One remedy at a time: Arnica montana - the mountain daisy

Arnica montana, called mountain daisy, produces a beautiful yellow flower. Arnica grows in high alpine valleys throughout the world. It has an ancient history of being used to treat falls, bruises, and other traumatic injuries. The flowers were picked, dried and stored; and an infusion was prepared and used whenever an injury occurred. It is interesting that Arnica was used for similar purposes by people with great geographical and cultural separation; it was used in the Andes Mountains and the Swiss Alps; its recorded use dates from Greek and Roman civilizations.

Samuel Hahnemann was familiar with the folk use of this herb. He conducted a systematic study, a homeopathic proving, and since then Arnica has been used extensively as a most important homeopathic remedy. The provings, along with 200 years of practical clinical experience, give us clear indications for its homeopathic use.

Pharmacology

Arnica has an affinity for the blood vessels. Given in crude form, it causes dilation of the vessels, stasis of the blood, and increased permeability of the vessel walls. The result is a tendency to hemorrhage, so it is used homeopathically to stop bleeding.

Indications

Arnica is the most often indicated remedy for injuries, accidents, fractures, and other traumas. Dr. Dorothy Shepherd wrote in A Physician's Posy, "The best specific I know in homeopathy is Arnica for injuries, falls, and accidents of all sorts. Indeed, it has been well known for centuries as a domestic household remedy for falls. In the German language it is called `fall kraut,' or falling herb, to show its main action....I assert most strongly that it relieves the shocks and pains accompanying an injury rapidly and miraculously....Arnica, when given internally, works better (for relieving pain) than morphine."

It is rightly said that there are no specifics in homeopathy (a specific meaning a given remedy to treat a given condition). In every case we should carefully note the symptoms. This includes a physical examination of the injured parts, plus the patient's subjective sensations of the quality of the pain, modalities (what makes it better or worse), and any mental or emotional symptoms associated with the case. Dr. Shepherd meant that in treating trauma, usually you will find Arnica to be the indicated remedy, and its action is swift and decisive in allaying pain and promoting healing. Other remedies, however, such as Hypericum, Conium, and Ruta are also important remedies for trauma treatment.

Dr. Roger Morrison has said that the best first aid remedy is first aid. It is important to first perform common-sense first aid procedures, such as stopping bleeding, covering the injured person with a blanket, performing CPR if indicated, etc. As soon as possible give the first aid remedy, probably Arnica, in whatever potency you have on hand.

Given homeopathically, Arnica stops bleeding and promotes healing. It acts quickly and powerfully to allay shock (shock accompanies all traumatic injuries to some degree). It not only stops bleeding, both internally and externally, but also hastens reabsorption of blood and fluids. Thus Arnica is extremely effective for reducing swelling following sprains and other traumatic injuries. Reduced swelling means less inflammation, less pain, and faster healing.

Arnica is effective in treating injuries, both recent and remote. What is truly amazing is the powerful healing effect of Arnica on old injuries. We have hundreds of cases, many reported in books and journals, in which Arnica stimulated healing caused by trauma years previously. The patient may have suffered for years, until homeopathic Arnica was prescribed, and in a matter of days or weeks the pain or disability disappeared. Dr. Shepherd reported a case of a woman who suffered from severe back pain for ten years. The pain began after a fall down some stairs. Arnica 30c, taken twice a day, completely eliminated the chronic back pain in a few weeks. It did not recur.

Always consider Arnica for affects of the head or mind appearing long after a head injury (Natrum sulphuricum). If the history reveals that a child, suffering from paralysis or neurological problems, experienced a traumatic forceps delivery, think of Arnica. Another case of Dr. Shepherd's involved an eight-year-old boy who developed strabismus (crossed-eyes) following a fall. This condition continued for eight months, and surgery was advised. Arnica was given, and in a matter of days the strabismus resolved, permanently.

Arnica is the first remedy to consider for head concussion, with or without skull fracture. Following any fracture, Arnica is used to stop pain, shock, and bleeding, and to promote healing. Arnica is the first remedy to give for a cerebro-vascular accident (stroke), or for any type of internal hemorrhage.

For the effects of overexertion, Arnica is the main remedy. For aching muscles, following exertion or performing activities not usually done, Arnica is a welcome friend. Whether from too much gardening, spring housecleaning, cutting firewood, a long hike, or exhaustion following a marathon, Arnica is the remedy to remember. Persistent tiredness following exertion also suggests Arnica.

Arnica is an important remedy during pregnancy and childbirth. For threatened abortion following physical trauma or overstrain, Arnica is the first remedy to consider. I have seen its effective action on two such occasions; in both instances the women were in early pregnancy and had overexerted themselves physically. Both women experienced bleeding, and both were fearful of miscarriage. Arnica (along with bed rest, of course) immediately stopped the bleeding, and "aborted" the threatened abortion. Both women were fine the next morning -- Arnica saved two pregnancies!

During pregnancy, a woman needing Arnica may experience discomfort lying in bed at night. She is especially sensitive to the movement of the fetus, and may be unable to sleep. A dose of Arnica will relieve her of that oversensitivity, allowing her to experience the rest she needs to keep up her health and energy. It is used during labor for ineffectual contractions. Following childbirth, especially a long, tiring, or traumatic birth, both mother and child may benefit from Arnica. The newborn has certainly undergone a traumatic experience, and Arnica will quickly soothe and revitalize the infant. For the mother, it stops postpartum hemorrhaging and reduces the likelihood of infections.

