What is Arnica?
Arnica montana, or Arnica for short, is a homeopathic medicine commonly recommended for injuries such as bruises, sprains, and strains. Arnica is a plant also known as mountain tobacco, leopard’s bane, and wolf’s bane.
Homeopathic Arnica is prepared from the yellow flowers of the plant. It is one of the most frequently prescribed homeopathic medicines, but it is also commonly misused.
Like all homeopathic medicines, the proper use of Arnica depends on both your physical and mental symptoms, and the dose you take.
What is Homeopathic Medicine?
Homeopathic medicines are ultradilute substances that have been in use for over 200 years. They are widely used in Europe but are increasing in popularity in the US. They are safe and effective for a variety of illnesses when used under the supervision of a professional.
Most of the research about homeopathic medicines is flawed because the studies ignore the most basic premise of homeopathy: appropriate study and use of homeopathic medicines requires a thorough 1-on-1 interview between a patient and naturopathic doctor (or other trained homeopath) before a medicine can be prescribed.
Most studies do not include this crucial interview process, but rather give each medicine to study participants who each have the same illness. For example, giving a high dose of Arnica to everyone who has a headache would inevitably show that Arnica is ineffective for headaches.
However, if a thorough interview shows the defining characteristics that indicate the need for Arnica, then the chance of treatment success is significantly higher.
The defining characteristics of Arnica include injuries caused by some type of blunt force trauma, but also include important details such as the individual’s personality, body temperature, and other symptoms.
These details cannot be overlooked, as homeopathic medicines require a holistic evaluation of the whole person in order for them to be effective.
What is Arnica Montana Used For?
The most important defining characteristics that indicate the need for Arnica are as follows:
Musculoskeletal issues from BLUNT FORCE trauma
Easy bruising or easy bleeding (created by the trauma)
The affected area feels oversensitive and touchy
The pain is worse at night and with touch
Pain feels sore and bruised, as if someone beat the affected area
Most of these key symptoms must be present, and the mechanism of injury is very important. With Arnica, the mechanism must have been a blunt force trauma. This is why it is often given after surgeries, such as when a tube is put into the throat. The blunt tube injures the throat tissue, causing soreness.
Another good example might be a boxer who has lots of muscle pain and bruising from frequent matches.
There are other defining characteristics as well, but these are some of the most important ones.
How Do You Use Arnica?
Arnica is available in oral form as pellets or topical form as a cream or gel. Oral administration is usually given in higher doses after a thorough homeopathic interview, whereas the cream or gel are applied directly over the injured area.
Topicals may be helpful for both pain and bruising, but your best chance for success with homeopathics is to contact a professional.
Homeopathic medicines come in various doses that you probably aren’t familiar with. These are seen on the label either as D, X, C, or M. For example, you might see Arnica 30X or Arnica 1M. Here is the order of dosing strength:
M > C > D/X
In summary, M is the strongest and C is in between. D and X are the same dose and are the weakest preparations.
1D and D1 are the same as 1X
200C is much stronger than 100C
200C is equivalent to 400X (C is always ½ of X*)
1000C is equivalent to 1M
* This does not mean it is half as strong—numerically, it is half of C
1X is much weaker than 30C
30C is much, much weaker than 10M
Which Dose Should You Use?
Generally, you should use Arnica cream in a small X/D dose if you’re trying to treat bruising, sprains, or soreness from blunt force trauma.
Homeopathics aren’t dosed the same way as drugs, and stronger doses do not produce stronger effects.
Topicals typically contain a 1X dose of Arnica, which is considered a very low dose of Arnica and is what you should stick to.
Apply the cream a few times per day until the bruising is cleared or the pain resolves.