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The arnica flower, also known as the Arnica montana, is a perennial plant that produces yellowish orange flowers that look similar to daisies. The flower portion of the plant is commonly dried and used for medicinal purposes to treat muscle sprains and aches, to treat bruises and to help reduce inflammation. The arnica flower has been used to treat and heal injuries and wounds since the 1500s.
Arnica products are often sold as topical creams, ointments or gels to be applied to the body externally. It's not recommended for a person to take arnica orally, because ingesting arnica is known to cause serious side effects, including dizziness, heart irregularities and vomiting. In some cases, it could even lead to death. If arnica is taken orally, the person should make sure that it is extremely diluted and that he or she is taking it under the supervision of a healthcare professional.
The arnica flower can be used to treat an insect bite because it can help relieve the itching that is associated with inflammation. A cream or ointment that contains arnica can also be rubbed on the leg muscles following strenuous exercise, to prevent and reduce stiffness. A diluted form of arnica can be used as a mouthwash to heal canker sores or inflamed gums caused by gingivitis or a tooth extraction.
It's not uncommon to dilute arnica oil in a foot bath to relieve and soothe sore feet. Homeopathic arnica is often used to treat motion sickness. It's also used sometimes following childbirth to reduce bleeding and help in postpartum recovery.
Prolonged exposure to arnica can cause several side effects, including blisters, eczema and peeling of the skin. It should not be applied to any cuts, wounds or places on the body where there is broken skin. A woman who is pregnant or breastfeeding should talk to a healthcare professional before using products that contain arnica.
Referred to as mountain tobacco or leopard's bane, arnica was once used to stimulate hair growth when rubbed on a bald spot, to soothe a sore throat and to improve circulation. It also has been used as a fever reducer and to help cure chronic sores and treat abscesses. When taken orally, arnica was often prescribed to treat cases of depression, anemia, diarrhea or pneumonia.
This plant is commonly found growing in the mountain regions of Europe and North America. The stem can grow as much as 2 feet (61 cm) tall and is round and hairy. Arnica leaves are round, bright green and slightly hair as well. The arnica flower is in the same family as the sunflower.
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