Natural Arnica: its Effectiveness and Possible Risk
Arnica/ Nettle Gel is used to soothe burns, bites, stings, rashes, or anything that irritates the skin. The gentle detoxifier Chicory/Ginger Bitters (which can be mixed with sparkling water) helps with digestion, headaches, acne and menstrual problems by stimulating the liver, gall bladder and intestines. This gel is a natural anti-inflammatory that can be rubbed into stiff or sore joints. It can help soothe pain from arthritis and repetitive strain injury. It is a popular herb to use in Germany and you can readily find it in both the dried herb form, in homeopathic pills, and as a topical preparation.
A homeopathic gel for aches and pains resulting from overexertion, falls and blows. In herbal medicine, Arnica is widely used as a salve for bruises and sprains, and sometimes as a tincture, for the same anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving purposes. Tablets are also available. In homeopathy it has a wider use. It is available in natural/health food stores, most commonly in gel form, to be applied to the affected area approximately three times daily
Ideal for children. Arnica words especially well for pain, bruising (ecchymosis) and swelling (edema), which is inevitable with active kids. But not recommended for children under the age of 12, unless under the supervision of a healthcare professional.
Source: The main sources of Arnica are the Balkans, Romania, Spain and Switzerland. It is harvested mainly from the wild. An estimated 50,000kg of dried flowers are used annually in Europe (Lange 1998). This is equivalent to 250,000-300,000kg of fresh flowers. In addition, hundreds of kilos of dried roots are consumed each year.
Arnica is known for its homeopathic use for bumps and bruises but its herbal use as an anti-inflammatory was not widely known. Derived from the dried roots of the arnica plant (part of the daisy family and sometimes called leopard's bane), it is believed to have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, and it is thought to stimulate white blood cells to facilitate healing and help eliminate excess fluid from traumatized areas. It helps with painful inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, rheumatism, stiff or sore joints.
Arnica Montana is a mountain plant (leopard's bane) found in the Northwest of the United States as well as central Europe. Generations of athletes, trainers and moms have long enjoyed the relief Arnica provides. For relief of muscle aches and stiffness due to minor injuries, overexertion, falls, and blows. Reduces pain, swelling and discoloration from bruises. It is a favorite of athletes, coaches and trainers. Immediately after over-exercising or receiving a minor injury, apply Arniflora arnica gel to ward off pain, stiffness and black-&-blue marks.
According to the journal archives of Facial Plastic Surgery by Edmund deAzevedo Pribitkin, MD; Gregory Boger, MD in 2001; suggested that facial plastic surgeons must be aware of arnica and comfrey, both of which have a long tradition in European folk medicine for the treatment of posttraumatic and postoperative discomfort, ecchymosis, and edema. In vitro studies have demonstrated anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects attributable to arnica's helenalin component. Although topical application may cause irritant or allergic dermatitis, arnica may safely be recommended for use on unbroken skin to lessen posttraumatic ecchymosis, inflammation, and edema. Undiluted arnica, however, is toxic if taken internally, and the claim that homeopathic arnica is efficacious beyond a placebo effect is not supported by rigorous clinical trials.
Another recent comparative study in the year late 2006 by ; Andrew B. Denton, MD; Min S. Ahn, MD; Corey S. Maas, MD concluded that no subjective differences were noted between the treatment group and the control group, either by the patients or by the professional staff. This study was analyzed to evaluate the efficacy of homeopathic Arnica montana as an anti ecchymotic agent.
The patients in the A montana group showed greater ecchymosis and then got progressively better. The patients in the placebo group got worse by day 5, and then better. While measuring edema was beyond the scope of this study, it is at least theoretically possible that A montana could account for a decrease in edema immediately after surgery, which may coincide with more obvious (less hidden) ecchymosis, followed by recovery—a phenomenon that might occur relatively later in the placebo group.
Now recent clinical research shows (Published in April 2007) it to be equal to topical ibuprofen in treating osteoarthritis of the hands. One preliminary study at the University of Zurich in Switzerland found that arnica gel applied twice daily reduced symptoms of osteoarthritis of the knee. Another double-blind study found that a combination of topical arnica ointment and oral homeopathic arnica tablets reduced pain in people recovering from hand surgery. This topical application of arnica gel can be regarded as a viable alternative to ibuprofen gel when treating osteoarthritis of the hand joints.
Two studies performed by Alpine Pharmaceuticals which manufactures a popular Arnica pill demonstrated less bruising and swelling after liposuction, and less bruising after facelifts when compared to patients taking a placebo (sugar-pill). However this study was not closely controlled scientific experiments.
Due to possible antiseptic and slight antibacterial properties, topical arnica has also been used to treat acne, insect bites, and minor skin wounds. It may be effective, as well, in mouth rinses to control some bacteria commonly found in the mouth. Arnica is available as an extract, tablet, gel, ointment, tincture, cream, arnica massage oil, tea, and homeopathic arnica. It is available as Arnica Montana shampoo form.
Arnica Eye Firming Gel firms, tightens, tones and smoothes the delicate area around the eyes resulting in a youthful, well-rested appearance. Homeopathic ingredients as Chamomile and Arnica reduce puffiness, ease discoloration and tighten pores. For cosmetic purposes it is used in the combination of grape seed oil, aloe, beeswax, arnica, comfrey, peppermint, tea tree oil, grapefruit seed extract, vitamin E, flowers of sulfur, castor oil, cod liver oil, peppermint spirit, orange water, spirit of camphor, mineral oil etc.
- Repeated applications may produce severe inflammation. It is seldom used internally, because of its irritant effect on the stomach. Its action is stimulant and diuretic, and it is chiefly used in low fevers and paralytic affections.
- Taking herbal arnica by mouth is strongly discouraged because it may result in potentially dangerous increases in blood pressure. This herb should never be taken in raw form. This plant, like many medicinal plants if ingested, can cause intestinal bleeding, abdominal cramping and sickness.
- 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.
- According to the Physician’s Desk Reference (PDR), arnica is considered unsafe for ingestion or on broken skin. However, the PDR notes topical tinctures of arnica are routinely “used in countries such as Germany to treat contusions, sprains, hematomas, rheumatic disorders and superficial inflammations of the skin.”
- It may interfere the blood thinning effect of warfarin (Coumadin).
- Some herbal/diet supplement products have been found to contain possibly harmful impurities/additives. Check with your pharmacist for more details regarding the particular brand you use. The FDA has not reviewed this product for safety or effectiveness. Consult your doctor or pharmacist for more details.