Health Studies, Joint Pain, Natural Remedies

The Benefits of Arnica Oil

Arnica flowers and roots have been used for health purposes for hundreds of years. If you are live an active lifestyle, consider adding arnica oil to your alternative health first-aid kid. Arnica oil is an exceptional treatment for exercise injuries, bruises and sprains.

Arnica is the term used for a clan of flowering perennial plants from the daisy family (Compositae) indigenous to Europe and Siberia. It also grows in North America, however, particularly in mountainous areas.  Its flowers have yellow petals with an orange center, with one to three flowers per each one to two-foot-high plant.

The most well-known species is Arnica montana, also called Leopard’s Bane, Mountain Tobacco and Wolf’s Bane. Arnica grows in meadows as high as 3,000 above sea level.  The higher the altitude at which the plant grows, the more fragrant the flowers.  Arnica oil is an aromatic, yellow essential oil made from the Arnica montana blossoms.

Arnica flowers and roots have long been used as herbal medicine. There is a legend that the German poet and philosopher, Johann Wolfgang Goethe, drank arnica tea to relieve chest pain. People also smoked the leaves as a therapy. Today, however, caution is advised in using arnica, especially the oil.

Arnica pellets are taken internally, and arnica is made into topical gels and creams, as well as the oil. Arnica essential oil is very potent and could be toxic, so it is not recommended for aromatherapy. But its diluted form, arnica oil reduces swelling, protects against infections and relieves pain.

Fatty acids, including linolenic, almitic, linoleic and myristic acids, comprise about half the volume of arnica oil. The other half is comprised of a mix of thymol, various ethers of thymol, thymohydroquinone dimethyl ether and phlorol isobutyrate.

If you develop a slight rash using Arnica oil, you may be sensitive to helenalin, one of the compounds in the oil. If so, simply discontinue use.

Arnica oil has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory qualities, and it can be used to treat:

• Muscle aches, pulled muscles, muscle spasms, and rheumatic pain

• Sprains, bruises and swelling from fractures

• Insect bites

• Acne (but do not use it on open sores or where skin is broken)

• Hair loss (dilute the oil and apply to your scalp to increase local blood circulation)

Some clinical trials have also indicated arnical oil or gel, used topically, can be helpful in reducing osteoarthritis pain.