Companion Botanical Closeup: Arnica
The third feature in our Companion Botanical series is Arnica montana. Arnica is a member of the Asteraceae family of plants, similar to Helichrysum and German Chamomile, and yet another herb formulated into our CVD 1:1 Salve and our Ceres Natural Remedies Hemp Infused Salve. This trio of asters (we like to refer to as the “three sisters”) form the foundation for anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects in our salve recipes. Arnica has long been a remedy for external, local healing, and a specific for treatment of sprains, bruises, arthritis affecting the hands and knees, and inflammatory skin conditions. The primary active ingredient is helenalin, a sesquiterpene lactone, that research has shown to be a powerful anti-inflammatory agent. It is also a toxin when consumed internally in certain amounts, so care must be taken to avoid use on broken skin to avoid introduction into the bloodstream. Since the late 1700s, Arnica montana, has been ingested in the form of homeopathic remedies, to treat inflammation, pain, shock, and upper respiratory conditions associated with colds and flus. Homeopathy is based on the idea that “like cures like,” wherein disease is addressed with a treatment of minute amounts of natural ingredients that would otherwise produce symptoms of disease in a healthy individual. We recommend that patients use homeopathic remedies under the guidance of their physician.
Important Note: Arnica montana is a woodland annual native to central Europe and the western United States. It is declining in the wild because of over-collection as a medicinal herb and has recently been put on the threatened species list with possible extinction on the horizon in some of its native terrain. While the majority of Arnica montana being used in commercial products is farmed, it is important for the long term survival of all plants that they be present, vital and resilient in their native landscapes. If you enjoy wildcrafting (harvesting) medicinal/nutritional plants in your community, please do so where it is legal and with a mind towards sustainability so that the plants that we depend on for health and wellness can survive for future generations.