The Arnica plant is a perennial, herbaceous plant grouped in the sunflower family. Arnica’s name may be derived from the Greek root -arni, “lamb”, — referring to it’s soft, hairy leaves. The more prevalent species of Arnica occurs mostly in the temperate regions of western North America. Arnica plants have deep-rooted stems that are typically not branched. They display velvety leaves on the upper portion of the stem that point towards the apex (top) of the stem. They also have oval, leathery basal leaves. Arnica plants have large yellow or orange flowers approximately 5-10 centimeters in width and 10–15 cm long ray. The phyllaries, a unique type of flower head, has long spreading hairs. The flowers have a light aromatic scent. Interestingly, the entire plant has a strong and distinct sage-like aroma, particularly when the leaves of mature plants are rubbed or bruised.
Arnica has been used for medicinal purposes since the 1500s and is still quite popular today. Applied to the skin as a cream, ointment, liniment, salve, or tincture, Arnica has been used to soothe muscle aches, reduce inflammation, and heal wounds. It is commonly used for injuries, such as sprains and bruises. Recent studies done on Arnica have shown it to be beneficial in aiding the healing of burns, as well. Arnica is usually used topically (on the skin) because it can cause serious side effects when taken by mouth. Oral homeopathic remedies do contain Arnica, but in a diluted form that is not considered dangerous. Arnica is available in topical creams and ointments. It is most commonly found as a tincture, which can also be used as the base for compresses and poultices. Arnica oil may also be used in topical preparations. A number of homeopathic remedies are available in pill, topical, or injectable forms, however these are not commonly used due to risk of overdose and dangerous side effects.
Magickally, Arnica is masculine and associated with the element Fire. Arnica is also associated with the Sun, the colors yellow, orange or gold. Arnica is linked to increasing psychic abilities and protection, including protection against spirits. Arnica is also used to ward off thunderstorms and for the fertility of crops. Wearing Arnica flowers will promote healing and balance. Arnica is also used in Shamanism and is placed at the four corners of crop fields to promote a fertile harvest.
Bring water and Arnica flowers and leaves to a boil. Allow to simmer for 5-10 minutes. When this has cooled sprinkle the liquid on doorways and windowsills to keep evil spirits and negative energy out.
Arnica Healing Salve
Ingredients: 1 tbsp. Arnica flowers, 2 oz. olive oil (or grapeseed, avocado, your choice), 1.5 tsp. beeswax, 2-4 drops of essential oil of your choice (optional).
Step 1: In a small saucepan over very low heat, mix the Arnica flowers and olive oil. Once it is warm, turn it off. Let this oil mixture sit for 1 – 2 hours.
Step 2: Strain the oil mixture through a piece of cloth (wash cloths work fine), reserving the oil and throwing out the flowers.
Step 3: Pour the oil into a clean, dry saucepan; first add your essential oil if you choose and then add the beeswax. Turn on low heat until the beeswax is melted.
Step 4: Pour the finished salve into 1 2-oz. tin or 2 1-oz. tins, depending on what you prefer. Rub onto tired, achy muscles; bruises, sprains or strains.
– Ruth David
Utopia’s Path Tea Shoppe & Apothecary