Calendula: A Wound Healing Herb
Calendula has been used for centuries to enhance the wound healing process.
The medical community is continuously discovering new ways to enhance the body’s ability to recover, from advanced wound dressings to new methods for tackling infections. Sometimes, looking back to the past is the best way to find healing techniques, and many people turn to ancient herbal remedies to spur tissue growth. One such natural solution is calendula.
What is calendula?
The calendula is a plant that’s native to the Mediterranean region, though it is grown domestically all around the globe. It’s similar in appearance to the marigold, making it suitable as an ornamental flower, but it also has great medicinal capacities. In fact, it has been utilized for its healing abilities since at least the 1100s, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. The dried leaves of the plant contain the medicinal qualities. It can be taken by mouth in very small quantities, but it is generally applied directly to the skin.
This herb contains large amounts of flavonoids, which are antioxidants found naturally in plants and protect the body from harmful free radicals. This herb is widely used to soothe upset stomach as well as ulcers, and it can even help ease menstrual cramps. It is also used as a topical ointment – calendula leaves ground and incorporated into an unguent can be applied directly to the body to promote healthy, vibrant skin. That’s because the herb enhances firmness and improves hydration of the skin.
How does calendula affect wound healing?
As the UMM Medical Center notes, calendula may also enhance the wound healing process. While the exact way it does so is still unknown, it’s believed that the herb increases the flow of blood to the wound site, thereby providing the oxygen and nutrients essential to tissue regeneration. Additionally, this herb, with its high amount of flavonoids, can help reduce inflammation, speeding up the stages of healing. These flavonoids also fight off bacteria, viruses and other harmful foreign invaders, protecting against wound infection. Another use for calendula is that it can be a soothing ointment, wash or tincture, as it can help provide cooling relief on irritated wounds and reduce inflammation and swelling.
Keep in mind that, according to the National Institutes of Health, this herb can cause drowsiness. You should consult with your clinician to ensure calendula is safe for you to use during wound healing and calendula is not intended or recommended to replace advanced wound care dressings.