Arnica is a familiar name in the world of herbal remedies and homeopathic medicine. Commonly infused into gels, lotions, tinctures, or salves, arnica works to reduce bruising, swelling, or the pain of a recent injury. If you are unfamiliar with homeopathy, it is possible that you are unaware of the anti-inflammatory benefits of arnica. That is why we are here with this article.
What Is Homeopathy?
Based on law of similars (like cures like), homeopathy uses substances that may cause adverse symptoms in a healthy person to treat those symptoms in a sick person. The remedy used (let’s use arnica for the sake of this article) gets diluted in a tincture, ointment, or oil to create varying levels of potency. The more dilute the remedy, the greater the potency.
What Is Arnica?
Arnica is an indigenous plant to regions in Asia, Europe, and North America. The most common species is Arnica Montana and it goes by several names, including mountain arnica, mountain tobacco, wolf’s bane, and leopard’s bane. The blossoms resemble daises and traditional folk medicine used these flowers to remedy muscle aches and sore joints. While research is limited surrounding the treatment of medical conditions, anecdotal reports praise arnica’s healing properties.
Important Note: Arnica is for topical use only. Helenalin, which is the compound responsible for arnica’s anti-inflammatory properties, is toxic when you consume it. The reason it does not affect the skin is because homeopathic creams, ointments, or salves containing arnica are very diluted.
Health Benefits Of Arnica
If you knock your knee into a wall by accident, arnica cream may help reduce bruising and the pain associated with the trauma. You must apply the cream for several days to experience relief, though. Initially, studies did not find any conclusive evidence that arnica helped reduce bruising. More recent studies, however, found that arnica helped reduce postoperative bruising and swelling, especially for knee surgery patients. Another study found that it reduced bruising from rhinoplasty, and it brought swelling down after tonsillectomy.
Helps People With Osteoarthritis
Common treatment for osteoarthritis involves the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Homeopaths have prescribed arnica to osteoarthritis patients as an alternative remedy to NSAIDs. Researchers from Australia analyzed several studies about topical herbal remedies like arnica for osteoarthritis pain relief. Don’t you find it interesting that arnica gel worked as well, if not better, than ibuprofen at reducing joint pain in the hands of people with osteoarthritis? In contrast to the daily use of ibuprofen, there were minimal side effects of arnica gel. Finally, another study with 79 arthritis patients found that applying arnica gel to their knees twice daily reduced stiffness and increased mobility. Only one person in the study had an allergic reaction.
Reduces Muscle Pain
The studies surrounding arnica’s ability to reduce muscle pain primarily focus on people with myalgia or post-exertional myalgia. Many athletes use arnica-infused ointments or creams to reduce muscle soreness and accelerate recovery. A lot of sports supplements contain arnica for these reasons. One review of studies in the International Journal of Complementary and Alternative Medicine found topical arnica use to be more beneficial than the placebo. People who used arnica experienced great relief from muscle injury, while those who applied the placebo received no such benefits.
Arnica that is diluted in creams or ointments is considered safe for topical application, but people can have adverse reactions to it. The most common reaction is an allergic reaction to the plant, which can result in rash or irritated skin. The people who react to arnica commonly have an allergy to plants in the Asteraceae family, which includes daises, marigolds, and chrysanthemums. Do not ever ingest arnica and don’t purchase dried arnica flowers. Only purchase diluted arnica products to keep yourself healthy and safe.