Calendula - Research
An ointment made with calendula flowers has been effective in relieving the pain associated with cracked or tender nipples.4 Possible antiviral and immunostimulating effects of calendula have also been reported.2 Calendula has been investigated for its possible therapeutic activity in supporting wound healing, and in soothing inflammation and minor burns.5 Recent studies have investigated the calendic acid content of the calendula seed and found it to have antioxidant properties.6
Most of the field trials and cultivation studies on calendula are evaluating its potential as a seed oil crop. Information is not currently available on the commercial cultivation and sustainability of calendula as a medicinal plant crop.
Historically calendula was known as “poor man’s saffron” and was used as a color and flavoring agent in foods, specifically soups and rice dishes.2 Folk medicine healers in Europe prepared infusions (teas), extracts, and ointments with the petals to induce menses (menstrual flow), produce sweat during fevers, and cure jaundice (yellowing of the skin). In 19th century America, calendula was used internally to treat liver problems, stomach ulcers, conjunctivitis (inflammation of the mucous membrane that lines the eyelids), and externally to help speed the healing of burns, bruises, and wounds.2 Traditionally, the flower was also used externally as an antiseptic and to help stop bleeding.3
The German Commission E has approved calendula flower for both internal and topical use in treating inflammation of the mucous membranes of the mouth and throat.2 It is also approved externally for the healing of wounds; herbal infusions, tinctures, and ointments are used for skin and mucous membrane inflammations, such as pharyngitis (inflammation of the throat), leg ulcers, bruises, boils, and rashes.2
2 Blumenthal M, Goldberg A, Brinckmann J, editors. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs. Austin, TX: American Botanical Council; Boston: Integrative Medicine Communications; 2000.
3 Leung AY, Foster S. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics. 2nd ed. New York: Wiley-Interscience; 1996.
4 Loggia DR, Tubaro A, Sosa S, et al. The role of triterpenoids in the topical anti-inflammatory activity of Calendula officinialis flowers. Planta Med. 1994;60:516-520.
5 Barnes J, Anderson LA, and Phillipson DJ. Herbal Medicines: a Guide for Healthcare Professionals. 2nd ed. London: Pharmaceutical Press; 2002.
6 Wilen RW, Barl B, Slinkard AE. Feasibility of Cultivation Calendula as a Dual Purpose Industrial Oilseed and Medicinal Crop. ISHS Acta Horticulture 629 :XXVI International Horticultural Congress: The Future for Medicinal and Aromatic Plants. Available at: http://www.actahort.org/books/629/629/_26.htm. Accessed January 26, 2005.