Perhaps the benefits in the use of natural therapies , is more supported by the use and custom of man through the centuries, than what is presented by scientific evidence.
This is the case of the arnica montana plant , whose contributions to medicinal therapy have not been fully investigated by science. But this has not prevented natural medicine from widely recommending it to solve some human health problems.
In the following article, we present the benefits of this plant and explain how it contributes to improving both the quality of life of human beings and public health in general.
What is arnica?
This plant comes from the Pyrenean slope , in the north of Portugal and Italy , in Croatia and in Moldavia . The first documents show that the arnica montana L. They date back to the Middle Ages.
The exact etymology and meaning of the Latin name is not known, and has been the subject of much speculation. The name “armich” appears for the first time in the 14th century in the Matthiolus.
The name is presumably of French origin and means “to protect oneself” ( hamais ). It is also known as poor man’s quina , grass of the falls, German doronicus and tobacco from the mountains .
Note: The chemical composition of arnica is quite complex and there seems to be very interesting synergy between its different components such as flavonoids, sesquiterpene lactones , where helenalin stands out, pentacyclic triterpenes derived from taraxastane, essential oil, carotenes, among others. (1)
If ingested internally, Hellenaline toxin causes severe gastroenteritis, and internal bleeding in the digestive tract if enough is ingested.
The properties described below are based on its chemical components and the phytotherapeutic use of the plant:
Thanks to the anti- inflammatory activity of the extracts of this plant, as well as the sesquiterpene lactones that compose them, the mechanism of action of the anti-inflammatory activity of the arnica flower is related to the inhibition of the activation of two transcription factors and therefore with decreased cytokine production .
Perhaps other components such as flavonoids or phenolic acids contribute to the anti-inflammatory effect .
Fun fact: An article titled “Efficacy and safety of Arnica montana in post-surgical settings , pain and inflammation” (2) , states that arnica may represent a valid alternative to anti-inflammatory drugs.
Sesquiterpene lactones , such as helenalin, help relieve pain caused by blows, sprains, bruises and other injuries of musculoskeletal origin, especially in athletes.
In a review article of the Cuban Magazine of Medicinal Plants , it is concluded that this natural product can be used safely and effectively in the treatment of pain. (3)
It is also used in postoperative pain , in dental surgical procedures, to calm pain. This is reflected in an article on “Arnica montana in the treatment of pain after odontectomy of impacted third molars” . (4)
Additionally, arnica montana interacts with other medications such as anticoagulant drugs, which enhance its anti-inflammatory and analgesic effect.
The arnica montana plant, due to its high content of helenalin and 11α,13-dihydrohelenalin , can restrict the activity of germs in vitro against bacteria such as arthrobacter citreus, bacillus brevis, bacillus subtilis, corynebacteriuma insidiosum , among others.
It can also act as an oral-pharyngeal antiseptic in cases of stomatitis, tonsillitis and pharyngitis.
Important: In an investigation entitled “Antibacterial activity of extracts of medicinal plants against periodontopathic bacteria” (5) , the use of alcoholic extracts of H. virginiana, arnica montana and arnica officinalis is recommended for topical medications in periodontal prophylactics.
In skin irritations , insect bites, hives, minor burns, itching, and to treat acne and itching, arnica remedies are generally effective.
Despite the lack of scientific evidence, complementary medicine, through repeated use in various therapeutic uses for everyday diseases and symptoms, has recommended the use of the arnica plant in the treatment of allergic skin reactions, such as atopic dermatitis . , when it comes from an allergic reaction.
Note: Arnica is also recommended to treat allergic reactions such as redness of the skin, caused by insect bites. This is probably due to its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effects of its components.
Trauma to the body and joint pathologies cause psychological disorders such as depression in the individual, due to the pain experienced. Thanks to its analgesic effect on trauma and joint pain, it causes a relaxing and calming psychological effect on the individual.
Note: There is no scientific evidence of the direct action of the arnica plant or its components as a sedative, however, complementary medicine includes it as an additional effect.
Health benefits of arnica
The benefits shown by scientific research have been limited, due to the few studies carried out on this plant. However, natural medicine has given more contributions to the quality of life of patients. Here we list the most relevant:
Reduces joint pain
Both scientific and natural medicine have certified the anti- inflammatory properties of arnica. This plant has in its flowers, a component called helenin , directly responsible for the anti-inflammatory property of arnica. The reduction of the inflammatory process affects the reduction of joint pain.
