rnica is a flowering perennial plant that mainly grows in Siberia and Europe, but may also be found in

some parts of North America. It belongs to the Compositae family, so it's closely re- lated to the common daisy and sunflower. The arnica plant usually thrives in places that are 3,000 feet above sea level, and reaches a height of 1 to 2 feet. It has round and hairy stems, bright green leaves and yellow-orange blossoms that look similar to daisies. Dried or fresh arnica flowers and roots

have been used for various medicinal ap- plications since the 1500s. Swiss mountain guides even chew its leaves to prevent fa- tigue while climbing. When dried, its leaves were also smoked for their thera- peutic effects, hence why they're called mountain tobacco. The primary active ingredient that

gives arnica its powerful medicinal proper- ties is sesquiterpene lactone — a chemical compound that's known for its anti-inflam- matory and analgesic effects. It's also rich

in thymol, flavonoids, inulin, carotenoids and tannins. It's important to keep in mind, though, that using pure arnica is generally discour- aged by health professionals and is also considered unsafe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) since it can be toxic in its pure form and may cause severe health complications. I advise you to use only heavily diluted forms of arnica for homeopathic remedy to enjoy its benefits without putting your health at risk.

Different Types of Arnica That You May Use

Arnica supplement is available in

tablet and pill forms, which contain very little amounts of arnica extract. It typically doesn't cause any side effects since it's highly diluted. However, you should still consult your doctor before taking this oral supplement to ensure that you don't go past the recommended dosage. Arnica herbal teas are also available, but before you drink one, make sure that

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its arnica content is within the safe range first. It's also not recommended to brew your own tea from fresh arnica, especially if you don't know how to dilute it. This herb comes in topical solutions as well. Some types of arnica that you can use for external application are:

• Arnica oil • Arnica gel • Arnica cream

Be sure not to apply arnica directly on

open wounds or broken skin to prevent irritation. I suggest that you do a skin patch test first to see if you'll have any adverse reaction to the topical form of this herb.

Common Uses of Arnica: Relieves Bruises, Swelling, Pain and More Different parts of the arnica plant have been used for centuries in medicinal preparations. This powerful herb is said to be helpful for the following applications:

• Easing muscle pain — Arnica is known as a natural pain reliever. In fact, it's one of my recommended holistic remedies for relieving body aches caused by trauma, surgery or inflammation. It's a safer alternative to over-the-counter non- steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and other pain medicines.

• Reducing swelling — Arnica is best known for its capability to help lessen swelling, especially those that are caused by sprain, fractures or insect bites.

•Promoting healing of bruises and wounds — Arnica helps speed up the healing process of bruises and wounds

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