PART 2. THE HERBS
Plant some arnica in your garden and you’ll have this perennial for at least two springs. You’ll recognize this medicinal beauty because of its bright yellow, daisy-like appearance and round, hairy stems. Although its active ingredients are primarily known to be analgesic and anti-inflammatory, some herbalists use it as an antibiotic, particularly for topical skin conditions.
Did You Know?
Revered since the 1600s for its pain-relieving prowess, German philosopher Goethe is rumored to have smoked its leaves and drank its tea to relieve chest pain. Recently, numerous studies have concluded that the herb is effective for relieving muscle pain due to strenuous exercise. In fact, a 2003 study published in Homeopathy showed it worked better than a placebo for treating muscle soreness on runners who just completed a 26.2-mile marathon.
MEDICINAL: Reduces muscle and joint pain and related swelling; treats osteoarthritis, bruises, acne, sore throats, and insect bites; nourishes chapped lips; eases symptoms of stroke.
COSMETIC: Treats dandruff, nourishes hair, promotes hair growth, and sweetly scents cosmetics and fragrances.
•Drink as a highly diluted tea or tincture
•Use externally in gels, salves, ointments, oils, poultices, sprays, hair tonics, lip balms, and other topical preparations
Arnica is generally considered toxic in amounts greater than what you’d find in food or cosmetics. In fact, the amount you find in homeopathic or herbal remedies are generally so diluted they’re considered safe. Don’t use on broken skin, before or after surgery (it increases circulation), or if you have digestive conditions. It’s considered unsafe to inhale or use as aromatherapy.
Locating & Growing
Like many herbs, arnica is hardy and works well in nearly all temperate climates. A native of the mountainous European and Asian regions, you’ll likely find arnica in northern areas of the United States and at higher altitudes. In fact, it’s not unlikely to find it on your next hiking trip in the Rockies, as high as 8,000 feet according to some reports.