If you’ve ever found yourself walking up and down the pain relief section of your local health store, you’ve probably seen ‘arnica’ more than a few times. Arnica is known as a ‘mountain daisy’ as its most commonly found mountainous areas of the US, Canada and the European Alps. The flower and root of the plant have been traditionally used to prepare topical remedies for pain relief for centuries.
Arnica has shown antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and pain-relieving properties in many lab and animal studies. In a Swiss rheumatology study done in 2007, arnica was compared with another topical nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory gel (ibuprofen, 5 percent strength) in people with osteoarthritis in the hands. Both gels were used three times a day for three weeks and demonstrated improved pain, stiffness, and hand function equally, with about 50% of participants reporting a “good” or “very good” response. As such, the researchers concluded that arnica gel can be regarded as a natural alternative to ibuprofen gel for treating osteoarthritis of the hand joints.
The reason arnica works is that the plant contains antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. When arnica is applied, it stimulates circulation. This helps the body’s own healing system react, which essentially assists the body in reducing inflammation and the associated pain.
Arnica’s orange-yellow flower heads supply a therapeutic volatile oil that contains fatty acids, aromatic terpenes, flavonoids and tannins. Not only is it used to treat inflammation topically, it’s also extremely popular in Germany where it’s used in more than a hundred medicinal preparations.
Arnica is great for bruises, sprains, soreness, and swelling and for the relief of arthritis, muscle, and joint pain. It comes in a range of forms including tinctures, creams, salves, ointments, gels and oils, all for topical use (not to be used on cuts or abrasions).
Learn about arnica and other natural pain relieving remedies in our herbal medicine courses. Get in touch to find out more.