With bright yellow and happy flowers, calendula plants are difficult to miss. This marigold doppelganger treats chronic ailments while being an excellent aesthetic addition.
Calendula has proven anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral, antioxidant, analgesic, antiplaque, vulnerary, and astringent effects on your body. Read this article to know the ways this plant can benefit you.
Table Of Contents
What Is Calendula? What Is It Known For?
Calendula (Calendula officinalis) or pot marigold belongs to the Asteraceae family. It is closely related to field marigold, and its flowers share a close resemblance too (1).
The flowers and leaves of this plant have been used in traditional medicine. The medicinal properties of calendula have also been mentioned in Ayurvedic and Unani sciences. In 2008, the European Medicines Agency recognized it as an herbal medicinal product (2).
Folk medicine uses calendula leaves and flowers to treat wounds, rashes, bruises, stomach ulcers, edema, and several other inflammatory conditions. Its mother tincture is used in homeopathy to relieve mental tension and insomnia (1), (3).
The following sections will give you a detailed insight about calendula and its therapeutic benefits. Start scrolling!
What Are The Benefits Of Calendula?
Calendula is used to heal skin rashes, deep wounds, and ulcers. It can also reduce fever, microbial infections, menstrual irregularities, and varicose veins.
1. Heals Wounds, Burns, And Scars
Calendula contains alkaloids, triterpenoids, flavonoids, and carotenoids. These phytochemicals trap the free radicals in your body and accelerate the process of healing of wounds and burns (thermal and sun). The plant controls the levels of compounds that promote inflammation, including nitric oxide and cytokines (4).
Animal studies were conducted to study the effects of oral and topical use of calendula extracts. The percentage of wound closure was about 90% in the group treated with the extract. Almost no skin toxicity was reported in any of the studies (4), (5).
Calendula ointment can also be used by women who have undergone C-section (Cesarean procedure). It considerably speeds up recovery and can be used to support post-surgical care/treatment (6).
2. May Relieve Menstrual Discomfort
This flower was used to calm painful menstruation (dysmenorrhea) and menstrual irregularities in traditional and homeopathic medicine. Calendula oil, combined with other essential oils, is a common remedy (1), (7).
These oils prevent the transmission of nerve signals between the uterus and the brain. They also cause a transmission delay of the pain signal from the brain to the uterus.
Topical calendula lotions can help in controlling excessive menstrual bleeding and other related symptoms (7).
3. Treats Diaper Rashes
Diaper dermatitis or diaper rash is a common inflammatory reaction observed in infants, children, and adults wearing diapers. Painful skin eruptions occur in the areas covered by the diaper (8).
Not changing the diaper when needed and prolonged exposure to urine, feces, and moisture may cause this acute condition. Zinc deficiency and microbial infections may also lead to such rashes (8).
Generally, a mild cream/ointment or oral antibiotics can clear this allergy. Medications based on calendula and aloe vera have also shown promising results. These herbs have anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects (8).
Moreover, no side effects of these herbal preparations have been reported so far (8).
4. May Help In Managing Inflammatory Skin Diseases
The tannins, triterpenoids, and saponins in calendula exert a deep-cleansing effect on your skin. When applied topically, its flower extracts may even heal acne and atopic dermatitis (eczema) (9), (10), (11).
Calendula also reduces radiodermatitis, which is skin damage caused by radiation. Radiodermatitis is one of the side effects of radiation therapy. Patients may develop redness (erythema) and skin toxicity (12).
Thanks to its antioxidant and astringent effects, this plant extract can reduce the levels of free radicals in your system. Using calendula cream/ointment with medical consent is a good option in such cases (9), (12).
However, in rare cases, calendula can induce contact dermatitis in these patients (13).
5. Maintains Dental Health
The antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties of this plant can be employed to treat dental issues as well. Periodontal disease, gingivitis, dental plaque, and other such inflammatory conditions turn chronic and painful in no time (14), (15).
You could use products with herbs like calendula, clove leaf, thyme, and eucalyptus to restore oral hygiene. These herbs can prevent the build-up of tartar and plaque on the teeth (14).
A mouthwash made of calendula extract significantly reduced gingivitis. Its active molecules could fight throat infections too. This plant extract can treat canker sores, aphthous ulcers (stomatitis), and sore throat (15).
Calendula has almost no side effects if orally consumed. It can be added as a component in candies, beverages, dental chew, toothpaste, lozenges, and whitening molds for better results (14).
