Arnica, scientific name Arnica montana, is a medicinal plant belonging to the Asteraceae family. Arnica is also one of the most well-known and appreciated traditional natural remedies, so that, even today, you can find in every chemist’s and herbalist’s shop arnica infused oils, tinctures, creams and gels, used for external applications in case of trauma, bruises, sprains with swelling, pain and stiffness. Moreover, arnica-based products are also considered useful to alleviate the symptoms of osteoarthritis.
The properties of arnica are due to the substances contained in it, especially abundant in flowers and roots, such as flavonoids, essential oils and sesquiterpene lactones (Kriplani et al, J Pharm Pharmacol, Aug 2017). It is precisely these latter compounds that determine the anti-inflammatory properties of arnica. In fact, sesquiterpene lactones are able to inhibit the activation of substances linked to the inflammation (Marzotto et al, PLoS One, Nov 2016). Scientific studies have shown that in sporty people who undergo intense physical activity the topical use of arnica effectively alleviated muscle pain compared to those who didn’t use this remedy, the effect was recorded after 3 days of constant applications (Pumpa et al, Eur J Sport Sci, 2014). In addition to this, in case of osteoarthritis, the arnica-based gel has proven to be equally effective as preparations based on ibuprofen, an active ingredient with anti-inflammatory and analgesic action, and with fewer side effects (Widrig et al, Rheumatol Int 2007). Finally, the local application of arnica is helpful in reducing ecchymosis (Leu et al, BJD, Aug 2010).
Arnica, how to use it
The arnica can be used externally, by applying it with a massage on the area to be treated, in the form of cream, gel, tincture or infused oil, which is a remedy obtained by maceration in a vegetable oil, usually sunflower oil or olive oil, of arnica flowers. As for the mother tincture, this product can also be used as a wrap, in this case dilute 30 drops of tincture in 100 ml of warm water and use as a wrap on the area affected by muscle and joint pain. Arnica proves to be a valid natural remedy in case of muscle pain and strains, pain and swelling of the joints, back pain, bruises, sprains and ecchymosis. Do not use arnica on open wounds and be careful if you suffer from allergies to marigold, daisies, sunflowers or dandelions as you may be also allergic to arnica. Ingestion of arnica should be avoided as it can be toxic and with side effects such as nausea, dizziness and tremors.