Not only is Arnica a beautiful yellow herb in the sunflower family, but it has some amazing topical benefits.
What Is Arnica?
Arnica comes from the sub-alpine regions of western North America. It can also be found in arctic regions of Europe, Asia, and North America.1
Arnica plants have long, downy leaves. Their flowers are daisy-like. They are bright yellow or orange and between 2 and 3 inches wide.
The anti-inflammatory ingredient in arnica is called helenalin
Osteoarthritis is often referred to as "wear-and-tear" arthritis. In this condition, the cartilage that protects the joints wears down over time. It is often treated with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
Arnica is thought by some to be a safe, natural alternative to NSAIDs.
In a 2013 review, Australian researchers looked at seven trials on topical herbal remedies for osteoarthritis.3
Arnica gel appeared to work nearly as well as Advil (ibuprofen). Benefits included reducing pain and improving joint function in people with hand osteoarthritis.
Post-Surgical Pain and Bruising
Proponents of arnica think it can reduce bruising and swelling after surgery. For this use, it is either applied topically or taken as an oral supplement.
Muscle pain is also called myalgia. It is associated with a wide range of medical conditions. It can also happen after simple overuse of the muscles.
Most studies on arnica have focused on post-exercise muscle pain. Arnica has long been used for this purpose in sports supplements. Even so, there is little evidence to support its use.
One review of studies strongly endorsed the combined use of oral and topical arnica for muscle injuries.
In less-diluted formulas, arnica may cause a mild allergic reaction. This happens most often in people allergic to plants of the Asteraceae family. These plants include: