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What are the Uses and Health Benefits of Leopard's Bane (Arnica montana)?

Arnica Montana

About Arnica Montana

Arnica montana is often called as Leopard's Bane. It is a perennial and aromatic herb that grows up to 1 to 2 feet in height. This herb grows mainly in Siberia, central Europe and North America but also cultivated and distributed in the Balkan peninsula, Hungary and Lithuania. Basically, this herb grows in moist soil and belongs to sunflower family. This herb is used as a medicine, a coloring agent in foods and even in cosmetics. Traditionally, this herb has been actively used as an ingredient in various puddings, beverages, dairy desserts, candies, etc. in Europe. It is a herb of choice in case of pain and used widely in the Homeopathic system of medicine. This herb is also known as Wolf's bane, Mountain tobacco and mountain arnica. The useful part is a flower which is yellow and hairy.

Classification

  • Kingdom - Plantae
  • Order - Asterales
  • Family - Asteraceae
  • Genus - Arnica
  • Species - A. montana

Useful Part

Flowers are the useful part of this herb which is used for the medicinal purpose. They can either be used as fresh or in dry form.

Chemical Composition

Helenalin and dihydrohelenalin are the active constituents of this herb. Other chemical constituents of this herb are - fatty acids, essential oils, thymol, pseudoguaia sesquiterpene lactones and flavanone glycosides, etc.

Properties of Arnica

This herb is quite bitter (Tikta) in taste, astringent (Kashaya) in nature and has a mild fragrance. It is beneficial to strengthen the immune system.

Pharmacological Uses

  • Anti-inflammatory - This herb has potential to reduce inflammation or swelling. Hence, it is quite useful in all inflammatory disorders.
  • Analgesic - It helps to reduce pain especially the pain related to musculoskeletal system.
  • Antiseptic - It has anti-bacterial property thus it is useful to treat ulcers and aids early healing.
  • Relieves stiffness - It has anti-spasmodic action on our body hence it is used topically to relieve stiffness and rigidity.

Therapeutic Uses of Arnica Montana

  • Bruises - A discoloration of the skin that happens due to rupturing of underlying blood vessels. Arnica can be applied locally on the skin over bruises. Therefore, arnica helps in bruises by healing the ruptured blood vessels and reabsorbing the blood.
  • Arthritis - As discussed earlier it has analgesic properties so it is beneficial to reduce pain in case of osteoarthritis. Even it is helpful in rheumatoid arthritis because of its anti-inflammatory property. It has the similar action and effectiveness as of ibuprofen.
  • Mouth problems - Any problem related to the oral cavity can be easily managed with the help of Arnica. It is widely used in conditions like - mouth ulcers, inflamed gums, pain in gums, bleeding gums, etc. It is also beneficial in issues that occur during the eruption of wisdom teeth because of its antiseptic quality. 
  • Muscle pain or Sprain - It is very effective in the case of myalgia, fibromyalgia, ankle sprain and sore muscle.  Hence, arnica has been used since decades to relieve pains.
  • Frozen shoulder - It is also beneficial to use topically for a gentle massage in case of a frozen shoulder. It relieves pain and stiffness.
  • Aids wound healing - It is useful in case of chronic wounds by helping them in easy and fast healing. Moreover, this herb is rich in magnesium, a micro-nutrient which is essential for early healing. Thus, in combination with other herbs this herb speeds up the wound healing.
  • Injuries - This herb helps to heal various soft tissue injuries like- ligament tears as well as in various sports injuries. Any hit or blows can be easily managed by this herb.
  • This herb is also used to improve circulation, treat sunburns and acne.

Modes of Use

This medicine can be used internally as well as externally for local application. However, arnica is available in various forms like- topical gels, ointments, tablets, etc. But practically it is a widely used medicine for external applications, to massage the area. This herb is also used in Aromatherapy as it has essential oils.

Some other uses - It is also used in the preparation of various cosmetics, shampoos, hair tonics, oils and even in perfumes.

Special Precaution

There are some side-effects of this herb. In some individuals it has developed cardiac problems, diarrhea and dysentery. Moreover this herb has interaction with anti-coagulant medicines. So, avoid it in bleeding disorders, gastrointestinal problems, cardiac disorders and also in pregnancy. Even arnica is considered poisonous and caused various deaths hence this herb is banned in various countries.

"Still various researches are going on this herb that it might be helpful in eye diseases, diabetes, cancer, etc."

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