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From the Amazon product description of Boiron Homeopathic Medicine Calendula Gel for Burns, Scrapes and Skin Irritations, 2.6-Ounce Tubes (Pack of 3):

Use Calendula Gel to promote healing of minor burns, scrapes and skin irritations. Also relieves sunburn and minor cuts.

Is there any evidence (trials, research) that this gel does promote healing of minor burns?

The question is only about efficacy of the specific product vs not using any product at all; leaving aside separate questions of whether homeopathy works in general and whether - assuming the gel is proven to work - the mechanism of its work is due to homeopathy as Boiron claims, or something completely different.

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    Note to potential answerers: The homeopathic dilution of this product is "1X", i.e. 1 part in 10, or 10% - a dose where an active ingredient could well have a meaningful effect. The arguments you hear about homeopathy being safe and/or ineffective because they don't contain any of the original molecules only start applying at higher dilutions (e.g. roughly around 26X or 13C). – Oddthinking Aug 17 '14 at 4:40
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    For those like me who had never heard of it, calendula is the Latin name for marigold. – Oddthinking Aug 17 '14 at 4:51
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First of all, I don't see how this is considered "homeopathic" because it is sold in 1X concentration. This means that the active ingredient is 10% concentrated and thus the drug works like any other herbal product.

Secondly, the plant itself is known for its medicinal properties as an antiseptic - and not as a skin irritant as homeopathy would need it. This is obviously not a "homeopathic" medicine but a herbal medicine.

More specifically to your question, there have been clinical studies, sponsored by Boiron but published on peer-reviewed journals attesting its efficacy:

Calendula is highly effective for the prevention of acute dermatitis of grade 2 or higher and should be proposed for patients undergoing postoperative irradiation for breast cancer.

Phase III Randomized Trial of Calendula Officinalis Compared With Trolamine for the Prevention of Acute Dermatitis During Irradiation for Breast Cancer, P. Pommier et al., doi: 10.1200/JCO.2004.07.063, JCO April 15, 2004 vol. 22 no. 8 1447-1453

That there is plenty of other scientific literature not contesting its value as a folk remedy for skin irritation.

The toxicity of the component needs to be studied more according to a 2001 report, at least for large-scale cosmetic use:

[...] it is concluded that the available data are insufficient to support the safety of these ingredients in cosmetic formulations

To be clear, this should not be taken as a particularly warning sign as the component is relatively non-toxic in animal testing:

Acute toxicity studies in rats and mice indicate that the extract is relatively nontoxic. Animal tests showed at most minimal skin irritation, and no sensitization or phototoxicity. Minimal ocular irritation was seen with one formulation and no irritation with others. Six saponins isolated from C. officinalis flowers were not mutagenic in an Ames test, and a tea derived from C. officinalis was not genotoxic in Drosophila melanogaster. No carcinogenicity or reproductive and developmental toxicity data were available. Clinical testing of cosmetic formulations containing the extract elicited little irritation or sensitization.

Final report on the safety assessment of Calendula officinalis extract and Calendula officinalis, Int J Toxicol. 2001;20 Suppl 2:13-20.

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  • Thank you. Were the studies specifically of Boiron product, or calendula in general? If the latter, what's the guarantee that the Boiron product has efficacy aside from having "Calendula" printed on the box? – user21713 Aug 17 '14 at 14:07
  • The guarantee comes from the composition of the product, similarly to any consumer product. – Sklivvz Aug 17 '14 at 15:03
  • @Slivvz - for one thing, you (You==Boiron) need to prove that the composition is identical to what underwent the trial. They don't let generic drugs on the market without testing, even if the formula is identical to the brand, right? I'm skeptical that Boiron's specific product works, not simply that Calendula has effects. – user21713 Aug 17 '14 at 20:12
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    @PhotoPhoto that seems unreasonable. For more reasons than fit into this comment box. Have you read the journal articles? – Spork Aug 17 '14 at 22:27

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