When you face certain common health issues like wounds upon falling, skin infections, or chronic conditions like deep vein thrombosis, osteoarthritis, you head to the pharmacy to get medicines to mitigate the discomforting problems after consulting with a doctor. But did you know that Mother Nature houses a vast drugstore in the numerous geographical terrains of Planet Earth, that supplies myriad plants, shrubs, herbs with marvellous healing powers to effectively remedy a host of health woes? Yes indeed, with one such astounding natural bounty that resolves all these disorders and even confers fantastic merits for beautiful skin, lustrous hair, known as Arnica Montana.
Also called leopard’s bane, mountain tobacco, Arnica is a flowering herb that portrays excellent analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. It has been used since time immemorial in various ancient traditional medicine practices of Homeopathy, folk therapy, to rectify joint pain in arthritis, accelerate wound healing and even treat blood clots. Particularly, the flowers of Arnica Montana possess spectacular therapeutic qualities, being prepared in the form of creams, salves, ointments for external application on skin, hair, as well as homoeopathic medicine and powdered teas for internal consumption. Moreover, the flower extracts of Arnica Montana are infused in skin care products of lotions, gels, moisturisers, besides hair essentials like shampoos, oils, conditioners, thanks to its wonderful healing merits for healthy skin and hair upon topical use.
The Arnica Montana Plant:
Arnica Montana is a vibrant flowering herb belonging to the Asteraceae or sunflower botanical family, native to the high altitude regions in the mountains of Europe, parts of Canada, the USA in North America, as well as Northern Asia. It goes by many common names in English including leopard’s bane, mountain arnica, wolfsbane, mountain tobacco, European arnica and Celtic nard. In the Alpine slope regions in Europe Denmark refers to this potent herb as “Guldblomme” in Danish and Finland calls it “Etelanarnikki” in the Finnish language. Also, Germany terms it “Arnika” in the German language, France refers to it as “Arnique” in French vernacular, while in Sweden, it is called “Slattergubbe”. In these European countries, besides being utilised as a medicine, the Arnica Montana plant is also incorporated into food, as part of dishes like meat curries, desserts, puddings, candies and beverages like tea.
Arnica Montana is a perennial herb, that thrives in the moist soils of hilly areas in Europe, North America, Northernmost Asia, growing up to 20 - 50 cm in height. The stem has a hairy texture, being erect and glandular, with oblong leaves 17 cm long, with rounded tips and tiny filamentous projections. This plant bears vivid yellow flowers, which emanate a pleasant, sweet aroma, being used for ornamental purposes and as room fresheners. The bright yellow Arnica flowers, however, possess an inherently bitter, acrid taste. These flowers, upon developing, bud into fruits, which are black or brown in colour, with a bristle of hairy extensions on the outer covering. Although all parts of the Arnica Montana plant, such as the roots, stems, leaves, fruits contain beneficial components, it is the vibrant yellow flowers that are packed with phytonutrients, which treat myriad ailments and uplift overall health.
Medicinal Bioactive Constituents Of Arnica Montana:
The major bioactive constituents of Arnica Montana include the essential oil residues, valuable fatty acids, thymol, pseudoguaianolide, sesquiterpene lactones and flavonoid glycosides. The primary sesquiterpene lactones are helenalin, 11α, 13- dihydrohelenalin and their fatty acid esters. Flavonoids present in Arnica Montana flowers include glycosides, glucuronides of spinacetin, hispidulin, patuletin and isorhamnetin. Arnica Montana also contains lignans which are astounding antioxidants, such as dibenzylbutyrolactone, furfuran and dibenzylbutyrolactol.
These powerful plant-based compounds hold brilliant anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, anti-cancer, antioxidant and wound-healing characteristics and also supply amazing analgesic qualities, which makes Arnica a foremost natural alternative medicine for pain management in bone and joint illnesses of rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis.
Arnica Montana Health Benefits And Therapeutic Applications:
Alleviates Joint Pain In Arthritis
Arnica Montana efficiently resolves signs of arthritis. It acts as an anti-inflammatory agent and reduces the damage caused to the joint. It also reduces pain in the joint by producing a powerful analgesic action. Arnica reduces the symptoms of these diseases such as joint pain, stiffness, and restriction of movements. It improves the range of movements of the joints and allows the patients to carry out their routine activities with ease. It also prevents the degeneration of the joint tissues thus slowing down the progress of arthritis, owing to its excellent anti-inflammatory action.
