Written By KEVIN VANIA |
Bruises and sprains can be very bothersome. They’re painful and often hinder our ability to make it through the day without a struggle, or at least forcing us to think about a nagging injury every time we move a certain way. On top of the pain and discomfort, bruises tend to have an undesirable effect on our appearances. The dark blue and purple shades that linger on our skin as indicators of tissue damage aren’t something we typically enjoy.
Sure you can relieve pain and swelling with conventional medicines that often do as much bad as they do good, and you can cover blemishes with makeup, but what about actually fixing the problem using natural solutions that aren’t going to harm your body? Looking for a homoeopathic treatment? Look no further, arnica (arnica montana) is your natural remedy.
Arnica, commonly referred to as leopard’s bane, is a beautiful yellow daisy found in meadows and mountainous regions of Europe and North America. The herb grows in acidic soils, and its perceived medicinal properties are due to high levels of alkaloid trimethylamine and helenalin, a sesquiterpene lactone that is a major ingredient found in anti-inflammatory products. It has been used by Europeans and Native Americans since before the end of the sixteenth century to reduce the pain and inflammation of sprains, aches and bruises. European arnica is obtained from Arnica montana and Arnica chamissonis, while American arnica is obtained from Arnica cordifolia, Arnica fulgens, and Arnica sororia.
Formerly part of the U.S. pharmacopeia from the 1800s to 1960, arnica is the most common homoeopathic medicine used for aches, sprains, bruises, abrasions, postsurgical bruising, and similar surface wounds. Studies have shown strongly positive results when used for contusions and hematomas of any part of the body. It should generally be the first medicine given for any ankle or wrist sprain.
Arnica is most recommended to be used externally as a topical cream for local application. Never apply arnica to an open wound. While it is considered safe for external use, it is poisonous when taken internally, frequently causing death. Arnica should not be taken by mouth without the direct medical supervision of a doctor unless you are using homoeopathic tinctures, capsules, pellets, tablets, or other diluted preparations of the herb that are safe for oral consumption.
Arnica tinctures are prepared using a dosage of liquid extract from the fresh or dried flower heads, diluted up to 10 times with water. A tincture of the herb can be used in compresses for bruises, or even swelling related to toothaches.
- After a serious fall, spread arnica cream on the injured area a few times a day to relieve pain. It can even stop a bruise from forming when used immediately after hurting oneself. Apply arnica to existing bruises to reduce the appearance, and tenderness.
- Arnica has anti-inflammatory properties. It may not “cure” sore muscles, but applying it after a long run or a day of heavy lifting can reduce the duration and intensity of soreness.
- Sleeping on the road or in situations away from home, like camping, you may be forced to sleep on hard, uncomfortable surfaces. If your bed is too firm or hard, you may wake up with a sore back and painful muscles that feel as if they have been bruised. Take arnica up to three times a day to relieve aches and pains.
- Toothache; tear off a small piece of a cotton ball and apply several drops of arnica tincture to the cotton and place the cotton next to the swollen gum to provide relief.
- In small doses, arnica is a cardiac stimulant. It is also given for angina, a symptom of underlying heart problems in which your heart muscle is deprived of oxygen-rich blood.
- It is also used in pregnancy. Arnica is given routinely at the end of labor when a woman is sore.
Arnica is a fairly common remedy for sore muscles in circles like the running community. It is gaining popularity in the treatment of postsurgical bruising, and many people find it really works! But remember, what works for some people may not work for others. Some people are more susceptible than others to certain substances. “Each reacts according to his ability,” according to author Michel Aubin. There are no model prescriptions with homoeopathy; rather it involves applying a method based on logical reasoning. The information for all types of homoeopathic remedies is out there, so educate yourself and medicate the safe and natural way.
*Arnica belongs to the Asteraceae family. Anyone allergic to ragweed or other plants in the family should avoid arnica-containing products.
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3. Graedon, Joe, and Teresa Graedon. The People’s Pharmacy Guide to Home and Herbal Remedies. New York: Graedon Enterprises, Inc., 1999. Print.
4. Skinner, Sidney E. An Introduction to Homeopathic Medicine in Primary Care. Gaithersburg: Aspen Publishers, Inc., 2001. Print.
5. Pepping, Joseph. “Arnica for bruising and swelling.” American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy- Vol 64 (2007): 2434-2443. Web.
6. University of Maryland Medical Center. 2011. American Accreditation HealthCare Commission. 2 March. 2012 < http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/arnica-000222.htm>