Arnica Oil: Benefits, Uses, Properties, and Side Effects

Be it a bruise, insect bite, or a bump, an herb like arnica is the perfect remedy. The arnica oil benefits are tremendous. In fact, it is one of the most well-known homeopathic remedies to overcome pain. Avid ardent

It serves as an incredible alternative to those conventional first aid kits, particularly if you are prone to sprains, bruises, or other exercise-related injuries.

Let’s comprehend about arnica essential oil in-depth.

What Is Arnica Oil?

Arnica is a perennial herb found in the temperate region of West- North America, North America, and arctic region (1). It is a member of the family Asteraceae. The common names of arnica are mountain tobacco, mountain arnica, leopard’s bane, and wolf’s bane (2).

The plant is 10-70 cm tall with simple leaves smoothly arranged in margin often featured with glandular hairs. Botanical name of arnica is Arnica montana L. It consists of large flower heads with yellow colored petals.

The flowers bloom in the autumn. Its roots and flowers are used medicinally. Roots of arnica are used in the form of herbal tea, against sore throat and in several cardiovascular diseases.

Its flowers are used for extracting oil. This oil has multiple medicinal properties and used as a renowned drug for hair problems.

what is arnica essential oil

Scientific Name Of Arnica Oil

The Botanical name of arnica is Arnica montana L.

Note: Pure arnica oil is not suggested for aromatherapy because it is highly potent and might be toxic.

History Of Arnica Oil

Arnica oil has a glorious history as a medicinal herb and has been used in the German folk medicine from the 16th century. Its use is also mentioned in some documents at the time of Shakespeare in Old Germany.

You will be interested in reading the fact that Shakespeare used to take roots of arnica in the form of herbal tea to control cholesterol levels, overcome heart problems, and heal wounds.

Though arnica is a well-known wound healing agent, it is important to use it with precaution. According to the German folk medicinal system, it shouldn’t be used directly on open wounds or ruptured skin, as it can cause toxicity at the site of application.

Earlier, arnica was found across different parts of Europe and were widely grown in the alpine meadows throughout Europe. They were also abundantly seen in major parts of America.

But due to wildcrafting, it is rare to see arnica these days. It is only cultivated commercially for its medicinal uses (3).

Color, Consistency, and Smell of Arnica Oil

  • The color of arnica oil is usually light or bright yellow.
  • The consistency of arnica oil is neither too thick nor too thin.
  • The smell of arnica oil is pungent and discreet.

Properties Of Arnica Essential Oil

Arnica oil is a renowned drug used form several years by Germans and entire Europe. Now, it is available throughout the world and cultivated commercially for its medicinal uses.

Arnica features several medicinal properties. It is highly helpful for bruises, sprains, swelling in the fracture, insect bites, muscular atrophy, rheumatic pain, spasms, and pulled muscles. A few of its vital medicinal properties include:

  • Antioxidant potential (5)
  • Wound healing (6)
  • Antibacterial property (7)
  • Antitumor (5)
  • Anti-inflammatory (8)
  • Hair tonic (9)
  • Anti-dandruff (10)
  • Abortifacient (10)
  • Immuno-modulatory (11)

Chemical Components Of Arnica Oil

The chemical components of arnica oil include p. caryophyllene, germacrene D, trans –a – ionone, and decanal (4).

Arnica flower contains 0.2% volatile oils and 16 different types of sesquiterpene lactones (5), short chain carbonic acid esters, flavonoids, carotenoids, phenolic acids, lignans, and oligosaccharides (6).

The primary benefits of arnica oil are specifically due to its high levels of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids such as linoleic acid, oleic acid, palmitic acid, thymohydroquinone, myristic acid, thymol, and other volatile compounds.

Arnica essential oil

Arnica Oil Benefits & Uses

Though there are multiple benefits of arnica oil, the most important ones are listed below:

1. Works as a Hair Tonic

Arnica oil is a rich source of vitamin E and other fatty acids. It is a well-established remedy to treat hair problems. It prevents hair loss by managing the antioxidant potential of the scalp.

Studies have shown that the terpenoids of arnica oil had a good effect on hair loss or alopecia (12). It reaches until the hair roots and nourishes them by increasing the blood flow in the veins connected to the hairs. This, in turn, prevents weak hairs and promotes new growth.

