and down regulation of tumor necrosis factor (TNF alpha) (16).
Calendula was also shown to inhibit human gingival fibroblast-mediated degradation of collagen and matrix metalloprotease (MMP-2) activity (18). Essential oil derived from its flowers showed sun-protective activity (19), and prevented UVB-induced alterations in the skin (20). In addition, calendula accelerated healing of experimentally-induced thermal burns by increasing collagen-hydroxyproline and hexosamine, two bio-indicators of wound healing (4). It may also help reduce inflammatory bone resorption in experimental periodontitis, likely mediated via its anti-inflammatory property (27).