• John Lathrop

Arnica To Treat Inflammation: A Review Of The Literature.

Updated: Sep 14, 2021

Herbal medicine is a growing topic of conversation as people look for alternatives to prescription and non-prescription nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs). There are multiple reasons why an individual may not be able to utilize NSAIDs, such as being in a current state of pregnancy, stomach complications, poor liver function, etc. To treat both acute and chronic states of inflation there are various other modalities that remain safe alternatives to NSAIDs; I would like to give a brief overview and understanding of the current literature on the use of Arnica for the treatment of inflammation.

Arnica is extracted from one of various plants belonging to the Aesteraceae family. Primary medicine in Germany has utilized Arnica for several decades and has been showed to produce minimal amounts of adverse reactions when administered topically. Several studies have shown the most effective compound found in Arnica for the use of treating inflammation is helenalin; helenalin has been found to act as an inhibitor, or stabilizer, of inflammatory cells. It is important to note that oral doses of Arnica are uncommon and extremely diluted (if administered) due to side-effects.

It is interesting to note that studies on the use of Arnica for the treatment of inflammation are by no means limited to typical joint swelling. There are several studies where topical Arnica was administered to fresh wounds (incisions) and it was observed that not only was the acute inflammation less than that of a control group, but the wound healing was also facilitated. Other studies which observed the effectiveness of Arnica were done on the following patients:

– Tooth removal – Acute ligament sprains – Observation of general soreness after long-distance running – Laser-induced bruising – Carpal Tunnel release (hand surgery) – Chronic knee arthritis – Varicose vein surgery – Post total knee replacement surgery – Traumatic injuries – Tonsillectomy – Knee ligament replacement surgery – Bunion surgery

From the above studies, Arnica had the greatest impact on surface-related trauma (such as in the varicose vein surgery or in skin trauma), musculoskeletal trauma (as well as muscle-related soreness after running), and mild-moderate cases of arthritis. It did not appear to be very effective after most invasive surgical procedures.

In conclusion, topical use of Arnica appears to be a viable alternative to NSAIDs for treating inflammation to the skin, muscles/tendons/ligaments, and mild cases of arthritis.


Jeschke E, Ostermann T, Luke C, et al. Remedies containing Asteraceae extracts: a prospective observational study of prescribing patterns and adverse drug reactions in German primary care. Drug Saf. 2009;32:691–706.

Obon C, Rivera D, Verde A, et al. Arnica: a multivariate analysis of the botany and ethnopharmacology of a medicinal plant complex in the Iberian Peninsula and the Balearic Islands. J Ethnopharmacol. 2012;144:44–56.

Lawrence WT. Arnica. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2003;112: 1164–1166.

Alonso D, Lazarus MC, Baumann L. Effects of topical arnica gel on post-laser treatment bruises. Dermatol Surg. 2002;28:686–688.

Widrig R, Suter A, Saller R, et al. Choosing between NSAID and arnica for topical treatment of hand osteoarthritis in a randomised, double-blind study. Rheumatol Int. 2007;27:585–591.

Alvarez-Hernandez E, Cesar Casasola-Vargas J, LinoPerez L, et al. Complementary and alternative medicine in patients attending a rheumatology department for the first time. Analysis of 800 patients. Reumatol Clin. 2006;2: 183–189.

Lyss G, Schmidt TJ, Merfort I, et al. Helenalin, an antiinflammatory sesquiterpene lactone from Arnica, selectively inhibits transcription factor NF-kappaB. Biol Chem. 1997;378:951–961.

Hall IH, Starnes CO Jr, Lee KH, et al. Mode of action of sesquiterpene lactones as anti-inflammatory agents. J Pharm Sci. 1980;69:537–543.

Tornhamre S, Schmidt TJ, Nasman-Glaser B, et al. Inhibitory effects of helenalin and related compounds on 5-lipoxygenase and leukotriene C(4) synthase in human blood cells. Biochem Pharmacol. 2001;62:903–911.

Berges C, Fuchs D, Opelz G, et al. Helenalin suppresses essential immune functions of activated CD4+ T cells by multiple mechanisms. Mol Immunol. 2009;46:2892–2901.

Baeuerle PA, Henkel T. Function and activation of NFkappa B in the immune system. Annu Rev Immunol. 1994; 12:141–179.

