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Arnica Information And Facts

Arnica Montana is an herb that has been used since early times to heal wounds. Its use has been documented in places as diverse as North America, Germany and Russia because of its anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety effects. It shouldn’t be confused with Arnica chamissonis which is used for decorative purposes. It was used as early as the sixteenth century to relieve swelling and pain and to heal wounds. It also goes by the names Leopardsbane, Wolfsbane and European arnica.

Arnica is an herbaceous and perennial plant and a member of the daisy family.

It grows up to a height of approximately 2 ft. and is usually found in wooded areas and meadows. It is easily recognizable by its golden yellow, sweet smelling flowers. It has been prized for its ability to reduce inflammation as well as for its healing powers and calming effect on the mind and body. Referred to as the warming herb, it is also used as a decongestant, an anti-fungal and an antiseptic and is reported to be highly recommended as a pain reliever in arthritis.

Arnica is available in many different forms, from homeopathic pills and supplements to tinctures and salves. The appropriate dosage will depend on the kind of preparation. Since it is known to be both potent and toxic, it should only be taken orally under the supervision of a qualified homeopath. The correct dosage for tinctures is one teaspoon of arnica diluted in 100 ml. of water.

Arnica And Health

Arnica flowers contain numerous sesquiterpene lactones like helenalin and dihydrohelenalin. These sequiterpenoid lactones are reported to inhibit activation of the transcription factor NF-Kappa B by direct modification. These sequiterpenoid lactones possess the anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects that make arnica so effective in treating wounds and relieving pain and inflammation. The flowers also contain caffeic acid and its derivatives and an essential oil containing carotenoids, thymol derivatives, fatty acids and scopoletin. Arnica also contains a volatile oil, tannin, isomeric alcohol and flavonoids like qercetin, apigenin, kaempferol and hispidulin. The flower heads of arnica contain phenolcarbonic acids, pyrrolizidine alkaloids and polysaccharides. The polysaccharides stimulate the immune system.

Arnica has many health benefits due to its anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, antibacterial and decongestant properties. It stimulates the formation of granular tissues which help accelerate the healing process. Its antibacterial properties help to keep bacteria and other pathogens from multiplying thereby preventing infections. These properties make it a highly effective agent in the treatment of bruises like black eye, wounds, cuts, abrasions, eczema, burns, sunburn and even some skin cancers. Applying arnica promotes blood circulation resulting in an increased supply of blood and nutrients to the affected areas. This facilitates the healing process. It should however, not be applied directly to open wounds.

Arnica has a natural analgesic action making it as effective a pain killer as ibuprofen. This has been borne out by numerous scientific studies which compared the effectiveness of these two compounds. This anti-inflammatory and analgesic property of arnica makes it useful in the treatment of arthritis. These properties are also useful in treating hemorrhoids, superficial phlebitis, insect bites and swellings due to sprains and fractures. This is good news to those who are inclined to take herbal medications instead of drugs.

It is used in homeopathy, usually in the form of pills, to treat a range of ailments like influenza, bronchitis and kidney infections. Some reports even claim that arnica taken daily can help in lowering blood sugar levels, making it useful in the treatment of diabetes. Arnica in the form of these pills should only be taken under the supervision of a trained homeopath.

It is available in many different forms such as tinctures, creams, gels, powder, salves and ointments. Some of these may be used as topical applications in the treatment of skin problems like eczema, acne and dermatitis. Its ability to act as a muscle relaxant makes it a favorite of physiotherapists and masseurs who use it to relieve painful muscle aches. The same properties also make these salves and ointments popular with athletes and sportspersons.

Arnica is also effective in treating spider veins (also known as spider angioma or spider telangiectasia). This condition is caused by chronically dilated capillaries and is characterized by a small red spot with tiny red veins radiating outwards like a spider’s legs. They normally appear on the thighs, upper arms or neck and are generally harmless, although some people prefer to treat it for cosmetic reasons. Application of arnica tincture is said to be more effective than cream in treating this condition.

Arnica is considered to be a safe and effective pain remedy made from natural sources and can be purchased from pharmacies and health food stores. The tincture is recommended in case of wounds, trauma, sprains and fractures and is dabbed on the affected areas. It can also be taken internally in a diluted form to treat various illnesses like breathing disorders, throat infections and renal illnesses, but should only be done under medical advice.

The oil is made by crushing arnica flowers and putting them in a jar. Soybean or pumpkin oil is poured over them and the jar is left in the sun for two weeks before being strained. It is used for topical applications for the relief of pain and inflammation.

Arnica Side Effects

Care should be taken when using arnica as it can have adverse effects on health. It can be toxic if taken in high doses and can lead to severe indigestion, nausea, diarrhea hemorrhage and even death. Sustained use over long periods of time can cause dermatitis and eczema and lead to liver and kidney damage. Other side effects include muscle weakness and organ damage. Some people are allergic to arnica and should test the ointments or tincture on a small skin area before applying it. It should not be administered to children under the age of seven and should only be taken orally when prescribed by a physician. It is advisable to pay attention to the warnings on any arnica products and to take it as per the dosage indicated.

Submitted on January 16, 2014