Arnica is a natural herbal remedy that has long been used to treat minor wounds, cuts, burns and bruises. Arnica also treats many other medical ailments, but is probably most effective at pain relief.
Read on to learn more about this little-known powerhouse that you may find quite useful as a standby home remedy or a great addition to your first aid kit.
What’s So Great About Arnica?
From sprains and bruises to a toothache, bone fracture and postsurgical discomfort, the homeopathic remedy arnica is good for just about any pain caused by physical trauma. Unlike aspirin and other over-the-counter painkillers, arnica pills have no known side effects.
In an English study on patients hospitalized for acute injuries, arnica relieved stiffness and improved psychological wellbeing in 98% of patients, compared with 57% of patients given a placebo.
Arnica works fast. If you’ve ever fallen and pulled a muscle, you know how painful such a seemingly minor injury can be. Ordinarily, it would take a week or two for pain from such an injury to subside. However, with arnica patients have experienced pain relief within a day or so and wound up pain free within three days.
It may even be beneficial to take arnica before sustaining an injury. Many marathoners use it before they race. In Canada, horse trainers have begun to use arnica to coax a little more speed out of their thoroughbreds.
Arnica is derived from a mountain plant called leopard’s bane. The plant has antibacterial, antiseptic, antifungal, anti-inflammatory and decongestant qualities; so it has a positive effect on other common illnesses too (including respiratory infections, bacterial infections, hypertension, heart disease, digestive problems, etc.).
Arnica is often administered as an oil, powder or tincture. To make the oil mixture, arnica flowers are ground up and combined with pumpkin or soybean oil. The powder form of arnica is also made from finely ground arnica flowers. The arnica tincture is probably most commonly used, and it’s made by dissolving the flowers in water. This tincture can be rubbed on wounds and tender areas for pain relief and gargled for throat irritations and infections. Caution is necessary here, though, as more than 30 drops of the tincture can be toxic and cause digestive, skin and other problems.
Arnica is safe in a wide range of dosages – from one pill every eight hours to four pills an hour. It’s sold in “potencies” ranging from 6x or 6c (low potency) to 200c (high potency). In general, higher potencies are best for chronic conditions and low potencies for acute conditions. You should speak with your doctor before taking a dose. If pain persists, see a doctor. Something much more serious than you may have anticipated could be going on.
Arnica is available in health-food stores, pharmacies and mail-order homeopathic pharmacies.