The herb known as the arnica is characterized by a creeping rhizome; arnica is an aromatic and perennial plant, which gives out a basal rosette of four to eight downy leaves which reach a length of about one and a half to two and three-quarters inches long during the first year of growth. The stem of the herb which bears the flowers is normally not branched and slightly hairy in appearance, this flowering branch tends to reach from twelve to twenty-four inches in height, and is noticeable by bearing only one to two pairs of leaves on opposite sides of the branch. Arnica bears golden yellow flowers, some of these have a daisy-like appearance and structure, and the flowers tend to bloom during the autumn and may start appearing by mid-summer.
The type of climates preferred by the arnica lie in the central and northern parts of the northern hemisphere all across the world, the herb grows particularly in sandy and acidic soils, it also prefers soils which are rich in their humus content, and the plant grows best in places which are well exposed to the rays of the sunlight.
The main beneficial effects of the arnica as a topical remedy in ointment and compress form lies in its ability to speed the healing of tissues, it also tends to improve the blood supply and rate of circulation in the affected areas of the body, the herbal ointment and the herbal compress made from the arnica is especially extremely effective in the treatment of various bruises and sprains, as well as in the treatment of muscle pain – the herb speeds the healing of tissues in all cases and recovery is rapidly achieved. The arnica based herbal remedies are also well known for their anti-inflammatory properties and the remedy is known to hasten the rate of re-absorption of exuded blood in cases of internal bleeding and hemorrhage. As far as the use of arnica as a herbal remedy for the treatment of internal remedies is concerned, these days the herb is taken only following homeopathic dilution, it is used as an internal herbal remedy primarily for the treatment of shock and trauma, for the treatment of physical injuries, and it also finds use in the treatment of various types of physical sports injuries and the painful symptoms involved with such conditions. The circulation in the body is also stimulated by the arnica when it is used as a herbal decoction or in tincture form; in this case, the value of the arnica is particularly high during treatments for conditions such as angina and in the treatment of a physically weak or failing heart in patients with cardiac problems. All the same, the internal use of arnica is not considered safe, as the herb can be quite toxic even at relatively low dosage – for this reason, the use of the herbal remedies made from the arnica in internal medications is limited nowadays. The treatment of leg ulcers in diabetics is an area where preference is given to the topical remedies made from the arnica herb.
As a herbal medicine, the uses of the arnica are many and it is considered to be one of the most wonderful topical herbal remedies around. For example, the herbal remedy made from the arnica can increase the resistance of the body to the onset of infection, arnica is particularly helpful against infections such as those caused by listeria and salmonella bacteria, the herbal remedies made from the arnica also increases the rate of healing in the body following a surgical procedure, it is also useful and effective against the painful sensations encountered during dental extractions and it is also extensively used to treat physical injuries of all kinds in different patients around the world.
As a herbal medication, the calming effects of the arnica are extremely helpful in treating children, especially those injured due to falling accidents, those suffering from pain due to bumping their heads accidentally, and in the treatment of those children who have knocked themselves out during some activity or another. The herbal remedy made from the arnica also proves to be useful whenever it is applied as a topical remedy over an unbroken patch of skin, in this role the herbal remedy can greatly ease the extreme pain, the remedies made from the arnica are also used to bring relief from the pain in rheumatic joints, and they are also used in the topical treatment of painful and swollen feet in different patients. Arnica is also normally diluted on the basis of one part in ten with the essence of the calendula herb, in this form the remedy can be utilized in the treatment of various skin rashes and in the treatment of other known inflammatory skin problems in different patients.
The arnica is a native of temperate climates, and grows in the wild in the mountain woods and the pastures all along the central part of the European continent, it is also native to regions like the Pyrenees, it is also found in the wild in large tracts of Siberia, in the mountains and plains of Canada, and in vast areas along the continental northwestern US. The harvest of arnica flowers is usually carried out when the plant is in full bloom during the summer. On the other hand, the rhizomes of the arnica are harvested during autumn, following the death of the plant as the temperature gets colder.
Arnica contains sesquiterpene lactones, flavonoids, and a volatile oil that includes thymol, mucilage, and polysaccharides.
The beneficial herbal tincture based on the arnica can be prepared by crushing the flowers of the arnica, about three tablespoons of these crushed flowers can be soaked using two cups of pure alcohol so that the floral essences can permeate through the alcohol. This alcoholic soaking of the crushed flowers must be allowed to stand for a period of two weeks, during this infusion period, the jar must be shaking two times every day to increase the rate of infusion – it is suggested that the shaking is carried out during a full moon to maximize the potency of the remedy. Following this initial two weeks of shaking and soaking in the alcohol, the herbal infusion can be transferred to a bottle or another container which lends itself to storage for the long term – the tincture is ready for use at this time and it can be used as and when needed. It is advised that you always use the solution after standard dilution; the rate of dilution can be about one teaspoon of the herbal tincture per cup of warm water. Once the dilution has been carried out, a small piece of clean cotton cloth can be soaked in the diluted tincture solution, the excess liquid must be carefully squeezed out, the cloth must then be folded to make it a compact square. This cloth can then be placed directly on the external bruise; the cloth must then be left on the affected area for about 15 minutes to let the herbal essence seep into the affected area of skin. This process must be repeated several times and continued daily till the bruise or wound has completely healed.
Another useful and very effective herbal ointment is simple and easy to make, first, prepare a powder by grinding two tablespoons of the dried flowers of the arnica, this powder can be mixed with eight tablespoons of melted coconut oil. To prevent the ointment from turning rancid, you can add the tincture of benzoin or several drops of gum benzoin to the herbal preparation – this chemical addition will keep the ointment stable and prevent degradation from occurring when the ointment is stored. As and when needed, the prepared arnica can be applied in large amounts to any old wounds, and it can be used to topically treat all kinds of ulcers in the legs or to treat the sores of herpes – particularly the sores which are persistent.