Dealing with pain is not an easy task. Of course, you can take painkillers, but more often than not the painkillers you take are accompanied by side effects and even a medication dependency. Luckily, mother nature has provided us with an herbal painkiller, Arnica.
This herb has become pretty popular lately because of its pain-subsiding capabilities, so much that more and more people are giving up prescription pills and shifting toward a more natural alternative.
Botanical Name and Family of Arnica
Arnica is botanically known as Arnica cordifolia, Arnica montana and Arnica latifolia. It belongs to the Asteraceae or Daisy family and is often referred to as Mountain Tobacco, Leopard’s Bane, Mountain Snuff and Wolf’s Bane.
What Is Arnica?
Arnica comes from the perennial Arnica montana, which is a yellow-orangeish sunflower looking herb that grows in the mountains of Europe and Siberia. Because of the way this flower looks, it’s sometimes called the “mountain daisy.”
Arnica was traditionally used in the homeopathic system of medicine in very dilute doses. The flower of this herb is used for its medicinal properties; the herb is also used in preparing cosmetics for use on hair and the scalp. Arnica is also used as a flavoring agent in making candy, dairy desserts, puddings and baked foods.
Active Ingredients Found in Arnica
The most important active constituents of Arnica are sesquiterpene lactones, phenolic acids and flavonoids.
Health Benefits of Arnica
Arnica was traditionally used to treat insect bites, alleviate arthritis pain, acne, sore throat and phlebitis. This plant is commonly used to treat bruises, so it’s no surprise that it’s especially popular among those who’ve undergone surgery, plastic surgery to be exact.
A study conducted on patients who have undergone a rhytidectomy, a surgery to reduce wrinkles, concluded that homeopathic arnica can significantly boost healing. It was also proven to be effective during the healing process of several postoperative conditions that included swelling, bruising and overall pain.
Studies have also found that this herb possesses anti-inflammatory properties that may be used to treat osteoarthritis.
Different Ways to Use Arnica
The flowers of this herb are used. If you choose to use this herb to alleviate pain, you should never take it orally. It’s meant to be applied to your skin and is typically in the form of a gel.
However, you can dissolve a homeopathic remedy of arnica under your tongue because these products are heavily diluted. The herb itself shouldn’t be consumed.
Side Effects of Arnica
When used properly, anyone can enjoy the health advantages that arnica proposes. But you should also know that high doses of Arnica are considered poisonous and may cause throat irritation, vomiting, stomach pain, diarrhea and skin rash.
Arnica has also been known to cause shortness of breath, high blood pressure and an increased heartbeat. It must not be applied to broken or damaged skin. Arnica is not to be used by persons with cardiovascular and digestive disorders or by those who are currently pregnant or breastfeeding. As always, make sure you consult with your doctor before using arnica.
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Knuesel O, Weber M, Suter A. Arnica montana gel in osteoarthritis of the knee: An open, multicenter clinical trial. Adv Ther. 2002 Sep-Oct;19(5):209-18. PubMed PMID: 12539881.
Widrig R, Suter A, Saller R, Melzer J. Choosing between NSAID and arnica for topical treatment of hand osteoarthritis in a randomised, double-blind study. Rheumatol Int. 2007 Apr;27(6):585-91. Epub 2007 Feb 22. PubMed PMID: 17318618.