Arnica Montana – Natural Treatment for Inflammation and Trauma


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By Melanie Grimes

Arnica montana is one of the most valuable homeopathic remedies. Also known as Leopard’s bane, this member of the Compositae—or Sunflower —family is used as a specific to reduce bruising and swelling, particularly after physical traumas such as falls or blows. It can be applied in a cream, gel, salve, or tincture, or taken internally.

Used by Native American and Europeans for centuries, Arnica was first described in the sixteenth century by the naturalist Tabernae Montanus, for whom it is named. The plant grows in the mountains in Europe and Siberia, where the grazing goats and oxen eat it. The yellow flowers, which are the medicinal part of the plant, are two to three inches in diameter and look similar to a daisy, hence its name Mountain Daisy. Because Arnica requires specific soil conditions, it has proved difficult to cultivate and the natural supply has become endangered.

Arnica is a wonder drug for treating trauma. It can be used to aid injuries from accidents and hemorrhages, both internal and external. Arnica can be given to treat the acute and chronic effects of injuries, but its main area of effect is for shock and trauma. It offers quick relief of concussions and contusions, aiding in the reabsorption of blood from injured tissues.

Inflammation is a reaction caused by damaged cells. It produces chemicals that cause tissue to swell and dilate. This reaction allows more blood to reach the effected area, to bring nutrients and oxygen to speed healing. This is a healthy reaction, but in times of great trauma, the increase in pressure caused by the swelling can be damaging in itself, for example in head injuries. And when the inflammatory process is continual, as in chronic disease, the swelling begins to deteriorate the tissue because of the continued overheating caused by the inflammation.

Arnica reduces inflammation response and can be used to aid recovery from overuse injuries or for overstrenous skiing, or other sports related strains. A research project in Switzerland on 204 arthritis patients showed that Arnica gel reduced the pain and increased the function in sufferers. Arnica gel decreased the number of painful joints, and decreased the duration of pain. When patients compared the effects of the Arnica gel to ibuprofen, they preferred the Arnica gel. Another study showed improvement in osteoarthritis in knee joints after three weeks of using Arnica gel. Arnica has no side effects when used externally, but can cause skin irritation with prolonged usage (peeling, blisters, eczema). It should not be used on broken skin or open wounds.

Arnica is not to be taken internally except in homeopathic doses. As herbal medicine, Arnica can cause heart irregularity and dizziness, and even vomiting. Homeopathic doses are safe, as they use only minute amounts of Arnica in a potentized state.

A person needing homeopathic Arnica can feel confused, and uneasy, and restless in bed. The person usually feels that nothing is wrong and refuses to see a doctor. They will say, “I am fine. I don’t need any help,” even while they are bleeding. This is a sure indication for Arnica. Chronically, the person needing Arnica can fear being injured, fear death, and have nightmares that bring back past trauma or accidents. The entire body feels weak and weary or sore and bruised. The head can be hot while the rest of the body is cold. Arnica can be used to treat posttraumatic arthritis, neurological damage, and depression. For laboring mothers, homeopathic Arnica can relieve labor pains, promote delivery and prevent or reduce bleeding.

Arnica can be given prior to surgery or dental work and is useful after surgery as well. In fact, Arnica is packaged and sold to plastic surgeons under the name SinEcch to minimize swelling and bruising after surgery. SinEcch is clinically proven to reduce bruising and swelling after surgery. It has been used for hundreds of thousands of plastic surgeries over the last ten years.

Arnica has remarkable powers to heal inflammation and trauma. I hope it will find its way into common everyday usage.

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