Arnica is herbaceous species, belonging to the sunflower family native to North America. It has long been used medically as it contains a toxin which can be poisonous if large amounts are eaten. This same poison when used in liniment and ointment preparations are ideal for strains, sprains and bruises.
Commercial arnica preparations are frequently used by professional athletes. The thymol derivatives concentrated in the plants roots have been clinically shown to be effective vasodilators of subcutaneous blood capillaries. Arnica preparations used topically have been demonstrated to act as an anti-inflammatory and assist normal healing processes by facilitating transport of blood and fluid accumulations through a dilating action of subcutaneous blood capillaries.
How does it act?
By reducing swelling, protecting against infections and relieving pain.
Medicinal Uses and Indications
Arnica is used topically for a wide range of conditions, including bruises, sprains, muscle aches, wound healing, superficial phlebitis, rheumatic pain, inflammation from insect bites, and swelling due to fractures.
Homeopathic preparations are also used to treat sore muscles, bruises, and other conditions caused by overexertion or trauma. Homeopathic doses are extremely diluted. They have no detectable amount of the plant in them and are generally considered safe for internal use when taken according to the directions on the product labelling.
Arnica is available commercially in topical creams and ointments. It is most commonly prepared as a tincture, which can also be used as the base for compresses and poultices. Arnica oil may also be used in topical preparations.
A number of homeopathic remedies are available in pill, topical, or injectable forms.
Arnica is generally safe when used topically (externally). However, prolonged use may irritate the skin, causing eczema, peeling, blisters, or other skin conditions. Arnica should not be used on broken skin, such as leg ulcers. Also, people who are hypersensitive or allergic to the herb should avoid it.
Arnica is rarely used as an internal herbal remedy because it can cause dizziness, tremors, and heart irregularities. It may also irritate mucous membranes and cause vomiting. Large doses can even be fatal. Do not take arnica internally except under close supervision of your doctor. Homeopathic remedies, which use very small amounts of arnica, can usually be taken safely.
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, talk to your doctor before taking any medication, including herbs.