Arnica montana, also known as A. Montana, is the scientific name for 'wolf's bane'. This mostly wild-flowering plant is also known by various other names such as leopard's bane, mountain tobacco, and mountain arnica. It is native to the Northern and parts of North eastern Europe and can be found thriving abundantly in the regions of Southern Iberia, Southern Scandinavia, and the mountainous Carpathian locales. Arnica montana and its extracts are well-known ingredients of herbal and homeopathic medicines for relieving pain and arresting inflammation. The herbal pills are commercially available these days and their benefits, toxicity, dosage, and side effects are discussed in the subsequent paragraphs.
The herb contains flavonoids and sesquiterpene lactones like helenalin, making it an excellent remedy to relieve pain and inflammation. The pills are often used by professional athletes to arrest muscular pain brought on by sprains, strains, and sports injuries. The thymol derivatives found in the roots, as shown by studies, are excellent vasodilators which act by widening the subcutaneous capillaries to facilitate smooth blood circulation in the affected area.
The scope of Arnica's benefits are as follows:
- The pills are known to be effective oral medications for relieving muscular pains and decreasing recovery time. Arnica oil, Arnica gel, and Arnica cream provide fast relief to local pain and swelling due to sprains and muscular strains.
- The extracts are also known to provide relief from swellings, rashes, and bumps caused by insect bites.
- The anti-bacterial properties of the herb are harnessed in the form of Arnica tablets to treat bacterial infections.
- Appropriate dosage during pregnancy and labor is known to ease the labor pain leading to a more comfortable delivery.
- Many homeopathic preparations for skin conditions include Arnica montana extracts to treat scars and damaged skin tissues.
Arnica montana is a pretty potent herb and the helenalin content can act as a toxin in the body if not taken in correct dosage. If the pills are ingested without proper supervision and in high doses, then it may lead to adverse biological symptoms like gastroenteritis. The following list includes various Arnica side effects and adverse reactions that can be seen on toxic contact with the plant or its extracts:
- Skin irritations and skin rashes, sometimes eczema, if topical application is continued for long periods
- Stomach ulcer and mouth ulcers
- Miscarriages (due to its uterus stimulating properties) and pregnancy complications may occur if not taken under medical supervision.
- Nausea, vomiting, and loose motions
- Bleeding of the digestive tract
- Vital organ damage owing to long-term use
- Arnica can worsen the condition of diabetic patients and those on anticoagulant medications by increasing the bleeding
Thus, this potent herb should not be used for medicinal purposes unless prescribed by a registered medical practitioner or under strict medical supervision. Popping in an Arnica pill every time you stretch a muscle or twist an ankle may prove more harmful if consumed in a fit of self medication.
Disclaimer: This HolisticZine article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.