Arnica Essential Oil
FamilY: Asteraceae (Compositae)
Synonyms: A. fulgens, A. sororia, leopard's bane, wolf's bane.
General Description: A perennial alpine herb with a creeping underground stem, giving rise to a rosette of pale oval leaves. The flowering erect stem is up to 60cms high, bearing a single, bright yellow, daisy-like flower. The whole plant is very difficult to cultivate.
Distribution: Native to Northern and Central Europe; also found growing wild in the USSR, Scandinavia and northern India. The oil is produced mainly in France, Belgium and Germany.
Other Species: A related plant, A. cordifolia, and other species of Arnica are used in America, where it is known as 'mountain tobacco'.
This herb stimulates the peripheral blood supply when applied externally, and is considered one of the best remedies for bruises and sprains. It helps relieve rheumatic pain and other painful or inflammatory skin conditions, so long as the skin is not broken! It is never used internally due to toxicity levels.
Actions: Anti-inflammatory, stimulant, vulnerary.
Extraction: Essential oil by steam distillation of 1.flowers, and 2. root. The yield of essential oil is small. An absolute, tincture and resinoid are also produced.
Characteristics: 1. A yellow-orange liquid with a greenish-blue hint and a strong bitter spicy scent reminiscent radish. 2. Dark yellow or butter-brown oil more viscous than the flower oil, with a strong bitter scent.
Thymohydroquinone dimethyl ether (80 per cent approx.), isobutyric ester or phlorol (20 per cent approx.) and other minor traces.
Safety Data: The essential oil is highly toxic and should never be used internally or on broken skin. However, the tincture or arnica ointment are valuable additions to the home medicine cabinet.
Aromatherapy/Home Use. None
The tincture is mainly employed in pharmaceutical skin products. The oil from the flowers finds occasional use in herbaceous type perfumes. It is also used to flavour certain liqueurs.
Reference: The Encyclopedia of Essential Oils: Julia Lawless
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