In this guest blog, Nicole Kagan, health editor for WholesomeOne.com, shares the many benefits and uses of Arnica montana, one of the most popular homeopathic medicines in the world. For more information on natural medicines and healthy lifestyle tips, visit WholesomeOne.com.
Whether you're on a hike or going for a swim in the ocean, active moments spent outdoors can lead to bruises and swelling that last for weeks. While these injuries require patience, and there isn't an instant cure, topical treatments of Arnica help quicken the healing process.
Arnica is a yellow-orange perennial flower native to the mountains of Europe and Siberia. A member of the sunflower family, it is sometimes referred to as Leopard's bane or Wolf's bane, and it has been used in traditional medicine for hundreds of years.
While Arnica is known for its various medicinal purposes, it is most recognized for its ability to naturally heal bruising and swelling. When one experiences trauma as a result of impact, a bruise (or contusion) may affect capillaries at different levels: in the skin, subcutaneous tissue, muscle or bone. Arnica's ingredients—flavonoids and caffeine derivatives, for example—have the potential to penetrate and restore these affected areas. Potent anti-inflammatory agents in Arnica help protect damaged blood capillaries, and many of Arnica's ingredients account for anti-bruising.
In addition, Arnica stimulates white blood cell activity, thereby improving circulation to combat swelling.[i] It diminishes the size of swollen body parts, reduces accumulations of fluid, and soothes the discomfort of inflammation.
Today, Arnica is gaining popularity as a holistic therapy for models, celebrities and athletes who use it in the treatment of injuries. Pierre Barrieu, for instance, a past head fitness coach of the United States Men's National Soccer Team, started treating players with topical Arnica formulas in 2002.
“Basically, it was to relieve the effects of blows and bruises (i.e., prevent swelling and bleeding) when applied in a timely manner,” Barrieu says. “We also used it to accelerate the recovery, because Arnica decreases the inflammation."[ii]
David Zayas, an actor known for his role on the television program Dexter, also praises the therapeutic qualities of Arnica, which he discovered on the set of The Expendables in Brazil. "I was hurting from the stunts, and the set medic gave it to me,” he says. “It really helped!”[iii]
Arnica can be purchased as gels, ointments and creams, in which it is usually present in diluted form. One can apply it several times a day depending on one's condition, and it is most effective if used promptly after an injury occurs.
So the next time you stumble on a trail or fall off your bike, consider Arnica to treat any bruising or swelling that occurs. Arnica has the potential to provide quick relief and healing—naturally. Just like with any other medical treatment, make sure to ask your doctor if Arnica is safe for you.
[i] Chang, B. (2011, September 14). Seeking Relief Through Arnica. The New York Times. Retrieved April 14, 2014, from http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/15/fashion/arnica-becomes-a-celebrity-favorite-skin-deep.html?_r=0
[ii] Chang, B. (2011, September 14). Seeking Relief Through Arnica. The New York Times. Retrieved April 14, 2014, from http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/15/fashion/arnica-becomes-a-celebrity-favorite-skin-deep.html?_r=0