Known for its incredible healing effects, Arnica has been long used for several centuries to treat bruises and injuries. Arnica Montana, also known as wolf’s bane, leopard’s bane and mountain arnica, is an herb prevalent in Europe and well known as a homeopathic remedy for injuries, cuts, wounds and bruises. The anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties of this plant have been long utilized in many parts of the world since the 16th century for treating sprains, bruises, swelling, pain and inflammation. Arnica belongs to the sunflower family and their flowers are similar in appearance to daisies or sunflowers. Both the flowers and roots of the plant are used for medicinal purposes. Arnica is available mainly as an herbal oil and also as homeopathic cream, lotion, gel and ointment.
Active ingredients in Arnica
Different parts of the Arnica plant such as roots, rhizome, leaves, and inflorescence contains many active compounds and hence is used in the manufacture of drugs and cosmetics. The flowers of arnica contain volatile oils, sesquiterpene lactones, flavonoids, and terpenoids that have anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties. Sesquiterpene lactones are the most active elements of this plant that is associated with reducing pain and inflammation. It also shows cytotoxic and antioxidants effects. The other active ingredients in arnica include inulin, essential oils, polysaccharides, tannins, coumarins, phenolic acids and carotenoids.
Health benefits of Arnica
Although Arnica is mostly used to treat injuries, it can do more than that. It has also been found to be effective in treating swelling, pain, arthritis, diarrhea and many skin conditions.
Arnica for arthritis
Arnica has been found to be effective in relieving the symptoms of arthritis and in reducing the pain associated with the condition. It has astringent properties and works by stimulating the functioning of the white blood cells. Arnica helps in diffusing the fluids that get accumulated in the muscles and joints and its anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties help in reducing the inflammation and swelling. A study conducted in people having osteoarthritis of the knee found out that the application of arnica gel helped in reducing the stiffness and pain considerably and in improving the functioning of the knees.
Arnica soothes muscle soreness
Arnica is effectively used in reducing muscle soreness. According to a research carried out on marathon runners in 2003, taking homeopathic arnica helped in relieving muscle soreness to a great extent.
Arnica benefits in skin care
The extract obtained from the flower heads of arnica contains flavonoids, sesquiterpene lactones, phenolic acid, volatile acids and coumarins. These compounds have the ability to soothe and restore the damages that occur on your skin. Arnica has antibacterial, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties that help in curing skin disorders caused by inflammation. This herb also stimulates the production of granular tissues, thereby speeding up the process of healing. The exceptional healing properties of Arnica make it an effective remedy for burns, sunburn, bruises, and other skin disorders.
Topical application of arnica to the skin helps in getting rid of pregnancy marks and stretch marks.
Arnica for treating acne
Because of its strong anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory effects, arnica is effective in treating acne. Its antiseptic properties prevent the growth of bacteria. In addition to reducing the visible signs of acne, arnica also helps in reducing the pain and inflammation associated with acne.
Arnica for nail discolorations
Infusions made with arnica can be used in treating nail discolorations caused by injuries or trauma.
Arnica for hair care
Because of its anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties, arnica has been used in hair care for treating dandruff, hair loss, scalp infections, and also in promoting hair growth. Arnica extract is often used as an ingredient in hair conditioners and is considered to be helpful in preventing the premature graying of hair. Arnica oil is extremely beneficial to the hair as it helps in moisturizing and rejuvenating the scalp and also in stimulating hair follicles. This helps in making your hair strong and in preventing hair fall.
Arnica for treating diarrhea in children
Although the use of arnica in curing diarrhea is a subject to be analyzed thoroughly and is still under study, earlier research indicates that the intake of homeopathic dilution of arnica may possibly aid in reducing diarrhea in children.
Arnica for treating swelling
The application of arnica over body parts affected with swelling can offer fast relief from the pain and swelling. An oral form of liquid arnica dilution is also available which can be used to reduce the swelling throughout the body, especially in areas that are sensitive and covered with thin membranes.
