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Arnica – The Ingredient that Started it All

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So the story goes that one day several years ago, I was having a random conversation with one of my former trumpet students, Wesley Bullock. He explained to me how he healed a lip injury incurred in a marching band accident with an herb called Arnica or Arnica Montana. I was so struck by the healing power of this natural ingredient that I had never heard of that I became obsessed with the idea of incorporating arnica and other natural healing agents into a lip care product for people who play a wind or brass instruments. That was the beginning of the ChopSaver saga. And the rest is, as they say, history! But what is so special about arnica? Well, the following are actual clinical studies about the remarkable healing effects of this amazing herb.

Arnica
Arnica

Arnica (Arnica montana) can be used topically as a cream, ointment, liniment, salve, or tincture. Europeans and Native Americans have used arnica to soothe muscle aches, reduce swelling and inflammation, and heal wounds. It is often the first remedy used for injuries such as sprains and bruises.

Studies

Use of Arnica to relieve pain after carpal-tunnel release surgery.

Altern Ther Health Med. 2002 Mar-Apr;8(2):66-8.

Jeffrey SL, Belcher HJ.

Abstract

CONTEXT: Arnica is commonly used by the public as a treatment for bruising and swelling.

OBJECTIVE: To assess whether Arnica administration affects recovery from hand surgery.

DESIGN: Double-blind, randomized comparison of Arnica administration versus placebo.

SETTING: Specialist hand surgery unit at the Queen Victoria NHS Trust.

PARTICIPANTS: Thirty-seven patients undergoing bilateral endoscopic carpal-tunnel release between June 1998 and January 2000.

INTERVENTION: Homeopathic Arnica tablets and herbal Arnica ointment compared to placebos.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Grip strength, wrist circumference, and perceived pain measured 1 and 2 weeks after surgery.

RESULTS: No difference in grip strength or wrist circumference was found between the 2 groups. However, there was a significant reduction in pain experienced after 2 weeks in the Arnica-treated group (P<.03).

 

Choosing between NSAID and arnica for topical treatment of hand osteoarthritis in a randomized, double-blind study.

Rheumatol Int. 2007 Apr;27(6):585-91. Epub 2007 Feb 22.

Widrig R, Suter A, Saller R, Melzer J.

Abstract

The use of topical preparations for symptom relief is common in osteoarthritis. The effects of ibuprofen (5%) and arnica (50 g tincture/100 g, DER 1:20), as gel preparations in patients with radiologically confirmed and symptomatically active osteoarthritis of interphalangeal joints of hands, were evaluated in a randomized, double-blind study in 204 patients, to ascertain differences in pain relief and hand function after 21 days’ treatment. There were no differences between the two groups in pain and hand function improvements, or in any secondary end points evaluated. Adverse events were reported by six patients (6.1%) on ibuprofen and by five patients (4.8%) on arnica. Our results confirm that this preparation of arnica is not inferior to ibuprofen when treating osteoarthritis of hands.

 

Anti-inflammatory activity of Lychnophora passerina, Asteraceae (Brazilian “Arnica”).

J Ethnopharmacol 2011 May 17; 135(2):393-8.

Capelari-Oliveira P, Paula CA, Rezende SA, Campos FT, Grabe-Guimarães A, Lombardi JA, Saúde-Guimarães DA.

Abstract

ETHNOPHARMACOLOGICAL RELEVANCE:

Lychnophora passerina (Asteraceae), popularly known as “arnica,” is used to treat inflammation, pain, rheumatism, contusions, bruises and insect bites in Brazilian traditional medicine.

RESULTS: In vitro assays showed remarkable anti-inflammatory activity of L. passerina crude ethanolic extract (EE) and its ethyl acetate (A) and methanolic (M) fractions, through the inhibition of production of NO and TNF-α inflammatory mediators and induction of production of IL-10 anti-inflammatory cytokine. In vivo assays showed anti-inflammatory activity for EE 10% ointment, similar to the standard drug diclofenac gel. The A and M fraction ointments 20% presented anti-inflammatory activity.

CONCLUSION: The results obtained showed that possible anti-inflammatory effects of EE and its A and M fractions may be attributed to inhibition pro-inflammatory cytokines production, TNF-α and NO and to increased IL-10 production. EE, A and M ointments showed topical in vivo anti-inflammatory activity. The in vivo anti-inflammatory activity of EE of L. passerina may be related to synergistic effects of different substances in the crude extract. Therefore, traditional use of aerial parts of L. passerina in the inflammatory conditions could be beneficial to treat topical inflammatory conditions, as evidenced by the present study.

 

Effect of Arnica D30 in marathon runners. Pooled results from two double-blind placebo controlled studies.

Homeopathy 2003 Oct;92(4):187-9

Tveiten D, Bruset S.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: To examine whether the homeopathic medicine Arnica D30 has an effect on muscle soreness and cell damage after marathon running.

METHODS: The subjects were 82 marathon runners from two separate randomized double-blind placebo controlled trials participating in the Oslo Marathon in 1990 and 1995. Five pills of Arnica D30 or placebo were given morning and evening. Treatment started on the evening before the marathon and continued on day of the race and the three following days. The runners assessed muscular soreness on a visual analogue scale. Muscle enzymes, electrolytes and creatinine were measured before and after the marathon.

RESULTS: Muscle soreness immediately after the marathon run was lower in the Arnica group than in the placebo group (P = 0.04). Cell damage measured by enzymes was similar in the Arnica and the placebo group.