Benefits of Arnica

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The Alpine plant arnica (Arnica montana) is a distant relative of the Asteraceae (daisy) family and a popular homeopathic remedy for reducing the symptoms of bruising and muscle soreness. In Germany and Eastern Europe Arnica gels have been developed using arnica oil for ease of application. Arnica gels and ointments are ideal for sprained ankles, bruises, strains, sore joints, and tendons and when applied topically soon after an injury arnica has been shown to speed recovery time and reduce swelling and bruising. 

Arnica montana oils and gels are created from the dried flowers, roots, or rhizomes of the plant, while Arnica montana flower extract is solely from the flower heads of the plant. Arnica montana may be sold under the names mountain daisy, mountain tobacco, mountain arnica, common arnica, leopard’s bane, sneezewort or simply arnica.

Cautions: Arnica is safe for EXTERNAL USE ONLY – It is TOXIC to use internally and should never be taken orally or applied to broken skin where absorption can occur. Arnica may cause uterine stimulation (contractions) and should not be used during pregnancy.

In Germany, over 100 types of healing ointments and salves are made with Arnica as the central ingredient. According to one German study, Arnica contains helenalin and dihydrohelenalin, two naturally occurring elements that have anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. Historically, a simple liniment was made by boiling a mix of one ounce of Arnica flowers and one ounce of lard for several hours. After straining and cooling, the mixture can be applied directly to strains, sprains and bruises.

While Arnica is primarily used to reduce pain and swelling from injury, it is often used effectively to relieve the pain of gout, a type of arthritis characterized by sudden, severe attacks of pain, swelling, redness and tenderness of the joints. Arnica can be helpful in easing or relieving the severe and acute pain associated with gout.

How it works. Arnica increases circulation to the area which it is applied. Blood will flood to that area promoting healing and repair while also drawing away fluids accumulating in the area caused by inflammation, thereby decreasing swelling.

The key active compounds of Arnica include:

  • Sesquiterpene lactones – which decrease swelling.
  • Lychnopholides – which inhibit the inflammatory mediator gamma interferon (gammaIF).
  • Eremantholides – which stimulate the anti-inflammatory interleukin -10 (IL-10).
  • Analgesic and antiseptic properties.

Recently, many plastic surgeons have started recommending Arnica use after procedures including liposuction, breast implant surgery, rhinoplasty or facelift procedures to help ease recovery and more quickly reduce bruising or swelling related to these procedures. Minor cosmetic procedures including Botox or wrinkle fillers may benefit from post procedure applications of Arnica to minimize bruising and swelling.

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