Bruises and swelling occur when blood vessels are damaged enough to break and allow blood to seep into the surrounding tissues. They are frequently painful and cause undesirable discoloration of the skin. Many people seek out options to decrease the time it takes for bruising and swelling to diminish. One of these options is the use of an herb called arnica, which promotes the movement of white blood cells to the injury site and improves blood circulation.
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When you are injured, your body sends white blood cells to the site of injury to remove damaged cells to be replaced with healthy ones. Arnica is known to reduce healing times by stimulating the migration of white blood cells to an injured area, says Nutrasanus.com. Along with removing and digesting damaged cells and congested blood, arnica is known to increase movement of fluid buildup and decreasing the degree of swelling in an affected area.
Arnica has also been used to speed the healing process for patients recovering from surgery. According to Peacefulmountain.com, one study showed that patients who were placed on an arnica regimen recovered from face lift surgery twice as fast as those who were not given arnica. The level of inflammation and bruising evident in patients who were not given arnica was also significantly higher than what was seen in patients who were given arnica.
Arnica is most often used as a topical salve or tincture says the University of Maryland Medical Center. The most effective way to use arnica is to rub it directly on the site of bruising or swelling, allowing it to penetrate the skin and improve blood circulation. You can also dilute it into a bath and soak in it, or soak a compress in it to be applied to the injury. Arnica can also be taken orally to treat specific heart conditions, but it is rarely used in this way, as it can have dangerous side effects.
Arnica is generally safe for topical use says the University of Maryland Medical Center. However, prolonged use can cause side effects such as itching, burning and severely dry or peeling skin. Internal use of arnica can cause much more severe side effects such as dizziness, shaking, vomiting and even death if you are not being monitored by a doctor. It has also been shown to interfere with some heart medications. You must consult a doctor before you begin any form of herbal supplement therapy.