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What Is Arnica? Alternative Treatment Is Popular Choice for Natural Pain Relief

By , Managing Editor
Thursday, June 28, 2012
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Arthritis, muscle and joint pain can be the result of overuse, strain or injury and can prevent daily activity. Finding relief for this pain can send you running in several directions, from prescriptions to pills and creams -- but what's the best ingredient to look for?

Arnica has become one of the most trusted topical herbal remedies for this type of pain and if you've never heard of it, it's worth giving a try.

What Arnica Is
Arnica montana is a perennial plant with yellow-orange flowers that's a member of the sunflower family and is native to Siberia and Europe and has been brought to North America. The heads of the flowers (which resemble daisies) have been used for medicinal purposes since the 1500s. The root can also be used. Early applications of the herb involved brewing it into a tea and may have even involved smoking the leaves, but oral uses are now less common. The active components of arnica are derivatives of thymol. Arnica has also been used to treat skin conditions like acne and boils. 

Today, arnica is popular with athletes who experience frequent pain as well as individuals with chronic pain conditions

Arnica and Pain
The most common uses for arnica are bruises, sore muscles, sprains and joint pain. Arnica can also be used for other inflammatory conditions as well as insect bites to bring down swelling and soothe irritation. The thymol derivatives are said to give arnica its anti-inflammatory and analgesic (painkiller) effects. 

A study published in 2002 in the journal of Advances in Therapy involved 26 men and 53 women with osteoarthritis in their knees (mild to moderate) who were asked to apply arnica gel twice daily. The six-week study saw great improvements in pain reduction as well as stiffness and function. The gel was generally well tolerated and 76 percent of participants said they would use it again. 

A two-year study also published in 2002 in the journal of Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine involved 37 men and women who were given either arnica ointment and tablets or a placebo after carpal-tunnel release surgery. While grip strength and wrist circumference went unchanged after two weeks, the patients who used the arnica products reported a significant change in their pain. 

Using Arnica Properly
When looking for arnica, you can find it in many forms including gels, creams, tinctures, ointments, liniments or salves. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMM), tinctures are the mostly common form of arnica available and typically contain almost three quarters ethanol. Creams and ointments typically contain 15 percent arnica oil or 25 percent tincture. Homeopathic forms of arnica are available in pill or tablet form or other ingestibles. This form of arnica is severely diluted to make it safe, but you shouldn't ingest arnica without consulting with a healthcare professional, be it your primary physician or a naturopathic doctor. 

While arnica is effective in relieving pain, using it properly is crucial. When using a tincture, it should be diluted three to 10 times with water. Make sure the form you use is diluted properly and only leave it on the skin as directed, as stronger formulas can lead to skin irritations and arnica products shouldn't be applied to open skin. Arnica is typically applied topically as it can have negative side effects if ingested orally such as vomiting and other digestive issues

Arnica is a natural way to help you relieve pain and move more freely. Now that you know the correct way to use this treatment, your pain doesn't have to hold you back.

Products you may like:

Boericke and Tafel Arnica Montana 30C 30C Boericke and Tafel Arnica Montana 30C 30C
Why you may like this product? This homeopathic painkiller is made with arnica montana that has been properly diluted to make it safe for ingestion. It's safe for use by both children and adults for relief of minor aches and pains as well as swelling and stiffness.
Boiron Arnicare Ointment  Boiron Arnicare Ointment 
Why you may like this product? Boiron's ointment starts work instantly after application to bring down swelling and reduce pain. This ointment contains no artificial ingredients or harsh chemicals and soothes sore muscles, joints and sprains.
Now Foods Arnica Cooling Relief Gel  Now Foods Arnica Cooling Relief Gel 
Why you may like this product? Now's soothing gel contains 10 percent arnica along with herbs like lavender and chamomile and peppermint oil to help relieve pain and tension with a cooling sensation. You can apply this gel two to three times a day for relief.
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