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Using of Garden Marigold

Scientific Name: Calendula

Other Names: Calendula officinalis, Garden Marigold, Gold Bloom, Golden Marigold, Holligold, Marybud, Pot Marigold

Who is this for?

Even though oral forms of calendula have not been proven effective in studies, they have been used historically to treat stomach irritation and ulcers. It is believed that calendula may have some antispasmodic action, so it has also been used to relieve menstrual cramps. Calendula does have a high content of flavonoids, chemicals that act as antioxidants in the body. Antioxidants are thought to protect body cells from damage caused by a chemical process called oxidation. Oxidation produces oxygen free radicals, natural chemicals that may suppress immune function. This effect may enhance immune function in general, but more studies are needed for all the possible oral uses of calendula.

Currently, topical forms of calendula are more commonly used than oral forms – especially in Europe. Calendula contains chemicals, which have been shown in animal studies to speed up wound-healing by several actions that include increasing blood flow to the affected area and promoting the production of collagen proteins. Calendula also possesses antiseptic and anti-inflammatory effects due to its flavonoid content. In mouthwashes and gargles, calendula soothes sore throat or mouth tissue; in solutions, it treats hemorrhoids; in lotions and ointments it relieves acne, burns, diaper rash, insect bites, razor burns, scrapes and other relatively minor conditions of the skin or mucous membranes. In one small study of about 250 women undergoing radiation therapy after surgery for breast cancer, a commercial calendula ointment reduced the amount of skin irritation better than another commonly-used commercial preparation. Women who used the calendula ointment also reported less pain from the radiation. Results from recent animal and laboratory studies show that calendula may also have some anti-infective properties – particularly against fungal infections and against viruses, including HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

When should I be careful taking it?

In animal studies, calendula has shown a tightening effect on the uterus. Although no miscarriages have been reported in pregnant women taking calendula, it is advisable to avoid taking calendula by mouth during pregnancy. In addition, further animal studies suggest that chemicals in calendula may be toxic to sperm and may prevent a fertilized egg from implanting properly. Therefore, couples trying to conceive a child should not take calendula.

Precautions

Very little information is available on how calendula might affect an infant or a small child. Therefore, its use is not recommended while breast-feeding or during early childhood.

Calendula belongs to the same family of plants that also includes chrysanthemums, daisies, and ragweed. Individuals who are sensitive to any of these types of plants may also be sensitive to calendula.

What side effects should I watch for?

Although no side effects have been reported from using either oral or topical calendula, it has not been studied well in scientifically supervised studies. It may have side effects that are not known. If you use it and you experience unexpected effects, stop using it and discuss the side effects with a healthcare professional.

What interactions should I watch for?

Prescription Drugs

When calendula is used with prescription drugs that promote sleepiness, the effects of the drug may be exaggerated, resulting in sedation or mental impairment. Prescription drugs that can cause sleepiness include:

  • Anticonvulsants such as carbamazepine, phenytoin and valproic acid
  • Barbiturates such as phenobarbital
  • Benzodiazepines such as alprazolam and diazepam
  • Drugs for insomnia such as Ambien and Sonata
  • Tricyclic antidepressants such as amitriptyline, amoxapine, doxepin and nortriptyline

Non-prescription Drugs

The sleep-producing effects of over-the-counter products containing diphenhydramine may be enhanced when calendula is taken at the same time. Diphenhydramine is contained in many non-prescription sleeping pills as well as in some cough and cold products; therefore caution should be used when taking these medications with calendula because excessive drowsiness may result.

Herbal Products

Calendula may cause excessive sedation if it is taken with other potentially sedating herbs such as:

  • Catnip
  • Hops
  • Kava
  • St. John's Wort
  • Valerian

Foods

No interactions between calendula and foods have been reported, but drinking alcohol at the same time as using calendula by mouth may result in increased drowsiness.

Some interactions between herbal products and medications can be more severe than others. The best way for you to avoid harmful interactions is to tell your doctor and/or pharmacist what medications you are currently taking, including any over-the-counter products, vitamins, and herbals.

Should I take it?

Although calendula is common in nearly every part of the world, it is believed to be native to Egypt. Ancient Egyptian records from as long as 5,000 years ago mention it and hieroglyphics from buildings constructed in the same general period of time show stylized calendula flowers. Because calendula blooms nearly continuously from early spring until the first frost in fall, ancient Romans named it for their belief that new blooms appear on the first day – the “calend” — of each month. The bright yellow, gold, or orange flowers, which contain significant amounts of the chemical carotene, are the parts used in medicine. Generally, they are gathered as soon as they are completely open. Occasionally, fresh calendula leaves or petals are added to salads, but most are dried for use in manufacturing or medicine. They produce a yellow dye that was used in the 1700s and 1800s to color cheese. Currently, calendula coloring may be used in beverage, cosmetic, food, and pharmaceutical products. Calendula petals may substitute for the much more expensive saffron as a seasoning and coloring agent for cooked dishes such as curry.

Dosage and Administration

A solution may be made by adding one or 2 teaspoons of dried calendula flowers to about 5 ounces of boiling water and letting it soak for 5 to 10 minutes. After the solid particles have been strained out, the solution may be consumed up to three times a day as tea or allowed to cool and used as often as needed as a mouth or skin wash. Calendula may also be made into a poultice, by soaking a soft cloth in calendula solution and then applying the cloth to an injured area.

