Calendula
   

Calendula
Botanical Name:  Calendula officinalis
Common Names:  Garden marigold, Poet's marigold, Pot marigold
 
Overview
Plant Description
Parts Used
Medicinal Uses and Indications
Available Forms
How to Take It
Precautions
Possible Interactions
Supporting Research

Overview

The petals of the calendula plant (Calendula officinalis) have been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. Often referred to as pot marigold or garden marigold, 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.

Folk medicine healers in Europe used infusions, extracts, and ointments prepared with calendula petals to induce menstruation, produce sweat during fevers, and cure jaundice. Calendula preparations were also used in the United States during the 19th century to treat stomach ulcers, liver complaints, conjunctivitis (pink eye), and wounds. Researchers soon discovered that compounds in calendula petals help reduce inflammation and control bleeding. Today, the dried petals of the calendula plant are used in tinctures, ointments, and washes to speed the healing of burns, bruises, and cuts, as well as the minor infections they cause.


Plant Description

Calendula is an annual plant that thrives in virtually any soil but can typically be found in Europe, Western Asia, and the United States. Its branching stems grow to a height of 30 to 60 cm. Calendula has a flowerhead situated on a well-defined green floral receptacle. The inner portion of the flowerhead consists of orange-yellow, tubular florets (often called petals).


Parts Used

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


Medicinal Uses and Indications

Burns, Cuts and Bruises
Calendula tinctures, ointments, and washes are commonly used to speed the healing of burns, bruises, and cuts, as well as the minor infections they cause.

Professional homeopaths often recommend ointments containing homeopathic doses of calendula to heal first-degree burns and sunburns. In fact, some homeopaths consider this remedy the treatment of choice for children. Homeopathic calendula ointments may also be used in the healing stages of second- and third-degree burns to stimulate regrowth of skin and to diminish scar formation.

Ear Infection
Homeopathic doses of calendula also appear to reduce pain caused by ear infections in children. In a study conducted in Israel, 103 children with ear infections were given herbal ear drops or drops containing pain-relieving medications. The herbal ear drops contained a variety of herbal extracts including calendula, St. John's wort, mullein flower, and garlic. The researchers found that the combination of herbs in the ear drops were as effective as the medication ear drops in reducing the children's ear pain.

HIV
Preliminary laboratory studies also suggest that extracts of dried calendula petals inhibit the activity of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in test tubes. Calendula has not been studied in people with HIV, however, so it is not clear whether this herb is safe or effective for people with this condition.


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 three years of storage.


How to Take It

Pediatric

Use only topical and homeopathic preparations for children.

Calendula can be used externally in the form of creams and ointments in dosages of 2 to 5 g calendula per 100 g cream or ointment.

For homeopathic dosages follow instructions on product labeling or consult a licensed homeopath.

Adult

Recommended adult doses are as follows:

Infusion: 1 tsp dried florets in 8 oz water; steep 30 to 40 minutes; drink two to three cups per day

Fluid extract (1:1 in 40% alcohol): 0.5 to 1.0 mL three times per day

Tincture (1:5 in 90% alcohol): 2 to 4 mL three times per day

Ointment: 2 to 5 g crude drug in 100 g ointment


Precautions

The use of herbs is a time-honored approach to strengthening the body and treating disease. Herbs, however, contain active substances that can trigger side effects and that can interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications. For these reasons, herbs should be taken with care, under the supervision of a practitioner knowledgeable in the field of botanical medicine.

Frequent skin contact may result in an allergic reaction to the herb.

Calendula is also known to affect the menstrual cycle and should not be used during pregnancy and breastfeeding.


Possible Interactions

There are no known scientific reports of interactions between calendula and conventional medications.


Supporting Research

Blumenthal M, ed. The Complete German Commission E Monographs. Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Boston: Integrative Medicine Communications; 1998: 100.

Brinker F. Herb Contraindications and Drug Interactions. 2nd ed. Sandy, Ore: Eclectic Medical; 1998:46.

Cummings S, Ullman D. Everybody's Guide to Homeopathic Medicines. 3rd ed. New York, NY: Penguin Putnam; 1997: 295.

Foster S, Tyler V. Tyler's Honest Herbal: A Sensible Guide to the Use of Herbs and Related Remedies. 3rd ed. New York: Pharmaceutical Products Press; 1999: 85-86.

Gruenwald J, Brendler T, Christof J. PDR for Herbal Medicines. Montvale, NJ: Medical Economics Company; 1998: 704-706.

Kalvatchev Z, Walder R, Garzaro D. Anti-HIV activity of extracts from Calendula officinalis flowers. Biomed Pharmacotherapy. 1997;51(4):176-180.

Newall C, Anderson L, Phillipson J. Herbal Medicines: A Guide for Health-care Professionals. London: Pharmaceutical Press; 1996: 58-59.

Sarrell EM, Mandelberg A, Cohen HA. Efficacy of naturopathic extracts in the management of ear pain associated with acute otitis media. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2001;155(7):796-799.

Schulz V, Hansel R, Tyler V. Rational Phytotherapy: A Physician's Guide to Herbal Medicine. 3rd ed. Berlin: Springer; 1998: 259.

Ullman D. Homeopathic Medicine for Children and Infants. New York, NY: Penguin Putnam; 1992:165-167.

Ullman D. The Consumer's Guide to Homeopathy. New York, NY: Penguin Putnam; 1995:254-255;334.


Review Date: April 2002
Reviewed By: Participants in the review process include: Jacqueline A. Hart, MD, Department of Internal Medicine, Newton-Wellesley Hospital, Harvard University and Senior Medical Editor Integrative Medicine, Boston, MA; Gary Kracoff, RPh (Pediatric Dosing section February 2001), Johnson Drugs, Natick, MA; Steven Ottariono, RPh (Pediatric Dosing section February 2001), Veteran's Administrative Hospital, Londonderry, NH; R. Lynn Shumake, PD, Director, Alternative Medicine Apothecary, Blue Mountain Apothecary & Healing Arts, University of Maryland Medical Center, Glenwood, MD; David Winston, Herbalist (December 1999), Herbalist and Alchemist, Inc., Washington, NJ. All interaction sections have also been reviewed by a team of experts including Joseph Lamb, MD (July 2000), The Integrative Medicine Works, Alexandria, VA;Enrico Liva, ND, RPh (August 2000), Vital Nutrients, Middletown, CT; Brian T Sanderoff, PD, BS in Pharmacy (March 2000), Clinical Assistant Professor, University of Maryland School of Pharmacy; President, Your Prescription for Health, Owings Mills, MD; Ira Zunin, MD, MPH, MBA (July 2000), President and Chairman, Hawaii State Consortium for Integrative Medicine, Honolulu, HI.

Copyright © 2004 A.D.A.M., Inc

The publisher does not accept any responsibility for the accuracy of the information or the consequences arising from the application, use, or misuse of any of the information contained herein, including any injury and/or damage to any person or property as a matter of product liability, negligence, or otherwise. No warranty, expressed or implied, is made in regard to the contents of this material. No claims or endorsements are made for any drugs or compounds currently marketed or in investigative use. This material is not intended as a guide to self-medication. The reader is advised to discuss the information provided here with a doctor, pharmacist, nurse, or other authorized healthcare practitioner and to check product information (including package inserts) regarding dosage, precautions, warnings, interactions, and contraindications before administering any drug, herb, or supplement discussed herein.

 
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