What is Arnica?
Arnica is a topical herb used in the treatment of inflammation, bruises, joint and muscle pain and other ailments.
There are different species of arnica, but the one popularly known for medicinal purposes is Arnica Montana.
Arnica Montana is also known as Mountain Tobacco, Mountain Snuff, Wolf’s Bane among other names.
The plant is native to mountainous regions of South Asia and some parts of Europe.
Arnica is an alpine plant, and so it is grown in nutrient-poor soils and can attain a height of up to 2 feet.
It blossoms with yellow or orange flowers similar to daisies. It flourishes at high altitudes, and that’s why it is native to mountainous regions.
Nowadays, arnica is used in the manufacture of many products ranging from gels, creams, pills and even soaps.
The main reason why arnica is included in these products is the health benefits it holds.
Arnica was used as a natural remedy as early as 3000 years ago to treat stomach aches, muscle pain, and several skin conditions.
Today arnica is used as a remedy for treating various conditions such as inflammation, muscle pain, and joint pains.
However, direct consumption of arnica herbs may be poisonous.
Arnica Chemical composition
The herb holds essential chemical compounds that make it suitable as a natural remedy.
Sesquiterpene lactones are compounds found in Arnica Montana in large quantities.
They are known to reduce inflammation and reduce pain.
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The other chemicals of importance include:
- and arnisterol.
German researchers have discovered that the sesquiterpenoid lactones and dihydrohelenalin present in arnica have essential pharmacological benefits.
This means that they can be used in making medicine that holds the healing properties of arnica.
The root of arnica is home to essential oils such as thymol which work as an anti-inflammatory agent.
Thymol is used clinically as a vasodilator (Used in opening vessels and arteries), as well as an antibacterial and anti-fungal agent.
Arnica oil is primarily a mixture of thymol and various ethers of thymol.
The other components of the oil are fatty acids such as palmitic acid, linolenic and linoleic.
Arnica essential oil is recommended for aromatherapy.
How To Use Arnica
As already stated, the oral use of herbal arnica is considered highly toxic and may come with devastating health complications.
Arnica is mainly used within gel, creams, pills or as arnica essential oil.
In the past, there has been an improvement in the products that claim to hold the healing powers of arnica.
Arnica should only be used in a homeopathic form or as arnica essential oil.
In homeopathic form, the herbal content of the original plant has been diluted to almost insignificant amounts.
Here is a simple guide to help you chose the best homeopathic arnica products both for external and oral use.
Homeopathic Use Of Arnica
Make Sure The Arnica is Homeopathic
Most people do not know the difference between herbal and homeopathic products.
This is understandable since they are mostly found on the same shelves and some even claim to serve the same purpose.
Therefore, it is important for you to know how to select homeopathic products before deciding on using either oral or external.
The first step is looking at the labels. Most products are labeled as homeopathic.
However, some products may be labeled homeopathic even when they are not.
You can also look for HPUS which stands for The Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia of The United States.
Keep an Eye Out for Arnica Potencies
While many people use the word homeopathic just to make sales, the real catch is the product potency.
If you are looking for a homeopathic arnica product, then the indication of the composition should help you.
In homeopathic products, the original ingredient is usually available in small amounts and is indicated by numerical values.
For example, “1X Arnica Montana” means that the potency of arnica is the product is in the ratio of 1 to 10
What is Arnica Gels?
When shopping for arnica gels, creams, and balms, you may find yourself in a dilemma on which is which.
The primary point of differentiating the products is the potency.
The more potent the product is, the more likely it is to hold the healing ability of arnica.
Look at the ingredients- even the ones that are labeled as inactive.
It is these ingredients that make the difference between the gel you choose and the others.
The application of topical arnica, in the form of gels and creams, is allowed for common ailments.
You can use topical arnica gel or cream to treat pain, muscle aches, skin inflammation among other uses according to the prescription.
Arnica Tablets, Pills, and Capsules
Arnica is known to have various health benefits when taken orally, yet it is poisonous when the herbal form of arnica is taken orally.
It is in your best interest to find alternative sources of oral arnica products.
This is where we come to the use of oral homeopathic arnica.
Some of the common forms of oral homeopathic arnica include arnica pills. tablets and capsules. Some arnica pills can be swallowed directly while some tablets need to be dissolved before use.
Whichever way, the content of herbal arnica in these tablets is low and the cannot bring the toxic effect of taking oral arnica herb.
Just like with the topical arnica products, the kind of arnica oral product you choose depends on the potency.
It is recommended to use products that are pure of other ingredients. Avoid pills that have been added sweeteners and preservatives. Various arnica pills are rich in arnica extracts alone.
This can be found on the list of ingredients.
Oral or Topical: Which is The Best
The answer is not a straight topical or oral. The answer to the use of arnica is homeopathic.
Whether it is oral or topical does not matter, the critical aspect is that it should contain substantial amounts or arnica in dissolved portions.