6. Reduces Pain And Inflammation
Calendula inhibits the production of pain-inducing chemicals (prostaglandins) in your body. Animal studies show a 33% reduction in swelling/edema when treated with 250 mg/kg of its extract (16).
The plant prevents the release of histamines, which are chemicals known to cause redness, pain, allergies, and inflammation. The flavonoids, saponins, and triterpenoids in calendula are responsible for this property (17).
7. May Fight Cancer
The roots and flower extracts have shown positive effects on skin cancer (melanoma), breast cancer, and leukemia cells. The active molecules have been identified to be polysaccharides, proteins, fatty acids, carotenoids, flavonoids, triterpenoids, and saponins (3), (20).
These molecules inhibit the cell division in cancer cells to prevent metastasis (spreading). Calendula also induces programmed cell death (apoptosis) in these cells to ensure 100% growth inhibition (20).
8. Exhibits Anti-HIV Effects
This flower extract has antiviral properties. Researchers have recognized/identified anti-HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) activity, in particular. In a study, about 90% of the target cells were protected from HIV infection in the presence of 10-30 mcg/mL of calendula flower extract (21)
The flavonols in the flowers block the initial-stage interactions between viruses and cells. The extract inactivates several HIV proteins, even when present in small concentrations (21).
Calendula prevents the activity of a crucial viral protein called reverse transcriptase (RT). The RT enzyme allows HIV to survive in human host cells, thereby causing AIDS (21).
Further research would help isolate the principle molecules behind this property (21).
Lab experiments and chemical analyses have revealed a unique biochemical profile of this plant. We will explore that in the following section.
Phytochemical Composition Of Calendula
|Triterpenes glycosides/Monoterpenes/conjugated terpenes||Calendulaglycoside A, B, CD, F, G. Esters like taraxasterol, faradiol, heliantriol, arnidiol, lupeol, calenduladiol, ursadiol, brein, amyrin, maniladiol, erythrodiol; limonene, cineol|
|Flavonoids||Quercetin, kaempferol, isorhamnetin, rutin, astragalin, isoquercitrin|
|Carotenoids||Lutein, zeaxanthin, flavoxanthin, auroxanthin, ß-carotene, luteoxnathin, violaxanthin, ß-cryptoxanthin, mutaxanthin|
|Phenolic acids/Fatty acids||Chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, coumaric acid, vanillic acid, linoleic acid, calendic acid|
|Volatile oils||𝛼-copaene, 𝛼-ionone, 𝛼-humulene, geranylacetone, β-ionone, ledene, 𝛼-murolene, 𝛼-cadinene, 𝛼-calacorene, viridiflorol, ledol, limonene, 𝛼-cadinol and cadalene|
These phytochemicals enhance the therapeutic value of calendula flower heads. Using them in the right way and amount will put the molecules to action.
Is there a recommended way of using calendula? Scroll down to know.
How Much Of Calendula Is Safe?
A recommended dose for calendula has not been framed yet.
However, a 2%-5% calendula ointment can be applied topically to heal wounds. If using a tincture (1:9 in 20% alcohol), 2-4 ml per ¼-½ cup of water can be taken three times a day (22).
Another option could be using 1-2 g of Calendula powder per cup of water (22).
Depending on the condition/ailment, this herbal medicine can be taken in different/multiple ways. The most suitable dose and mode of administration have to be decided by your healthcare provider.
Calendula may induce acute adverse effects in certain individuals. Find more on this in the next section.
Does Calendula Have Any Side Effects Or Risks?
If you are allergic to plants from the Asteraceae family, calendula may trigger a cross-reaction/hypersensitivity in your body. Keep your doctor informed of such symptoms (22).
There is a >1% chance of developing contact dermatitis if you have frequent skin contact with this herbal preparation (22).
Also, you may be advised against using calendula products if you are on tranquilizers (23).
No herb-drug interactions have been reported with this plant yet (24).
The safety of calendula products in pregnant and lactating women is not clear yet. There is insufficient data to establish dosage in these cases (24).
Calendula is used as an herbal remedy to treat wounds, skin burns, microbial infections, and menstrual issues. It has carved its niche in traditional, folk, naturopathic, and homeopathic medical regimens.
Its flower heads have abundant active molecules that give you these health benefits. Moreover, it is safe to be used orally or topically.
Discuss calendula with your doctor and understand its usage and dosage.
Until next time, happy healing!
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