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What Are the Benefits of Arnica?

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What Are the Benefits of Arnica?
Arnica is used as a natural anti-inflammatory to treat musculoskeletal pain and bruising. Photo Credit frauenfüße image by Angelika Bentin from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>

Arnica has been used for many years as a plant-based pain reliever and is touted as a natural remedy to help relieve the pain of arthritis and sports injuries. Anecdotal evidence indicates that it is helpful in reducing bruising and shortening healing time. However, arnica has some powerful side effects that you should discus with your health care provider before you begin using it.

Background

Arnica, also known as leopardsbane, wolfsbane and European arnica. It is a perennial flowering plant that looks similar to a daisy. It has bright yellow flowers and is found in Europe, southern Russia and in woody areas of North America. Arnica grows as far north as Alaska. It has been used as a herbal healing remedy for many years.

Considerations

Arnica, like other herbal remedies, is not FDA approved. The flower and plant contain many active ingredients including compounds and volatile oils. As is true with almost all natural remedies, arnica products are not covered by your health insurance. Compare the cost of arnica-based products to the cost of products with similar functionality.

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Benefits

It is believed that arnica helps increase circulation and helps reduce both pain and swelling from minor injuries. You can apply it to your skin, add it to water for external use or use it internally. Arnica is a natural anti inflammatory readily available with out prescription from health food and organic products retailers as well as on the Internet. It is available in convenient forms including liquid, lotion, cream, gel and ointment.

As with any herbal remedy, contact your health care provider prior to using arnica. She can determine whether it is safe for you.

Uses

Applied to your skin it is said to be beneficial to reduce the inflammation and pain caused by muscle sprain and strains. It is also believed to be able to regenerate tissue and is used for treatment of injuries. Arnica is used to promote wound healing and reduce the symptoms of rheumatic pain, and swelling due to fractures and insect bites. You can dilute it in water and use it as a mouth wash or gargle for sore throat and gum infections, as a rinse for hair loss or as a soothing foot bath. In homeopathy it is used following an accident or shock and is believed to be beneficial in treatment of illness of the circulatory system. The ointment is also used to treat and prevent phlebitis.

As with any herbal remedy, it is essential to contact your health care provider prior to using arnica. She can determine whether it is safe for you.

Warning

Like other anti-inflammatory medications, arnica can be dangerous if you have chronic liver or kidney disease. It also carries similar GI side effects including nausea and vomiting. Do not use Arnica on open skin wounds because helenalin, an active ingredient is poisonous and can be toxic to your heart. Long term topical use can result in eczema. (see Reference 1)

Overdose has resulted in toxic symptoms common to other types of poisoning, including diarrhea, hemorrhage and even death. Arnica is not recommended if you are pregnant or nursing. It is essential to discuss use of arnica with your health care provider before adding it to your regimen.

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References

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