Health Benefits of Arnica

Arnica is ideal for skin issues, like reducing the swelling of bruises and healing chapped lips, and it can also be used as a gel to ease arthritis.

| July 2016

  • Fresh arnica blossoms are easy to dry and make into a medicinal concoction.
    Photo courtesy of Quarto Publishing Group
  • Dried arnica is ready for use in a tincture.
    Photo courtesy of Quarto Publishing Group
  • A tincture of arnica flowers and alcohol is placed in a sunny spot to steep.
    Photo courtesy of Quarto Publishing Group
  • “Backyard Pharmacy: Growing Medicinal Plants in Your Own Yard” by Elizabeth Millard
    Photo courtesy of Quarto Publishing Group

Many common, easy-to-grow herbs and plants have beneficial properties. Ground basil can be added to toothpaste for fresher breath. Mullein flowers in olive oil can treat chapped lips. Raspberry leaves soothe sunburn. Homegrown plants like these can improve everyday wellness, and by growing them you can become more self-sufficient and take charge of aspects of your health. Backyard Pharmacy (Quarto Publishing Group, 2015) by Elizabeth Millard gives detailed information for the best plants to grow in your garden, or even indoors, to treat daily ailments. Complete with color photographs of the herbs, this book provides an overview of preparation methods, growing needs, harvesting tips, storage, and scientific research about each plant. With this as your guide, you can truly turn your yard or garden into a pharmacy.

You can purchase this book from the Mother Earth Living store: Backyard Pharmacy.

Arnica montana

From June to October, I use arnica almost every day, because it seems like I have some nightly complaint — sore shoulders from weeding all day, mosquito bites that stay itchy for hours, dry lips and hands — that could use some arnica love. The herb has been used for just such medicinal purposes since the 1500s, and there are plenty of preparations found in any natural remedies section of a co-op or grocery. Homeopathic practitioners use arnica for specific anti-inflammatory purposes, but in general, the herb is used topically since some serious side effects have been noted when used internally. The herb’s name is likely taken from the Greek word arna (meaning “lamb”) in reference to the plant’s slightly hairy, soft leaves, even though all herbal preparations use only the flowers and not those lamb-like leaves.

Although herbs taken internally in the form of teas or essential oils shouldn’t be used on a constant basis, those used externally like arnica don’t carry that caution. So, if you have nagging muscle pain or chronic issues like arthritis, try using arnica as a way to soothe those problems.



Here are a few ideas for your Rx/medicinal preparations:

• Create a tincture by pouring vodka (or other alcohol at least 70 proof) over freshly picked flowers. Seal tightly and let stand for at least a week in a sunny spot or warm area. Filter, put in a well-sealed container, and store out of direct sunlight.
• Combine the tincture with distilled witch hazel, which will increase the medicinal properties of your mix.
• Blend the tincture with a non-scented lotion or coconut oil for a topical lotion that will be moisturizing as well as soothing. If you can find some at your co-op, try using emu oil, since it has transdermal properties, which means it allows the herbal remedy to absorb more fully into the skin.



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