Arnica is one of the most popular homeopathic remedies for pain management. Arnica supplement is available in tablet and pill forms, which contain very little amounts of arnica extract. It typically doesn’t cause any side effects since it’s highly diluted. However, you should still consult your doctor before taking this oral supplement to ensure that you don’t go past the recommended dosage
Different parts of the arnica plant have been used for centuries in medicinal preparations. This powerful herb is said to be helpful for the following applications:
• Easing muscle pain — Arnica is known as a natural pain reliever. In fact, it’s one of my recommended holistic remedies for relieving body aches caused by trauma, surgery or inflammation. It’s a safer alternative to over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and other pain medicines.
• Reducing swelling — Arnica is best known for its capability to help lessen swelling, especially those that are caused by sprain, fractures or insect bites.
• Promoting healing of bruises and wounds — Arnica helps speed up the healing process of bruises and wounds by prompting the body to produce white blood cells, which cleans up congested blood and disperses trapped fluids from the affected area.
• Reducing diabetes-related vision problems — Some studies suggest that arnica can help improve retinal microcirculation, reducing the risk of eye problems caused by diabetes.
• Protecting against infections — The active compounds of arnica give it the ability to protect the body against various bacterial infections.
• Relieving osteoarthritis — Arnica supplement can help relieve common problems associated with osteoarthritis, such as pain and muscle stiffness.
Other forms of arnica may also deliver the uses mentioned above. For instance, arnica oil may be used for relieving muscle aches and spasms, while arnica gel may be helpful for healing bruises and alleviating osteoarthritis in the hand or knee.
Other Possible Benefits of Arnica
In addition to the traditional uses of arnica, some studies suggest that this herb may also deliver the following benefits:
• Help reduce mouth ulcers caused by chemotherapy
• Promote hair growth
• Alleviate acne breakout
• Reduce bleeding
While further studies are still needed to confirm the numerous benefits of arnica, researchers do know that the thymol derivatives and sesquiterpene lactones of this herb are mainly responsible for its medicinal properties, which include:
Because of its therapeutic effects, arnica is commonly used by athletes as well as patients who underwent surgical or dental procedure.
Some Studies Confirm the Anti-inflammatory and Analgesic Benefits of Arnica
Even though arnica has been used as a traditional medicine for centuries, there are still a lot of doubts regarding its efficiency, which is why numerous studies have been conducted on this plant. While some of these studies dispute its benefits, there are still those that confirm its common uses.
A double-blind placebo controlled study conducted in 2003 focused on the effects of arnica in marathon runners. It involved 82 individuals, some of which were given pills of arnica in the morning and evening while others took placebo pills. The results show that the group who took arnica supplement experienced milder muscle soreness after running than the placebo group.
A recent study conducted in 2016 also confirmed the pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties of this herb in post-surgical settings. This study was published on the American Journal of Therapeutics, and its result shows that arnica can be a valid alternative for NSAIDs for treating post-traumatic and postoperative pain.
Understanding the Side Effects of Arnica
Even though highly diluted forms of arnica are considered generally safe to use, they may still cause several adverse effects, especially if you’re allergic to its compound called helenalin. Some of the side effects that you may encounter are:
Mucous membrane and gastrointestinal irritation
I do not recommend using the topical forms of this herb for a prolonged period of time, since they may cause skin problems, such as rashes, blisters, eczema and peeling.
It’s also important to note that this herbal remedy is not suitable for children, pregnant and breastfeeding women, as well as those who have broken skin, digestion problems and high blood pressure. Arnica may interact with other medications as well, especially with pain killers, steroids and anticoagulant drugs.