Topical application of calendula 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
No scientific evidence supports this use.
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
No scientific evidence supports this use.
To treat varicose veins
This claim is not backed by scientific data.
Do Not Take If
You are allergic to plants in the Asteraceae/Compositae family.
You are pregnant or lactating because safety data are lacking.
Derived from the flower of the marigold plant, calendula is used topically for wound healing (1). Major constituents of the leaves and stems of the plant include lutein and beta-carotene (2). Calendula extracts demonstrated anti-inflammatory properties (3), which 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 indicate 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 has been reported safe and effective in infants for treating diaper dermatitis (21).
Preliminary data support use of topical calendula for prophylaxis of acute dermatitis during radiation therapy (11)(13); and for the treatment of diabetic foot (23) and venous leg (24) ulcers. Additional studies showed that a mouthwash containing calendula was useful in reducing chemotherapy-induced stomatitis (17), and for reducing dental plaque and gingivitis adjunctive to scaling (25). Larger studies are needed to confirm these observations.
Radiation therapy side effects
Mechanism of Action
The 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 exhibits hepato- and reno-protective effects which are likely due to its antioxidant activity (14). The photoprotective effect of topical gel formulations containing calendula 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). In another study, calendula was shown to inhibit human gingival fibroblast-mediated degradation of collagen and matrix metalloprotease (MMP-2) activity (18).
The essential oil from calendula flowers was shown to have sun protection activity (19). And application of a cream containing essential oil of calendula prevented UV-B-induced alterations in the skin in a murine model (20). Calendula extract also accelerated healing of experimentally-induced thermal burns by increasing collagen-hydroxyproline and hexosamine, which are two bio-indicators of wound healing (4).
Calendula should be avoided during pregnancy and lactation because safety data are lacking (1).
Calendula is known to cause allergic reactions (12).