Posts Tagged ‘antioxidant’


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.



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.


Rose has been associated with love and romance for centuries. It looks, smells and tastes great, and is a beautiful remedy for a range of problems. The Greek poet Sapho named rose “the queen of flowers”, but herbalists know it as “a hug in a bottle” for its ability to uplift the soul.

It was used traditionally to strengthen the heart, for digestive and menstrual problems, for coughs, inflammation and to relieve grief, depression and nervous tension. Modern studies have found that rose tincture and essential oil between them have sedative, anti-anxiety, pain relieving, antioxidant, anti-diabetic, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and bronchodilatory effects.

Rose can be used in many different forms, as an infusion, tincture, aromatic water, essential oil or syrup. Roman women used to dust themselves with powdered rose petals to keep themselves looking beautiful. The aromatic water is particularly good to add to a beauty regime, as it is astringent and antibacterial, so is good for toning the skin and preventing spots and blemishes. The tincture or infusion can be taken internally for the anti-depressant, anxiolytic, sedative, pain relieving, antioxidant and anti-diabetic effects, while the syrup makes a lovely cough mixture and is also used in cooking for its fragrant taste. The essential oil can be used in cosmetics or oil burners for its uplifting effect on the spirit and great smell.

I use rose and geranium essential oils in my rose face cream and body lotion as I love the smell and they are great for spot-prone skin. It lets you capture the smell of a summer day in a rose garden when it’s cold and raining outside.



Boskabady MH, Shafei MN, Saberi Z, Amini S. Pharmacological effects of Rosa Damascena. Iran J Basic Med Sci 2011 14(4):295-307.