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Benefits of Calendula on Radiation-induced Dermatitis

In 2003, a study implicating over 250 breast cancer patients showed it was possible to drastically diminish and even halt the spread of eczema or radiation-induced dermatitis while undergoing radiation for breast cancer when a calendula-based cream was topically applied twice a day from the very start of the procedures. The occurrence of acute dermatitis of grade 2 or higher was significantly lower (41% v 63%; P  .001) with the use of calendula than with trolamine. Moreover, patients receiving calendula had less frequent interruption of radiotherapy and significantly reduced radiation-induced skin side effects.

A 2008 study from the Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition found that applying calendula extract to skin helped promote healing in animals that suffered burn injuries. Burn discomfort most often treated with calendula include sunburns, shave burns, laser burns and radiation burns.

In 2011, the Oncology Nursing Society published a resource on Radiodermatitis and skin reactions that may occur during radiation therapy, based on the Society's nursing-sensitive patient outcomes and evidence-based practice (EBP) work. In the second volume of Putting Evidence Into Practice: Improving Oncology Patient Outcomes, they summarize findings on topical agents and report that patients who used calendula experienced fewer skin reactions and needed less frequent radiation treatment interruption to manage skin-related side effects of radiation therapy.

Most recently in 2015, a skin test comparing calendula creams to petroleum-based gel; Implementing Evidence Based Practice in the Prevention of Radiodermatitis in an Outpatient Radiation Oncology Department published by Elsevier Inc. in the International Journal of Radiation Oncology, the Official Journal of the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO), demonstrated significant effectiveness in decreasing radiation dermatitis to support a change in practice with 85% patient satisfaction with the lotion (calendula) use on intact skin over petroleum based gels. Additionally, below are US medical centers with information on the medical uses of calendula: 

University of Maryland Medical Center

Memorial Sloan Kettering Medical Center

PennState Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center

US National Library of Medicine

University of Michigan

 

Precautions

The use of herbs is a time-honored approach to strengthening the body and treating disease. Herbs, however, can trigger side effects and can interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications. For these reasons, you should take herbs with care, under the supervision of a health care provider.

Calendula is generally considered safe to use on your skin. DO NOT apply it to an open wound without a doctor's supervision. People who are allergic to plants in the daisy or aster family, including chrysanthemums and ragweed, may also have an allergic reaction to calendula (usually a skin rash).

Pregnant and breastfeeding women should not use calendula. In theory, calendula could interfere with conception, and possibly cause miscarriage, so couples trying to get pregnant should not use calendula.

Possible Interactions

There are no known scientific reports of interactions between calendula and conventional or herbal medications. In theory, taking calendula orally may interact with the following medications, so talk to your doctor before combining these drugs with calendula:

  • Sedatives
  • Medications to treat high blood pressure
  • Medications to treat diabetes

 Resources:

  1. http://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/calendula
  2. https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/integrative-medicine/herbs/calendula
  3.  http://pennstatehershey.adam.com/content.aspx?productId=107&pid=33&gid=000228
  4. https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/natural/235.html
  5. http://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/hn-2059009
  6. Phase III Randomized Trial of Calendula Officinalis Compared With Trolamine for the Prevention of Acute Dermatitis During Irradiation for Breast Cancer P. Pommier, F. Gomez, M.P. Sunyach, A. D’Hombres, C. Carrie, and X. Montbarbon
  7. https://www.ons.org/intervention/calendula
  8. https://www.ons.org/practice-resources/pep/radiodermatitis
  9. http://altmedicine.about.com/od/skinconditions/a/Remedies-For-A-Burn.htm
  10. http://www.redjournal.org/article/S0360-3016(15)02472-4/fulltext
  11. http://www.naturalnews.com/043669_calendula_inflammation_chemotherapy.html#
  12. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calendula#Pharmacological_effects