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There is a subtle but important difference between I’d love a day at the spa and I desperately need a spa day. The latter is your body’s way of telling you enough is enough: “Let’s massage this out, shall we?”
At Sunstone Spa at Agua Caliente Casino Rancho Mirage, arnica — a small but mighty flowering plant — comes to the rescue of aching guests. Whether suffering from muscle and joint pain, inflammation, a sports injury, or ongoing strain, this trending ingredient asserts a natural healer with an ability to boost the effectiveness of your selected treatment’s services. The nagging discomforts that can trigger a spa date are the very tensions that arnica targets.
A perennial herb belonging to the same family as asters and sunflowers, arnica is rooted in the folk remedies of Germany and grows wild across the highlands of Europe. The essential oil yielded from the flower has supported medicinal purposes — from treating bruises, wounds, and sprains to easing arthritis pain and swelling — dating back to the 1500s.
Sprightly in its summer bloom, arnica is sometimes called “the mountain daisy.” Its blossoms brighten the high alpine meadows, where thousands of yellow petals and domed golden centers sway in the breeze.
“Arnica montana is the one we use,” Spa Director Daniel Spencer says of the variety most lauded for its anti-inflammatory nature. “When arnica works in combination with different oils, we see compounded benefits. Oil blends reach deeper into the tissue to provide better results.”
Sunstone Spa at Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa Rancho Mirage.
PHOTO COURTESY AGUA CALIENTE BAND OF CAHULLIA INDIANS
Therapies at Sunstone Spa amplify arnica’s healing properties by partnering it with other essential oils known to ease inflammation and relax muscles, such as lavender, peppermint, clove, and sage. Together they untangle the knots to help you move free and easy again.
Book the Therapeutic Arnica massage to let every ounce of your being feel what all the fuss is about. Every massage incorporates layers of therapeutic elements. Stress dissipates as you sink into the cushioned, infrared-heated table where a warm gemstone pad cradles your back. A pre-massage foot exfoliation ritual sends a gentle signal: It’s time to unwind. Your skilled therapist customizes the amount of pressure to your preference, ready to soothe any areas that need special focus. Then, with your permission, this treatment goes deep, loosening problematic tightness and aches where they originate.
“When arnica works in combination with different oils, we see compounded benefits. Oil blends reach deeper into the tissue to provide better results.”
Arnica oil pairs with sage and lavender in a calming blend that quiets the mind while decreasing inflammation. This rubdown further promotes well-being by employing heated, oiled unakite and magnesite gemstones and tapping into key pressure points for complete muscle therapy.
Even those who may struggle to relax during a massage find they release their stubborn tension and melt into the warm comfort of the experience as the arnica oil blend absorbs into the skin and tends to their aches and pains. Gentlemen might opt for The Peaceful Warrior, an arnica oil-blended massage tailored for overextended athletes seeking targeted recovery.
Arnica finds its luxuriously soft side in the menu of Gemstone Polishes. These proprietary scrubs — delightfully scented in a detoxifying and mineralizing mix of ancient salts, gem powder, and clay — buff your skin into a state of renewal. After a hydrating massage, your spirit sighs and your skin glows. Choose the Healing Polish to enjoy arnica’s finesse for joint, muscle, and tissue restoration or the Strength Polish for reparative “cold heat.” Here, arnica plays into a potent mingling of peppermint, cajeput, sweet marjoram, vetiver, sandalwood, clove bud, and menthol to improve flexibility and energize creative expression.
Also called the “mountain daisy,” arnica works in tandem with essential oils.
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Regardless of the services you choose, if you have an especially sore neck, for example, or a kink in your back, Spencer says your therapist might use a hemp oil blended with arnica and menthol as a spot antidote. Someone who has been pushing themselves physically, makes chronic repetitive movements like lifting heavy objects or even sitting at a desk all day, or who has endured a traumatic event like whiplash in a car accident, is a candidate for the natural relief arnica has provided for centuries.
Arnica’s effect carries over after you float from the table to sample each of Sunstone’s amenities. A spa-quality arnica cream or gel may help continue the pain alleviation at home.
Whether you’d love a spa day or irrefutably need one, a treatment that showcases arnica is a treat that keeps on giving.
This story originally appeared in Me Yah Whae: The Magazine of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, Fall/Winter 2023.