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Does Arnica Really Work?

Question:
Do arnica pills really work to prevent bruising?

Answer:
Arnica is commonly used as a homeopathic preparation to prevent bruising after surgery. However, the clinical evidence of its effectiveness is not compelling and, scientifically, there is little reason to expect it have an effect. For details, see the full answer >>

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Does arnica gel, cream, or spray reduce bruising, pain, or swelling?  >>

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COMMENTS

Kathy17064   August 9, 2018
If homeopathy is "garbage," as one person asserted in these comments, then why was my cat cured of a long-standing seizure disorder following a single dose of a well-selected remedy prescribed by an experienced DVM homeopath? Placebo effect? I don't think so.

L17055   August 8, 2018
I took some arnica pills before a medical procedure, per the doctor. It made me nauseous and sick to my stomach. I wasn't given any side effect info, either by the doctor, but also on the arnica packaging.

Manny17053   August 7, 2018
I find that these arguments to and fro about the value of homeopathic preparations of any kind proceed the same way and end the same way, viz., the proponents continue to affirm the benefits, the opponents continue to deny them. It is a sad commentary on science and quackery and how they become intermingled. For someone who avers to be an objective bystander, these quarrels solve nothing, nobody seems any the wiser or more convinced.

It is an axiom that one cannot "prove" any scientific hypothesis via personal experience alone. Yet this is the foundation for many opinions here and elsewhere. It would be rather simplistic to just say that everyone is just being "fooled" by their own personal bias. Dogs and babies can't express placebo effects, but owners and parents can be fooled by what they observe and remember and draw incorrect conclusions.

"Try it and see" is just not good enough to make widespread recommendations about whether or not to use something as a medical remedy. The power of self-deception is just too omnipresent.

Lauren17046   August 6, 2018
I use Arnica gel and pills for regular bruising, and it works like a charm. My cancer surgeon even recommended the gel to me. She didn't know there were pills. Using it right now for a knee bruise.

Judy 17039   August 6, 2018
I was provided with SinEcch for double orthognathic jaw surgery in 2013 by one of my doctors after receiving permission from my jaw surgeon. My post op nursing team was shocked by the lack of bruising I experienced compared to the other patients they worked with after the surgery. They kept commenting on it. I used it again in a follow up surgery in 2015 and had the same result.

Nadine17038   August 6, 2018
I am fortunate to have worked with a trained homeopath for over 30 years for successful treatment of a range of emotional and physical problems: from depression issues to itching from a rash; from sleeplessness to nausea; from anxiety to muscle pain. I use it in many forms: pills, liquid drops on the tongue and creams. The only thing that will calm my frequent uncontrolled restless leg syndrome is a Hyland brand remedy. Wake up at night with my mind whirring? Coffee cruda calms my repetitive thinking so I can get back to sleep. The arnica cream is an outstanding remedy for sore muscles and pain. It's important in this life to consider that mechanistic medicine is not always the answer and to have some faith.

harold jitschak17037   August 6, 2018
With great respect for science: If something -a plant like arnica-is used for ages[long before homeopathy was officially introduced] then any claims that it is not more than a placebo is irrelevant or a bit ridiculous.
No one familiar with the personnal use of arnica [and personaaly I know many hundreds of families] will pay any attention to scientist who want to prove otherwise.
These kinds of "proofs" may make people distant themself from scientific medicine [with all its corruption scandals]
I am a MD working with modern medicines and also use CAM widely in practice.
I understand that you solely trust publications but I have seen to many publications which can't be objective just because they contradict the enourmous experience people have with certain non conventionsl methods/remedies.
Many patients don't bother to tell their physicians what they have done /used as they feel they will be ridiculed.
Highly appreciating your enormous work with official supplements and all your knowledge when it comes to homeopathy or acupuncture and such maybe you should not just "read literature" as there is an enormous bias towards the non conventional methods but also consult experts in these fields.
thank you.

ConsumerLab.com   August 6, 2018
Hi Harold - To clarify, the answer above does not relate to herbal preparation of arnica, but homeopathic preparations of arnica. We will write a separate answer about herbal arnica -- which is typically applied topically.

