One of a herbalist’s favoured solutions for bruises and sprains, arnica is a renowned for local application. Made into an oil, salve or cream it is used for any local pain and inflammation due to engorged veins, rheumatism or from mild traumas. But never if the skin is broken and never internally as it is toxic.
Arnica has a deep action within the skin communicating with the connective tissue and deeper layers in the epidermis and dermis. It is renowned for healing deep injuries such as bruises, strains, sprains and swelling and treating muscles and joints by the topical application of the plant extract. Its sesiquiterpene lactones, arnifolin and helanalin, along with the polysaccharides have been shown to encourage the healing effects of the immune system. It also contains thymol found in thyme as well as some resins and astringent tannins. The infused oil contains azulenes present in the essential oil, similar to those found in german chamomile, which are anti-inflammatory, anti-allergenic and soothing to irritated, sensitive skin. Its anti-inflammatory action is carried deep within the tissues whilst it encourages the lymphatic drainage the reduction of swelling and discomfort. In the skin these benefits encourage repair deep within the dermis and epidermis and reduce congestion and puffy skin. Arnica has an affinity for irritated and damaged skin to relieve discomfort and restore harmony. It improves the elasticity of the skin keeping it smooth, supple and supported.
It is also important to mention that Arnica montana – partly due to overharvesting and partly due to its very specific growing requirements – has become very rare in its natural habitat and is now listed in the IUCN Red List of threatened species, so should only be purchased from a verified sustainable source or grown yourself.