If you have ever tried Homeopathic medicine, you would be aware of the term ‘Arnica’. The fact that it is used as an active ingredient in medicines is itself an indication of the various benefits of this wonderful herb. In fact, we often come across shampoos, gels, tonics and tinctures bearing the name of arnica.
Arnica is basically a perennial herb belonging to the sunflower (Asteraceae) family. It is native to the mountains of Europe and Siberia. Arnica plant grows to a height of 1 to 2 feet and bears yellow-orange flowers resembling daisies. It possesses bright green leaves, the upper leaves are toothed and slightly hairy while the lower leaves have rounded tips. The stalks are round, fleshy, and hairy. The yellow-orange flowers of this herb have medicinal value. Extracts from fresh and dried flower heads are used in Homeopathic preparations for the treatment of several health conditions. The flowers can also be used in their raw form.
Today, arnica is extensively cultivated for medicinal purposes in several areas of Europe and North America. It has been used in medicine since the 1500s and is commercially available in the form of topical creams, ointments, pills, tinctures and even injections. Arnica oil is also available, which is used for topical treatments. Direct intake of arnica by mouth is associated with serious side effects but homeopathic medicines use it in a diluted form which is not considered harmful.
There are several species of arnica of which Arnica Montana and A. Chamissonis are used in anti-inflammatory preparations. Both species look similar except that A. Chamissonis has somewhat smaller flowers. It can be extremely toxic even in very low doses. Arnica Montana, on the other hand, possesses medicinal properties and is mostly used in herbal products, particularly hair care products. This herb is known by several names such as Mountain Tobacco, Mountain Daisy and even Leopard’s bane and Wolf’s bane.
Benefits Of Arnica For Skin
Arnica is an active ingredient in several skin care products. It can improve your skin health and help you get rid of skin problems too. The various arnica benefits for skin are as follows.
1. Treatment Of Skin Infections And Eczema
Arnica can be applied topically to get rid of skin problems. Arnica extracts are used as an ingredient in several lotions meant for the treatment of skin infections, eczema, itchiness and open wounds. They can even be applied on the vagina to treat vaginitis and vaginal irritation.
2. Treatment Of Frost Bites And Chilblains
Arnica extracts are used in ointments meant for treating frost bites. Often, frost bites do not appear as open wounds. Application of arnica ointment on frost bitten areas of the body can significantly improve the condition. This herb can also be used in the treatment of chilblains.
3. Skin Nourishment
Arnica Montana flowers contain sesquiterpene lactones, flavonoids, carbonic acid, coumarins and volatile oils, all of which are beneficial for your skin. A sesquiterpene lactone, called helenalin, is the main restorative compound in Arnica Montana, which along with flavonoid, helps soothe and renew the skin after exposure to stress. The antibacterial, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties of this herb help in preventing inflammatory skin disorders. They also accelerate the healing process by stimulating the formation of granular tissues. Arnica for skin care can effectively heal bruises, sunburns, minor burns and superficial phlebitis.
4. Treatment Of Stretch Marks
Topically rubbing arnica extracts reduces the appearance of pregnancy-related stretch marks. All you need to do is gently apply arnica gel on your stomach at least four times a day.
[ Read: Olive Oil For Stretch Marks ]
Benefits Of Arnica For Hair
The anti-inflammatory properties of arnica make it usable in hair care as well. Arnica extracts are often used in conditioners and shampoos. Some of its benefits for hair are as follows.
6. Arnica For Hair Loss
Usage of arnica extract rejuvenates your scalp and stimulates the hair follicles, helping to strengthen your hair and preventing it from falling prematurely. Arnica is combined with other ingredients like calendula and jaborandi in homeopathic Arnica Montana shampoos to provide soft and manageable hair.
7. Treatment Of Dandruff
Arnica cleanses the excess oil and sebum from the scalp, giving it a natural shine. By removing dirt, debris, and oil from the scalp, it also helps combat dandruff and itchiness. This also helps in preventing tangled and rough hair.