When using arnica products, you will choose based on the ailment you are suffering from.
When it comes to minor aches and pain due to workout or inflammation, the use of topical arnica is recommended.
Over the counter, homeopathic arnica remedy should only be used for minor pains.
Things like headaches, minor muscle and joint pains and minor bruising and burns.
However, if the situation gets out of hand, you need to see a doctor. Arnica remedies should not be relied upon when dealing with chronic ailments.
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Arnica oil is the best source to tap the direct benefits of arnica. As we have already seen, the content of arnica in homeopathic products is usually at deficient concentrations.
Arnica essential oil is a pure extract of arnica and can be used to obtain all the health benefits that are native to arnica.
However, it should be noted that the quantities of arnica in the oil are high and the oil should never be used for oral purposes.
The oil can be used to ease muscle and joint pain through external applications.
The oil can also be applied to the skin to ease inflammation as well as help in the healing of wounds.
Arnica oil is usually sold in diluted form after mixing with some base oils such as almond oil.
Even so, arnica oil should be used in small dosages of not more than 2 drops per application.
If you are an athlete or an active person who gets bruises, bumps and other bodily woes on a regular basis, then arnica oil is the product for you.
A natural powerful remedy that has been used for hundreds of years and continues to be a perfect component of every natural first aid kit.
Records of the use of arnica date back as far as the 12th century.
Health Benefits Of Arnica
Arnica for Skin Care
The use of arnica is a standard and proven method of dealing with common skin conditions such as rosacea, eczema, acne, and psoriasis.
Arnica oil contains monounsaturated fats, as well as thymohydroquinone.
These components of arnica when used moderately enable it to be used to ease skin inflammation.
Arnica also has antioxidants that help to minimize oxidative stress in the skin hence making users look younger by preventing wrinkles, blemishes and other signs of aging.
You can either apply arnica oil according to your doctors prescription or use arnica gel for the same purpose.
Arnica for migraines
Due to its analgesic properties, topical application of arnica extracts is known to reduce pain caused by inflammation.
This can be used to ease migraines by applying a few drops of oil around the base of the neck or on the temples.
The result is quick healing to headaches and migraines. While it may be very tempting for one to use arnica oil as a form of aromatherapy, it is very dangerous to inhale diffused arnica.
Its analgesic nature can be used to treat pain from insect bites, injuries arthritis, phlebitis, and sprains.
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Arnica For Bruises
A bruise is often caused by an injury or an action that ruptures blood vessels lying beneath the skin.
This usually results in a discoloring of the skin on the affected area. Arnica has emerged as an exceptional remedy to this. Helping the bruises heal naturally and faster than other commonly used treatments.
This is done by the simple application of arnica oil or gel to the bruises twice daily.
According to a recent study conducted by the dermatology department at Northwestern University, the treatment of bruises using arnica is far more effective than the widely practiced method of using low-concentration formulations of vitamin K.
A significant number of ingredients responsible for anti-bruising were found in arnica. Some of which are derivatives of caffeine.
Arnica for osteoarthritis
In treating osteoarthritis, it is not unusual to use topical products to give relief from symptoms.
Numerous studies have shown that arnica is highly effective in fighting osteoarthritis.
Back in 2007, a study featured in Rheumatology International indicated that when applied to the skin, arnica was as effective as ibuprofen.
Similarly, arnica has been proven to be useful in the treatment of osteoarthritis in the knee.
A study carried out in Switzerland had women and men apply arnica twice a day for six weeks.
The report showed that not only is arnica useful, but also safe and perfectly tolerable in the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee.
A stand out the characteristic of arnica is its tendency to stimulate the production of white blood cells.
These cells help reduce the inflammation of muscles and joints.
That is common in people who have arthritis.
Arnica for Carpal Tunnel
This is inflammation of a small opening that is located just under the wrists base.
Arnica helps to lessen the pain that accompanies this condition.
This has helped many who suffer from carpal tunnel to avoid surgery.
For those who have already undergone surgery, studies indicate that it helps to ease the pain.
A study that compared the pain in people who had used arnica oil and those who did not use it showed that those who opted for arnica oil experienced significantly less pain than their counterparts.
The study was carried out for two weeks on each group between 1998 and 2002.
Armed with its useful anti-inflammatory effects, arnica is easily the perfect natural remedy for people suffering from carpal tunnel.
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Arnica for Hair Growth
Having scalp massages with arnica gel or oil regularly invigorates the scalp with vitamins, fatty acids, and other key nutrients.
This stimulates the hair follicles to support new, healthy hair.
In the past, people have claimed that after using arnica oil they experienced growth of hair on previously bald spots.
It also helps protect the scalp from infections and oxidative stress, a known reason for premature hair loss.
Arnica extracts can be found in some hair products like shampoos and other hair products.
Relieves sprains, pains, and other inflammations:
For inflammation and other injuries related to exercise, arnica provides a quite robust solution.
This leads to much better athlete performances by reducing the pains associated with such injuries.
