The Healing Powers of Arnica
Used by people since ancient times, Arnica is an herb that is well known for its excellent healing properties. Used topically for pain and bruising as well as swelling of joints and muscles, Arnica is very popular with athletes for treating minor sports injuries such as muscle sprains.
Known as a “warming herb,” Arnica is applied to unbroken skin to improve blood circulation. The blood then carries oxygen, white blood cells and needed nutrients to assist with healing. This will decrease pain and swelling. The increase in blood to the affected area has a warming sensation.
Used commonly as topical creams, gels or ointments, Arnica is derived from the whole plant, including the root. This herb, found in mountainous areas of Europe and North America, with simple leaves and flowers resembling daisies, has other common external uses as well:
- Black eye
- Muscle fatigue
- Pain relief after surgery
- Sprain, blows, bruises and fractures
- Painful joints
The New York Times recently reported that scientists are impressed with the healing benefits of this plant. In 2007, a study showed that people with osteoarthritis in their hands who used an arnica gel found the same relief as using an ibuprofen and with minimal side effects. Another study showed that people who used an arnica gel on their arthritis of the knee, found a significant reduction in stiffness and pain.
While Arnica can cause allergic reactions in some, it is considered generally safe when used topically. However, never use on broken or damaged skin.