Like so many flowers and herbs that grow around us, this amazing plant has a powerful healing ability. Arnica (Arnica Montana) is used and recommended widely by many professionals including Massage, Physical and Occupational Therapists. Nurse Practitioners and Medical Doctors have also touted its benefits. It is used for general muscle and joint pain to prevent and treat bruising and soreness. So what is the “magical” healing power this plant possesses and how and when should it be utilized?
Arnica Montana is a small yellow daisy-like flower that grows primarily in North America and parts of Europe and Asia. Arnica Montana has been used since the 1500’s. This article will focus on the topical use of Arnica Montana in the form of ointments, creams and oils. Arnica Montana, on the other hand, can be poisonous if taken internally and should one choose to use homeopathic pills it is recommended to consult a reputable homeopath. Never use Arnica Montana on broken skin because it can cause irritation. Also, the overly-prolonged use can cause skin irritation so only use for the period of time needed to relieve acute pain.
Bruising: When you have a bump or an injury the blood capillaries can break and cause blood cells to leak out and die-eventually turning black and blue. This is how bruising is caused. The body then sends white blood cells to the area to “clean it up.” The white blood cells help to absorb the dead tissue and eventually heal the injured area. Arnica Montana speeds up the process in that it helps stimulate the area to make this whole process swifter and more effective. In a sense it also “injures” the area but in a benign way. Arnica Montana has an effect on the capillaries as a vasodialator. A vasodialator literally means to vascularize or to open the blood vessels’ walls. This action brings circulation to the area. The premise in homeopathy is that “like cures like”. In this sense, Arnica Montana affects the tissue in the same way a bump or bruise can effect tissue. Arnica Montana and injuries can both effect the walls of the capillaries. They both can brings an increased amount of white blood cells to the area. The white blood cells bring antigens to help heal it by aiding in the dispersing of trapped fluids that can be the result of an injury. The use of Arnica Montana increases the number of white blood cells to the area.
I called it the “magic” joint and muscle pain solution because it often feels that way when you use it. When produced by a natural company in a gel or cream form, it will not have any (or very little) smell when it comes out of the tube. It really seems like nothing at first. Just like many profound solutions in life the answer is often very simple. We just need to hear it, see it, or feel it! Remembering to slow down and listen for the solution is the key. Then taking action to put it on after a bump or bruise is the other key! I have found it to be very helpful with repetitive motion injuries such as Carpal Tunnel issues. Along with the R.I.C.E. method (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) it speeds up the road to recovery on many simple injuries. Remember, however, that Arnica is meant as a simple health solution on minor injuries. It is effective as an adjunct in physical therapy for sprains and strains as well as bruising. Consult your doctor for any serious or ongoing issues.
Overall, Arnica Montana is an essential tool to have in any medicine cabinet or first aid kit! Remember it is not meant for use on broken skin and there are some who may have an allergic reaction to the toxin helenalin, the active ingredient in Arnica Montana. Discontinue use if a rash appears. Arnica Montana gels and ointments can be found in health food stores and some pharmacies. Try to buy it from a natural company such as Boiron. This way it will not have added chemicals or artificial scents.
Being pro-active in your own healing can keep you strong and better able to meet challenges. In Chinese Medicine it is believed that our Chi (life force) is weakened by even the smallest injury.