A guide on why you need it and when you should use it!
What is Arnica?
Arnica is basically a genus of perennial herbs that belongs to the sunflower family. The sub-alpine regions of Western North America and Arctic regions of Europe and Asia are the indigenous habitats of this herb. Among its several species, the notable Arnica Montana contains an anti-inflammatory compound that helps in relieving pain, aches, and bruises when used topically. Massage oils, creams, gel, and topical ointment are the most common forms of over-the-counter (OTC) medication Arnica is sold in as a result. It is, however, also available in other forms, for instance, an extract, oral supplement, aromatherapy oil, etc.
What are the Health Benefits?
Arnica is widely famous for its anti-inflammatory properties because of which it finds its most common usage in treating bruises. Research says that it’s popular among people who have recently undergone surgery, especially plastic surgery. A 2006 study found homeopathic arnica significantly boosted healing in rhytidectomy patients.
More often than not, research studies have provided mixed results regarding its efficacy. This is a result of the fact that the clinical trials evaluating the advantages of arnica have a poor design, are scarce, and draw wildly divergent conclusions. Regardless, Arnica has proved beneficial in the healing of several postoperative conditions. As a result, the earlier skepticism emanating from the medical community has now diluted to some extent, which is why, people have started to rely on arnica-based products for a variety of reasons. Let’s dig into them!
As mentioned earlier, arnica has a reputation for its anti-inflammatory properties. It combats inflammation through infusions with a range of plant compounds. These include sesquiterpene lactones, flavonoids, and phenolic acids. As a result, arnica assists with the management of one’s pain.
As one would argue that multiple studies have shown close to zero improvements during the usage of arnica, it is important to note that these mostly pertain to the ones conducted much earlier. Moreover, one cannot neglect the inherent flaws present in the modus operandi adopted while conducting these studies. We have had newer developments since then. For instance, a 2003 study showed that a dosage of 5 arnica pills significantly eased muscle soreness. Further, a review study conducted in 2014 established that application of topical arnica gel was as effective, as topical ibuprofen which is a common pain reliever, at mitigating osteoarthritis pain and improving physical function.
Bruising of Skin and Post-Surgical Pain
Before we delve into how Arnica can help with skin bruises, it’s equally important to know how bruising occurs. When tiny blood vessels burst because of some form of trauma such as hitting your skin against an object or because of surgery, your skin bruises. Historically speaking, arnica has proved to be a very efficient homeopathic remedy against bruises. Topical application or consumption after surgery may reduce bruising and swelling.
A 2016 study review called Arnica montana a good alternative to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in treating post-operative pain, Edema (swelling), and Ecchymosis (bruising). However, it was also clarified that the results may vary exponentially depending on formulation, dosage, and study.
Muscle Pain or Myalgia
One can get incur muscle pain because of an array of medical conditions. But the most common way is by simply overusing them.
Arnica has since been used in sports supplements for treating post-exertional myalgia. Albeit the usually mixed result reported by research reviewers, athletes have recorded their positive practical experience in treating traumatic tissue injury by the usage of homeopathic Arnica Montana.
Probable risks and side effects
Before choosing to use any OTC medication, it’s important to be aware of the risk concerns, which is why, we also strongly recommend consulting your general physician once, before arriving at a decision.
People with a pre-existing allergy to plants of the Asteraceae family such as marigolds, chrysanthemums, daisies, etc., can incur a mild allergic reaction to arnica. The usage of arnica can cause temporary increases in blood pressure and heart rate when used excessively or on broken skin. Faster absorption of active ingredients causes this as well as localized stinging.
Moreover, pregnant or breastfeeding women must consult a doctor before using arnica.
Homeopathic arnica is extremely diluted and hence, mostly considered safe. However, the ones that have detectable amounts of helenalin may pose health risks. Arnica, when taken by mouth, can cause mouth and throat irritation, stomach pain, diarrhea, vomiting, shortness of breath, easy bruising and bleeding, rapid heartbeat, and high blood pressure.
One must certainly avoid oral preparations containing pure arnica. Undiluted arnicas, including plant extracts and oils, are highly poisonous and considered too dangerous to use due to their potential heart damage, organ failure, coma, or even death.
Dosage and Storage
As for oral preparations of arnica, they come in a gamut of varying doses. The most common ones are C12, C30, and C200, all of which are extremely diluted. In the case of topical gels, it is advisable to follow the instructions written on the label and stick to only using highly diluted products. Also, it’s best to store all forms of arnica in a cool, dry environment away from direct sunlight.
Arnica Montana has been used in homeopathic products and over-the-counter medications since ancient times, including gels, ice coolants, tablets, massage oils, and creams. Despite mixed reactions and inconsistent study reviews, it remains a popular choice for various ailments. This wouldn’t be the case if people weren’t relying on its effectiveness. However, a prior recommendation from a health professional or a health care provider is always suggested before resorting to any sort of medication.
Disclaimer: GulfPhysio.com and all of its content are for informational purposes only. All information is believed to be accurate at the time of posting and should NOT be construed as professional medical advice. Please seek a medical professional in the event of pain or injury.