Arnica is one of those herbs that are only used externally. Usually found in Scandinavian meadows, at altitudes of up to 3000m, this herb is quite rare but an important part of local herbology in those places where it grows.
Arnica is one of the few herbs to have gained official recognition from the medical establishment – the UK authorities recently granted a license to Arnica Gel, used on bruises and sprains.
Arnica Montana is also known as wolf’s bane, leopard’s bane or mountain tobacco. It has a yellow flower that blooms in spring. The whole of the plant is used in herbal medicine.
Arnica is a mild irritant and so should not be used internally. Its primary use lies in the external treatment of bruises and sprains. As a natural solution to trauma under the skin, Arnica can be a very effective substitute for drugs such as Deep Heat.
Arnica has been garnering headlines recently in relation to Alopecia and premature hair loss. Some forms of Alopecia, particularly those related to stress, may be alleviated by an Arnica-based cream applied to the affected region.
Here’s a tip from Ayurveda, the ancient Indian healthcare system. Try dropping a little arnica into the bath after a long day. Its anti-inflammatory and soothing action will help to relax your body. Ginger actually has a very similar effect.
As an irritant, it is important not to take Arnica internally. The same goes for any open wounds or cuts. For sprains and bruises, an infusion of the Arnica leaves applied externally to the skin can help.
Arnica is also now available in numerous creams and gels, mostly for treatment of bruising. These gels can also help with some forms of Alopecia.
Lastly, an Arnica infusion can be used as a mouthwash or gargle for throat infections and coughs. Be careful not to swallow it though, and this use is certainly not recommended for children.