Arnica is given immediately before and after surgery to promote healing. It is also used before and after tooth extraction or extensive dental work. Another indication would be the pain or soreness following chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation.

Arnica also may be applied locally over areas of sprain or swelling. Caution: never apply Arnica externally if the skin is broken. It can cause severe skin reactions. For external use, where the skin is not broken, put ten drops of tincture in a pint of water and apply sparingly over the injured area. Be sure to give the remedy in potency under the tongue also.

Arnica is an important remedy in treating severe septic conditions, such as typhoid, with delirium and stupor. Arnica has a wide effect on the body, and has been used successfully to treat dysentery, skin conditions, and brain afflictions such as meningitis. To understand any remedy, we need to look closely at the symptoms it produces and cures.

Symptoms

A bruised, lame, sore feeling, as if beaten, is the most typical Arnica physical sensation. The muscles, joints, bones, the entire body, may feel sore. When lying, those needing Arnica often may sense that the bed feels too hard, or the mattress too lumpy. Because of this discomfort, the sufferers may frequently shift positions, seeking a more comfortable one. This restlessness may appear similar to that of Rhus tox, but remember that with Rhus the restlessness is from a sensation of stiffness, which is relieved by motion. With Arnica, the restlessness is simply due to soreness of the parts, seeking a change of position to find comfort. It is not the movement itself that relieves, as with Rhus tox.

Arnica has definite mental symptoms, which may or may not be present in a patient needing this remedy. The most important is a fear of being approached or touched. These patients can be extremely apprehensive about this, and may cringe at the approach of the doctor (or anyone!). Another peculiar mental symptom that indicates Arnica is that, although severely ill or injured, he will tell others that he is all right, and that he does not need to see a doctor. The patient may be morose, sad, and he may just want to be left alone. Other mental symptoms include a fear that death is imminent (Aconite), an aversion to making any effort (including talking), starting easily, and waking with terrible nightmares.

The face may appear flushed (plethora). Sometimes it may be pale. An Arnica keynote is "hot face and head, rest of body is cold." Another peculiar Arnica keynote is "face is hot, yet nose is cold." There may be bruising, or purpura hemorrhagica, anywhere on the body. In the delirium state, the Arnica patient may be difficult to rouse. She may attempt to answer your question, then fall immediately back into a stupor. A keynote of this state is stupor with incontinence of urine or stool.

Headache and dizziness may be present. Hemorrhage of the conjunctiva or retina, double vision following an injury, eyestrain from overuse of the eyes, and nosebleeds following injuries all suggest Arnica.

Arnica has a big effect over the entire gastrointestinal system. Putrifaction, gas, and eructations smelling like rotten eggs are symptoms of Arnica. The tongue may be coated yellow, with excess saliva. A foul taste may be present in the mouth, a taste as from bad eggs. Abdominal colic, and diarrhea with painful tenesmus may be present. The dysentery causes extreme fatigue and prostration. The Arnica dysentery may have a characteristic straining at stool, with long intervals between stools. The stools can be very offensive. Vomit may contain dark, coagulated blood.

The bladder may be affected. For retention of urine following exertion or strain, including a difficult childbirth, Arnica is an important consideration. Urine may be voided with great difficulty because of spasm of the sphincter. Blood may be present in the urine.

Skin symptoms may include eczema, pustular eruptions, bed sores, ulcerations, or psoriasis. The distinctive feature is symmetrical eruptions. Thus you may observe identical eruptions on the same area bilaterally, as over both knees, etc. Very painful crops of boils are a strong indication for Arnica.

The Arnica general symptoms include aggravation from any movement, especially an aggravation from sudden movements. There may be sharp, shooting pains down the limbs. She feels bruised all over, as if beaten by blows, exhausted. The limbs feel heavy, the wrist or hip may feel as if dislocated.

Modalities include an aggravation from cold damp weather, movement, exertion, the least contact, and wine. There is amelioration from lying with the head low.

In summary, remember Arnica for any type of trauma. The sore, lame, bruised sensations may cause the bed to feel hard, resulting in constant movement in bed. It is the first remedy to give to stop bleeding, useful for strokes, internal hemorrhages, accidents, sprains, or strains. Any problem that has followed trauma, even though the injury was years ago, may respond favorably to Arnica. It is an important remedy for pregnancy and childbirth, including postpartum hemorrhage. Important mental symptoms include aversion to being touched or even approached, and saying he is fine even though seriously injured or ill.

Remember its use in treating septic conditions, including dysentery and diarrhea. Remember its symmetrical skin eruptions, and crops of painful boils. Give Arnica prophylactically before surgery or dental work, then repeat after surgery. Arnica is a valuable remedy, and it should always be kept close at hand; it belongs in every first aid kit. It is easy to prescribe, and is frequently indicated for first aid treatment. Arnica is a homeopathic public relations champion -- it has proven to many people that homeopathy works!

International Foundation for Homeopathy.

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By Durr Elmore

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