Arnica Uses and Benefits

Arnica montana or leopard’s bane, is a perennial herb that grows in Central Europe. Arnica herb is one of the popular homeopathic remedies and it is generally found in homeopathic first aid kits as an anti-inflammatory and anti-pain remedy topical ointment. Arnica montana been seen to decrease hematoma and bruising after surgery and promotes more quickly post-operative recovery. The active components of arnica contain sesquiterpene lactones and flavonoids which are known to decrease inflammation and ease pain. In addition, include thymol, an essential oil that fights infection, and carotenoid, a strong antioxidant. ( Its use is usually restricted to topical applications since the arnica includes helenalin, which is harmful in large doses. Also, the use of this plant during pregnancy is notrecommended).

Arnica Uses

The arnica montana has been used for different health problems such as reducing swelling, reducing bruising and pain caused by bruises, alleviating joint or muscle pains, and as remedy for insect bites and other skin irritations. Arnica herb is used topically for problems, including sprains, bruises, muscle aches, wound healing, superficial phlebitis, joint pain, inflammation from and swelling from broken bones. Internally, arnica is used as a remedy in homeopathy. Homeopathic preparations  are generally taken after surgery to decrease swelling and pain, for alleviating acute strains and sprains, and for bruise relief.

Lab studies on arnica montana have shown that it can kill bacteria on contact, reduce inflammation, stimulate the respiratory system, and enhance the force of  heart contractions. The exact mechanism of action of arnica montana is unknown; but, the anti-inflammatory activity is attributed to a substance in known as helenalin. According to the “American Botanical Council”, this plant contains helenanolid type sesquiterpene lactones, which work on a molecular level as anti-inflammatory substances. Their function restrict the release of inflammatory mediators.

Arnica montana  was officially listed in the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) in 1820. The German Commission E (an official government agency similar to the FDA) has approved arnica for use on the skin in treating injury and effects of accidents, rheumatic muscle and joint problems, hematoma, dislocations, contusions and edema due to fracture.

Arnica Benefits and Studies

RemediesThe enzymes MMP1 and MMP13  are thought to play a important role in the cartilage and joint destruction and inflammation seen in rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. A laboratory experiment showed that a tincture prepared from arnica flowers and aqueous ethanol suppressed MMP1 (collagenase-1) and interstitial collagenase-13 (MMP13) mRNA levels in human articular chondrocytes. In a study, reported in the April 2007 issue of  “Rheumatology International“, found that topical preparations of arnica montana were equivalent to ibuprofen drug in providing pain relief to sufferers of hand osteoarthritis. Participants were randomized to receive 5 percent topical ibuprofen or arnica gel three times daily for three weeks. (Patients could use acetaminophen if pain was unbearable). As a result, arnica was comparable in effect to ibuprofen with respect to hand functional capacity, pain intensity, number of painful joints, duration and severity of morning stiffness, and acetaminophen drug intake.

Sesquiterpene lactones are mainly responsible for anti-inflammatory effect. Previously, it was shown that these substance attack inflammatory processes at a very central point by inhibiting the transcription factors NF-kappa B and NF-AT at micromolar concentrations. A clinical study; examined the safety and efficacy of arnica gel, applied twice daily, in 53 women and 26 men with mild to moderate osteoarthritis of the knee. After 3 and 6 weeks, sixty-nine patients rated the tolerability of the gel as “good” or “fairly good,” and 76% would use it again. Topical application of arnica gel for six weeks was a safe, well-tolerated, and influential therapy of mild to moderate osteoarthritis of the knee. A study reported in the Jan 2007 edition of  The Journal of the Faculty of Homeopathy, demonstrated that taking homeopathic A. Montana after a tonsillectomy decreased pain. In a 2008 study reported in the journal of Complementary Medicine, arnica montana was compared to the diclofenac. Arnica and diclofenac were found to similar effect at reducing redness, swelling and heat in the wound.

Study reported in the April 2010 edition of  The British Journal of Dermatology, by researchers demonstrated that topically applying a cream containing 20% arnica decreased the healing time of external bruises. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 89 participant with venous insufficiency received arnica gel or placebo. Was reported that arnica therapy provided developments in venous tone, edema and in feeling of heaviness in the legs. Gonarthrosis has been treated effectiveby intra-articular injections of a homeopathic combination (Zeel comp® Sulfur, Sanguinaria canadensis, Toxicodendron quercifolium, Solanum dulcamara and Arnica)  preparation including Arnica montana. Joint stiffness and pain healed in 90 percent of the patients.

Side Effects

Arnica should not be taken internally. Possible adverse effects of high arnica dosage include nausea and vomiting, as well as kidney and liver damage and organ failure. At overly higher doses, arnica can lead to very serious problems and coma or death. A fatal case of has been reported after ingestion of 70 g of arnica montana tincture. Homeopathic preparations are usually considered safe for internal use when taken according to the directions on the label. A. montana has been seen to be safe when used in diluted or homeopathic doses for a of 2 weeks under constant supervision of a health care professional. You should not take arnica by mouth without direct supervision of a physician, except in dilute form as a homeopathic remedy, because adverse effects may be dangerous. Arnica is usually safe when used externally or topically. But, 3 weeks or more use of  can lead to skin irritations. Some individuals are sensitive to the compound helenalin found in arnica. If you develop a mild rash, should stop using arnica. Topical arnica  montana should never be used on open wounds or anywhere near the eyes and mouth.

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