Lawrence T, Gilroy DW, Colville-Nash PR, et al. Possible new role for NF-kappaB in the resolution of inflammation. Nat Med. 2001;7:1291–1297.

Castro FC, Magre A, Cherpinski R, et al. Effects of microcurrent application alone or in combination with topical Hypericum perforatum L. and Arnica montana L. on surgically induced wound healing in Wistar rats. Homeopathy. 2012;101:147–153.

Kaziro GS. Metronidazole (Flagyl) and Arnica montana in the prevention of post-surgical complications, a comparative placebo controlled clinical trial. Br J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 1984;22:42–49.

Albertini H, Goldberg W. Evaluation d’un traitement homeopathique de le nevralgie dentaire. Bilan de 60 observations dentaires in recherches en homeopathie. Lyon, France: Fondat. Franc. Rech. Homeopath; 1986:75.

Zell J, Connert WD, Mau J, et al. Treatment of acute sprains of the ankle joint. Double-blind study assessing the effectiveness of a homeopathic ointment preparation. Fortschr Med. 1988;106:96–100.

Dorfman P, Amodeo C, Ricciotti F, et al. Évaluation de l’activite de l’Arnica 5CH sur les troubles veineux après perfusion prolongee. Cahiers de Biotherapie 1988;98 (Suppl):77–82.

Baillargeon L, Drouin J, Desjardins L, et al. The effects of Arnica montana on blood coagulation. Randomized controlled trial. Can Fam Physician. 1993;39:2362–2367.

Lokken P, Straumsheim PA, Tveiten D, et al. Effect of homoeopathy on pain and other events after acute trauma: placebo controlled trial with bilateral oral surgery. BMJ. 1995;310:1439–1442.

Hart O, Mullee MA, Lewith G, et al. Double-blind, placebocontrolled, randomized clinical trial of homoeopathic arnica C30 for pain and infection after total abdominal hysterectomy. J R Soc Med. 1997;90:73–78.

Vickers AJ, Fisher P, Smith C, et al. Homeopathic Arnica 30x is ineffective for muscle soreness after long-distance running: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Clin J Pain. 1998;14:227–231.

Ramelet AA, Buchheim G, Lorenz P, et al. Homeopathic Arnica in postoperative haematomas: a double-blind study. Dermatology. 2000;201:347–348.

Jeffrey SL, Belcher HJ. Use of Arnica to relieve pain after carpal-tunnel release surgery. Altern Ther Health Med. 2002;8:66–68.

Knuesel O, Weber M, Suter A. Arnica montana gel in osteoarthritis of the knee: an open, multicenter clinical trial. Adv Ther. 2002;19:209–218.

Wolf M, Tamaschke C, Mayer W, et al. Efficacy of Arnica in varicose vein surgery: results of a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study. Forsch Komplementarmed klass Naturheilkd. 2003;10:242–247.

Tveiten D, Bruset S. Effect of Arnica D30 in marathon runners. Pooled results from two double-blind placebo controlled studies. Homeopathy. 2003;92:187–189.

Brinkhaus B, Wilkens JM, Ludtke R, et al. Homeopathic arnica therapy in patients receiving knee surgery: results of three randomised double-blind trials. Complement Ther Med. 2006;14:237–246.

Seeley BM, Denton AB, Ahn MS, et al. Effect of homeopathic Arnica montana on bruising in face-lifts: results of a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Arch Facial Plast Surg. 2006;8:54–59.

Schneider C, Schnieder B, Hanisch J, et al. The role of a homeopathic preparation compared with conventional therapy in the treatment of injuries: an observational cohort study. Complement Ther Med. 2008;16:22–27.

Totonchi A, Guyuron B. A randomized, controlled comparison between arnica and steroids in the management of postrhinoplasty ecchymosis and edema. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2007;120:271–274.

Robertson A, Suryanarayanan R, Banerjee A. Homeopathic Arnica montana for post-tonsillectomy analgesia: a randomised placebo control trial. Homeopathy. 2007;96: 17–21.

14 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Let’s assume you have NOTHING to work with. 1) Outdoor Running. Don’t expect running to tone you up unless you’re eating healthy and during resistance training also. But running will keep your cardi