The homeopathic remedy Arnica is used to treat pain, particularly bruising and muscle aches and stiffness. It is available in pill form or as an ingredient in homeopathic creams or ointments meant to treat muscle pain. Like other homeopathic remedies, its active ingredients are greatly diluted.
Homeopathy follows the principle, “Like cures like.” Developed in Germany in the 1800s, homeopathy uses highly diluted amounts of substances derived from animal, plant or mineral sources to treat specific complaints. You may wish to meet with a homeopathic practitioner (a homeopath) to discuss your problems and seek remedies, or you may decide to purchase a homeopathic remedy and self-treat.
In homeopathy, remedies that are more dilute are considered more potent. Therefore, a remedy labeled 30C (diluted 30 times) is more potent than one labeled 6C (which has been diluted six times). According to Nelsons, the European maker of homeopathic remedies, 6C remedies are better for acute conditions, while 30C is more suited for emergency or chronic conditions. However, it is more important to match the remedy to the complaint.
The FDA and Homeopathic Remedies
Since 1938, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has regulated homeopathic remedies, including Arnica, in a way similar to over-the-counter medications. They can be purchased without a doctor’s prescription. In 1988, the FDA began requiring that the labels on homeopathic remedies must indicate the remedy’s intended use, ingredients, use instructions and dilution.
Safety of Homeopathic Remedies
According to the National Institutes of Health, few reports of illness related to remedies have been made to the FDA. Remedies at high dilutions are considered safe. They are unlikely to cause adverse interactions with other medications; however, you should tell your physician if you are taking homeopathic remedies, especially if you are pregnant or nursing.
The homeopathic remedy Arnica is derived from a plant, arnica montana, also known as wolf’s bane or mountain arnica. It may be taken orally or applied in cream form topically to a bruised or painful area.
Homeopathic Arnica is not known to have side effects. It is considered safe.
There is an herbal, nonhomeopathic form of arnica. It can cause adverse reactions, including a rapid heartbeat and shortness of breath, and skin problems when applied topically. Generally, the herbal form of arnica is not considered safe for internal use.
Homeopathy is a matter of debate, particularly in the United States where allopathic (traditional) medicine is followed more often. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, which is part of the National Institutes of Health, is funding a number of research studies about homeopathy.