In the vast and sometimes confusing sea of herbal supplements out there, it can be hard to know what’s what. Some supplements are kind of catch-alls, providing general health support while others are very specific in what and how they contribute to your health.
One of these more specific supplements that has risen in notoriety is arnica. Of course, you don’t want to run off and just start using whatever the hot new supplement is, so let’s take a moment to get acquainted with what, when and how you can put arnica to best use.
What is arnica?
Arnica (Arnica montana) has been known as a herbal health supplement since the sixteenth century. It’s a tricky little plant though, as it is extremely potent and must be used in a carefully diluted form (in other words, this is not a DIY kind of thing).
Arnica gel, ointment & cream
The most common preparation of arnica is a gel or ointment. These preparations are meant to be used topically, so for goodness sake, don’t try to get “creative” with it and don’t eat it. The good news is a little bit of arnica gel goes a long way when helping your body heal a variety of external ailments.
As long as you don’t have broken skin or highly sensitive skin, you can use to soothe a whole bunch of different skin irritations including bug bites, bruises and sunburns. It’s surprisingly helpful in soothing dry and irritated skin as well, but use it sparingly because it can go from “hey, my skin is so soft” to “why do I look like I rolled around in poison ivy” if you’re overzealous.
Arnica gel uses at a glance
- Sore muscles
- Joint aches
- Bug bites
- Minor swelling
This cannot be repeated enough: If you are going to take arnica orally you must must must make sure you are using a homeopathic arnica supplement. Don’t put the gel in your mouth, don’t eat it, don’t try to get fancy and grow it in your back yard to make your own concoction. Be smart and leave it to the professionals.
That being said, the same benefits found from the topical gels and ointments can be at your disposal by taking an oral homeopathic supplement. Arnica is often reported to be pretty fantastic at helping with minor injuries like bruises, sore muscles, joint aches and swelling.†
The good news is there aren’t any noted interactions with other medications, which means as long as you haven’t put your toddler in charge of your dosing, and you’ve checked with your doctor, arnica is a pretty safe and effective supplement when you’re looking for something that can help you find relief from an injury or if you made the mistake of thinking you were a hotshot at the gym the other day and now it hurts to walk up the stairs.
So while it isn’t a miracle remedy by any means (and if you thought it was you would have bigger problems than that giant bruise on your shin from running into the coffee table), arnica can be a great addition to your first aid kit or homeopathic supplement arsenal.
†These statements have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.