Arnica Montana is one of the most popular alternative remedies used by consumers today. This remedy is commonly called leopards bane or Arnica. Arnica is a plant that blooms around July throughout Europe.
Arnica Montana is touted as a remedy that can reduce soreness, bruising, traumatic injuries and sprains. Arnica comes in two forms. A herbal form and a homeopathic form. Arnica in the herbal form is basically extracts of the blossoms made into a liquid, ointment, gel or cream. Many times this extract may be combined with alcohol and shaken vigorously. This combination of extract and alcohol is called the mother tincture. Homeopathy may call this 1X or Q potency. Most gels, creams and ointments are made from the mother tincture. This remedy is rubbed into your body where the injury occured. The herbal form or homeopathy tincture is not to be digested as it will cause nausea and vomitting.
The homeopathic form of Arnica is diluted in water or alcohol. The homeopathic form is safe to eat since the dilutions have weakened the side effects of this remedy. The dilutions of Arnica vary. The more diluted Arnica is used to treat more traumatic injuries. Less diluted Arnica is used to treat less severe injuries. A potency used to treat a severe injury would be Arnica 30C. A potency which helps less severe or chronic injuries would be 6C.
We are going to examine several trials with Arnica gel. In the first trial with Arnica, we are going to look at is a trial with carpel tunnel release surgury. This trial actually uses both homeopathic Arnica tablets and Arnica gel. This study compares how much bruising is experienced post carpel tunnel surgury. These medicines are compared against a placebo group. 37 adults participated in this trial. The results showed that grip strength and wrist circumference were exactly the same as the placebo group after surgury. However, perceived pain was significantly less in the Arnica group. It is difficult to determine in this trial if the Arnica gel had an effect or the homeopathic Arnica tablets.
A small study done in Miami looked at arnica gel to see if it would reduce bruising after laser surgery to the face compared to a placebo. There were 19 participants. They were divide into two groups for making a comparison. The study found arnica gel to be no better than a placebo at reducing brusing after surgury.
Another trial examines arnica gel trial for treating osteoarthritis in the knee. In this study, 26 men and 53 women were given herbal arnica gel. The participants reported significant reductions of pain with the gel. The study did not have a placebo group so the trial was far from conclusive.
The final trial compares Arnica gel to Ibuprofen in a double blind study. This study compares 204 patients with osteoarthritis in their hands. The study had 2 groups. The study compared pain intensity and hand usage after 21 days of using an Ibuprofen gel and Arnica gel. The study found that Ibuprofen and Arnica were both equally effective in treating osteoarthritis in the hands.
More studies are needed on arnica gel to see if it is effective. Most studies are too small to draw any definite conclusions. However, there seem to a few positive studies suggesting arnica gel is effective in reducing pain and swelling.
1) Jeffrey SLA, Belcher HJCR. Use of arnica to relieve pain after carpal-tunnel release surgery. Altern Ther Health Med. 2002;8:66-68.
2) Alonso D, Lazarus MC, Baumann L. Effects of topical arnica gel on post-laser treatment bruises. Dermatol Surg. 2002; 28:686-688.
3) Arnica montana gel in osteoarthritis of the knee: an open, multicenter clinical trial. Knuesel O, Weber M, Suter A. Department of Rheumatology, Valens Clinic for Rheumatism, Valens, Switzerland.
4) Reto Widrig, Andy Suter, Reinhard Saller, Jörg Melzer. Choosing between NSAID and arnica for topical treatment of hand osteoarthritis in a randomised, double-blind study. Rheumatol Int DOI 10.1007/s00296-007-0304-y.