Calendula (Calendula officinalis [Latin]), also known as pot calendula " >

Calendula

Calendula

Calendula (Calendula officinalis [Latin]), also known as pot calendula and pot marigold, is an orange or yellow flower native to the Mediterranean. Calendula is easy to grow from seed, but although it is sometimes referred to as marigold it should not be confused with regular French or African marigolds that are commonly used in gardens (Tagetes species). Calendula’s orange petals are thought to be antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, two traits that have made this flower a popular treatment for a host of bodily infections.

Calendula is often recommended for treatment of ear infections. Studies have shown calendula offers as much pain relief for ear infection as some non-herbal eardrops. One popular combination herbal product Otikon Otic (which includes calendula), has been shown effective alternative treatment for chronic ear pain in doses 5 drops placed in the affected ear 3 times daily.

Calendula washes may also be useful in treating chronic conjunctivitis. They antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects of calendula both soothe the inflammation and help kill unhealthy bacteria are in the membranes surrounding the eye.

Some research suggests that calendula extracts may also reduce inflammation when applied to the skin. In Germany, some doctors apply preparations of the herb to surgical incisions and other wounds that are slow to heal; studies indicate that this herb both reduces healing time and increases the quality of healing. Calendula also stimulates the production of collagen, and is used in many cosmetic creams to lessen the appearance of wrinkles and hydrate skin. Calendula ointments are available in 2% and 5% strengths, and have been used topically to treat pain and inflammation resulting from a variety of conditions, including hemorrhoids, vaginal itching caused by menopausal tissue changes, insect bites, diaper rash, acne, eczema, and sunburn. People with gastrointestinal disorders may benefit from calendula as well. German studies have shown that calendula protects the lining of the stomach and intestines by inhibiting the prostaglandin E1 (PGE), which causes swelling and inflammation, and by limiting the effects of Helicobacter pylori, a bacterium associated with gastritis, peptic ulcers, and stomach cancer.

Calendula flowers are edible, and may be added to salads or cooked foods. They can also be dried for use in teas or gargles for sore throat or inflammations of the mouth; or in infused oils, creams, or ointments for treatment of minor skin injuries or irritations.

You can make and store calendula tea in your refrigerator as a soothing skin treatment; try swabbing it directly on inflamed skin (acne, hemorrhoids, etc.). Some people may have an allergic reaction to calendula, especially those who are allergic to other members of the aster family, such as ragweed. It’s best to do a spot-test before using this or any other herbal medication.

The flower petals of the calendula plant (Calendula officinalis), or marigold, have been used for medicinal purposes since at least the 12th century. Calendula is native to Mediterranean countries but is now grown as an ornamental plant throughout the world. It is important to note, however, that not all household plants called marigold are members of the calendula family.

Calendula contains high amounts of flavonoids, plant-based antioxidants that protect the body against cell-damaging free radicals. Researchers are not sure what active ingredients in calendula are responsible for its healing properties, but it appears to have anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antibacterial effects.

Traditionally, calendula has been used to treat stomach upset and ulcers, as well relieve menstrual cramps, but there is no scientific evidence that calendula is effective in these cases. Today, topical applications of calendula are more common, especially in Germany. Calendula has been shown to speed healing of wounds (possibly because it increases blood flow to the affected area), and the dried petals of the calendula plant are used in tinctures, ointments, and washes for the healing of burns, bruises, and cuts, as well as the minor infections they cause. More recently, calendula has been shown to help prevent dermatitis in breast cancer patients during radiation.

Medicinal Uses and Indications:

Except in extremely dilute homeopathic preparations, calendula is not generally taken orally.

Burns, cuts, and bruises

Calendula tinctures, ointments, and washes are commonly used topically to speed the healing of burns, bruises, and cuts, as well as the minor infections they cause. Calendula cream is also used to treat hemorrhoids. Animal studies show that calendula does appear to speed wound healing, possibly by increasing blood flow to the wounded area and by helping the body produce collagen proteins, which are used to heal skin and connective tissue. Although no scientific studies in humans support these uses, applying calendula topically is considered safe.

Professional homeopaths often recommend ointments containing calendula to heal first-degree burns and sunburns.

Dermatitis

Preliminary evidence suggests that calendula may help prevent dermatitis in breast cancer patients during radiation. In one study of 254 patients, women who used calendula lotion were less likely to grade II or higher dermatitis compared to those who used trolamine lotion.

Ear infection (otitis media)

Ear drops containing calendula are sometimes used to treat ear infections in children. A few scientific studies have shown no side effects, although the studies are not of sufficient quality to determine whether calendula is truly effective.

Precautions:

The use of herbs is a time-honored approach to strengthening the body and treating disease. Herbs, however, can trigger side effects and can interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications. For these reasons, you should take herbs with care, under the supervision of a health care provider.

Calendula is generally considered safe for topical application. It should not be applied to an open wound without a doctor's supervision. People who are sensitive to plants in the daisy or aster family, including chrysanthemums and ragweed, may also have an allergic reaction to calendula (usually a skin rash).

Calendula is also known to affect the menstrual cycle and should not be used during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Theoretically, calendula may affect conception when taken by a man or woman, so couples trying to get pregnant should not use calendula.


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