Arnica montana *Nature’s pain reliever*

Nature’s Gift 

A pretty yellow perennial flower that grows 1-2 inches and is similar in shape to a daisy. This flower is often referred to as ‘nature’s pain reliever’. This gorgeous flower and its rhizomes are used medicinally often for the treatment of pain and other ailments. Arnica can be infused in oil and the oil is then used either as a stand-alone massage oil or it’s added to salves, creams or lotions to be applied on aches, bruises and sprains.

You might have heard of Arnica, maybe you’ve seen it included in topical pain-relief products at your local health food store. I love it for this reason.

The idea that a plant has medicinal & nutritive properties that can assist the human body still amazes me. I’m fairly new to herbalism. I’ve been studying on my own for the last 10 years and taking online classes for the last 5 years. I love using herbal remedies because I make them myself.

Nature is Fascinating

Nature has fascinated me my entire life. Even as a little girl, I loved watching things grow, but I didn’t know how these plants benefited the human body. Oh, I recall watching movies about people long ago who used herbs to heal, but I didn’t realize the modern-day application of these amazing living plants until 2011 when my daughter and youngest son were diagnosed with cancer two months apart. It was then I began to explore alternative medical treatments because I knew intuitively the standard of care in Western medicine wasn’t enough for the treatment of cancer and other disease.

When I began to use herbs and herbal tinctures in my daily life, I fell head-over-heals for these plant allies. That may sound strange to you, but I have come to think of plants as friends.

Here in Southern California, where I live, no matter where I go, I see my plant friends everywhere. I feel connected to them, part of the community.

I bet you feel connected to plants too. Maybe you don’t realize it yet, but you will.

Arnica isn’t an indigenous plant to Southern California, so I order it online, and have it delivered to my home where I can use it in my handcrafted herbal skincare products. I’m grateful for the many wonderful herbal companies that carefully select their growers to provide quality organic herbs to their customers.

I like to use dried herbs in my oil infusions anyway, so purchasing online works well when I don’t have the luxury of harvesting my own plants.

Oil infusions are easy and fun!

Touching, smelling and even tasting the dried herb help you connect with the plant. Sure, seeing the plant in a living state is truly the best way to become familiar with it, but this is a close second. Most dried herbs smell wonderful (think Basil or Lavender!!), and smelling herbs is one way to get to know them better.

When you infuse herbs in oil, they absorb the oil, and sometimes you can see as they re-hydrate how they might appear while still growing in the ground (sort of).

How to prepare an oil infusion

Place your dried herbs in a sanitized glass jar that has an air-tight lid. Fill the jar about 1/3 to ½ full. Pour your oil of choice over the herbs completely covering them and bring the oil up to about 1/4 inch from the top of the jar. Leaving that space at the top allows the matter in the jar to move freely when you gently shake it daily. But you don’t want to leave too much space because the air can cause the oil to go rancid. Icky!!

After adding the oil, use some type of sanitized stirring stick to thoroughly mix it. You want to be sure the herbs are fully saturated. Or you can simply shake the jar after screwing on the air-tight lid. Place your infused oil on the counter out of direct sunlight. Every day, gently shake it. As the herbs sit in the oil, the cell membranes break down and the constituents of the herbs are released into the oil. That’s where the magic happens.

At the end of one moon cycle (about 29 days), you can remove the herbs. I like to leave my herbs in the oil for 6 weeks, but even as little as two weeks can be enough. Note: there are other methods for infusing oils with herbs, I’ll talk about this in future blog post.

Now you’re ready to decant (remove the herbal matter from the oil). Get another sterile container, place a mesh strainer over the top and line with finely woven cheese cloth or muslin. Pour the oil into the strainer, and let it drain thoroughly. I like to let it sit for a few hours. Then, gather the cloth and give it a good squeeze. This way, you’ll get as much oil as possible. It’s important NOT to allow any herbal matter to remain in the oil, because over time it can become rancid.

Discard the herbs in your compost if you have one. Otherwise, discard them the same way you discard any fruit or vegetable in your kitchen.

Pour the oil into an air-tight sterile glass for storage. It’s preferable to store your oils in the fridge. It depends on the type of oil, of course, but most oils have a shelf life of 6 months to 1 year. Proper storage will prevent spoilage.

Be sure to label your jars with the type of herb, oil and date.

If you’re using the Arnica infused oil as a stand-alone product, i.e., massage oil, pour into the dispenser of your choice and leave the rest in the fridge. I’ll often use roller bottles, dropper bottles or pump bottles.

When you’re ready to make an herbal salve, cream or lotion, this wonderful healing oil is ready to be included. Have fun, experiment. And share your results here. I’d love to hear how it goes.

If you’d like to buy an Arnica oil infusion here, simply click.

Arnica montana… useful for the treatment of pain and bruising as a topical application.

You might enjoy this blog post about Oil Cleansing, too! And this about Cottonwood Oil.

Disclaimer: The information written in CRY Herbals’ emails, blog & website is for creative and educational purposes only. This information should not be used as a substitute for medical advice. All questions regarding any health condition should be addressed to your primary care physician or other healthcare provider. We are simply ordinary folk who love experimenting and working with natural herbal products to enhance and support the body in health and well-being. It is joy and honor to explore the historical and contemporary practices of herbalism for the purposes of education and personal fulfillment. ?


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