Accelerates Wound Healing In Injuries
Arnica Montana is commonly used as a healing agent. It promotes wound healing processes. It can be used to treat traumatic wounds, strains, muscle and ligament injuries, burns and ulcers. Arnica Montana helps to treat wounds by accelerating the natural healing mechanisms of the body. It produces an anti-inflammatory and analgesic action. It helps to reduce pain and swelling at the affected site. Arnica Montana also stimulates the regeneration of the skin cells in the wounded area, to effectively heal burns, tears in the skin.
Treats Blood Clotting Disorders
Arnica Montana may be used in the management of clotting disorders like cardiovascular stroke, pulmonary embolism and deep vein thrombosis. It prevents the clotting of blood thus reducing the risk of these diseases. Arnica Montana helps to prevent the formation of clots in the arteries and veins thus preventing the blockages in the blood vessels. This ensures an uninterrupted supply of blood to all parts of the body including the heart, brain, and lungs.
Regulates Blood Cholesterol Levels
Arnica Montana can be used to treat hyperlipidemia since it can effectively lower bad LDL cholesterol levels. This in turn reduces the risk of diseases caused by high levels of cholesterol such as myocardial infarction and stroke. Arnica Montana prevents the plaque formation in blood vessels leading to the heart by lowering the cholesterol levels and thus, prevents these life-threatening disorders. The sesquiterpene lactones present in Arnica Montana help in controlling cholesterol levels in the blood and augment heart health.
Arnica Montana Uses For Skin And Hair:
Reverses The Age Clock
Arnica is rich in phenolic acids and flavonoids - two classes of antioxidants that are excellent free radical terminators with remarkable anti-ageing properties. This promotes new skin cell formation, concealing fine lines and wrinkles. In addition, the vast reserves of phytonutrients in Arnica help boost collagen synthesis, a key protein for maintaining suppleness, elasticity and smoothness of the skin.
Arnica creams and gels are a superb solution to get rid of suntan, UV ray damage and irregular skin complexion, due to the skin-tightening, protective and rejuvenating traits of the flower extracts. They also help achieve an even skin tone and improve the rough texture of the skin.
Pacifies Acne And Boils
Arnica is laden with flavonoids, which are plant compounds with anti-inflammatory qualities. Thus, it aids in decreasing acne, pimples and boils, besides brushing away dark spots and scars.
Prevents Hair Fall
Consisting of fortifying antioxidants, Arnica hair oil enriches hair growth and renews the texture of tresses. This controls hair fall and averts premature greying and balding. It also increases the thickness, length of hair and provides a soft, silky texture to the mane.
Thwarts Dandruff On Scalp
Arnica houses potent anti-microbial characteristics when applied as oil to the dandruff-prone scalp. It soothes the hair roots or follicles, thereby repairing damaged scalp as well as dry and brittle hair, besides guaranteeing relief from incessant itching.
Arnica Montana Side Effects:
As long as Arnica Montana formulations for skin, hair, massage oil are applied in the right amounts topically and the diluted homoeopathic tonics are ingested in the prescribed dose upon consulting with a certified homoeopathic doctor, this potent herb does not trigger any harmful side effects. Only when ingested in high doses, Arnica Montana results in vomiting, diarrhoea, nausea.
However, it is advised to avoid taking Arnica Montana for pregnant and breastfeeding women, as it may cause detrimental effects to the mother and child.
Furthermore, hypersensitivity may be experienced on utilizing Arnica Montana massage oils, skin creams, hair gels topically, so it is recommended to do a patch test to see if any allergic reactions develop before using Arnica formulations for external application.
Arnica Montana is truly a versatile medicinal herb that bears dazzling yellow flowers. These lovely blooms not only look attractive and pretty and emit an enticing floral scent for decorative use and freshening purposes but also demonstrate outstanding therapeutic properties, being bestowed with a plethora of healing plant compounds and bioactive elements. Arnica Montana can be used for external application to treat wounds, soothe joint pain, enrich skin texture and promote hair growth, as well as taken internally as the homoeopathic tonic in prescribed doses for strengthening joints, alleviating pain in joints, muscles, augmenting heart health, treating blood clotting disorders and enhancing overall wellbeing.