Application of the threshold of toxicological concern approach for the safety evaluation of calendula flower (Calendula officinalis) petals and extracts used in cosmetic and personal care products

Food Chem Toxicol. 2009 Jun;47(6):1246-54. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2009.02.016. Epub 2009 Feb 26.


Calendula flower (Calendula officinalis) (CF) has been used in herbal medicine because of its anti-inflammatory activity. CF and C. officinalis extracts (CFE) are used as skin conditioning agents in cosmetics. Although data on dermal irritation and sensitization of CF and CFE's are available, the risk of subchronic systemic toxicity following dermal application has not been evaluated. The threshold of toxicological concern (TTC) is a pragmatic, risk assessment based approach that has gained regulatory acceptance for food and has been recently adapted to address cosmetic ingredient safety. The purpose of this paper is to determine if the safe use of CF and CFE can be established based upon the TTC class for each of its known constituents. For each constituent, the concentration in the plant, the molecular weight, and the estimated skin penetration potential were used to calculate a maximal daily systemic exposure which was then compared to its corresponding TTC class value. Since the composition of plant extracts are variable, back calculation was used to determine the maximum acceptable concentration of a given constituent in an extract of CF. This paper demonstrates the utility and practical application of the TTC concept when used as a tool in the safety evaluation of botanical extracts.

MeSH terms

  • Calendula / chemistry
  • Calendula / toxicity*
  • Chemistry, Pharmaceutical
  • Cosmetics / toxicity*
  • Flowers / chemistry
  • Flowers / toxicity
  • Humans
  • Molecular Weight
  • No-Observed-Adverse-Effect Level
  • Plant Extracts / toxicity
  • Risk Assessment
  • Skin Absorption


  • Cosmetics
  • Plant Extracts