Arnica montana flowers contain active medicinal properties.
Pharmacy shelves are often cluttered with topical preparations intended to cure aches and pains. Many of these products contain chemicals and few natural ingredients. Those who prefer to use a remedy that grows in the wild may opt to use Arnica montana. Arnica can be purchased in a salve, ointment, cream or tincture to be applied directly to the skin.
The arnica plant occurs naturally in the mountains of Siberia and Europe and is grown in North America. The plant matures to a height of 1 to 2 feet and produces yellow-orange flowers which resemble daisies. These flowers, which can measure 2 to 3 inches across, are dried or used fresh in arnica preparations. Arnica also forms part of homeopathic remedies in diluted form.
Arnica flowers contain active anti-inflammatory and analgesic components, and may have antibiotic properties. Arnica may also stimulate the body’s own immune system, causing the body’s own healing properties to work in conjunction with the medicine.
Arnica salve is applied topically to reduce pain and swelling. Temporary afflictions such as insect bites, bruises, aches and sprains and even chapped lips may all be treated with arnica. The salve may also help alleviate symptoms associated with long term conditions such as arthritis, acne, muscle and cartilage pain, and painful varicose veins. Arnica’s medicinal uses are therefore wide-ranging and go back several centuries. In fact, arnica has been used in this way since the 1500s.
Arnica should not be taken internally except as directed in homeopathic preparations which contain no detectable amount of arnica. Prolonged use of arnica can cause skin irritations such as eczema. Arnica salve or other topical preparations should not be applied to broken skin. It is considered unsafe for pregnant or nursing women to apply arnica to skin. Those with a ragweed or related allergy should check with their doctor before using arnica, since a similar allergic reaction can result from the application of arnica.