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Arnica: An Essential Remedy for More Than Just First-Aid

Arnica montana is among the most well-known of homeopathic remedies, as it is used frequently for first-aid of bumps and bruises. Arnica also has many other uses, including treatment for concussions, pre- and post-surgery, sore muscles, and labor and delivery.

The Legend Behind the Plant

Homeopathic Arnica montana is a remedy made from the mountain daisy plant. Legend has it that a sheep farmer first discovered this plant's curative powers after observing his sheep: if any sheep were ever injured on the steep mountain slopes, they would go eat the mountain daisy.  When the farmer was injured himself, he ate the mountain daisy and learned that it made him feel better.


Bumps and Bruises

Homeopathic Arnica montana is well-known as a remedy to use for injuries.  According to The

Family Guide to Homeopathy,

"Arnica montana... is traditionally used to minimize the immediate effects of shock, falls, bruising, bleeding, and injuries caused by blunt objects." 

Arnica montana excels at treating bumps and bruises.  It is an essential remedy in my first-aid kitWith two young children in the house, I use Arnica montana regularly, and it is the most often-used remedy in my collection.

I use Arnica montana anytime one of my kids has a particularly bad fall. My son typically falls down and gets right back up, laughing it off.  I know it is time to give him some Arnica when he falls down and starts to cry hard.

My daughter is a child who is rather clumsy (just like me) and she seems to be hypersensitive to pain. Even the tiniest fall or scratch can cause her to cry and cry. So I don't use Arnica every time that she falls down and cries.  But I do use it whenever she has had a particularly bad injury.

For instance, inexplicably, a rocking chair once fell on my daughter's forehead.  She, rightfully so, began to cry and scream, and I observed a large bump forming immediately.  This was a perfect time to use Arnica, and within a few minutes, my daughter was up and playing once again.

I know from past experience that my daughter can cry for a LONG time after she gets hurt, so for her to be up and playing so soon after a real injury is simply awesome.  Arnica montana helps with not only the shock of the injury, but also the pain and bruising that accompanies it.  I have been amazed at how little bruising and residual pain there can be if Arnica is used for an injury.

Labor and Delivery

According to Homeopathic Medicine for Children and Infants, Arnica montana is the primary remedy for the trauma of birth for both the mother and infant. 

"[Arnica] is also good for the mother's muscle aches caused by straining during labor and helps to promote proper uterine contraction. It can also stop uterine bleeding during or after labor."

According to The Family Guide to Homeopathy,

"After the birth... bathing your vaginal area with Arnica solution (10 drops of mother tincture to 0.25 liter [1/2 pint] warm water) will take away some of the soreness and promote healing."


Arnica is also useful in the treatment of concussions. According to Dr. George Guess, MD,

"Both acute concussions and post-concussion syndromes (which can include such symptoms as headache, dizziness, difficulty concentrating, amnesia, apathy, depression, etc.) can benefit from homeopathic medicine... Of course, the use of homeopathy should by no means be used as justification for bypassing standard medical protocols for diagnosing and treating cerebral concussions/head injury. Self or family home treatment of concussion should be reserved for relatively simple cases after medical evaluation. More complicated or long-standing cases remain the province of the homeopathic professional...
Arnica... is the first and major remedy for concussion. Usually bruising or a hematoma accompanies the concussion. The striking peculiarity of this remedy, if the patient is conscious, is that the afflicted will profess that he is well and needs no care; he may recoil from efforts to examine him or touch him. He may be sleepy, going in and out of stupor. If asked a question, he will answer correctly, then go back to sleep. His face may be hot while the rest of the body is cold. Patients with chronic after-effects of head injury needing Arnica are often spacey and seem disconnected, almost as if they aren’t quite in their bodies."

Sore and Pulled Muscles

A lesser known use of Arnica montana is in the treatment of overworked muscles. Arnica can be used for muscles that are cramping as a result of fatigue, for sore muscles, and for pulled muscles.  I have used Arnica successfully to ease the pain in my muscles after particularly long hikes or vigorous strength training.

Rather than waiting for muscle soreness to set in, Arnica can also be used during activities that will lead to muscle soreness.  For instance, in two double-blind, placebo controlled studies, Arnica was shown to reduce the muscle pain in marathon runners.   


Arnica can also be used before and after surgery. According to the article A Homeopathic Perspective on Pre- and Post-Surgical Treatment by Dana Ullman, MPH,

"Once it is determined that surgery is medically necessary, homeopathic medicines can reduce complications of surgery and augment healing so that people can recover more quickly afterward... Arnica is another common homeopathic medicine given to people before and after surgery because of its ability to reduce surgical shock and minimize bleeding. Surgical shock is a condition that trauma or surgery can cause in which all the capillaries and small blood vessels are filled with blood at the same time. A randomized, placebo-controlled, crossover study showed that Arnica significantly decreased bleeding time."

(The same article goes into considerable depth on several different homeopathic remedies that are helpful for surgeries, so you may want to read the full text if you are planning on having a surgery.)

Topical Versus Internal Use

Homeopathic Arnica  is sold in topical form as well as pellets to be taken by mouth. I typically use Arnica topically for sore muscles, but I use Arnica taken internally for any significant injuries. Taking Arnica by mouth leads to a much stronger healing response than just applying Arnica topically to specific areas.

One thing to note: topical Arnica should NOT be used on broken skin.

Potencies and Dosing

I generally use Arnica in either the 30x or 30c potency.  While c and x potency remedies are prepared in different ways, a simplified way to think about them is that c potencies are roughly twice the strength of x potencies.  So a 30c remedy has roughly twice the strength of a 30x remedy.

Homeopathic remedies are typically given 4-6 times a day for many acute ailments, but for severe injuries they can be given more often (up to once every 15 minutes).  A general rule of thumb is that higher potencies will last for longer, so I give 30c potencies less frequently than 30x potencies.  I have never needed to give my kids more than one dose of Arnica for any of their injuries. 

With all homeopathic remedies, the least number of doses is always the best. Anytime there is a noticeable improvement, no more doses should be given. Homeopathic remedies work by stimulating the body to heal itself; once the body has started healing itself no more remedy is needed unless the symptoms start to regress (or unless there is a plateau, where the symptoms get better to a point but then stop improving).

There are some real-life examples of first-aid treatment with Arnica here.

Have you tried homeopathic Arnica?

*Image of Arnica montana is from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arnica_montana

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or licensed healthcare professional. I am a homeopathic practitioner whose services are considered complementary and alternative by the state of New Mexico. The uses of homeopathic remedies described herein are provided for educational use only.  

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