Calendula has been used for medicinal purposes since at least the 12th century. It contains high amounts of flavonoids — plant-based antioxidants that help protect your body against cell-damaging free radicals. Research has shown that calendula could act as an anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antibacterial agent. With a track record like that, it’s not surprising then that a recent study has found that calendula may make an excellent alternative remedy to prevent cardiovascular disease.
Traditionally, the flower has been used to treat stomach upset and ulcers, as well as relieve menstrual cramps. Today, topical uses of calendula are more common. Calendula has been shown to speed healing of wounds (possibly because it increases blood flow to the affected area), and the dried petals of the calendula plant are used in tinctures, ointments, and washes for the healing of burns, bruises, and cuts, as well as the minor infections they cause.
For the study conducted at the Cardiovascular Research Center, University of Connecticut School of Medicine, researchers investigated the ability of calendula to protect the heart.
In this animal study, the hearts of rats were treated with a calendula solution, as well as a number of other solutions for comparison purposes. The solutions were administered 15 minutes prior to subjecting the hearts to ischemia. A control group was administered a buffer solution only.
The research team found that calendula achieved cardioprotection by stimulating left ventricular developed pressure and aortic flow and by reducing heart attack size and muscle cell death. This discovery could be considered a health breakthrough. The researchers were able to determine that the cardioprotective effects of calendula appear to be because of a very unique ability: calendula is able to change a death signal in heart muscle cells into a survival signal. It does this by modulating antioxidant and anti-inflammatory pathways. The researchers concluded that these results further strengthen the idea of using natural remedies in degeneration diseases like ischemic heart disease
You can find fresh or dried calendula petals in tinctures, liquid extracts, infusions, ointments, and creams. Take note that calendula products should always be protected from light and moisture, and should not be used after three years of storage. Some people may have an allergy to calendula, which is part of the marigold family. Get your doctor’s advice before taking the herb.