Calendula officinalis: A Clinical Snapshot
By Todd Hoover, MD
July 1, 2018
Calendula officinalis has a long-standing history of traditional herbal use for skin irritations and infections. A tincture of the flowering tops of the common marigold is used to prepare the homeopathic products of this plant. Traditional homeopathic uses for Calendula officinalis often focused on the helpfulness of this medicine for skin injuries that do not heal well or result in infection of the wound. This indication has been expanded to include gum irritations or persistent bleeding after tooth extraction, anal fissures, and vaginal irritations. The homeopathic medicine is typically used topically in tincture or low attenuation for these purposes. Additionally, Calendula officinalis has also been used in patients with oral and skin cancers. Interestingly, some of the current day research has focused on the usefulness of the herbal tincture in treating or preventing burns when radiation therapy is used to treat cancer.
Considerable research has been done on topical, anal, and vaginal products using Calendula officinalis. A brief review of the literature shows research demonstrating likely effects of Calendula officinalis when used to treat the following.
- Anal irritation or fissures
- Foot ulcers (in patients with diabetes mellitus)
- Diaper rash
- Lip peeling or desquamation
- Gum irritation and plaque formation
- Ear pain
- Vaginal irritation and painful intercourse
- Ulcers of the legs
- Skin irritation from radiation therapy
- Skin inflammations
- Promoting healing from injuries
(See references below.)
The clinical hallmarks for the homeopathic use of Calendula officinalis include the following:
- Wounds that do not heal properly (e.g. take too long to heal or heal with excessive scar formation).
- Wounds or injuries to the skin or gums that bleed excessively or become infected.
- Injuries that seem to be overly sensitive or painful compared to the extent of the injury. Pain may be sharp.
- Burns of the skin.
- Chapped skin of the hands or lips.
- Skin irritation of the nipples during nursing.
- Problems are often associated with restlessness or nervousness of the individual.
The primary sphere of action of Calendula officinalis appears to be on the skin and mucus membranes. Some authors have reported success using the medicine for deeper issues such as cancer or as an adjunct to treating certain aspects of cancer.
The extensive research done on this medicine has also given us valuable information on potential interaction with commonly used drugs. Like many medicines, the risk of use of Calendula officinalis either topically or orally during pregnancy or nursing is unknown. When taken orally in tincture form, Calendula officinalis has been reported to cause drowsiness. For this reason, use with other sedating medicines may compound or increase the sedative effect of those drugs.
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