Arnica is given to patients to speed up the recovery process after surgery. It helps in reducing pain, minimizing bleeding and reducing inflammation post surgery.
Arnica is effective for head trauma
Arnica has been found to be effective in managing concussion and head trauma by preventing the development and spreading of the injury or bruise and by soothing the inflammation, swelling or pain that may have developed due to the injury.
Arnica for treating post-traumatic pain
If you suffer from traumatic pain possibly after an accident or surgery, taking in a small dose arnica will be effective in decreasing not only the pain but also the inflammation that occurs inside the body. While arnica supplements are useful for reducing pain, arnica gel shouldn’t be used topically on an open wound to clean it.
Arnica relieves post-operative ileus
Post-operative ileus is a temporary condition characterized by the impairment gastrointestinal motility. This is a common condition that occurs in people having abdominal or gynecologic surgery. Symptoms of post-operative ileus may include nausea, vomiting, decreased appetite, abdominal pain and constipation. It has been found that with the help of homeopathic arnica treatment, one can find relief from this condition soon after abdominal surgery.
Arnica for managing frostbites
Frostbite is a condition that causes damages to tissues and skin due to freezing. The application of arnica ointment is helpful in managing frostbites. It is also an effective remedy for chilblains, a similar condition of tissue damage caused by exposure to humidity and cold.
Arnica has antibacterial properties
Arnica has powerful anti-bacterial effects and hence is widely used as a topical remedy for many skin problems including eczema, burns, acne, bruises, wounds, chapped lips, and even ulcers.
Arnica provides relief from fever
Arnica is a great remedy for reducing high fever and also in relieving pains and aches associated with fever.
Arnica for pregnant women
Arnica is considered to be a great remedy during pregnancy and childbirth to treat bruises, muscular damage, inflammation, and to reduce pain.
Arnica as a mouthwash
Arnica is an effective ingredient in many mouthwashes because it helps in controlling and preventing the occurrence of bacterial infections inside the mouth. The regular use of arnica mouthwash along with water is a good remedy for treating as well as preventing conditions like pyorrhea and gingivitis.
Arnica soothes tooth and gum pain
Arnica can be used to reduce pain and inflammation in the tooth and gums. Homeopathic arnica can be used for getting relief from bruising and swelling in the mouth and also around the gums following tooth extractions or after surgery. Soon after a tooth extraction, the use of many doses of arnica can aid in relieving pain and also in promoting faster healing of the wound. However, it is advised not to take arnica before any dental surgery as it may stimulate bleeding.
Arnica for sports injuries
Arnica is a must have remedy for athletes who often suffer from muscle soreness and other sports injuries. It is very helpful in relieving sprains and in promoting the healing of injuries at a speedy rate.
Arnica is considered to be safe when taken in the recommended doses. However, when excess amounts are taken orally, it may cause undesirable side effects such as irritation of the throat and mouth, abdominal pain, skin rashes, increase in blood pressure, diarrhea, vomiting, fast heart beat, shortness of breath, organ failure, heart disease, excess bleeding, coma, and even death. The application of arnica on broken skin may lead to too much absorption and discomfort in the affected area. Some people may develop allergic reactions like itching and skin rashes.
People having digestive problems should avoid arnica as it can irritate the digestive system and worsen the condition. Those with high blood pressure should not take this medicine as it is likely to increase blood pressure. Similarly people with fast heart rate should also avoid arnica as it increases the heart rate.
Nowadays the popularity of Arnica as one of the most effective herbal remedies has spread throughout the world. It is recommended by doctors to relieve pain, inflammation, sore muscles, and bruises. Millions of people around the world have successfully benefitted from the effects of Arnica in getting relief from the soreness, inflammation and pain that occurs from various kinds of physical trauma. Arnica is a must have component in the medicine cabinet as it is effective in treating injuries and in speeding up the healing process. For people who demand natural and safe means of treatment, Arnica is definitely the number one choice considering its effectiveness, ease of use, safety and extensive use.Image Credits: Wikimedia - Hans Hillewaert