The Benefits of Calendula Officinalis For Radiodermatitis
I had an interesting exchange of emails this week with one of my subscribers who was asking me about the benefits of calendula for radiodermatitis (a/k/a the Burned Boob).
Because of my ongoing herbal studies, I am quite well acquainted with the herb calendula officinalis for many health complaints, chief amongst them being the healing of skin complaints like eczema, wound healing, insect bites, etc and it does this mainly through its antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.
Research on Calendula Officinalis and Radiodermatitis
I decided to see if there had been any recent research on calendula, I wanted to satisfy myself that it could be safely used as a healing agent after radiotherapy treatments so as to prevent the dreaded Burned Boob.
I found a very interesting 2004 study: Phase III randomized trial of Calendula officinalis compared with trolamine for the prevention of dermatitis during irradiation for breast cancer which indicated that calendula officinalis was highly effective for the prevention of acute dermatitis for postoperative patients undergoing radiation for breast cancer, better than the trolamine that was usually recommended. The patients used a particular brand, Boiron, a French company, and it is widely available in many parts of the world.
I also found a 2013 study comparing calendula cream with another widely used aqueous cream called Essex: No differences between Calendula cream and aqueous cream in the prevention of acute radiation skin reactions–results from a randomised blinded trial. This study, as can be gleaned from the title, found there was no difference between the effects of the calendula cream compared with Essex cream on patients undergoing radiotherapy. That might be so, however, if you have a look at the ingredients for the Essex cream, it is full of petroleum products, which are known xenoestrogens (see my article Unraveling the Mystery of Xenoestrogens and Estrogen Dominance for more information on the hazards of xenoestrogens) and hormone disruptors, and put us at a higher risk for breast cancer. Why anyone would recommend Essex cream to a woman who is undergoing treatments for breast cancer seems to me to be irresponsible.
To be fair, there were problems with a few of the ingredients in the Boiron cream as well – both Pegoxol-7 stearate and sodium hydroxide are moderate hazards, according to the Environmental Working Group website, Skin Deep.
Calendula Officinalis Has Anti-Tumor Properties
While scrolling through the list of research on the pubmed.gov website, I came across an interesting 2006 study that indicated calendula officinalis also has anti-tumor properties, as well as having a positive effect on lymphocytes, an important part of the immune system. The study is titled A new extract of the plant Calendula officinalis produces a dual in vitro effect: cytotoxic anti-tumor activity and lymphocyte activation. Please read it – I believe this to be important information for anyone going through breast cancer.
I do recommend the use of calendula officinalis for avoiding the Burned Boob. I do believe, however, that the empowered patient must find a good organic calendula cream or gel and it should be used after each treatment (you might have to clear it with your radiologist however).
Here are a few good ones I found for you:
Weleda Calendula Healing Cream (available in the USA, UK and Australia)
Four Cow Farm Organic Calendula Remedy (Australian company)
Roseneath Organics Calendula Cream (Australian company)
Mukti Calendula Cream (Australian company) – this one also has the benefit of organic aloe vera in it, an especially good healing agent for radiodermatitis.
Lotioncrafter Certified Organic Calendula Extract (USA company, ships internationally)
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