It is well known that dandruff is one of the key reasons for hair loss. Ever wondered what causes dandruff? Well, it’s the Microbacterium furfur. However, the rich antimicrobial properties in arnica oil not only eliminates fungal growth (Microbacterium furfur) but also prevents hair loss that has been caused from dandruff.

2. Helps the Cardiovascular System

Arnica oil is an abundant source of good fats or fatty acids. These good fats help in lowering the blood pressure and regulating the cholesterol levels in blood.

Besides this, even atherosclerosis (a condition where the arteries become hardened or narrowed due to the deposition of fatty materials on their inner walls) can be reduced with the help of arnica oil. This is because of the presence of linoleic acid and oleic acid in it.

With both these components, metabolism is regulated, inflammation is managed, and the risk of heart attack as well as stroke can be effectively avoided.

It also increases blood circulation by reducing coagulation in the cardiovascular system. Increased circulation of blood prevents clot formation. Hence, fresh blood can easily reach the tissues, preventing the chances of ischemia or stroke.

3. Boosts the Immune System

One of the best arnica oil benefits is its potential to boost immunity. Many researchers have published their work on the immunomodulatory property of arnica oil.

It can strengthen the immune system by enhancing the WBC (white blood corpuscles) count. WBC cells work as the first line of immunity in both animals and humans.

It also has potent antimicrobial activity. It prevents the growth of microbes that are harmful to the human body or are considered as disease-causing elements.

When any pathogen attacks the human body, as a response, the body generates an antibody against that pathogen and WBC cells start fighting from these foreign invaders. By nullifying the microbial growth, arnica oil can improve body immunity and strengthen the WBCs naturally (13).

4. Potent Antioxidants Relieves Stress

Arnica oil has sesquiterpenes, thymol, and few other antioxidants, which scavenge the free radicals generated inside the body. These free radicals are responsible for cell damage and killing a few bio-molecules such as enzymes.

The cell damage causes stress and is apparent that “stress” is the root cause for many diseases. However, by scavenging these free radicals, the possibilities of cancer can be prevented (14).

5. Keeps the Skin Radiant and Young

Arnica oil is a rich source of vitamin E and thus, making it highly beneficial for the skin. Its rich antioxidants reduce the wrinkles and other signs of aging. It also works effectively in treating hyperpigmentation and a condition like melasma.

Being a potent antioxidant, it scavenges the free radicals and prevents unwanted expansion of melanin. When applied topically, its anti-microbial properties control the microbial growth on the skin. It can be used against acne, psoriasis, and eczema.

On the other hand, its monounsaturated fatty acids like thymohydroquinone work as an anti-inflammatory agent.

6. Soothes Migraines

Arnica oil has potent properties and its active components make it highly effective in treating migraines. However, never inhale it in diffused form, as the strong scents might worsen it.

As said above, arnica oil is not advised for aromatherapy, as it is very potent. So, never try to diffuse it in your room. Just a drop of it on your temples is more than enough to get rid of those headaches.

Just take 1-2 drops of arnica oil and apply it topically on the neck to relax yourself from a bad migraine (15).

7. Works as an Analgesic

Arnica oil also works as an analgesic. Thymohydroquinone is a compound that works against inflammation by controlling the cytokines activity.

Moreover, it is very effective in rheumatoid arthritis. Whether you are applying topically or massaging it, it reduces the urea levels deposited in the joints. Thus, reducing the joint pains and other types of pains too.

8. Heals Bruises and Injuries

Whether it is an injury or a bruise, arnica oil does a great deed. It increases the blood circulation of the affected area and treats the strained muscles effectively.

Whenever there is a good blood flow, more WBCs reach to the injured part to fasten the healing process.

9. Clears Sore Throat

Arnica oil is used as an organic tea or herbal tea. In fact, its roots are often used as a remedy for sore throat and circulatory system. Just adding 2-3 drops of arnica oil in the tea can clear sore throat.

10. Heals Insect Bites

When applied on the bitten part, arnica oil abolishes the effect of insect’s poison. However, it is important not to apply it directly on open wounds. It has to be mixed with a carrier oil to decrease the inflammation and pain arrived due to the insect bite.

What Blends With Arnica Oil?

