Arnica oil is made from the infusion of fresh or dried arnica flowers. The bright yellow flowers are picked in late summer and submerged in oil. The oil draws out the healing properties of the arnica flowers. Arnica oil is used for sports injuries, sore muscles, swelling, bruising and inflammation. Arnica oil can be infused at home or purchased at most heath food stores.
To make an arnica infused oil, it is best to pick the flowers on a clear warm day and dry them in the sun. This insures that moisture remains absent from the oil preparation. If water gets onto the oil it can cause the infusion to spoil. The arnica flowers should be fully submerged in oil. This will to prevent air contact from causing mold to form on the plant material. Commonly used base oils for arnica preparations include vegetable oil, jojoba oil, grape seed oil, and almond oil.
Sesquiterpene lactones, found in arnica preparations, inhibit inflammation and swelling by slowing the immune reaction. Often, when traumatic injury takes place, the immune system over reacts sending excess blood and fluids to the effected area. Using topical arnica oil can help to slow this response, decreasing pain and discoloration associated with bruising. The constituent in arnica include arnicin, an unstable volatile oil found in the flower head, phulin and tannin’s found the rhizome, as well as resin, flavonoids, mucilage, lactones, and polysaccharides.
Using arnica oil on the site of an injury stimulates the the area. Blood flows quickly to, and away from, the injury. This prevents build up of tissue, resulting is faster healing time. Arnica oil can be used on injuries to the soft tissue system such as bruises, sprains and inflammation due to impact or fracture. Arnica oil can also be used to help relieve pain and swelling associated with arthritis. Fine hairs form the arnica plant can cause irritation. For this reason, it is best used only on unbroken skin.
Arnica-infused oils can be used as a massage oil to stimulate the body and soothe muscle pain. Athletes often use arnica oil to sooth over used and strained muscles and to help prevent long-term tissue damage. A few drops of arnica oil can be diluted and used as a mouthwash to improve gum conditions and inflammation. It is important to note that arnica should not be used internally. You may rinse with it only if you spit it out. Arnica oil can also be diluted and used as a hair oil to stimulate the scalp and promote hair growth.
Arnica Oil is safe for adults and children when used topically on soft tissue injuries. Arnica should not be used on broken skin and rashes. Arnica is considered toxic, and it should not be used internally unless under the close observation of a physician. Consuming arnica internally can cause heart palpitations, dizziness, vomiting, and death. Some people can be allergic to arnica. If treating an injury with arnica oil causes a rash to occur, treatment should be discontinued.