Herbalism and Western Allopathic medicine may seem at times in odds with each other, but in fact they work extremely well together to increase the possibilities of healing. Most herbs do not interfere with the actions of drugs and can be used to enhance or support allopathic treatments. Our bodies recognize and utilize the medicine in plants simply because we have evolved together for millions of years.
Arnica is a perfect example of a natural remedy and gentile topical treatment to soothe muscles, reduce inflammation and heal wounds. Arnica (Arnica montana) is a perennial herb found in East Asia, Europe, the northern United States, and Canada and has been used for medicinal purposes since the 1500s.
Medicinal Uses and Indications
Arnica is used topically for a wide range of conditions, including:
- Skin disorders
- Sore muscles
“Rejuvenated in my recovery I praise this herb most highly, yet in truth it is nature who praises herself, she who is truly inexhaustible, who creates this flower with its healing powers, and in doing so once more proclaims herself to be eternally procreative.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, on Arnica after it relieved his severe chest pains (due to a heart condition which eventually took his life). Goethe credited Arnica with saving his life so that he could write the second volume of his autobiography.
In his book, Homeopathic Treatment of Sports Injuries, Dr. Lyle Morgan states: “Arnica should be considered first in all cases of physical injury.” He lists Arnica’s benefits throughout the book, including: “Arnica works quickly to repair damaged blood vessels, to reduce swelling at the site of the injury, and to eliminate pain.”
In his book, Musculoskeletal Healing, homeopath Asa Hershoff states:“Arnica is the most renowned trauma remedy, and is without equal as the primary remedy for injury of any kind whatsoever.”
Post fall older adult leg, all x rays were negative and RICE was the only treatment prescribed. This is prior to Arnica treatment.
Anyone working with older adults can confirm the devastating effects a simple fall with post bruising can cause for an older adult. They become non-ambulatory, often leading to staying in a wheelchair for safety and institutionalized. In searching for a remedy to prevent this decline, I discovered Arnica, and decided to make a salve of organic, chemical free Arnica for our older adult clients. Bruises (or what medical doctors call “contusions”) occur when you get injured and break tiny blood vessels in the skin. These blood vessels or “capillaries”, leak into the surrounding tissue and as red blood cells gather, you can see discoloration in the area. What starts off as a red-purple injury becomes green or yellow as the body works to heal the region and metabolize or gobble up the mass of escaped red blood cells.
2 weeks post Arnica treatment 2 times a day, within a month there was no signs of bruising or hard tissue
Despite all their falls, young children bruise less readily as they have resilient blood vessels that don’t break easily. Older people, especially those on certain medications, have delicate vessels; some find black and blue marks so frequently that they are forever wondering where the injuries come from and what it was they last bumped into. Medications that prevent blood clotting (like Coumadin) and prescription drugs that make blood vessels more fragile (like Prednisone) often contribute to the number of bruises one has. Frequently, the body will wall off the region instead of sending cells in to do the clean up work. When this occurs the blood pools and the area swells and becomes tender. If calcium is deposited, a bony condition called myositis ossificans can occur and the tissue becomes sensitive to touch and hard.The natural chemicals found in Arnica help to heal or prevent these unwanted complications. Flavonoids decrease the permeability of the blood vessels and polysaccharideas stimulate the process by which helper-cells clean the tissue of unwanted debris.
Even with the utmost caution, accidents will happen at home, on the field, in the gym, and in the workplace. However, with Arnica on hand and these tips in mind, you can speed the healing and prevent long-term disability that often accompanies bruises and physical trauma. So be sure to have a supply of Arnica in your kitchen cabinet, desk drawer, purse and gym bag. Then, you too will be able to experience the beneficial healing effects that Arnica has provided since mountain climbers discovered it centuries ago.
Organic Dried Arnica Montana
How I prepare Arnica – Pain Remedy From Nature
I purchase organic Arnica Montana, since it is native to the Mountains of Europe and Asia preferring higher elevations and not able to be grown in my backyard in Pittsburgh.
Organic Coconut oil for mixing
For mixing other remedies, I always have on hand Organic Coconut oil.
Heat the organic coconut oil to melt; I use a small electric fondue pot to make all my salve’s.
Add the Arnica Montana dried flowers and leave to cook for 48-72 hours. The Arnica flowers will diffuse into the coconut oil, changing it to a light brown color. The oil is a solvent for the medicinal properties of the herb and provides a healing, emollient base.
After 72 hours, I allow the Arnica infused oil to cool so that I can touch it. Then I use a cheesecloth draped over a pan to strain out the arnica infused coconut oil, squeezing the excess oil out and discarding the flowers into my compost heap.
I then place the arnica infused coconut oil back into the electric fondue pot and slowly add the organic Beeswax pellets which adds a soothing, protective quality and provides the firmness needed to form a salve. This is heated until the beeswax is completely melted. To check for proper consistency, I dip a spoon into the mixture and pull it out immediately to test the consistency. If it is too soft, I add more beeswax.
Once the consistency is just right, I allow the Arnica infused organic coconut oil mixed with the beeswax to cool for about 5 minutes. I then add 2 types of organic essential oils that also have anti inflammatory properties and blend them into the mixture. I then infuse each container with Reiki energy from the universe to offer additional healing properties. Next, I pour the mixture into 2 oz. and 4 oz. containers and place a lid on immediately. It will form into a salve consistency in less than 5 minutes. If placed in a cool environment (like air conditioning) the salve will form a harder consistency. Just remove some of of the salve and warm it in your hand to regain the salve consistency.
This organic Arnica is available for purchase at our office. The 2 oz. container is $10 and the 4 oz. is $15. Shipping and handling charges adds an additional $5 – $7.
This article was written by Barbara Kolonay RN BSN MS, Certified Care Manager, Certified Holistic Nurse, Certified Clinical Aromatherapist, Herbalist, Reiki, and owner of Holistic Aging where we recognize the importance of caring for the whole person, offering alternative and non-invasive methods to encourage natural healing. Our older adult and disability LIFE CARE MANAGEMENT division – Options For Elder Care – guides and offers solutions to families allowing their family member to age well.