Lauren17047   August 6, 2018
Thank You! Arnica in gel and pills has always worked on my bruising. The gel was even recommended to me by my breast cancer surgeon. She didn't know there were pills. I have no faith in the pharma industry at all.

Carole17048   August 6, 2018
The article refers to homeopathic doses of arnica, ie doses containing virtually no arnica. The author doesn't comment at all on what could be termed 'clinical' doses, ie arnica preparations which actually contain potentially 'therapeutic' doeses of arnica. Thus it doesn't undercut most forms of 'alternative' medicine

Glenna17033   August 5, 2018
As Donna commented, I have used arnica cream on bruises with amazing results. It's hard to appreciate how it could work as a pill.

James17032   August 5, 2018
I was introduced to use of Arnica tincture from the Welleda pharmacy about 40 years ago. I was visiting a friend at her families home in NYC. It had snowed recently and I stepped on a patch of ice and landed on my hip hard. When I got back to the house it was painful and the bruising had started to show. Her mother got the Arnica, made a compress and had me hold it on the bruised area for about 30 minutes as best I remember. The bruise disappeared in a day and the pain almost immediately.

Diane17031   August 5, 2018
I have used Arnica topically for years and can attest to its great effectiveness after an injury. I once had a bicycle fall and the places where I put Arnica did not bruise; whereas the places right next to it, did indeed bruise. Placebo, maybe... but I'll take it.

Jacquie17029   August 5, 2018
I have been using Arnicare gel for joint swelling and pain, and it seems to help. I'm only one anecdotal data point, but there you are.

Elissa17026   August 5, 2018
I combine Boiron Labs Arnica Montana 30C Arnica with Vitamin C, ice and 81 mg of aspirin. It has consistently been effective in eliminating bruising and swelling for me and those to whom I've recommended it. I also use concomitant topical arnica cream on all bruising. I've been using this protocol for over 20 years and all I can say is - it's magical. When arnica hasn't been available, icing, vitamin C and aspirin alone haven't done the trick. I was introduced over 20 years ago to arnica by a plastic surgeon with whom I worked. He told me plastic surgeons absolutely loved it and had been using it for decades.
FYI, historically herbalists rarely used arnica for pain relief, but it does seem to work for some people, particularly the topical gel: See these Amazon reviews: https://www.amazon.com/Boiron-Homeopathic-Medicine-Arnicare-2-6-Ounce/product-reviews/B001G7QHOY.
Rudolph Steiner, the doctor, scientist, philosopher, founder of Biodynamic method of agriculture, said the following: "Among the many homeopathic first aid remedies, Arnica stands as the universal trauma remedy and has often been referred to as "the helios of the gods." Wonderfully healing for a wide range of first aid conditions, Arnica may be applied externally in various forms. Hypericum, Symphytum, Rhus fox and Calendula are also great healers and, along with Arnica, are among some of the best remedies for conditions such as strains, sprains, fractures, bruises." A caveat: one needs to be on alert for arnica side effects even taken in its homeopathic state. My Godson gets an instantaneous rash.
As a clinical researcher, for 30+ year I've written protocols & designed data capture forms for drug studies. We attempt to preclude as many variables, but often we don't get it quite right. I mention this as an alert to not write off arnica based on current studies. Years ago, I sustained an injury while on a trip to Belize and resulted in my becoming a student of plant remedies. I was serendipitously taken to see a Mayan medicine man who had been studied by most ethnobotanists and botanical gardens in the world. Along with my remedy, the teaching I took from him was - it isn't just the herb, flower, seed, bark etc., that precipitates the active ingredient in the healing. It's also contingent upon the time botanicals are gathered and how they are prepared. Again - more variables. My final point - read the arnica precautions and then try it for yourself, it could help.

Aaron17024   August 5, 2018
Like others here, I viewed this article because I believed it was about the gel/cream, which I and my family use all the time and find highly effective. Had never heard of the pills. Would like to see a review on the cream. Thanks.

