What is Arnica?
Arnica is a common herb that helps with bringing the purple and green discoloration that is due to bruising on the skin back to normal. It even reduces pain and inflammation. It is scientifically known as Arnica Montana and is traditionally used to recover from pain, swelling, and bruising.
Arnica for Pain
Arnica is effective in pain management. A review of studies found its effectiveness in easing post-surgery pain when compared with placebo. (1) It was thus concluded that arnica could be used as an alternative to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Its gel and cream form can help in chronic pain management. (2)
However, one study found that arnica instead increased pain 24 hours after its usage. (3)
Arnica for Bruises and Swelling
A review found very small effectiveness of arnica in mitigating excessive hematoma or bruises after surgeries compared with placebo. (4) Another review suggested that arnica may reduce ecchymosis if used after rhinoplasty or other facial procedures. (5)
An analysis of 11 trials suggested that arnica when combined with cold compression and tape can effectively lower bruising and swelling after rhinoplasty. (6) Still, the American Academy of Ophthalmology did not support the use of arnica in these conditions. (7)
How is Arnica Used?
Arnica can be used in the form of gel, lotion, pain patches, pills, tea, and tissue salts. Its gels and lotions can be applied over the wounds directly but make sure to protect the eyes. The patches can be used near the site of pain, twice a day. As tissue salt, it can be dissolved into the bath to soak.
Benefits of Using Arnica
Arnica has antibacterial, antioxidant, antifungal, antitumor, and immunomodulatory properties. It also has a wide range of beneficial compounds, such as flavonoids, carotenoids, essential oils, phenolic acids, and oligosaccharides.
Research is needed to confirm how to reap these benefits as consuming arnica is considered poisonous.
Side Effects of Using Arnica
Arnica can be unsafe on ingestion and lead to diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and internal bleeding. A study documented an overdose of homeopathic arnica in an individual that lead to vomiting and temporary loss of vision. (8)
According to the Memorial Sloane Kettering Cancer Center, pregnant and breastfeeding females should avoid ingesting arnica as it can harm the baby. A lady drank arnica tea in her 9th month and her 9 months old baby became lethargic 48 hours later but the symptoms eventually disappeared. (9) Also, if on blood-thinning medications, arnica ingestion should be avoided as it would interact with medication and alter its effects. (10)
Using arnica can also lead to contact dermatitis in some people, therefore before using it locally doing a patch test is important. Those allergic to sunflower are more likely to be allergic to arnica. It is also known to slow down blood clotting and should therefore be stopped 2 weeks prior to surgery.
Arnica is useful for bruising and swelling and also has a wide range of other medical benefits. Before starting to use it, consulting a doctor is important especially for those with any type of health concerns or conditions.