Does Arnica Help With Fibromyalgia Pain?

Fibromyalgia pain management isn’t easy. The side effects of prescription painkillers can make this option less appealing for many people. There’s also the very real possibility of getting hooked on the drugs, as underscored by the current opioid crisis. It makes sense to find alternative, nonaddictive ways to manage fibromyalgia pain and avoid taking prescription pain medications in the first place.

One potential alternative is homeopathic medicine. While low on scientific evidence, homeopathic medicine has been in use for centuries. Arnica is one such example.

What is arnica?

Arnica comes from the perennial Arnica montana, a yellow-orangish flower that grows in the mountains of Europe and Siberia. It’s sometimes called the “mountain daisy,” because its color and petals look like the familiar flower. Creams and ointments made from the flower head can be used to address the following ailments:

  • muscle soreness and aches
  • bruising
  • joint pain and swelling
  • inflammation
  • fibromyalgia

What the research says

Arnica is commonly used to treat bruises, so it’s popular among people who’ve recently undergone surgery, especially plastic surgery. Although scientific research is inconclusive on the matter, topical creams and gels containing arnica are said to help with pain and bruising of the skin.

A 2006 study on people who underwent a rhytidectomy — a plastic surgery to reduce wrinkles — showed that homeopathic arnica can significantly boost healing. Arnica has proven effective during the healing of several postoperative conditions. These include swelling, bruising, and pain.

How it’s administered

If you choose to use the herb arnica for pain, never take it orally. It’s meant to be applied to your skin and is typically used as a gel. You can dissolve a homeopathic remedy of arnica under your tongue. However, this is only because homeopathic products are highly diluted. The herb itself shouldn’t be put into your mouth.

Precautions and side effects

Doctors don’t recommend using arnica on broken skin or for extended periods of time, because it can cause irritation. Additionally, pregnant or breastfeeding women should consult with a doctor before using arnica.

Some people can have allergic reactions to arnica or show hypersensitivity. If this occurs, you should stop using arnica. Individuals who are allergic or hypersensitive to any plants in the Asteraceae family should avoid using arnica. Other members of this family include:

  • dahlias
  • daisies
  • dandelions
  • marigolds
  • sunflowers

The takeaway

As with most homeopathic remedies, the scientific “jury” is still out, despite studies that show it to be an effective treatment for fibromyalgia, arthritis, and postsurgery bruising. Talk to me if you’re interested in using arnica.

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