Arnica has been used for more than five centuries for medicinal purposes and has become even more popular in present times. It is used in a cream or ointment form to soothe pain associated with muscle aches, reduce inflammation and to heal wounds, by applying to the skin. However, Arnica, as an herb is mostly used for external parts of the body as it can have serious side effects when consumed orally. Some Homeopathic medicines, however, do contain Arnica after diluting it to an extent that it ceases to be dangerous for human consumption.
So how did Arnica come to be used for sprains and bruises, among other things in the first place?
Muscle Pain and Discomfort
Dancers and athletes are quite often afflicted with muscle pain and discomfort. Those of us who are less physically still sometimes need relief from muscle soreness and pain. We sometimes experience, and need treatment for sprains, bruises, and inflammation (redness, swelling, pain) caused sometimes by insect bites or arthritis.
Common treatments from decades ago usually involved a tube of a laboratory-produced cream with a rank, offensive, over-mentholated odor. At some point, the companies came up with a milder-smelling version, but still, the chemicals were things we probably would feel better not putting on our skin.
In recent years, many folks are awakening to the realities of environmental and health issues. We are more aware of alternative health treatments, which tend to be less expensive, more natural, and kinder to the earth’s environment. Now we look for other ways to treat ourselves, and the conditions which naturally come with life and living. This is where the use of herbs like Arnica comes in.
Medicinal Uses of Arnica
MedicineNet reports that Arnica can be used for reducing the swelling and pain of bruises, sprains, muscle or joint problems. It also is used to treat swelling of the veins under the skin (superficial phlebitis), and for insect bites. It can also be used in pill form. (See your health care provider for instructions for use.) According to Physicians Desktop Reference, Arnica is also sometimes called Leopard’s Bane, Wolf’s Bane, and Mountain Tobacco.
Do not use Arnica if you are taking any blood thinning medications as there may be an unpleasant interaction. See your health care provider before using any allopathic (conventional) or homeopathic/holistic (natural) cures. Although generally safe when used on skin, a very long time use of Arnica may cause unpleasant skin conditions by irritating it that may include eczema and blisters (also, never use an Arnica cream or ointment on an open wound). Of course, any oral use of Arnica must be done under the supervision of your health practitioner.
So, remember, the next time you suffer from muscle pain, reach for the Arnica. (Now available as a natural gel in convenient tubes from your local health store.)
Cassendre Xavier (aka Amethyste Rah & Amrita Waterfalls) is an award-winning multimedia artist, musician and author, working in Philadelphia. She writes on various subjects including Raw Vegan/Live Foods, Alternative Health and Recovery from Addiction and Abuse.