Arnica

Image retrieved from docakilah.files.wordpress.com on June 6th, 2013.

Arnica cordifolia(heart-leaved arnica)
Arnica angustifolia(narrow-leaved arnica)

Other Names and Etymology
Lamb's skin, alpine arnica, wolf's bane, leopard's bane, heart-leaf arnica. Arnica angustifolia (narrow-leaved arnica): The genus name arnica is derived from the greek arnakis, meaning "sheep skin" in reference to the feel of its soft, hairy leaves.

Family
Asteraceae (aster, daisy, or sunflower family)

"...flowers, because they are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty outvalues all the utilities of the world."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, author, "gifts" (1844)

Botanical Descriptions
Arnica cordifolia or A. angustifolia: Perennial herb growing from a slender rhizome up to 5 cm long. Arnica has an erect stem that stands 10-50 cm high. its leaves are opposite, simple, entire or toothed. Sunflower-like in appearance, arnica flowers consist of bright yellow disks surrounded by showy ray petals, with a circular cup of bracts at the base. (Note: There are ten arnica species in the Yukon and they all have similar healing properties.)

Habitat and Range
Moist mountainous areas, usually shading themselves among poplars, aspens, and conifers. Arnica cordifolia: North America, cordilleran; extends northward into southern Yukon, southwestern district of Mackenzie, disjunct eastward to eastern-central Saskatchewan, southern Manitoba and Lake Superior, and south to California, northern Arizona and New mexico. Arnica angustifolia or arctic alpine arnica: Greenland to Alaska and in the Yukon north to the Arctic coast.

Plant Part Used
Fresh flower heads

Harvest Time
Pinch the flower head off the stem when in full flower; generally from early June to late July. Harvest before the heat of the day. Allow the flowers to wilt for a few hours so the excess moisture evaporates, then infuse in oil immediately because the flowers will turn to a white seed fluff as they begin to dry.

ARNICA'S BRIGHT YELLOW FLOWERS look like shining jewels against the boreal forest floor, reaching up like miniature sunflowers in a farmer's field. Every summer I head to the mountains to gather the flower heads to infuse into a golden healing oil. The oil is transformed into a cream that can help to decrease the pain and inflammation of life's bumps and bruises. Like so many before me, I have called on arnica's medicine more times than I can remember to reduce pain and promote healing. Arnica ointment is a handy first-aid staple to have in your first-aid kit or sports bag! I once slammed my fingers in the car door. Luckily, I had some arnica cream in my bag. I applied it within half an hour it was as if the incident hadn't happened; my fingers were fine. Once you welcome the healing properties of this plant into your life, it's hard to live without it

Medicinal Actions
Anti-inflammatory, nervine, stimulant

Medicinal Preparations
Cream, homeopathic, liniment, oil, poultice, salve, soak

Medicinal Uses
Arnica's extraordinary bright yellow flowers are used topically for a wide range of conditions. The active constituents of arnica stimulate and dilate the blood vessels near the surface of the skin. This in turn improves circulation to the injured area and promotes the healing of bruises, sprains, strains, muscular inflammation, aches, pains, rheumatic joint pain, inflammation from insect bites, and swelling due to fractures.
Arnica can be taken internally only as a homeopathic preparation or flower essence to help minimize bruising, pain and trauma.

Other Uses
In the Flower Essence Repertory, authors Patricia Kaminski and Richard Katz recommend using arnica flower essence for "Conscious embodiment, especially during shock or trauma; recovery from deep-seated shock or trauma." They go on to say that it helps with, "Patterns of imbalance and disconnection of the higher self from the body during shock or trauma; disassociation, unconsciousness."
The Solar Plexus Chakra Vibrational Essence I created includes arnica for use with the third chakra, our centre of personal power, Energetically, arnica helps us to heal the deep wounds that can take away personal power.

Cautions
Ingesting large amounts of arnica can cause dizziness, tremors, and heart irregularities, It may also irritate mucous membranes and cause vomiting. Large doses can even be fatal. Never take arnica as a tea or tincture, or use topical preparations on broken or bleeding skin do not add excessive heat after applying arnica to skin.

Arnica Footbath

After a long day of hiking, soak your tender feet in a warm arnica footbath. Add a handful of fresh flowers in a basin, pour in boiling water, let cool to toe temperature, and then soak feet for 15-30 minutes.

Arnica Poultice

Mix a handful of fresh arnica flower heads and leaves with enough boiling water to cover. Let arnica steep until preparation has reached body temperature. Wrap warm herbs in a layer of cloth and place over affected area.

Arnica Ointment

1 cup (250 mL) arnica flowers
1 1/2 cups (375 mL) sunflower oil
1/2 cup (125 mL) olive oil
1 teaspoon (5 mL) vitamin E
1 oz. (30mL) beeswax
Place arnica flowers and oil in a double boiler. Warm slowly on a medium heat. Let simmer 20 to 40 minutes. Stir often. Strain flowers out and wipe the pot clean, so that there are no petals left. Add beeswax to pot and let melt. Add strained oil and stir. Once blended, pour into a jar. Cap jar only after the ointment has cooled down and solidified.

pp. 47-50, The Boreal Herbal by Beverley Gray (2011)

tiger balm, Lambs skin, wolf's bane, leopard's bane
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