How effective is arnica for bruises?

Arnica has been used on bruises for hundreds of years.

Arnica is a plant with small yellow or orange flowers and grows perennial in most of Europe. While the oral form of arnica is generally not recommended, the topical version is often used by many people. As of 2011, people have used arnica for bruises for hundreds of years; however, research conducted in recent years has questioned the effectiveness of the homeopathic remedy. Many of the studies conducted have shown that arnica had little to no effect on healing bruises or reducing swelling, and some research has been inconclusive. Only a few trial results showed positive results with the use of homeopathic arnica.

Studies looking at the effectiveness of arnica ointment show that it can help heal some bruises.

Doctors in one study divided a group of postoperative patients into three groups. Two groups took a high or low dose or arnica regularly, while the latter took the placebo. The results of this study showed no difference between any of the patients. Several homeopathic physicians argue that arnica for bruising works better at lower doses and therefore consider this particular trial invalid.

Research has shown little supporting evidence for the effectiveness of arnica for bruising.

Results from another trial that supposedly used less arnica on laser-induced hematomas yielded the same results. There was no effect observed in the bruises treated with arnica. This particular trial applied arnica before and after induced bruising, which further questions the effectiveness of arnica in preventing bruising. The study did not measure other purported benefits associated with arnica for bruising beyond physical appearance, such as reduced swelling or pain.

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Arnica is used to treat various ailments, including sore muscles.

A 2010 study showed supportive evidence about the effectiveness of arnica for bruising. In this particular study, each patient had multiple laser-induced hematomas on their arm, and each hematoma had a different topical ointment applied. The results concluded that a 20 percent concentration of arnica in a topical solution helped reduce bruising compared to retinol, petroleum, and vitamin K. As of 2011, there are no other studies with results as favorable as this trial.

Despite the lack of scientific evidence supporting the effectiveness of arnica for bruising, several health professionals advocating homeopathic remedies still recommend using arnica for bruising. This group generally agrees that regular small doses of arnica ointment will benefit people suffering from bruising. Excessive use, however, can result in skin burning, peeling, or itching. Contact dermatitis can also occur in people with sensitive skin.

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