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Arnica, what it is used for, how to use it and contraindications

February 07, 2024
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Arnica, what it is used for, how to use it and contraindications

Today we delve into the properties, benefits and contraindications of arnica based on the most interesting scientific research. We will see that arnica is actually a remedy in case of pain in muscles and joints, we will understand where to find arnica and how to use it safely

Arnica is a proven remedy with anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving action, useful in case of muscle and joint pain, back pain, trauma and hematomas. Below we will look into the benefits, properties and contraindications of arnica in more detail

Arnica is the natural remedy par excellence against inflammation, muscle and joint pain, strains, muscle contractures, hematomas and trauma, it has been known for centuries and widely used in traditional medicine. In recent years several scientific studies have been dedicated to analyzing the properties and contraindications of arnica. Here's what emerged.

Arnica, what it is and information to keep in mind

Arnica is a plant from the Asteraceae family, the same as daisy and chamomile. There are different species of arnica but Arnica Montana is the most used when it comes to making remedies such as ointments, gels and creams based on the flowers of this plant. Arnica has anti-inflammatory, antiarthritic, antirheumatic and analgesic properties, which make it a highly appreciated product. Arnica is used as a remedy to be applied externally and always on intact skin, never on open wounds, while preparations to be taken by mouth are not used in modern therapies as they can be toxic (Smith et al, Medicines, 2021).

Arnica, properties

Arnica flowers help treat hematomas, edema, bruises but also muscle and joint pain (Smith et al, Medicines, 2021 - Iannitti et al, Am J Ther, 2016). Arnica proves to be very useful in reducing pain, even post-operatively (Akay et al, J Oral Maxillofac Surg, 2024). For example, patients who had undergone hand surgery and were treated with arnica ointment saw their pain reduce significantly after 2 weeks compared to those who had not been treated with arnica. However, it must be said that not all studies conducted on the effects of arnica as a remedy to soothe postoperative pain have shown the same effects. Some have not reported benefits, but it should also be underlined that the studies are very heterogeneous and therefore it will be necessary to wait for greater clarity. Instead, there is no doubt about the ability of arnica to counteract the pain caused by arthrosis. In this case, the first benefits were observed after 3 weeks of application of arnica-based products (Smith et al, Medicines, 2021). Arnica has also proven useful in cases of back pain and sports injuries (Smith et al, Medicines, 2021).

Arnica, mechanism of action

Arnica contains flavonoids, phenolic acids and sesquiterpenes that give it the ability to reduce inflammation and damage from free radicals and to regulate the immune system, which comes into action even in the event of trauma. Thanks to these mechanisms, arnica acts by relieving pain (Smith et al, Medicines, 2021 - Roehrl et al, Plants, 2023).

Arnica, where it is found

Arnica montana flower extracts are the basis for making creams, gels and ointments that you can easily find in herbalist's shops, pharmacies and online. A little information. You can make your arnica ointment more potent this way. Take a small amount of cream or ointment, about a spoonful, and add a drop of rosemary essential oil, which has analgesic and anti-inflammatory action (Mohammadifar et al, BMC Complement Med Ther, 2021).

Then proceed with massages and friction.

Arnica, warnings

As mentioned, the oral use of arnica is out of use due to the toxicity of the plant. For this reason, the do-it-yourself preparation of arnica-based products for oral use is also highly discouraged. Oral arnica is also anticoagulant and can interact with medications in use (Smith et al, Medicines, 2021). Instead, the topical use of arnica is widespread and considered safe. In rare cases, in sensitive people, a local reaction such as redness, itching or dryness of the skin has been observed (Smith et al, Medicines, 2021). Topical arnica should never be applied to open wounds.

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