Donna17021   August 5, 2018
I have used the Arnicare Cream on surgical bruises following two different shoulder surgeries & I recommend the cream! I've never heard of or tried the pills!

Irwin17020   August 5, 2018
What about Arnica cream? Are there any studies of the effectiveness of Arnica cream? We have found the cream very effective in limiting the extent of bruising.

Diane17019   August 5, 2018
Homeopathy is garbage. Taking Arnica 'pills' is also bizarre. Please review Arnica extract as a topical application - Full strength herbal extract. Arnica has been an herbal remedy for bruises throughout Europe including my grandmothers going back generations. BUT, they didn't do the homeopathy crap, the applied it as a topical compress. I'd like to see that scientific research. Taking it internally full strength is very dangerous according to my Great Grandma Shum. She also used Comfrey for healing and said never take it internally. So please work from that basis on you next review. Extract full strength arnica - what does it do or not?

Robin17018   August 5, 2018
I have never found it useful for bruising, but the gel is wonderful for topical application for muscle pain and mild arthritis pain. It is also very effective for itching from bug and spider bites, often only having to apply once. Be sure the brand is pure Arnica and not some watered version with other ingredients. I also use the pills to manage pain in my dogs which the vet recommended as safe.

William17017   August 5, 2018
How about a review on arnica preparations that are not homeopathic and that actually contain arnica?

melissa17016   August 5, 2018
I am a registered homeopath, and have been for the past 40 years. I have often prescribed and used Arnica for bruising and as a post-operative aid to healing. I have used it also extensively on babies, children and animals - all of whom would not respond with a placebo effect. So much of the bad press for homeopathy results from 'home prescribing',where someone gives themselves a remedy and then finds it does not work. I, and any homeopath that is registered with professional bodies, have gone through at least three years of specific training in a dedicated College or school of Homeopathy. It is a vast subject and not one that can be picked up from a book or weekend course. Sometimes, on a first aid basis a remedy can be successfully used by a layperson - but otherwise a proper, extensive training is essential. Equally, I would like to point out - that many of the large drug companies have a vested interest in NOT recognising the benefits of homeopathy. Their test results
are often skewed in their interpretation or are administered by people not trained in homeopathy. I and many homeopaths have countless examples of conditions that clear up completely after proper treatment that would otherwise have needed ongoing allopathic medication - thus making them not cost effective for the big pharma. So before making judgement, please see a properly trained and experienced homeopath, and experience for yourself the benefits of this mode of treatment.

Chris17023   August 5, 2018
How would I go a about finding a properly trained and experienced homeopath? Not knowing is what makes me hesitate to seek one out. Thank you!

Susan 17035   August 5, 2018
Go to https://homeopathy.org/registered-homeopaths-directory/ or, homeopathy.org and click on Find a Homeopath.

Paul17045   August 6, 2018
Can you point to independent double-blind studies that show homeothapy works significantly better than a placebo? Merely saying you've "used it extensively to treat babies, children and animals" isn't any sort of scientific evidence. Furthermore, as a registered homeopath you are hardly an unbiased source. Confirmation bias is every bit as powerful as the placebo effect, and no one is immune to it--no one. Peer-reviewed studies are our only hope for reliable information.

Susan 17015   August 5, 2018
Arnica also works well on sore muscles. However, do not take it in anticipation of sore muscles, as you may find yourself with sore muscles!

Hylands Bumps and Bruises 6X tablets combined with Arnica, Bellis Perennis, Hypericum Perforatum, and Ruta Graveolens work great for bruises. Also useful is their Arnisport which increases the Arnica to 30X and contains the addition of Ledlum Palustre 6X and the ingredients in the BnB—all at 6X potency.
The label says to take 4 tablets. By experience, I have found 1 tablet works. Repeat if needed.

The manufacturer would like their customers to use up the contents faster and buy more. With homeopathy, repetition if needed, is fine. Then, let the body heal. Do not use it all up.

