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How to Soothe Bruises and Sore Muscles Naturally With Arnica

Sore muscles? Bruises? You need arnica! This powerful herb naturally soothes muscle and joint pain, but only if you use it correctly.

Arnica has been used medicinally since the 16th century and is still popular today. This beneficial plant is one of the most powerful in Mother Nature’s pharmacopeia. With its ability to treat various common aches and pains, it deserves a spot in every household medicine box, first aid kit, and school nurse’s clinic.

If you have children, are prone to exercise related injuries, or are looking for natural remedies to take the place of popular pain medications, it’s worth looking into arnica and its many uses. Here’s how this wonderful plant can help you and your family feel better and how to take it safely.

What is arnica?

Arnica (Arnica montana) is a yellow flowering plant that grows in the mountains of Europe and western North America. It resembles a daisy and is also known by the names “mountain tobacco,” “wolfsbane,” and “leopard’s bane.” The flowers and roots of the arnica plant are used to make arnica oils, gels, creams, ointments, and salves. Arnica also comes in the form of pills, drops, sprays, tinctures, teas, and injectables.

Arnica has long been popular for its health promoting and pain relieving properties. For centuries, it has played a vital role in herbal and homeopathic medicines. As far back as the 1500s, Europeans have used arnica to treat muscle pain, joint pain, bruising, swelling, arthritis, and other disorders.

Arnica for muscle aches and joint pain

What is arnica good for?

Arnica is good at treating:

  • Bruises
  • Swelling
  • Injuries such as sprains, strains, fractures, and those that impact soft tissues
  • Muscle pain, joint pain, and pain from trauma (like from a fall)
  • Arthritis and other forms of inflammation

Research shows that applying arnica to your skin can help reduce bruising. Arnica also seems to be helpful for osteoarthritis, especially for knees and hands.

A 2006 study found that homeopathic arnica boosted the healing of patients who had a facelift (known as a rhytidectomy). And in 2007, a study found that homeopathic arnica reduced muscle soreness in marathon runners.

But while homeopathic arnica creams are helpful, homeopathic arnica tablets don't appear to work.

How to use arnica (and who can use it)

Arnica oils, gels, creams, ointments, and salves are applied directly to the skin. Tinctures form the base of poultices, compresses, and some creams.

You can use arnica creams to treat bruises and other injuries in children, but only if it's in homeopathic formulations. Adults can use both homeopathic and commercial preparations.

Pregnant women and breastfeeding mums should avoid taking arnica or using it on their skin. Those with hypersensitivity to arnica and other plants in the Asteraceae family (daisies, dandelions, sunflowers, marigolds, etc.) should also avoid using arnica.

Safety precautions

The US Food and Drug Administration does not recommend taking arnica internally. You should never take arnica by mouth without the supervision of a medical professional, unless it is an extremely diluted homeopathic remedy.

If you want to try arnica, it's best to use it topically, i.e. applied on the surface of the body. Apart from treating aches and pains, it has also been found effective for acne, insect bites, and scars. However, unless you’re using homeopathic formulations, make sure you’re not applying arnica on open wounds or broken skin. And for children, don't apply arnica cream to open wounds or on broken skin, even if it is a homeopathic formulation.

Suggested products

Weleda has a line of arnica based products that has earned a loyal following around the world.

The Arnica Cream is a first aid remedy that the whole family can use for relief from bruising, backache, sprains, pulled muscles, and other injuries. The Burns & Bites Cooling Gel, another medicine cabinet essential, soothes burns, scalds, rashes, stings, sunburn, and insect bites.

Arnica also works its magic through the Arnica Sports Shower Gel, which is perfect for after sports or exercising, and in the Arnica Massage Oil, which has been a favourite of massage therapists and exercise enthusiasts for over 90 years.

You can shop Weleda's arnica products here.

Have you ever used arnica for sore muscles or joint pain? What do you think?

Image: Bigstock

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