8. Treatment Of Split Ends And Premature Greying Of Hair
Arnica is used at a concentration of 1% to 2% in hair care products. Being an antibiotic, it can effectively cure scalp infections. It strengthens each and every hair strand and helps prevent split ends and premature graying of hair. All you need to do is massage arnica hair oil on your scalp from the roots to the tips before going to bed and wash off the next morning. This will nourish your hair and prevent these problems by providing the requisite nutrition to your hair follicles.
Health Benefits Of Arnica
As stated earlier, arnica is used in the treatment of a wide range of internal and external disorders. Though arnica is not FDA approved like other herbal remedies, it does contain several active ingredients and volatile oils. Proper dosage of arnica will definitely provide the following health benefits:
9. Treatment Of Arthritis
The anti-inflammatory properties of arnica are praiseworthy. It has been used in topical preparations for healing joint pains, muscle aches and swelling associated with arthritis. A research conducted in 2002 indicated that the use of arnica gel twice daily for 6 weeks resulted in a significant decrease in pain and stiffness in patients with mild to moderate osteoarthritis of the knee. In the case of osteoarthritis of the hand, arnica gel has proven to be as effective as ibuprofen in lessening pain and improving hand function. The essence of arnica plant is used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Being an anti-inflammatory agent, it can be used to massage inflamed or painful joints for relief.
10. Treatment Of Muscle Soreness
The anti-inflammatory properties of this herb make it useful for the treatment of muscle soreness. It can be applied topically to reduce pain and inflammation caused by muscle sprain and strains. Thus, it is beneficial for athletes who often suffer from muscle soreness.
11. Healing Qualities
Arnica has been used in topical preparations for healing bruises, muscle aches, superficial phlebitis, wounds and swelling due to insect bites and fractures. It can be used as a mouthwash or gargle for treating sore throat and infections. However, it should be used and consumed according to the directions of the physician. It helps in the regeneration of tissues and can heal injuries. It is also effective in healing burns. It improves blood circulation by stimulating white blood cell activity, decreasing the amount of healing time and reducing inflammation.
12. Treatment Of Post-Surgery Pain
A study conducted in 2007 observed that taking a homeopathic dilution of arnica resulted in a decrease in pain in patients whose tonsils were removed. Similarly, taking a homeopathic dilution of arnica and topical application of arnica ointment reduces post-surgery pain in patients undergoing surgery for carpel tunnel syndrome.
13. Treatment Of Bruises And Black Eyes
Arnica is effective in reducing the appearance of bruises. Topical application of arnica extract on bruises and black eyes can significantly improve the condition. Infusions from arnica plant are effective in the treatment of dark nails caused due to injuries from heavy objects.
14. Oral Health
The anti-bacterial and anti-microbial properties of arnica make it great for oral health. Arnica mouthwashes are widely available and can treat bacterial infections in the mouth. Washing your mouth with arnica and water regularly can cure conditions like gingivitis and pyorrhoea. It can also reduce wisdom tooth pain.
15. Treatment Of Post Surgery Swelling
A study conducted in 2006 has proved that intake of homeopathic dilution of arnica may slightly reduce post-operative swelling in patients undergoing arthroscopy.
16. Treatment Of Stress And Depression
In addition to its medicinal uses, arnica is beneficial in alleviating feelings of depression and emotional distress. It is often used in healing sachets to restore emotional balance and a sense of tranquility. Organic and wild grafted arnica flower extract can be massaged to provide warmth which unwinds your taxed and tight muscles and alleviates stress.
17. Other Benefits
Arnica has been used in homeopathy for the treatment of an accident or shock as well as illness of the circulatory system. It is also used in the treatment of conditions like a backache, fibromyalgia, influenza, headaches, migraines and hemorrhoids.