For oral use, calendula typically comes as extracts or tinctures, which are concentrated liquids made by soaking crushed calendula flowers in alcohol or another solvent. Commercial lotions and ointments are marketed for topical use — usually in strengths of 2% to 5% of calendula. Dosing for both oral and topical forms of calendula vary, so the direction on the package that is purchased should be followed.

Summary

Oral calendula has not been proven effective for any condition. Topically, however, it may be used to relieve irritated skin or mucous membranes.

Risks

Chemicals in calendula may result in a miscarriage if taken by a pregnant woman. They may also interfere with conception if taken by either member of a couple trying to conceive a child. Women who are breast-feeding and small children are advised to avoid taking calendula orally and individuals who are allergic to any members of the daisy family of plants may also have allergic reactions to calendula.

Side Effects

No side effects have been attributed to calendula.

Interactions

Taking calendula by mouth may increase the drowsiness associated with drinking alcohol or taking drugs or herbals that also promote sleepiness.

References

Anon: Calendula. In: DerMarderosian A, Beutler JA, eds. Facts and Comparisons: The Review of Natural Products. St. Louis, MO, Facts and Comparisons. January 1995.

Anon. Final report on the safety assessment of Calendula officinalis extract and Calendula officinalis. International Journal of Toxicology. 2001;20(Suppl 2):13-20.

Bako E, Deli J, Toth G. HPLC study on the carotenoid composition of Calendula products. Journal of Biochemical and Biophysical Methods. 2002;53(1-3):241-250.

Barbour EK, Sagherian V, Talhouk S, Talhouk R, Farran MT, Sleiman FT, Harakeh S Evaluation of homeopathy in broiler chickens exposed to live viral vaccines and administered Calendula officinalis extract. Medical Science Monitor. 2004;10(8):BR281-BR285.

Cordova CA, Siqueira IR, Netto CA, et al. Protective properties of butanolic extract of the Calendula officinalis L. (marigold) against lipid peroxidation of rat liver microsomes and action as free radical scavenger. Redox Report. 2002;7(2):95-102.

Graf J. Herbal anti-inflammatory agents for skin disease. Skin Therapy Letter. 2000;5(4):3-5.

Grieve M. Marigold. In: A Modern Herbal. New York: Dover Publishers, 1971. Available at: http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/mgmh.html Posted 1995. Accessed October 15, 2003.

Iauk L, Lo Bue AM, Milazzo I, Rapisarda A, Blandino G. Antibacterial activity of medicinal plant extracts against periodontopathic bacteria. Phytotherapy Research. 2003;17(6):599-604.

Jellin JM, Gregory P, Batz F, Hitchens K, et al, eds. Pharmacist's Letter/Prescriber's Letter. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, 3rd Edition. Stockton CA: Therapeutic Research Facility, 2000.

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

Klouchek-Popova E, Popov A, Pavlova N, Krusteva S. Influence of the physiological regeneration and epithelialization using fractions isolated from Calendula officinalis. Acta Physiol Pharmacol Bulg. 1982;8(4):63-67.

Marukami T, Kishi A, Yoshikawa M. Medicinal flowers. IV. Marigold. (2): Structures of new ionone and sesquiterpene glycosides from Egyptian Calendula officinalis. Chemical and Pharmacology Bulletin (Tokyo). 2001;49(8):974-978.

Paulsen E. Contact sensitization from Compositae-containing herbal remedies and cosmetics. Contact Dermatitis. 2002;47(4):189-198.

Peirce A. The American Pharmaceutical Association Practical Guide to Natural Medicines. New York: Stonesong Press; 1999.

Perez-Carreon JI, Cruz-Jimenez G, Licea-Vega JA, Arce Popoca E, Fattel Fazenda S, Villa-Trevino S. Genotoxic and anti-genotoxic properties of Calendula officinalis extracts in rat liver cell cultures treated with diethylnitrosamine. Toxicology In Vitro. 2002;16(3):253-258.

Pommier P, Gomez F, Sunyach MP, D'Hombres A, Carrie C, Montbarbon X. Phase III randomized trial of Calendula officinalis compared with trolamine for the prevention of acute dermatitis during irradiation for breast cancer. Journal of Clinical Oncology. 2004;22(8):1447-1453.

Reider N, Komericki P, Hausen BM, Fritsch P, Aberer W. The seamy side of natural medicines: contact sensitization to arnica (Arnica montana L.) and marigold (Calendula officinalis L.). Contact Dermatitis. 2001;45(5):269-272.

Shipochliev T. Uterotonic action of extracts from a group of medicinal plants. [Article in Bulgarian] Veterinary Medicine of Nauki. 1981;18(4):94-98.

Shipochliev T, Dimitrov A, Aleksandrova E. Anti-inflammatory action of a group of plant extracts. [Article in Bulgarian] Veterinary Medicine of Nauki. 1981;18(6):87-94.

Yoshikawa M, Murakami T, Kishi A, Kageura T, Matsuda H. Medicinal flowers. III. Marigold. (1): hypoglycemic, gastric emptying inhibitory, and gastroprotective principles and new oleanane-type triterpene oligoglycosides, calendasaponins A, B, C, and D, from Egyptian Calendula officinalis. Chemistry and Pharmacology Bulletin (Tokyo). 2001;49(7):863-870.


(Note: The above information is not intended to replace the advice of your physician, pharmacist, or other healthcare professional. It is not meant to indicate that the use of the product is safe, appropriate, or effective for you.)

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