Its botanical name is Arnica Montana; natural order, Asteraceae. It is a very common perennial plant in the Alpine parts of Germany, in Sweden, Lapland, and Switzerland, where it has long been medicinally used. The flowers are yellow, compound, consisting entirely of tubular florets and are distinguished from other similar flowers, (with which they are often mixed, from ignorance or fraud,) by the common calyx, which is shorter than the florets, and consists entirely of lancet- shaped scales, lying parallel and close to each other, of a green colour, with purple points. These flowers have a slightly bitter taste, combined with a degree of acrimony, and when rubbed with the fingers, have a somewhat aromatic smell. They contain a great deal of resin, and a portion of essential oil.
As a medicine, it has not been much used in England, although it has been employed with the greatest advantage in Germany. The plant possesses very great virtues. It is diuretic, diaphoretic, emmenagogue, and vulnerary. It is given in amaurosis, paralysis, and other nervous affections. It has been recommended for hydrocephalous, and typhous fevers, especially in the latter stages. Dose of the powdered flowers, 4 to 15 grains; powdered root, 10 to 30 grains; infusion, half an ounce; extract, 1 to 10 grains; tincture 20 or 30 drops; essential oil, 1 or 2 drops. "The flowers," says an eminent physician," are stimulating and discutient. In small doses, and properly administered, they produce very beneficial effects, in raising the pulse, in exciting the action of the whole sanguinerous system, in checking diarrheas, in promoting expectoration, and especially in removing paralytic affections of the voluntary muscles; but they are frequently attended with no sensible operation, except that in some cases of paralysis, the cure is said to be preceded by a peculiar prickling, and by shooting pains in the affected parts. When given improperly, or in over-doses, they excite an insupportable degree of anxiety, shooting and burning pains, and even dangerous hemorrhages, vomiting, vertigo, and coma. For these dangerous symptoms, vinegar is said to be the best remedy."
Haller says, " that even gutty serena, or loss of sight, has yielded to the powers of this medicine." It is also recommended in chronic rheumatism; in retention of the urine, from paralysis of the bladder; in intermittent fevers, when combined with Peruvian bark, where it has been very efficacious; in putrid diseases; to promote the uterine discharge: and in internal pains and congestions, from bruises.
"In the countries where the plants are indigenous, the flowers have long been a popular remedy in these cases. They are best given in infusion, one or two scruples may be infused with half a pound of water, and drank at proper intervals. The flowers should be wrapped up in a piece of linen, to prevent the diffusion of the down in the liquid, which would cause violent irritation of the throat.
Dr. Spencer Thompson says. "It is seldom prescribed internally in this country. But as an external application, it is much and beneficially used in the treatment of wounds and contusions. From 1 to 2 drachms of the tincture in half a pint of water forms a convenient lotion. The homoeopathic practitioners claim Arnica, or Leopard's Bane, as one of their own remedies, and chemists ask for their tincture an extravagant price. But the tincture may be procured equally good, and much cheaper, at many respectable chemists. Like every thing else, there is much spurious tincture sold. When the pure tincture is dropped into water, it gives a milky or opalescent appearance."
The Homoeopathists recommend it as possessing very great virtues, and that justly, in contusions, wounds, produced by falls, crushes, where the skin is lacerated and bruised; for bedsores, when the skin is not much broken; for pain in any part, produced by severe physical exertions, and in muscular weakness, sore or blistered feet, and hands. The body to be sponged with the aforesaid lotion as stated by Dr. S. Thompson.
"I have found it," says one, "of the greatest use in whitlows, or painful gatherings in the fingers, chilblains, where the skin is not broken, and black eyes, chapped hands and lips, in gouty pains. For this purpose the Cerate of Arnica is a good application. The lotion takes away the soreness and pain of any diseased part, and it is remarkably beneficial for sore gums, especially after the extraction of teeth, or the straining of any part by surgical operations.
The Monthly Homeopathic Review gives many instances of remarkable cures by Arnica, as cataract of the eyes, inflammation of the eyes, chronic rheumatism, fractures, and even blindness, etcetera. The application of Arnica in some cases was alternated with Aconite, an old- fashioned, but most valuable remedy. The lotion must be applied by saturating a piece of linen or cotton with it, and covering it with a bandage, repeating as the cloth dries. Some sores, or aching parts may be washed with the lotion. Should the skin be broken, the lotion should be reduced to half its strength.
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