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Sunday, August 1, 2010


I have some dried Arnica flowers in my herbal pantry I hadn't used until today. When I called my neighbor and heard he re-injured his shoulder and was in some pain, I decided to infuse the Arnica in oil to make an anti-inflammatory salve.

Arnica (Arnica montana)is an orange/yellow flower with hairy leaves belonging to the Asteracea family. Other members of the Asteracea family: chamomile, calendula, dandelion, sunflowers....and what do these flowers all have in common? Mostly yellow, disk flowers surrounded by "petals" or ray flowers. That's right! Even the "petals" we often admire in these flowers are each individual flowers capable of producing it's very own seed. Take the sunflower for example, the inner area is made up of many tiny disk flowers and the "petals" are each individual ray flowers. Fascinating...

Arnica has long fibrous hairs that appear fluffy once dried. These fibers are from the flower's hairy pappus or the modified version of this plant's sepals. (I'm smiling as I type "hairy pappus" since my herb teacher often giggled when she would teach us botany and touched on the flowers which demonstrated a hairy pappus. Doesn't it just sound so dirty!?).

Arnica is best used externally for topical use. I have read it can be quite toxic when used internally. It has been used for its anti-inflammatory and vulnerary actions. Topically, it has been used in the form of salves, rubbing oil, or liniments. People have come to rely on Arnica when they are hurting due to sprains or deep bruising; however, it should not be used if the skin is broken.

Arnica seems to work by stimulating and dilating the blood vessels near the surface, improving circulation to the injured area.

It's going to take me a couple weeks before I can make this salve. I sure hope my neighbor is better by then and doesn't need it. I still think it's good to have it around the house for those times I get bumps and bruises - not to mention when herbhusband does a number on himself when he's working around the house.

A bit of caution, Arnica can sometimes irritate the skin and if you are hurt you should seek medical assistance. This blog entry is not meant to diagnose, treat or subsitute professional medical advice.

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