I have also found that nothing works faster in making the black and blue bruises disappear. In fact, once when I tripped and fell in the garden, my palm hit a piece of cement. I rushed to get the Boiron version of Bumps and Bruises. Their product was called Arni-Trauma 6C. Unfortunately, this wonderful remedy has been discontinued (Boiron Arnica remedies now do not have the combinations). After 1 tablet, within minutes, I noticed that the black and blue bruise was disappearing like kids novelty Disappearing Ink. I did have a small cut and that along with Triple Antibiotic cream (not ointment), Hypericum Perforatum tablets (for stinging pain), was all I used to heal the hand.

When I had a leg ulcer with stinging pain, only the Hypericum would stop the pain in seconds! I used Nelsons Calendula cream as needed.
The wound clinic at our local hospital was impressed with my method of healing a leg ulcer. No more months of agony.

Now I carry the Hylands Bumps and Bruises in the car just in case. Also, Hypericum tablets and Calendula cream.

JOAN17014   August 5, 2018
What about topical arnica gel that actually contains arnica?

kirstin17013   August 5, 2018
I have alway bruised very easily. Before my first c-section i took no arnica. My bruising was so bad that even my OBGYN was surprised. Every nurse that looked after me made comments about how awful my bruising was. This is pretty normal for me though, bc I konw i bruise easily. It took over a month for the enormous bruises to clear up.

Before my second, during which i delivered twins by the same OBGYN, I took the largest dose of sublingual arnica available 2 nights beforehand, the night before and the morning of. I didn't expect much but confirmed with my OBGYN that it wouldn't hurt. No one could blame me for not wanting that same level of bruising and swelling.

To my utter shock, I had ZERO bruising after the second c-section. My swelling was maybe only half as bad. Keep in mind that my first was a single baby and my second with TWINS, plus i was older.


That is my experience with Arnica. Take the study however you want it, but the proof will always be in your results.

Judith17012   August 5, 2018
I have used arnica cream for bruises and muscle aches my entire life. It has never failed to reduce bruise appearance time by several days, to reduce muscle pain in minutes, and to reduce swelling in an affected area. I have recommended arnica to countless others, and not one has reported that it was ineffective. It is reasonably priced, so I would encourage anyone with a bruise, or any ache or pain, to give it a try. Even John Wayne mentioned it in a couple of his movies, when a fight would break out! (I have no financial interest in arnica or its manufacturers, nor in any competing product.)

Dennis17010   August 5, 2018
I have never used the arnic pellets, but I use the gel and cream almost daily. I first tried the product when I broke an ankle. it reduced the swelling and dark bruising with each application. it stops the itch of bug bites, it reduces the itch of topical poisons. I now take anticoagulants, therefore I get many bruises. arnica reduces the bruising and takes down the swelling from the many needle punctures from extracting blood. my son uses his hands daily as a tech, and uses arnic at night to reduce the swelling and soreness in his hands. just one users opinion. GF

Brenda17009   August 5, 2018
I use arnica for bruising. Yes, it works for me. I am 66, a heavy piece of furniture hit me on my ankle. I immediately used ice and arnica on the hematoma. The next day the swelling was gone and there was very little bruising. I've used this for years. It works for me so these studies are not conclusive as far as I am concerned.

Brian17008   August 5, 2018
I would have to disagree. I have purchased and used on multiple family members a product called TraumaCare (similar or same as SinEcch). The time of recovery and lack of bruising from a fall, knee surgery, back surgery, dental surgery is OBVIOUS. Every doctor/surgeon has been surprised at lack of or no bruising. I try to have a supply on hand at ALL times for the next injury. I highly recommend.

I have also given to my dog with positive results...can't use the placebo argument on that one.

Susan17007   August 5, 2018

Is there any info on arnica cream for bruises. Using it now, not sure if
it's helping.
Thank you, Susan

Michael17006   August 5, 2018
I have used Arnica cream and Arnica Montano for many years. It clears up bruises in a week or less and relieves cramp and muscle pain in a few minutes. I am a firm believer in it. Also note that I do not take any prescriptions medications nor have I ever so it might act better in my natural state. I am 69 years old.


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This CL Answer initially posted on 8/5/2018.
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