Arnica is a perennial herb that has a long history of use for injuries wherever it grows. It has long downy leaves and the classic ‘sunflower look’ with yellow ray and disc flowers. Many of its species, particularly A. montana, possess anti-inflammatory properties that were believe to help with muscle soreness an aches, brushing, joint pain and swelling an inflammation (1).
According to a study, the plant’s anti-inflammatory effect was due to an ingredient called Helenalin, which is extremely toxic when consumed and irritating to the skin unless diluted (2). There were also other compounds in it that may help with pain-management. Some of its other inflammation-fighting components are sesquiterpene lactones, flavonoids, and phenolic acids (3).
In a review, it was found that arnica gel appeared to work nearly as well as Advil (ibuprofen) when it comes to lowering down pain levels and improving joint function in people with hand osteoarthritis (4).
In a 2006 study on people who underwent a rhytidectomy (a plastic surgery to reduce wrinkles), results revealed that Arnica was effective during the healing of several postoperative conditions like swelling, bruising, and pain (5).
How To Use Arnica?
Fresh or dried flower heads of Arnica are used in medicinal preparations. It must be topically applied after an injury, such as sprains and fall. It may work best when used as soon as possible after an accident (6).
This is only used externally. Prepare it with fresh Arnica flowers at approximately a 1:3 ratio in 99% isopropyl alcohol.
Prepare it with fresh Arnica inflorescences at a 1:2 ratio in 80% ethanol. Use it topically as they are absorbed rapidly into the local tissue.
Arnica infused oil is more slowly absorbed into the surrounding tissue. Prepare this by tightly packing dried arnica flowers in a jar. Cover them with 4 inches of extra virgin olive oil on top of the oil-saturated flowers. Put a lid on the jar and turn it over or shake it each day to let the oil seep through all the plant material.
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