Not all products, even so-called natural supplements and oils, are safe to use during pregnancy. Use of any herbal preparation should be discussed beforehand with your obstetrician. Calendula is an herb that you will likely have to avoid while pregnant, as use of it could adversely affect the health of your baby.
Calendula is a plant that is used for a variety of medicinal purposes. Known as pot marigold, it is often seen as an ornamental plant. However, most common marigold varieties are not considered calendula, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Calendula has been used for centuries for its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, although evidence conflicts as to whether its reputation for treating certain health complications is well deserved.
Calendula flower, taken internally, has been used most commonly to prevent muscle spasms, start menstruation and reduce fever. It has also been used to treat sore throat, cramps and ulcers. Topically, it has been known to reduce skin swelling and help heal wounds, skin sores and rashes. It can also be applied to the skin to treat nosebleeds, hemorrhoids, rectal swelling and varicose veins.
Several of the conditions that calendula is used to treat occur during pregnancy, but its use could result in harm to your developing baby. Since it is used to start menstruation, taking it internally during pregnancy could cause uterine stimulation, which may result in premature labor. No studies have been done regarding the safe use of calendula during pregnancy and breastfeeding, so it should be avoided until your baby is weaned.
Topical Use During Pregnancy
The National Institutes of Health recommends avoiding all use of calendula while pregnant, as it may be unsafe. However, some women have applied it to prevent or reduce the appearance of stretch marks. It is most often combined with vitamin E oil and other herbs to limit exposure. This treatment can also be applied to the perineum in a compress or used in a sitz bath after birth to help heal an episiotomy wound. Use calendula oil only under the direction of your obstetrician to be sure you are doing so in a safe way.
- Medline Plus: Calendula
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Calendula
- Herb contraindications and drug interactions: Francis J. Brinker
- Longwood Herbal Task Force; Calendula; Kathi J. Kemper, MD, MPH; July 1999
- Midwifery Today: Herbs for Postpartum Perineum Care: Part One