ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Arnica and Arthritis: Can it Really Help?

Updated on April 18, 2013

Good for Arthritis?

Arnica Flowers
Arnica Flowers | Source

What effect can this age-old remedy have upon a crippling and chronic complaint?

When Mum asked me to purchase a large supply of a particular brand of arnica gel a couple of years ago, I thought she was either setting up her own pharmaceutical outlet or was expecting a future filled with accidents and mishaps. I have always kept a supply of arnica cream in my cupboard to treat those mysterious bruises that appear on my knees and ankles just when I want to look my best. When Mum revealed that she wanted the gel to allay the symptoms of her arthritis I thought she had gone mad. But she assured me that a legitimate practitioner had recommended she rub the gel into her worst-afflicted joints twice daily, for three months.

Three months later Mum reported an improvement in her condition. Surprised, I considered my own arthritis-afflicted knee - this condition does happen to run in my family. I used the arnica in the same way as Mum and two months later, my knee seemed to be standing up well to the frostier spells of weather that winter. Maybe there was something in this arnica thing, after all. I had known of its healing qualities since I came across a mention of in a Victorian novel but I had never known how arnica worked, and why.

Arnica montana is the name given to a group of about thirty plants, the same group to which the aster flower belongs. It is also know as Leopard’s Bane, mountain tobacco and sneezeworth. It is a perennial plant that grows best in peaty soil. In appearance it is a deep yellow flower. These flowers and the underground stems or rhizomes from which they grow can be steeped in water or alcohol to produce a tincture that is used externally to treat bruises and sprains. Arnica is also found in creams – often combined with witch hazel – and liniments. Sources tell me that it stimulates the immune system and heart, relieves pain and inflammation and clears fungal and bacterial infections. It can also be used to heal dislocations, chilblains and varicose ulcers, and can be used as a throat gargle. But why does it seem to have a beneficial effect on arthritis?

Arnica is an astringent herb that works by stimulating the activity of white blood cells. These are a group of five different types of blood cells that are produced to defend the body against injury and infection. When a joint is injured by arthritis or some other affliction the white blood cells go into action, attacking the ‘invader’. Arnica speeds up this activity, dispersing trapped fluids from joints and muscles and bruised tissue. Its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial qualities help to reduce pain and swelling, and improve wound healing.

Like many herbal cures, arnica has been around a long time. Because it is a sub alpine plant, that is, it grows on the lower slopes of hills and mountains, it has long been in use in Germany and Austria. It is said that Goethe (1749 – 1832) the German poet and writer, took arnica tea in old age for his angina. In sixteenth-century Europe it is thought that mountain climbers would chew the fresh plant to relieve aching muscles and as treatment for their fall-induced bruises. Like many traditional cures, arnica has lately attracted controversy. While there is no doubt of arnica’s efficacy as an external healer, more controversial is the homeopathic use of arnica. Adherents claim that arnica taken internally in the form of small pills or ‘pillules’ can calm anxiety. But sceptics dismiss such claims as mere suggestion to the patient and a recent clinical trial seemed to prove this.

In spite of Goethe’s imbibing, arnica has a degree of toxicity. Like several known medicines it contains an alkaloid, arnicin. Alkaloids are a group of mildly alkaline compounds containing nitrogen. Although they can now be synthetically produced, they were originally obtained from plants. Coniine, another alkaloid, is obtained from the seeds of the hemlock plants and was used in the execution of the philosopher, Socrates. Quinine is a remedy for malaria and nicotine is used as an insecticide. In the UK, arnica is restricted to external use but wherever you are, arnica should only be taken internally on the advice of a qualified practitioner. Whatever controversy rages over ‘homeopathic’ arnica, many happy external users attest to its healing powers. Mum and I will be using it for a long time to come.

Sources

Royal Horticultural Society: New Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses, Dorling Kindersley, 2002.



Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Mary Phelan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Phelan 

      5 years ago from London

      I love helping people, thank you, Arun.

    • ARUN KANTI profile image

      ARUN KANTI CHATTERJEE 

      5 years ago from KOLKATA

      Arnica Montana is a wonderful homoeopathic drug for relief from conditions resulting from injuries. falls and contusions. It is available as a household medicine

      in many countries. Thanks for sharing the useful information.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)