The other day, while perusing the teas at the market, I happened upon some Árnica tea. This intrigued me because I had only ever seen Árnica used in una pomada (ointment) for bruises and muscle pain. So off I went to do some investigation on the matter.
Árnica Mexicana’s botanical name is Heterotheca inuloides and should not be confused with arnica montana which grows in Europe. In fact, one of the names of Heterotheca inuloides is false arnica, as the “true” arnica is arnica montana. Árnica Mexicana is native to Mexico and has been used medicinally for centuries by the indigenous people. It is also known as Árnica del país and in Nahuatl, Tlalyetl.
Most commonly Árnica Mexicana is used to treat skin inflammations, rheumatism, muscular pain, menstrual cramps, and colic topically. However, it is also used for nervous disorders, dental issues, and gastrointestinal problems, hence the availability of the Árnica tea.
Scientific studies have shown that Heterotheca inuloides contains antioxidants, and functions well as anti-tumor compound. It has been shown to effectively treat giardiasis, a stomach infection caused by the parasite Giardia lamblia found in contaminated water. Yet another study has demonstrated the positive effects of Árnica Mexicana and rosemary water extract on the dopamine and serotonin levels in the brain.
Other studies have demonstrated its topical benefits. Used externally, it has mild antiseptic, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory effects. It is effective in the treatment of skin disorders caused by fungus and bacteria. It is an effective natural insecticide and weed killer as well.
You can find Pomada de Arnica at nearly every pharmacy in Mexico. However, if you’d like to make your own wash, tea, or tincture you can try one of these remedies.
For bruises add 10 to 15 branches with flowers and leaves to ½ liter of alcohol and allow it to steep for 15 days. Rub the resulting tincture on the affected area. Another remedy calls for 2.5 grams of flowers, roots, and leaves gathered from 20 branches and steeped again for 15 days.
As a hemorrhoid wash, boil 100 grams in two liters of water. A second remedy suggests 25 grams boiled in one liter of water.
For stomach ailments, drink 10-20 drops of essential oil in water three times a day. As a tea, take one tablespoon every two hours made from 2.5 grams of flowers boiled in ¼ liter of water. Or one cup drunk four times a day made from 8 grams of flowers and leaves boiled in one liter of water.
Because this little yellow flower is part of the Asteraceae family, those who are sensitive to ragweed and feverfew should not use arnica because it may trigger allergic reactions.
Internal use of arnica should be limited to a few days due to potential toxicity.
So, although I picked up a box of this Árnica tea at the market, after my investigations, I believe I’ll keep it for medicinal use rather than a regular breakfast beverage.
Interested in natural remedies? Uncover herbal remedies from traditional Mexican sources for healing and wellness in the Exploring Traditional Herbal Remedies in Mexico series.