Arnica, also called Arnica montana, is a plant that is native to
the mountainous regions of Europe and southern Russia. The flowers and leaves
of this plant have many traditional medicinal uses.
Arnica is available as an ointment or gel and can be found in most
health food stores.
People use arnica as a cream or gel for soothing muscle aches and
inflammations and healing wounds. When applied to the skin, it may improve
healing by decreasing swelling and pain and speeding blood reabsorption.
People also apply arnica to the skin for treatment of acne, boils,
Arnica is recommended for external use only.
Do not put arnica inside your mouth or swallow it. The plant is poisonous and,
if swallowed, it can cause stomach pain, diarrhea, vomiting, difficulty
breathing, cardiac arrest, and death.
Do not use arnica if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Do not use
it on open wounds or broken skin. Stop using arnica if you develop a skin rash.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate
arnica in the same way it regulates medicine. It can be sold with limited or no
research on how well it works or on its safety.
Always tell your doctor if you are using an alternative product or
if you are thinking about combining one with your conventional medical
treatment. It may not be safe to forgo your conventional medical treatment and
rely only on an alternative product.
December 4, 2012
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
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