You can mix arnica oil with the following essential oils:

How To Use Arnica Oil?

how to use arnica oil safely

Arnica oil is very potent herbal oil with effective medicinal properties in it. Hence, it is important to consult a physician before using it.

  • For hair tonic: Mix a few drops of arnica essential oil with a carrier oil like coconut oil, almond oil, jojoba oil, or olive oil. Use this mixture to massage your scalp. Doing this regularly will reduce migraines, dandruff, and improve hair growth.
  • For acne: It can be used topically on acne and other skin problems, given that it is diluted first. It is safe to use it in homeopathic medicines and in the form of drug used available in marketed formulations.
  • For massage: To use it like a massage oil, 85% of almond oil is mixed to it. For muscle and joint gel menthol, minerals such as magnesium Mg, copper Co, and zinc Zn can be blended.  For skin masque, blend it with marigold, horse chestnut, and Ivy leaf.
  • For pain: To use arnica like a crème for pain and inflammation, mix it with cocoa butter, coconut oil, almond oil, or beeswax.

Note: Being an oil with extreme potency, it can’t be used in its raw form. It should be used by blending it with other components to decrease its potency.

Side Effects Of Arnica Oil

The possible side effects of arnica oil show include:

  • In pregnancy: Arnica oil is not good for pregnant women, as it can cause premature delivery and can increase the incidence of nausea and vomiting as well. It is also risky for lactating mothers. It can pass the toxins from mother to fetus through breastfeeding.
  • Hemorrhage: Pure arnica oil is very potent and can cause internal bleeding or hemorrhage. This internal bleeding can be lethal or death causing. Therefore, doctors do not recommend consuming this oil orally.
  • Upset stomach: Arnica oil is highly potent. So, it is important to consult a doctor before using it. It causes gastrointestinal problems if overdosed. It can cause vomiting, nausea, cramping pain, bloating, and diarrhea.
  • Harmful, when applied on open wounds:  Arnica oil is harmful if applied to open wounds. It has a toxic effect on open tissues. This can cause faster cell death or apoptosis and can increase inflammation of the wounded region.
  • Nervous problem: Do not use arnica oil if you have nervous issues. For patients, with a history of nervous problems such as epilepsy and seizer, using arnica oil can be highly dangerous.
  • Coronary artery diseases: Due to its potent properties, arnica can easily cause regularities in heart beats, resulting in unusual palpitations.

References:

  1. Altervista flora Italiana, Arnica, Arnica montana L.
  2. Hildegard.com/history of arnica.
  3. Ristic M, Djokic DK, Dragaja R, Markovic TL (2007). Essential oil of Arnica Montana L and Arnica chamissonis L. Heneifska Industrija. 61(5): 272-277.
  4. B Galambost, As- Sz Galambost, Svaboda KP and Deans SG (1998). Flower yield and antioxidant property of Arnica Montana grown in Finland. Dragen report. 19; 10-13.
  5. Kriplani P, Guarve K, Baghael US (2017). Arnica montana L a plant of healing: Review. Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology. 69; 925-945.
  6. Koo H, Gomes BPFA, Rosalen PL, Cury JA (2000). In vitro antimicrobial activity of propolis and Arnica Montana against oral pathogens. Archives of Oral Biology. 45(2): 141-8.
  7. Iannitti T, Medina JCM, Bellavite P, Rottgni V and Palmieri B (2014). Effectiveness and safety of Arnica Montana in post surgical setting, pain and inflammation. American J Therapeutics 0(0).
  8. Jellin JM, Gregory PJ, Hitchems K et al (2000). Pharmacist’s letter/ prescribers letter Natural Medicines comprehensive database. 4th Stokton, CA: therapeutics research faculty. 89-90.
  9. Natural medicine comprehensive database- professional. Therapeutic research faculty (2003). natural database.com/ monograph.asp; monad. 721 and hilite 1.
  10. Bhat RP (2018). A review on immunomodulatory effects of plants extracts. Virol Immunol J. 2(6): 000167.
  11. Henry G, Greenish A (1920). A text book of material medica, being an account of the more important crude drugs of vegetables and animals. J and A. Churchill publishers, 3rd
  12. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2006/401503/abs.
  13. http://wydawwictwo. Up.lipin.pl/acta/hortorum_ cultus/2011/3/02. Pdf
  14. https://www.science.com/science article/pii/S073510970501185X.
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