Arnica is a popular macerated oil made from the Arnica montana plant. An “infusion” is when an oil is made by soaking or infusing portions of the plant in a base oil such as olive or sunflower oil to extract its medicinal properties. “Maceration” is the term used when heat is applied to the infusion process. Since one study shows that Arnica’s analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties are only seen when the flower is heated and steeped over period of time, it is best to use heat while making this oil. Instructions for making your own macerated oils are available in another ezine article titled: How to Make Your Own Macerated Oils for Skin Care.
Arnica is particularly noted for its effectiveness on bruises and on inflamed skin. As safety measures, it should not be taken internally, and it should not be used on broken skin. Otherwise, this oil is considered completely safe.
Arnica grows in the high mountain areas of Northern Europe. The flowering heads of the plant are used for a macerated oil. Tinctures made from this flower are very popular in Germany. Homeopathic preparations are made from the root.
In Germany there are over 100 recipes for healing liniments and ointments using Arnica as the base ingredient. A German study finds that the flower contains helenalin and dihydrohelenalin. These ingredients account for the effective anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties of Arnica.
Here is a recipe I like for making a healing ointment using Arnica oil:
- ¼ cup of Arnica (macerated oil),
- 1 tablespoon of natural beeswax, and
- 50-75 drops of essential oils recommended by your aromatherapist for your special needs (such as lavender, rosemary, juniper for muscle relaxation).
Combine in the top of a double boiler. Let cool after they have melted together. Pour into a clean glass jar. Cap tightly. Don’t forget to put on a label with the date and ingredients used. Use a little less beeswax for a softer ointment. I like to add helichrysum and cypress to make an ointment for contusions.Another way to use the oil is to add an ounce or so of the macerated oil to some Epsom salts and then put it in a warm bath. This is a wonderful way to relax muscles and give relief to rheumatic conditions.
The German Commission E Monographs recommends Arnica oil for external use in injuries in which the skin is not broken, such as bruises, rheumatic muscle and joint problems, contusions, hemorrhages and even bone fractures.
A registered aromatherapist, Judy has a special interest in using essential oils in health care and prevention. For information about Judy and for ways to obtain her favorite essential oils, visit her Web page at: http://home.comcast.net/~judy922/site/