Scientific Name: Arnica montana
Arnica is a perennial plant that is native to the mountainous regions of Central Europe and Siberia. This plant is also cultivated in America. The name arnica is derived from arnakis which is the Greek meaning for lambskin. The leaves of arnica are described as lambskin. Montana means mountains and this is where the second part of the scientific name is derived from because this pant usually grows in the mountains.
According to folklore, arnica has been used for ages by both European and Native Americans to heal wounds, reduce inflammation and to soothe muscle pain. Arnica can not be made into an oil like almond or olive, so the only way to reap all the benefits of this plant is through maceration. Maceration is when you add the flowers to oil (usually a proportion of ten parts oil to one part blossom). The carrier oil is used to extract arnica's volatile oils (properties) by soaking plant parts in it for a specified time period. There are other methods of maceration but I choose to describe the simplest method.
Once the arnica plant has been fully infused or macerated it usually contains a host of therapeutic qualities. When applied in topical applications it has been used as a stimulant, improving elasticity of various tissue, treatment of bruises, contusions, sprains, strains, pain and swelling associated with rheumatism. It is also used greatly for sport massages for muscles and joints after strenuous activity because of its deep acting abilities.
I love to use arnica when performing custom blends. I sometimes use the macerated oil of arnica on its own or by blending it with other macerated oils such as calendula and st. johns wort. This blend of macerated oils is also known by the name of trauma oil. Arnica blended with the right blend of essential oils makes a powerful circulatory and pain blend.
Please note that excessive use of arnica can irritate the skin, resulting in eczema, peeling or other skin conditions.
Price, L., Price, S., (2008), Carrier Oils For Aromatherapy And Massage. 4th Edition Riverhead Publishing.