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Live Naturally with Herbs: Healing Properties of Arnica

Friday, July 02, 2010 by: Katherine East
Tags: arnica, healing, health news

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(NewsTarget) The amazing Arnica is an herb that has earned its reputation for dramatic healing properties. Arnica montana, also known as Bruisewort, Leopard's Bane and Wolf's Bane, belongs to the Compositae, or daisy family. The genus Arnica comprises 50 or so species of perennial rhizomatous herbs with simple leaves and daisy-like flowers.

Arnica is well-known for treating injuries and bruises and it's an excellent remedy to have in your first-aid kit or sports kit bag. Well-known in traditional medicine, it is often the first remedy to be given after a fall, muscle strain, injury or surgery. Arnica has also been used as a tobacco substitute and another of its names is mountain tobacco, or "smokeherb".

Therapeutic Action

For medicinal purposes Arnica tincture is made from the whole fresh plant including the root. It is commonly used in the form of topical creams, gels and ointments or homeopathic pillules.

When applied directly after an injury Arnica significantly reduces bruise formation. It is also helpful for treating arthritis, burns, ulcers, eczema, and acne. Anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory qualities help reduce pain and swelling while improving wound healing.

Arnica contains sesquiterpene lactones (known to reduce inflammation and decrease pain), the volatile oil thymol, arnicin, arnisterol (arnidiol), flavonoids such as anthoxanthine, tannin, resin, a polysaccharide inulin, mucilage and manganese. Inulin passes unabsorbed through the digestive system, remaining neutral to cellular activity, and is often used to sweeten food consumed by diabetic patients. Inulin has antidiabetic, gastrostimulant, hypoglycaemic, immunostimulant, lypolytic and probiotic action. It's the sesquiterpene lactones that reduce inflammation by dispersing fluids that build up in bruised and injured tissue. Arnica helps to mop up inflammatory debris and lactic acid, which reduces swelling and relieves pain after injury and muscle strain.

Common clinical external uses for Arnica include:

  • bruising
  • black eye
  • septic conditions such as painful recurrent boils
  • muscle exhaustion from over-exertion (wonderful for a muscle rub)
  • altitude sickness
  • injuries, i.e. falls, sprains, blows, bruises and fractures
  • after surgery
  • sprains
  • painful joints

Arnica For Labour

Arnica has been popularly used as a homeopathic remedy for relieving bruising and speeding up healing after childbirth. It is usually given at the beginning of labour to help muscles function effectively and to prepare the body for the strain of labour and childbirth. For postnatal treatment of episiotomy stitches or tears, many midwives recommend that Arnica oil be added to a bath or a jug of water poured over the area to speed up healing.

Caution When Using Arnica

Arnica is generally safe when taken externally. The cream or tincture should not be used externally on broken skin as it may cause irritation. Avoid the topical forms if you have an allergy to Arnica or to related daisy plants such as Chamomile or Marigolds. While not dangerous, it can cause a rash or itching.

Arnica contains the toxin helenalin, and it should only be used internally under the supervision of a health-care provider and then only in a homeopathic form. Ingesting the herb directly may cause tremors, dizziness, vomiting and heart problems.

Large doses produce a transient excitement, followed by depressed circulation, respiration and temperature; a violent headache; dilated pupils and muscular paresis. A toxic dose paralyses the nervous system, causing collapse and even death.

Similarly, Arnica is excellent for hemorrhagic tendencies but should not be used in patients who are on blood-thinning medication, as this may increase the likelihood of bleeding.

Illustrated Book Of Herbs - New Holland Publishers LTD
Gottlieb, Bill. Alternative Cures - The Most Effective Natural Home Remedies for 160 Health Problems. Holtzbrinck Publishers 2000

About the author

Katherine Oosthuis is completing a Diploma in Nutritional Therapy. She researches and writes for a health and nutrition website Detox For Life . Her passion is to make research available to those who are looking to improve their well-being and revolutionise their health through better nutrition and alternative medicines.

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