Discovering Herbs: Arnica montana
The German scientist and writer, Goethe (1749-1832) claimed Arnica had saved his life. The history of this superb herb, Arnica montana, goes back centuries. Known also as Leopard’s Bane, it was discovered as a medicinal plant by Europeans in the 16th century.
Growing wild in alpine meadows, it once covered the regions of Europe and America with bright orange-yellow daisy like flowers. In the 1950s Swiss Naturopath Alfred Vogel wrote that, “Arnica may be found anywhere in Switzerland up to a height of 8,500 feet.” Perhaps this is how it became known as Mountain Tobacco. Now it is becoming so scarce in its wild form that it is protected in many parts of Europe.
Arnica is a perennial herb, which has a tall stem but very few leaves. The large flowers, most of which are bent back to some extent, bloom in the summer months of its second year. It is only the flower heads that are now used medicinally, and they are difficult to grow successfully, needing patient and careful cultivation in a specific type of soil.
Historically, Arnica was used both internally and externally. However, during the course of time, it has been used externally much more and today is only available internally as a homoeopathic remedy.
Applied externally, it is a very popular remedy for easing the pain and swelling of bruises as it is analgesic and has healing properties. But we now know that this amazing herb is beneficial for arthritic aches and pains and even for muscular aches and sprains. It has been clinically proven for its anti-inflammatory action on topical application.
In fact, one of the most recent clinical trials investigated how beneficial a gel made from fresh arnica tincture is for osteoarthritis of the knee. (Arnica Montana Gel in Osteoarthritis of the knee: An Open Multicentre Trial, Kneusel, Weber & Suter, 2002)
The trial lasted six weeks, and almost 90 percent of the patients improved. After the third week a significant reduction of pain and stiffness in the knee was reported. As so many people suffer from arthritis it is a blessing that this herb may help, and of course it can be used alongside glucosamine sulphate and Devil’s Claw internally.
So now there are even more reasons to store this treasure of a herb in your medicine chest.
If you are looking for a registered herbal remedy made from extracts of fresh Arnica heads, you may wish to consider Atrogel Arnica gel an easy-to-apply, non greasy gel.