Today, we want to talk about the many arnica flower benefits that most people are missing out on.
Whether you're a runner who deals with ankle sprains or someone who suffers from job-related muscle pain or arthritis-related joint discomfort, arnica may be able to help.
Arnica: Mechanism of Action
Simply put, arnica is an anti-inflammatory agent. I’m sure you’ve heard that term plenty, but what exactly does it mean?
Well, let’s get to the basics first and discuss inflammation. Doing so really highlights what an amazing tool arnica is as a natural remedy.
In the medical perspective, inflammation is a localized condition where the affected part becomes swollen, reddened, hot and usually painful.
This condition occurs as a natural reaction to injury and infection.
Although inflammation is a natural process that helps the body overcome acute illnesses and injuries, it becomes a problem when the process becomes chronic, that is when it remains and progresses over a long period of time.
Arnica is a potent anti-inflammatory herb because it contains lactones that elicit the anti-inflammatory effect.
As previously mentioned, inflammation is initiated by the immune system. This process is under the influence of a substance called Nuclear Factor Kappa Beta.
The lactones in arnica work by preventing the activation of such substances and therefore the inflammation that goes along with it.
As an added benefit, arnica doesn’t have the side effects associated with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen.
Benefits of Arnica
1. Arnica for Burns
In a study published in 2011, arnica was shown to be effective in healing both first and second-degree superficial burns. First-degree burns would be like those classified as sunburns.
Then there are second-degree superficial burns that haven’t penetrated very deep into the skin. These are the type of situations where arnica can be helpful.
However, arnica should not be used for open wounds, broken skin, or more severe third-degree burns.
2. Arnica for Soreness
Several athletes rely on arnica to alleviate soreness, especially after intensive training.
This study published in 2007 revealed that athletes who were treated with arnica immediately after their marathon had reduced levels of muscle soreness compared to the group that didn’t receive arnica treatment.
However, the study also found out that arnica does not prevent cell damage caused by the exercise. It only alleviates symptoms of the damage that occurs.
3. Arnica for Bruises
Arnica has also been shown to speed up the healing process in bruises and small wounds. It does so by stimulating the production of white blood cells, which mop up fluid accumulating in the affected area.
It also helps in reducing congestion of blood in the injured area, improving circulation and nutrient delivery for faster healing.
4. Arnica for Acne
Lately, arnica has flooded the cosmetic industry and is now considered by some as a “must have” tool for healthy skin.
Users report that their skin feels fresh and rejuvenated with a healthy glowing look after application.
Others tout its use for acne thanks to its built-in antibacterial and antiseptic properties.
Combine those with its soothing, anti-inflammatory action, and it’s especially helpful in cases of inflammatory acne.
5. Arnica for Bug Bites
Bugs are irritating creatures. The situation becomes even more stressful when those bugs bite. Remember the process of inflammation we discussed earlier and how it’s actually a protective mechanism?
That process is on clear display when it comes to bug bites, but anti-inflammatory agents like arnica can help the process of healing (and itching) move along faster.
6. Arnica for Arthritis
In 2007, a randomized study was conducted to determine the difference between NSAIDs and arnica for the topical treatment of osteoarthritis.
Interestingly enough, the study found that arnica works just as effectively as a daily dose of ibuprofen gel and with little to no side effects.
In 2002, another study was conducted involving 79 participants that were instructed to apply arnica gel at least twice daily for a period of 3 and 6 weeks.
At the end of the study, only one person experienced an allergic reaction to arnica. The remaining participants, however, tolerated arnica very well and enjoyed benefits such as reduced pain, reduced joint stiffness, and improved joint function.
How to Use Arnica
Despite being one of the most effective herbal remedies, arnica should be used carefully because it’s not an herb that you take internally.
Arnica is so powerful that it can actually shut down certain aspects of your immune system if accidentally taken orally.
Notably, there are two different types of arnica:
Homeopathic arnica is less strong and can be taken orally. While herbal arnica is more potent and should only be applied topically.
To be on the safe side, we recommend only topical application of arnica.
You can purchase arnica gel, cream, or ointment at most health food stores or in the form of an herbal balm like this one.
These three formulations are more or less the same. The primary difference is that the ointment is thick, the gel is thin, and the cream falls somewhere in between.
The choice of which formulation is best depends entirely on your preference, usually after experimentation with the different types.
Once you pick your favorite form, you can use it to heal bruises faster by rubbing arnica cream on them at least 2 to 3 times every day.
This technique works best when you ice and elevate the part of the body that is affected. The application process is simple:
Just put a little arnica oil onto the bruise and rub gently with your fingers. The cream or balm can stay on the skin longer and ensures more absorption with better results.
You can also massage sore muscles with arnica gel to soothe and relax the soreness.
Muscle pain can occur anywhere from your back to your neck, arms, and legs. To relieve muscle soreness in these body parts, squeeze significant amounts of arnica onto the affected part and massage gently at least 2 to 3 times a day.
Just a heads up, the gel or balm form tends to work best for muscle massage.
As good news for runners and athletes, many sports-related injuries can be treated using arnica.
Thick arnica ointment provides long-lasting relief with better results. However, gels and creams can also work well for sprains and strains.
Because arnica is anti-inflammatory, it can help prevent swelling and alleviate pain simultaneously.
We hope this helps you make the most of one of nature’s most helpful topical remedies for pain - the arnica flower!