Arnica has been used since the time of Shakespeare to soothe muscle aches, reduce inflammation, and heal wounds. Hildegard of Bingen, a keen observer of nature, actually wrote about the healing properties of Arnica in the 12th century long before Hamlet’s hesitations with his stepfather, Claudius. Applied to the skin as a cream, ointment, liniment, or salve it serves as an anti-inflammatory, pain reliever, and local antibiotic. It is most often used for sprains and bruises. Arnica is also good for swelling or muscle spasms due to sports activities and arthritis. As an herb, arnica is usually applied topically (on the skin). It is a very potent herb and must be used with carrier oil at a low dilution.
Arnica is a perennial that grows 1 to 2 feet tall with bright, yellow daisy-like flowers that appear in July and August. It is found on the hills and mountains of northern and central Europe and Siberia and in the northwestern United States. More common names for Arnica are Mountain daisy and Leopard’s bane.
Today Arnica has grown to be one of the most popular homeopathic medicines around the world. Along with what was noted earlier, Arnica is used to relieve stiffness from flying or long-distance driving, and playground bumps and bruises! It is toxic if it gets inside the body especially at full strength. It should not be applied to broken skin, an open wound, or taken orally except when diluted homeopathically.
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