Arnica: Uses, Benefits for Chronic Pain

Achy joints. Sore muscles. Back pain. Arthritis. Fibromyalgia. Chronic pain is an unfortunate fact of life for millions of Americans. In many cases the pain is so severe that it hampers the ability to function normally. Consequently pain management is big business and sufferers spend billions of dollars each year on over-the-counter and prescription medications in their quest for much-needed relief. Many of the medications have unpleasant side effects such as dizziness or stomach distress. The good news is that there is an effective natural alternative for pain management that has no side effects and is easy to use.

Arnica Montana, often called "mountain daisy" for its bright yellow flowers, has been used for centuries to treat joint pain, sore muscles, achy backs and other musculoskeletal problems. It is also helpful in managing the discomfort associated with bruises, overexertion and strains. Recent studies have shown that it can also be helpful in managing the pain and inflammation associated with various surgical procedures.

Sports medicine professionals and trainers often recommend arnica for athletes who experience sore muscles after a game or workout. Athletes report that it is best to use arnica as soon as possible after a workout so that it can go to work immediately to mitigate muscle soreness.

The arnica plant, which grows in mountainous areas in the United States and Canada, gets its healing powers from its large yellow flowers which contain chemical compounds that stimulate the production of white blood cells. Arnica also promotes fluid drainage and the release of toxins that cause muscle and joint pain.

The flowers are typically dried and then converted to gels, tinctures, salves, creams and lotions that can be applied topically to relieve the pain and swelling associated with bruises, sprains, soreness and arthritis symptoms. It is a very effective topical treatment because it allows you to target the source of the pain. Arnica should never be used on broken skin as it may cause irritation.

Arnica also comes in pill, pellet and liquid forms that can be taken orally. The pill form of arnica is usually recommended for severe symptoms or in cases where joint pain is widespread (like fibromyalgia and other conditions in which pain tends to migrate). All of the forms of arnica are available online, in natural health stores and in some pharmacies.

Arnica is safe for use by children, adults, pregnant women and senior citizens. Although there have been no reported interactions with other medications, it is still a good idea to talk to your holistic practitioner before using the pill or pellet form of arnica. Your practitioner can also help you decide the dosage that best suits your needs.

If you suffer from chronic muscle or joint pain or if you experience occasional soreness from overexertion, try using arnica instead of chemically-based medications. Natural pain relief helps us stay in harmony with our body's natural rhythms.

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