Important: In an investigation, it was shown that the use of arnica gel is as effective as the effect caused by other anti-inflammatories. (6)
Reduces muscle pain
Arnica oil , due to its anti-inflammatory and analgesic effect due to the components of its flowers such as flavonoids (astragalosides, quercetol, glucogalacturonide and isoquercitrocid), sesquiterpene lactones (in which helenalin stands out) and others, is widely used to relieve pain. muscle pain caused by trauma or associated with osteoarthritis .
The components of arnica have a rubefacient effect , causing an increase in blood flow in the area where a bruise may be forming, or there is a bruise, locally raising the temperature and favoring blood circulation.
Promotes blood circulation
The rubefacient effect is caused by components of arnica , which cause irritation and reddening of the skin due to a local increase in blood flow. This effect relieves pain and inflammation in various musculoskeletal conditions.
Relieves oral conditions
A preparation of its leaves can be used as a mouthwash or gargle to relieve pain related to the throat such as pharyngitis or tonsillitis , since natural medicine has proven its effectiveness in fighting bacteria.
Note: Arnica is also used after dental surgery to relieve pain and inflammation.
Contributes to healing
One of the common uses of arnica montana is its ability to heal in cases of skin abrasions, unopened blisters, minor injuries, mouth sores, among others. In addition, its antiseptic effect contributes to healing.
Important: An article on “Arnica montana L., a relevant European medicinal plant” (7) , makes an exposition on the different aspects of this plant, including its astringent properties.
Soothes skin irritations
Thanks to its combined anti- inflammatory , analgesic, antibacterial and astringent effects, it helps in the treatment of skin conditions such as irritations, insect bites, hives, minor burns, among others.
Curious fact: An article entitled “Arnica and stinging nettle for treating burns – a self-experiment” (8), exposes the results of his research, concluding that Combudoron (a combined compound of arnica and nettle), seems to have positive effects on healing of grade 2 laser-induced burns.
improve chapped lips
Arnica components also have antioxidant properties that can neutralize free radicals and help prevent and correct the signs of aging on the skin.
In another study on “Phenolic characterization and antioxidant capacity of plants for medicinal use” , the antioxidant capacity of arnica is described. (9)
Despite the fact that to date there is no scientific evidence to support the use of arnica to treat dizziness and vertigo , natural medicine has indicated the use of arnica to reduce cholesterol , due to the antioxidant action of some of its components. .
As we know, one of the symptoms of dyslipidemia (10) is dizziness. Likewise, in those suffering from vertigo and dizziness due to an accident or trauma, complementary medicine advises the use of arnica montana in the form of an infusion.
Benefits hair care
The use of extract from the arnica plant stimulates the hair follicles, strengthening and rejuvenating the scalp and preventing premature hair loss. Natural medicine indicates that arnica extract can also be used to combat dandruff .
How to use arnica?
The forms of use of arnica montana are based on its external application. When internal consumption is required, a specialist should be consulted for dosage. Below we show you the two most common ways of use:
This infusion is indicated to be used externally, to treat some pathologies of the skin and in the oral cavity. This simple recipe can help you in various problems:
- arnica flowers
- Hot water
Preparation and use
- Place the arnica flowers in the boiling water
- Let stand for 10 minutes and then strain
- Dip a compress and apply it warm on the affected region.
Tip: This infusion is to be used in the case of bruises , bruises and bruises on the skin. It can also be used as a gargle in the case of throat conditions, but never ingested.
Another use of arnica montana is through ointments , used to treat blows, bruises, and bruises. It is also used to treat rheumatic conditions in the joints.
Note: Arnica works by dilating capillaries to increase blood flow to an injury. This brings healing hormones to the area and moves the stagnant blood that manifests in bruises. The result is decreased swelling and faster healing time.
Here is how to prepare this wonderful ointment:
- Arnica leaves and flowers
- Olive oil
- Bee wax
Preparation and use
- In a small saucepan over very low heat, combine the arnica flowers and leaves and the olive oil. When it starts to bubble, turn it off.
- Let the oil mixture sit for 1 to 2 hours.
- Strain the oil mixture and discard the flowers and leaves.
- Pour the oil into a clean, dry saucepan and add the beeswax. Bring the mixture to a simmer until the beeswax melts.
- Pour the finished balm into a jar and allow to cool to a creamy consistency.
- Arnica montana is a powerful pain reliever, anti- inflammatory .
- In specific cases it can be used as an antiseptic and antibacterial .
- Its use is external.
- Its internal consumption is not recommended, due to its strong side effects on the digestive system, especially if you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, if you consume too much arnica.
- Natural medicine widely recommends its use for various common pathologies.
- The use of easily accessible natural therapies results in a healthy community, with a better quality of life and good public health in the population.