Before we dig into what arnica is and what benefits it might bring, it's worth saying that it's important to talk to your health care provider about any symptoms or conditions you have. While natural remedies can work in conjunction with modern medicine, they don't cure everything and can even hurt in some cases. It's also important to ensure natural products won't interfere with medication or other treatments you may be receiving.
Arnica is a plant. It grows naturally in the wild and produces orange or yellow flowers. The plants can be found in North America, Europe, Russia, India and Japan in various varieties.
The plant is actually toxic if consumed in large enough amounts, so you should not imbibe arnica in any form. However, parts of the plants can be used to make a variety of topical agents that address certain symptoms.
There isn't a lot of modern research about how effective arnica is for all the conditions people use it for. Many people rely on anecdotal and traditional medicine knowledge, as arnica has been used for centuries to address common ailments.
However, studies have looked at whether arnica as a topical analgesic is equal to topical ibuprofen when used to treat pain in individuals suffering from osteoarthritis. One particular study found that arnica was equivalent to the topical NSAID medication with regard to both effectiveness and potential adverse reactions.
Other common uses of arnica include as a topical agent or soak to reduce:
You shouldn't take arnica via mouth, as it's toxic if you get too much in your system. Adverse symptoms that can occur if you take arnica orally can include vomiting, damage to your heart or other organs and problems with bleeding.
Moderate use of arnica on unbroken skin is typically considered safe, but you may want to avoid using arnica anywhere you have cuts, scrapes or lesions.
If you have a ragweed or similar allergy, you may want to avoid arnica use of any type, as you may experience an allergic reaction to it.
If you decide, after talking to your health care provider, that arnica is right for you, you can work it into your wellness routine in a number of ways. Look for arnica products at local natural food and health stores. You can often find it in topical gels and creams as well as roll-ons. A roll-on product can help you keep arnica off your fingers and hands, reducing the chance that you might accidentally ingest any of it.
Another option is to look for an Epsom salt soak product with arnica. You can find such products from a variety of manufacturers, including go-to brands such as Dr. Teal's and Village Naturals Therapy.
You should always follow the directions on the product you purchase and avoid overdoing arnica. For example, you may not want to soak in an Epsom salt arnica bath every night. Instead, consider changing up your routine with different bath products that support other wellness goals or simply let you enjoy relaxing in warm water while you read a book or listen to music. After all, reducing your stress level can have a positive impact on your physical symptoms too.
Avoid relying solely on a natural product like arnica for relief. Discuss your symptoms with your doctor and let them know you plan to add arnica to your routine. Ask about other lifestyle changes you can make to address your symptoms.
For example, if you're experiencing inflammation that leads to pain, your doctor or a nutritionist might be able to recommend changes in your diet that can reduce how much inflammation your body is dealing with. That can help reduce your need to turn to medications or natural remedies to control your symptoms.
Residents at Bethesda Gardens assisted living community in Arlington have convenient access to caring staff members, including those who can help with medication management, diet and lifestyle changes, exercise and chronic disease monitoring. These types of wellness services can help residents approach caring for themselves and living a vibrant lifestyle with more security and confidence.