Not long ago I made a dandelion and arnica salve which I’ve been very happy with. I had extra that I will not likely be able to use myself, so I am offering a few tins over at the Worts & All etsy shop. Etsy’s rules won’t allow sellers to discuss the medicinal virtues of herbs, so this seemed like a good place to do so.
Also it seemed like a good place to sing the praises of dandelion and arnica generally.
Why dandelion & arnica?
I’ve discussed dandelion before as a liver and gallbladder support, but I wanted to experiment with using dandelion topically. I had long heard that dandelion had pain relieving properties and that dandelion-infused oil was great for massages. When spring rolled around I had lots of dandelions available (not as many as I’d like though), and decided to try it out for myself; but I thought an oil could get sort of messy, especially if I were trying to apply it to myself, since I’m exceptionally clumsy even when my hands aren’t all slippery.
Actually I love salves, because they are easy to make, easy to store, easy to apply, and last a long time.
As I worked with the dandelions–harvesting them, cleaning them, adding them to the oil, meditating on their growth habits, and admiring the gorgeous yellow color as it developed–I came to understand the way they work on a spiritual/emotional level. Just looking at them is delightful. At this point it occurred to me that arnica would be a natural partner for dandelion. I had already used arnica for a long time for bumps, bruises, and strains–it reduces the pain and speeds healing–and I figured that adding it would make the salve more multi-purpose. Finally, both plants are members of the Asteraceae (daisy, sunflower) family, which gave me further reason to believe this would be the case. By the way, I’m not alleging I’m the first person to come up with this idea; just that I came up with it independently based on what the dandelions themselves taught me. I will focus more on dandelion since it is the dominant ingredient in the salve, with arnica providing a supporting harmony.
How the salve works
As I use this salve, I continue to learn more about these plants. First, I found that when I use it on sore, tense muscles, the pain relief is immediate. In and of itself, the pain relief doesn’t last long–however, what dandelion does is to help the muscles relax and release their knots. And that, of course, relieves the pain. Although dandelion is considered a “temperate” herb, meaning it is neither warming nor cooling, I find that the salve has the same effect as the application of heat in unwinding tight muscles. It has been particularly nice during this hot summer not to have to apply heat.
Second, I found that the relaxation of physical tension extended to mental and emotional tension. So I often end up using the salve before bed, when any mental tension I’m experiencing would otherwise tend to get loud and persistent.
Third, since minor traumas of the sort that cause bruises and strains also can cause us to tense up, either in direct response to pain or in compensation for favoring the painful spot, dandelion’s relaxing effect complements arnica’s bruise-healing abilities.
Do you need dandelion and arnica?
There are lots of products for sore muscles, e.g., camphor, menthol, peppermint, cayenne, etc. How do you know which is right for you? One consideration is odor, of course–camphor, menthol, and peppermint are very strongly scented, which may or may not appeal to you. These scents can be aromatherapeutic in certain cases but at other times you may not want to overwhelm everyone else in the elevator.
But as is so often the case, psychological traits often clinch the diagnosis. The person who would benefit from dandelion (or a “dandelion person” for short) is someone who is likely to have a lot of mental, emotional, and physical tension which often results from scattered energies (too many irons in the fire), overwork, and/or ego expression problems resulting in anger and resentment (which, remember, are associated with the liver and gallbladder).
If tension is accompanied by strained muscles, the dandelion-arnica partnership is definitely going to be useful for you.
Dandelion for the breasts
When you break the stem, dandelion oozes a milky-looking white sap. Plants with white sap are often galactagogues (they stimulate lactation) and are felt to have an affinity with the breasts even for non-lactating women. Susun Weed recommends dandelion infused oil for breast massage, and Lucinda Warner at Whispering Earth says that “the greens were used in the past as a poultice for swollen breasts and breast cancers.” Dandelion-arnica salve can therefore also be used to soothe sore breasts.
What’s your story?
I have had great results with my dandelion and arnica salve, but dandelions are widely available and as I mentioned, salves and infused oil are easy for anyone to make. I’d love to hear your experiences with dandelion and/or arnica as topical remedies! Have you ever tried the two herbs together?