Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Medicinal Herb Spotlight: Arnica

Arnica Montana
The flower of the Arnica plant is used to create supplements and medicines, commonly as an anti-inflammatory. 

Topical gel  products of Arnica are applied to the skin for pain and swelling associated with bruises, aches, sprains, and arthritis. It is also applied to the skin for insect bites, muscle and cartilage pain, chapped lips, and acne. It is also taken by mouth for sore mouth and throat, insect bites, painful and swollen veins near the surface of the skin (superficial phlebitis), sore gums after removal of wisdom teeth, and for causing abortions (1).

In foods, Arnica is a flavor ingredient in beverages, frozen dairy desserts, candy, baked goods, gelatins, and puddings.  In manufacturing, Arnica is used in hair tonics and anti-dandruff preparations. The oil is used in perfumes and cosmetics (1).

Arnica belongs to the family of the sunflowers and consists of about 30 different herbaceous species. The Arnica is a genus which is derived from the Latin word ana which means the lamb, this is because of its distinguishing features of the having soft and hairy leaves. The Arnica genus is mostly found in the temperate regions of the western North America and they originate from Eurasia. Arnica is known to be associated with the tribe Senecioneae because of its fine bristles on its surface.  Arnica consists of certain species like the Montana and chamissonis which are known to be helpful in making anti-inflammatory products against the bruises. The Arnica species serve as a source of food for some insect larvae (2). 

Arnica is distinguished by having deep roots and erect stem with no branches. The consist of leathery type ovoid leaves and have large yellow and orange colored flowers which are 6-8cm wide, which have quite a pleasant scent. It is also contains very small seeds like fruits on its branches (2).
Precautions to Taking Arnica Supplements(1):
Allergy to ragweed and related plants: Arnica may cause an allergic reaction in people who are sensitive to the Asteraceae/Compositae family. Members of this family include ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, daisies, and many others. If you have allergies, be sure to check with your healthcare provider before applying it to your skin. Do not take arnica by mouth.

Digestion problems: Arnica can irritate the digestive system. Don’t take it if you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), ulcers, Crohn's disease, or other stomach or intestinal conditions.

Fast heart rate: Arnica might increase your heart rate. Don’t take arnica if you have a fast heart rate.

High blood pressure: Arnica might increase blood pressure. Don’t take arnica if you have
high blood pressure.

Surgery: Arnica might cause extra bleeding during and after surgery. Stop using it at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.

1. WebMD,

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