sneezewort, wolf's bane, and the funny fruits of my family tree


I mentioned to my sibs that I was using arnica oil to help fade some bruises, and had an email exchange worth sharing:

From esteemed scientist Bro:
Since I work in a chemical biology department, let me me chime in for a second and remind everyone that just because something is "natural" doesn't mean that it's safe or without side-effects. A quick google search brought up these precautions for arnica:
Arnica is generally safe when used topically (externally). However, prolonged use may irritate the skin, causing eczema, peeling, blisters, or other skin conditions. Arnica should not be used on broken skin, such as leg ulcers. Also, people who are hypersensitive or allergic to the herb should avoid it.

Arnica is rarely used as an internal herbal remedy because it can cause dizziness, tremors, and heart irregularities. It may also irritate mucous membranes and cause vomiting. Large doses can even be fatal. Do not take arnica internally except under close supervision of your doctor. Homeopathic remedies, which use very small amounts of arnica, can usually be taken safely.

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, talk to your doctor before taking any medication, including herbs.

Then, later, from same Bro:

i saw that it has another name: mountain tobacco

so, by the WoW, tobacco can be used as "an herb for bruises and all sick cattle, to be used with judgement and skill." (italics added).

[Note: WoW=Word of Wisdom, is the Mormon health code. Not to be confused with World of Warcraft tobacco, which is not good for bruises]

From librarian Sis:

I just happen to be cataloging of handbook of natural herbs and supplements today, and I can tell you that Arnica also affectionately known as Leopard's bane, sneezewort, mountain snuff, and wolf's bane. I think Jana should tell people she rubs sneezewort on her leg. Sounds more Harry Potterish.
Also, be sure not to use any of the following to apply it, no matter how tempting it may be: celery, ginger, onion, licorice, wild carrots, or wild lettuce, as they may react with Arnica. Also, you shouldn't use Arnica if you are allergic the chrysanthemums (or if you have trouble spelling chrysanthemum).


Kristen said...

I'm curious, Jana, at your brother's mentioning the Mormon health code. Does he not accept that you've left the church? Does he still believe? I would think that being a scientist, he would have questioned the veracity of the religion (in light of the DNA of Native Americans showing a genetic link with Asians, etc.).

jana said...

I can't speak for my brother, but I didn't mind the LDS reference at all (I found it kinda amusing, actually)--because I study 19th century medical practices it's fascinating for me to see how different groups formed health codes based on their understandings of health/medicine at the time. Sometimes they got it 'right', and this may well be one of those situations (where tobacco is good for bruises but bad to chew/smoke).

John (with an h) said...

Mentioning an alternate name with contained the word tobacco stuck in my mind as well. I was think, wait, was he joking?