Arnica Benefits Prove to Help Arthritis and More
Arnica benefits made a big difference for Lin. He was able to take up exercise again after applying Arnica montana gel to his aching knees.
Lin preferred natural pain relief methods as he was well aware of the dangerous side effects of drugs like ibuprofen and Tylenol. Besides, taking these drugs upset his stomach.
He turned to arnica after trying other topical pain relief preparations like camphor and menthol based creams (Bengay and Tiger Balm) as well various pepper and aspirin-based creams. He said, “ I couldn’t stand their stink or they burned my skin or just plain didn’t work.”
Arnica Benefits : What is Arnica?
Arnica is a plant genus of about 30 perennials belonging to the Asteraceae, commonly referred to as the aster, daisy, or sunflower family.
One of its species, Arnica montana, has been used as a natural healing herb for centuries. Montana refers to this daisy-like species growing habitat in the mountainous regions of the northern hemisphere, primarily Europe.
Arnica has been used to help the healing of many conditions:
- Pain and Swelling
- Varicose Veins
- Phlebitis (Vein Inflammation)
- Insect Bites
What Do Studies Say About Arnica Benefits?
Antimicrobial that Fights Infection and Inflammation
A study reported in Plant Cell Reports found that Arnica montana roots contain five known thymol derivatives.
Thymol has been proven to have a range of antimicrobial effects inducing antibiotic susceptibility in drug-resistant pathogens (germs) to powerful antioxidant properties.
Pain Killer That Works As Well As Ibuprofen
A study of 204 patients with finger osteoarthritis compared the use of ibuprofen and arnica gel for effectiveness in pain relief and hand function. It found that arnica worked as well as ibuprofen and with less side effects.
A Swiss study investigated the safety and effectiveness of Arnica montana gel in treating 79 patients with osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee. Study authors reported:
Sixty-nine patients (87%) rated the tolerability of the gel as "good" or "fairly good," and 76% would use it again. Topical application of Arnica montana gel for 6 weeks was a safe, well-tolerated, and effective treatment of mild to moderate OA of the knee.
Safety and Precautions
Arnica is generally safe when used on skin, although it should not be used near the eyes, on wounds, or broken skin. Some are sensitive to arnica and should stop using it if a rash or other allergic symptoms occur.
Long term use may cause eczema, peeling, blisters, or other skin conditions.
Only homeopathic arnica should be taken by mouth unless under a doctor’s supervision. Homeopathic doses are so diluted that there is almost no detectable amount of arnica in them. They are considered safe for internal use when taken according to label directions.
Forms other than homeopathic are rarely used as arnica taken internally can cause dizziness, tremors, skin conditions, vomiting, and irritate mucous membranes. Large doses can even be fatal, report experts at the University of Maryland.
Check with you doctor before using arnica if pregnant or breast feeding.
Arnica montana comes in tincture form and homeopathic preparations: ointments, creams, salves, gels, pills, and injectable solutions. Follow the product label or your health provider’s directions when using it.
Andrew Weil, MD, offers this example on how to use the tincture form in making an arnica compress:
Mix 1 tablespoon of arnica tincture in 1 pint of purified water. Dip a gauze pad in the mixture, then put it on the arthritic joint or bruised area.
Arnica Benefits Key Points
Arnica is a plant genus of about 30 perennials belonging to the Asteraceae family. One of its species, Arnica montana, has been used as a herb to promote natural healing for centuries.
Studies now confirm arnica benefits in helping treat arthritis, pain, infection and inflammation. Follow these precautions as arnica may cause serious reactions when used improperly.
Sources and Resources
Ehrlich, S., University of Maryland, Complementary Medicine, “Arnica,” http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/arnica-000222.htm.
knuesel, O., et.al., “Arnica montana gel in osteoarthritis of the knee: an open, multicenter clinical trial,” Advances in Therapy 19, no. 5 (2002): 209-18.
Weil, Herbs, “Arnica,” http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/REM00027/Arnica-Dr-Weil-Herbal-Remedies.html.
Weremczuk-Jezyna, et. al., “Thymol derivatives from hairy roots of Arnica montana,” Plant Cell Reports 25, no.9 (2006): 993-996.
Widrig, R., et. al, “Choosing between NSAID and arnica for topical treatment of hand osteoarthritis in a randomised, double-blind study,” Rheumatology International 27, no. 6 (2007): 585-91.
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