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Arnica Montana

Arnica Montana Flower – By Buendia22 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Want to try an all-natural herbal infusion of Arnica? Find it here.

Arnica montana, also known as wolf’s bane, leopard’s bane, mountain tobacco and mountain arnica, is a moderately toxic European flowering plant in the sunflower family. Arnica grows mainly in Siberia and central Europe, as well as temperate climates in North America. Arnica is an alpine plant, grow­ing in nutrient-poor soil. It can potentially reach a height of up to 60cm, but this is unusual given the harsh conditions at high altitudes. It grows in meadows up to 3,000 metres above sea level, where it is exposed to strong sunlight. The higher the altitude, the more aro­matic the plant will become.

The plants are rich in inulin, a com­pound between sugar and starch that the plants store in their underground organs as a source of energy. It is used as a natural sweetener for diabetics. The Compositae contain selenium and arnica ash is rich in manganese. Both selenium and manganese are powerful antioxidants in the human body and in addition manganese is an essential element needed for healthy bones, wound healing, and the metabolism of proteins, cholesterol and carbohydrates. It may well be that it is this rich source of manganese that facilitates healing, acting in combination with the other plant chemicals. Manganese levels affect the levels of iron, magnesium and calcium in the body.

Generations of Swiss mountain guides chewed arnica leaves to prevent fatigue induced by climbing. The dried leaves were used as a substitute for tobacco, hence its common name of mountain tobacco. The dried flowers promote sneezing, so it was also known as snuff plant. Fall kraut, fall herb and wound herb, other eponyms, demonstrate the age-old use for the effects of trauma.

The flowers are used as a compress for sprains and bruises. Herbally, the plant has been used for traumatic injuries involving bruising, and as a cardiac tonic for weak and weary hearts. It is also used homeopathically to reduce emotional and physical trauma, support the heart, and for weakness and weariness in the elderly.

Arnica is also used to stimulate the kidneys but can be quite toxic in herbal solutions. The ingestion of large quantities can cause irritation to the gut; a temporary stimulation is followed by a depression of the circulation, respiration and temperature. Violent headaches ensue, the pupils dilate and then muscular paralysis sets in. The whole nervous system is paralyzed and death results. Arnica should be used judiciously on the skin as it can cause nasty irritating rashes.

Mother Jai’s creates all-natural Arnica Oil in small batches in Arvada, Colorado. The herbal infusion is safe to use on the skin and works wonders on injuries and pain. When combined with St John’s Wort oil the benefits are doubled. Find it here.