Published: 01/07/2014 - Updated: 02/10/2016
This plant is part of the Asteraceae family, native to central and southern Europe, and grows mainly in mountain meadows. The intensive wild collection of this plant has endangered it, taking it almost to extinction in some places, which is why control measures have been established for its conservation.
Today it is grown in various parts of the world such as Germany, Spain, Hungary and the UK, but can still be collected in the wild in places like Romania and Spain.
Arnica Montana is a folk remedy to treat pain caused by sports injuries, as well as the inflammation that accompanies them. It could also be a plant useful in the treatment of diseases related to joints such as arthritis and arthrosis. It can also be used to reduce bruising.
Among its active substances, there are sesquiterpene lactones involved in inhibiting the activation of transcription factor NF- B, thereby interfering with gene regulation which encodes many inflammatory mediators. Furthermore, it has been related to these compounds with benefits for the smooth muscle associated with blood vessels.
Other compounds found in arnica are polysaccharides, which stimulate phagocytosis and reduce bruising.
Applications for health
Different parts of the plant are used depending on the medication needed. For example, herbal medicine usually employs the use of the flower bud, and in homeopathic medicines often the whole plant (including the root) is used.
For pain: Arnica is used externally to relieve pain and inflammation caused by injuries, accidents or surgical traumas, including bruises, sprains, strains, contusions, and fracture-related edemas.
For arthritis: It can be used as an adjunct in the treatment of diseases such as arthritis, gout and other diseases which affect the joints and/or muscles causing inflammation.
For respiratory problems: Arnica has also been used to treat respiratory problems such as coughs or bronchitis. It was known as "mountain tobacco" as mountaineers used to smoke it to treat these illnesses, however this application has fallen into disuse as smoking was proven as an irritant for respiration.
It may be used externally either as an ingredient of an ointment, cream, gel, oil, etc., or using a damp cloth in a weak solution of arnica.
Internal use: It is only used in homeopathy, drops, tablets, etc. Studies have shown that the anti-inflammatory Arnica Montana is effective, even compared with ibuprofen, as medication commonly used to treat inflammation.
The Arnica Montana should not be used on open wounds because it can be irritating and for external use, we recommend diluting the arnica in water or using a product that contains arnica extract. If used undiluted, it can break outs and rashes.
Arnica is often used as a natural remedy for minor bumps and bruises, to which children are exposed due to their playful nature.
Avoid using arnica if you are allergic to it or related plant compounds such as chamomile or calendula plants. Although not dangerous, in these cases it may cause itching or rashes.
For internal use, it should be used only under the supervision of an expert as its improper direct ingestion can cause dizziness, tremors and vomiting. In excessive doses, it can cause dilated pupils, severe headache, muscle cramps and even paralysis.
If you are under anticoagulant therapy, avoid consuming any herbal medicinal as arnica for internal use can promote bleeding.