The Medicinal Wonders of Arnica

September 23, 2020

healing with arnica

 

Stacy Matthews Branch, PhD
Reviewed by Nasimeh Yazdani, MD

 

To say that chronic pain is a difficult condition to treat is an understatement, most poignantly for those who deal with constant body aches as they navigate the challenging quest for remedies to reduce their symptoms. In the search for a cure without the unwanted side effects of pain killers, anti-inflammatories, or opioid medications, people are increasingly considering the value of plant-based natural medicines. A long-known substance may fit the bill in many cases of chronic pain, Arnica.

Background

Arnica is a genus of nearly 40 species of flowering plants, with Arnica Montana  being the most widely studied species. The main parts of the Arnica plant used for medicinal purposes are the flowers. Arnica grows abundantly in high-altitude mountainous regions of Europe and the Americas. There are a number of companies that source Arnica flowers, including Mountain Rose Herbs, Bulk Herbs and Spice, and Bulk Apothecary. From ancient civilizations to modern day societies, Arnica’s profound anti-inflammatory and bactericidal properties helped humans cope with ailments such as joint pain, nerve pain and insect bites (2, 3). Folk remedies of a tea made from Arnica roots to treat back pain dates back centuries. Due to its potential toxicity in oral form, however, we advise you to refer to the Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the United States for details on Arnica monographs and its limited oral applications (1).

Topical Uses of Arnica

A plethora of other historical uses including topical applications in the form of ointments and tinctures for bruises, sprains, and contusions make this plant a favorite of apothecaries, as well as wellness connoisseurs. Notably, a sector which reaped the benefits of Arnica’s soaring popularity in the past couple of decades is the Aesthetic Medicine Industry. Topical applications of gels containing Arnica and Bromelain (derivative of pineapples) rescued patients of their common post-procedure bruising and inflammation following facial enhancers like lip fillers, lasers and other noninvasive surgical procedures.  A modern topical product containing Arnica, Post-Traumatic Response Gel with MatrX B, developed by a physician, is an effective solution to relieving pain, swelling and redness after aesthetic procedures.

Health-Promoting Properties of Arnica

Researchers gained insight into the chemical properties of Arnica by studying its impact on cellular structure on a molecular level. A review published in 2017 examined reports of the pharmacologic activity of Arnica, exploring the healing properties of its 150 constituents such as  flavonoids, carotenoids, essential oils, and diterpenes (4). Similarly, a recent study showed possible anti-cancer activity of Arnica essential oil on brain tumor cells in the test tube laboratory setting (5). Post-Traumatic Response Gel is an organic gel with one of the highest concentrations of Arnica Montana, giving it healing properties for treatment of even the toughest pains, such as nerve pain

This medicinal wonder and health-promoting properties of Arnica is well known for centuries. Now is the time to expand our knowledge with more rigorous scientific studies, and to ultimately potentiate its profound therapeutic value.

References
  1. 1.Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia Convention of the United States (HPCUS). Arnica Montana. In: Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the United States. Southeastern, PA: HPCUS; May 2015.
  2. 2.Wichtl M, ed. Brinckmann JA, Lindenmaier MP, trans. Herbal Drugs and Phytopharmaceuticals. 3rd ed. Stuttgart, Germany: Medpharm GmbH Scientific Publishers; 2004.
  3. Barnes J, Anderson LA, and Phillipson JD. Herbal Medicines. 3rd ed. London: Pharmaceutical Press; 2007.
  4. Kriplani P, et al. Arnica montana L. A plant of healing: review. J Pharm Pharmacol. 2017;69(8):925-945.
  5. Sugier D, et al. Essential Oil from Arnica Montana L. Achenes: Chemical Characteristics and Anticancer Activity. Molecules. 2019;24(22):4158.

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