Archive for the ‘calendula’ Category

Calendula

For some unknown reason, serendipity maybe, specific herbs feature in my practice at certain times. At the moment, the herb of the hour for me is Calendula officinalis, the bright and cheerful marigold. The flowers are already out, adding some colour to gardens. I have been using it on my family and patients for various different reasons.

Topically (i.e. on the surface of the skin) it acts as an anti-inflammatory and vulnerary, healing the skin and reducing redness and swelling. It has also been found to increase the growth of new skin in wounds and leg ulcers, helping them to heal up faster. To add to this, Calendula is also antimicrobial, and was found to be more effective than methylparaben at inhibiting a range of bacteria and yeasts, indicating that it could be used in cosmetics to prevent bacterial or yeast growth. I use Calendula in all sorts of creams and oils to help heal up the skin, particularly on my accident-prone toddler!

Quite a few trials have focussed on the use of Calendula in mouthwashes for both mucositis (inflammation of the mucous membranes in the mouth) and to prevent gingivitis (gum disease) and dental plaque. Both its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties will be useful here. I have found the tincture made with 90% alcohol and mixed with myrrh has great results on bleeding gums and mouth ulcers.

It can also be used on burns to help reduce the inflammation and speed up healing, and one study found that healing from burns was improved even when the Calendula was taken internally. This was thought to be due to promotion of new skin regrowth, and improved antioxidant defence mechanisms. This antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity when Calendula is taken internally may explain some of its traditional uses, such as the treatment of inflamed or enlarged lymph glands, painful menstruation and inflammation of the gall bladder.

As Calendula is anti-inflammatory and healing to the skin of the body and mouth, it also has the same effect on skin of the digestive tract, so can be helpful when there is gastritis or damage due to acid reflux. My son recently had a nasty stomach bug and a tea with Calendula along with some other soothing herbs such as marshmallow, liquorice and chamomile was very effective at reducing the pain and stopping him from vomiting.

So pick yourself some beautiful orange Calendula flowers and experiment with them in teas and on your skin.

If you are unsure whether Calendula is suitable for you and your skin, then check with a medical herbalist first. Some people do have allergies to plants that are members of the daisy family, which Calendula is, and if you are you should not use these plants internally or topically.

 

References:

Chandran PK, Kuttan R: Effect of Calendula officinalis flower extract on acute phase proteins, antioxidant defense mechanism and granuloma formation during thermal burns. Clin Biochem Nutr 2008; 43(2): 58–64

Khairnar MS, Pawar B, Marawar PP, Mani A: Evaluation of Calendula officinalis as an anti-plaque and anti-gingivitis agent. 2013 17(6):741-7.

 Shivasharan BD, Nagakannan P, Thippeswamy BS, Veerapur VP: Protective effect of Calendula officinalis L. flowers against monosodium glutamate induced oxidative stress and excitotoxic brain damage in rats. Indian J Clin Biochem 2013 28(3):292-8.

Herman A, Herman AP, Domagalska BW, Młynarczyk A:Essential oils and herbal extracts as antimicrobial agents in cosmetic emulsion. Indian J Microbiol 2013 53(2):232-7.

 Arora D, Rani A, Sharma A: A review on phytochemistry and ethnopharmacological aspects of genus Calendula. Pharmacogn Rev 2013 7(14):179-187.

Mekinić IG1, Burcul F, Blazević I, Skroza D, Kerum D, Katalinić V: Antioxidative/acetylcholinesterase inhibitory activity of some Asteraceae plants. Nat Prod Commun 2013 8(4):471-4.

Babaee N, Moslemi D, Khalilpour M, Vejdani F, Moghadamnia Y, Bijani A, Baradaran M, Kazemi MT, Khalilpour A, Pouramir M,Moghadamnia AA: Antioxidant capacity of calendula officinalis flowers extract and prevention of radiation induced oropharyngeal mucositis in patients with head and neck cancers: A randomized controlled clinical study. Daru. 2013 21(1):18.

Tanideh N, Tavakoli P, Saghiri MA, Garcia-Godoy F, Amanat D, Tadbir AA, Samani SM, Tamadon A: Healing acceleration in hamsters of oral mucositis induced by 5-fluorouracil with topical Calendula officinalis. Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol Oral Radiol 2013 115(3):332-8.

herbal first aidList of useful herbal remedies to always have to hand:

 

Calendula (marigold)-based healing cream

Calendula promotes new tissue growth and is antimicrobial. You can use a Calendula-based cream or just directly apply Calendula tincture or infusion to affected areas. Add extra essential oils, such as tea tree, lavender and myrrh for fighting bacteria.

Aloe vera gel

For cooling burns, reducing inflammation, promoting skin healing, preventing infection and soothing irritated skin and rashes.

Comfrey- and/or arnica-based ointment/cream

For sprains, swellings, joint pain and over-used muscles. Add chilli oil and/or stimulating essential oils such as rosemary to boost circulation to the area. *Note – arnica should not be used on broken skin.*

Tea tree essential oil

This is antibacterial and antifungal and can be used neat in small areas on adults (dilute in sweet almond oil for use on larger areas or children). Dab onto spots, cuts, grazes, athletes foot and other fungal infections. It can be added to shampoo bases to discourage head lice.

Lavender essential oil

As well as being antibacterial and soothing on burns and insect bites, lavender is great for promoting sleep and relaxing the nervous system. Apply the essential oil neat to affected areas or put a few drops in a bath or on your pillow.

Slippery elm powder

For acid reflux, indigestion and gastritis. This nutritive powdered bark can be mixed with water and drunk to heal digestive membranes, quickly limit the pain from acid reflux and create an environment in the gut conducive to “good bacteria”. It can also be added to water to make a paste that will help to draw out splinters from the skin.

Elderberry syrup or tincture

To help speed up recovery from coughs and colds. Elderberry has been found to be effective against bacteria and viruses (including the H5N1 ‘flu virus).

The advice provided here is for general information and to help you treat minor illnesses and to promote health generally, if you have any doubt about the seriousness of your symptoms please consult a qualified medical herbalist or your GP.