Nutritional Value Of Arnica
Arnica owes its anti-inflammatory properties to a host of active components comprising of antioxidants, tannins, flavonoids, carotenoids and volatile oils like thymol, an active ingredient contained in thyme. The in-depth nutritional profile of arnica can be understood from the table given below.
|Nutrition Facts Calories in Arnica montana homepathic|
|Serving Size: 1 serving|
|Amount Per Serving|
|Total Fat||0.0 g|
|Saturated Fat||0.0 g|
|Polyunsaturated Fat||0.0 g|
|Monounsaturated Fat||0.0 g|
|Total Carbohydrate||0.0 g|
|Dietary Fiber||0.0 g|
|Vitamin A||0.0 %|
|Vitamin B-12||0.0 %|
|Vitamin B-6||0.0 %|
|Vitamin C||0.0 %|
|Vitamin D||0.0 %|
|Vitamin E||0.0 %|
|Pantothenic Acid||0.0 %|
|*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.|
This herb which provides amazing benefits for your skin, hair, and health, is also associated with several side effects when used excessively. That is why it is important to exercise caution while using it in any form.
1. Stomach Discomfort
Arnica can irritate the digestive system and its lining called mucosa. For this reason, arnica is never taken orally. Even taken in low dosage in homeopathy medicine, it causes irritation in the stomach. This irritation further leads to pain and loss of appetite. But, this problem is temporary and goes away within a day or two.
2. Breast Feeding And Pregnancy
Arnica usage should be avoided if you are pregnant or breast feeding. Arnica is considered as unsafe for pregnant or breast feeding women.
As mentioned before, arnica irritates the stomach when taken orally. This irritation may further cause severe nausea or an urge to vomit. This side effect is common among many individuals consuming arnica.
People sensitive to Compositae or Asteraceae family plants, which includes chrysanthemums, ragweed, marigolds, daisies and related plants, might also be allergic to arnica. People who are hypersensitive to such plants should consult the doctor before using arnica in any form.
5. Nose Bleeding
Arnica can also cause nosebleeds, which is not considered as a serious effect by American Cancer Society. A bleeding nose is not a problem in itself. Rather, it indicates that there is an internal bleeding that needs to be treated. It is best to discontinue the use of arnica on encountering such side effect and immediately visit your doctor.
Dizziness occurs as a side effect when arnica is taken for internal issues. When you experience such side effect, consult your doctor immediately.
7. Interactions With Drugs
Arnica may interact with a number of corticosteroids, anesthetic, and anti-inflammatory drugs. It can also cause bleeding when taken with anticoagulants. Specific constituents present in arnica might lower serum lipids in the body. Those taking drugs for lowering cholesterol should take arnica with a caution.
8. Heart Problems
American Cancer Society indicates that arnica might cause irregularities in heart rhythm. This is a condition where the heart beats irregularly. It might either slow down or speed up, causing palpitations. So, consult your doctor immediately if you experience severe palpitations. This is one of the dangerous side effects of arnica since it can cause death. It needs an immediate diagnosis.
American Cancer Society reports tremor as one of the most common side effects of taking arnica orally. The person might experience uncontrollable movements of legs and hands. Such side effect requires medical evaluation. Tremors signal that your central nervous system has been affected.
10. Other Side Effects
Arnica in undiluted form is considered unsafe. According to a report, it causes faster heart beat, cardiac arrest, stomach pain, diarrhea, vomiting, skin rashes and shortness of breath. Its toxicity might also cause dyspnea and gastroenteritis. It might also cause damage to your heart, increase the blood pressure level, and organ failure. Sometimes, its consumption leads to coma and even death.
Tips On Arnica Usage
Before consuming arnica, it is important to dilute arnica. Taking arnica in undiluted form can lead to chronic side effects. Avoid application of arnica on broken skin. Homeopathic doses should also be used according to specific instructions.
Arnica forms an integral part of homeopathy. It offers various benefits. But, if you play doctor and overlook the recommended dosage, you can experience any of these side effects. So, discuss completely arnica benefits and side effects with your doctor before the consumption to stay safe!
So, the next time you use arnica in any of its forms, remembers the goodness you are getting and return!
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