Monthly Archives: May 2011

Calendula

 

The flower petals of the calendula plant (Calendula officinalis), or pot 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 not the same as the annual marigold plant that’ s often grown in gardens, however.

Calendula has high amounts of flavonoids, plant-based antioxidants that protect cells from being damaged by unstable molecules called free radicals. Calendula appears to fight inflammation, viruses, and bacteria.

Traditionally, calendula has been used to treat stomach upset and ulcers, as well relieve menstrual cramps, but there is no scientific evidence that calendula works for these problems. Today, calendula is often used topically, meaning it’ s applied to the skin.

Calendula has been shown to help wounds heal faster, possibly by increasing blood flow and oxygen to the affected area, which helps the body grow new tissue. The dried petals of the calendula plant are used in tinctures, ointments, and washes to treat burns, bruises, and cuts, as well as the minor infections they cause. Calendula also has been shown to help prevent dermatitis or skin inflammation in breast cancer patients during radiation therapy.

Plant Description:

Calendula is an annual plant that thrives in almost any soil but can typically be found in Europe, Western Asia, and the United States. It belongs to the same family as daisies, chrysanthemums, and ragweed. Its branching stems grow to a height of 30 – 60 cm, and it blooms from early spring until frost. The orange-yellow petals of the flowers are used for medicine.

Parts Used:

The dried petals of the calendula plant are used for medicinal purposes.

Medicinal Uses and Indications:

Today, calendula is not usually taken by mouth. The exception is when it is used in extremely small amounts in homeopathic preparations. Calendula is usually applied topically, to the skin.

Burns, cuts, and bruises

Calendula tinctures, ointments, and washes are often applied to the skin to help burns, bruises, and cuts heal faster, and to fight the minor infections they cause. Calendula cream is also used to treat hemorrhoids. Animal studies show that calendula does seem to help wounds heal faster, maybe by increasing blood flow to the wounded area and by helping the body make new tissue. There are no scientific studies looking at whether calendula works in humans, but using it on your skin is considered safe.

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

Dermatitis

Early evidence suggests that calendula may help prevent dermatitis — skin inflammation — in breast cancer patients who are undergoing radiation therapy, when compared with another lotion. However, the study wasnt’ t double-blind, meaning the women knew whether they were using calendula or the other lotion.

Ear infection (otitis media)

Ear drops containing calendula are sometimes used to treat ear infections in children. A few scientific studies have found no side effects. But the studies aren’ t high enough quality to see whether calendula really works or not for ear infections.

Available Forms:

Fresh or dried calendula petals are available in tinctures, liquid extracts, infusions, ointments, and creams.

Calendula products should always be protected from light and moisture, and should not be used after 3 years of storage.

How to Take It:

Pediatric

Use only topical and homeopathic preparations for children.

Calendula can be applied to the skin using a 2 – 5% ointment.

For homeopathic dosages, consult a licensed homeopath.

Adult

  • Infusion: 1 tsp (5 – 10 g) dried florets in 8 oz (250 mL) water; steep 10 – 15 minutes; drink 2 – 3 cups per day
  • Fluid extract (1:1 in 40% alcohol): 0.5 – 1.0 mL 3 times per day
  • Tincture (1:5 in 90% alcohol): 5 – 10 drops (1 – 2 mL) 3 times per day
  • Ointment: 2 – 5% calendula; apply 3 – 4 times per day as needed

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 to use on your skin. Don’ t apply it to an open wound without a doctor’s supervision. People who are allergic to plants in the daisy or aster family, including chrysanthemums and ragweed, may also have an allergic reaction to calendula (usually a skin rash).

Pregnant and breastfeeding women should not use calendula. In theory, calendula could interfere with conception, so couples trying to get pregnant should not use calendula.

Possible Interactions:

There are no known scientific reports of interactions between calendula and conventional or herbal medications. In theory, taking calendula orally may interact with the following medications, so talk to your doctor before combining these drugs with calendula:

  • Sedatives
  • Drugs to treat high blood pressure
  • Medications to treat diabetes

Alternative Names:

Calendula officinalis; Garden marigold; Pot marigold

http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/calendula–000228.htm

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