According to a report featured in European Journal of Sports Science, athletes who use arnica experience much less pain and muscle softness three days after an intense workout.
Traditionally, arnica products were used to treat a lot of conditions ranging from contusions, hematomas, sprains and numerous other rheumatic ailments.
This is mainly due to helenalin, a very potent anti-inflammatory element. Helenalin is a sesquiterpene lactone.
Moreover, arnica contains thymol that is very useful in vasodilating subcutaneous blood vessels.
This helps enhance the transport of body fluids such as blood.
This enables it to be an anti-inflammatory, therefore, allowing normal healing to take place.
This in turn aids to disperse fluids trapped in joints, muscles and bruised tissue.
Arnica Boosts Body immunity
The production of white blood cells boosts the immune system since they are the bodies defense operatives.
This increases the body’s ability to resist both viral and bacterial invasions both when applied on the skin and in the body’s other organs and systems since it took less than three hours for it to get into your body circulation and dispersed to the rest of the body.
Arnica for Cardiovascular Health
Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, commonly known as good fats, can help reduce blood pressure and levels of cholesterol in the body.
Linoleic and Oleic acids found in arnica are particularly useful in easing inflammations and facilitating healthy metabolism.
This leads to a significant reduction of risk of heart attacks, strokes, and atherosclerosis.
It also results in a reduction of coagulation within blood vessels leading to lower blood pressure and preventing the formation of blood clots.
The use of arnica increases levels of energy and enhances healing all over the body.
Arnica Antioxidant Properties
Though most people are concerned with the polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids, arnica also contains thymol, sesquiterpenes and other known antioxidants that help protect against some chronic diseases including osteoarthritis, heart disease and different types of cancer.
Arnica can be used to add flavor in beverages and multiple food products like gelatin, candy, puddings, frozen dairy desserts and baked goods.
It is used in minimal amounts in edibles.
Arnica is also used in the manufacture of anti-dandruff products and hair tonics.
It is commonly used in cosmetics such as perfumes as well.
Arnica can be taken either as arnica oil, arnica gel and arnica pills depending on what one intends to use it for.
Where To Buy Arnica
You can find arnica products online as well as in many health stores.
When purchasing arnica oil, you get a product that has been diluted adequately by a base oil since arnica oil should not be used on the skin in its undiluted stage.
High-quality base oils include grapeseed oil, almond oil, and organic olive oil.
Vitamin E is often added to the mixture because of its preservative properties.
You can either choose to buy arnica topical gels, arnica pills, and tablets or use the diluted form of arnica oil.
Arnica Side Effects
Arnica is safe when used in homeopathic amounts. Do not take arnica herbs orally.
The government of Canada prohibited the consumption of arnica as food due to its possible side effects.
If you are not sure of the content and how to use arnica stick to using arnica in topical or oral homeopathic states.
Arnica, when taken directly, is poisonous and may result in mouth irritation, stomach pain, diarrhea, vomiting, skin rashes, fast heartbeat, loss of breath and increase in blood pressure.
Increased blood pressure may further result in heart failure, coma or death.
This is the reason why it is recommended that arnica should only be taken orally through homeopathic arnica pills and tablets.
Ensure that you check the ingredients content of homeopathic products since in some products it is diluted too much to be of any significant help.
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Do not use any arnica products either orally or by applying to the skin when you are pregnant.
If you have been using arnica topical or oral products before you got pregnant inform your doctor.
If you have allergic reactions to daisies, marigolds, ragweed and any other plant in the Asteraceae family do not use arnica.
Arnica and these products come from the same family and are likely to cause the same allergic reactions.
You can check with your doctor before applying arnica products to your skin.
Do not apply arnica directly to broken skin and wounds as too much of it may be absorbed into the bloodstream.
If you suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), you should avoid the oral use of arnica products.
Arnica is known to cause stomach irritation, and it would worsen the case for individuals who suffer from ulcers, Crohn’s and other digestive system conditions.
If you encounter high heart rate, you should not use arnica since it can increase the heart rate to detrimental levels.
Arnica, when taken orally, has the chances of increasing the blood pressure.
It is not recommended for individuals who suffer from high blood pressure.
Arnica has vasodilation components and may lead to increased bleeding after surgery.
Do not use arnica before or after surgery.
Arnica is a herb that originated from European and Russian mountainous regions.
It is known for its health benefits such as pain relief and treating inflammation.
Although arnica holds plenty of health benefits, it is poisonous when taken orally in its herbal form.
For this reason, arnica is best taken as a homeopathic remedy- either as a topical product or oral homeopathic product or as arnica essential oil.
The topical products that hold its key benefits include arnica gel, arnica cream, and arnica balm.
The oral products that hold its benefits include arnica pills, arnica tablets, and arnica capsules.
Whichever way you choose to use arnica, make sure it is in recommended quantities.
It should not be used by pregnant women.
It should also not be used by individuals who have digestive complications or suffer from heart complications.