Is it safe to use arnica during pregnancy?

Many analgesics, both synthetic and natural remedies, are contraindicated during pregnancy and seeking pain relief becomes a difficult task. Many naturopathic and homeopathic practitioners recommend moderate use of arnica topically, which is generally considered safe enough during pregnancy. However, the oral administration of arnica is not recommended since it is considered toxic and can favor premature delivery and spontaneous abortions, although, according to information from the British Homeopathic Association, it can be used in very diluted preparations to facilitate delivery and recovery.

effects of arnica

The arnica species most used for medicinal purposes is arnica montana. The anti-inflammatory properties of this plant are attributed to its content of helenalin, a sesquiterpene lactone. The mechanism of action is unclear, but it has been observed to selectively inhibit the transcription factor NF-κB (activated B cell nuclear factor kappa light chain enhancer), which would affect the immune response.

Helenaline has also shown antitumor activity but the mechanism of action is also not known. in vitro tests It has been seen to selectively inhibit human telomerase, which could explain, albeit in part, its antitumor action.

In the root you can find thymol and derivatives that have shown a clinically vasodilatory effect, which explains the effects of arnica in reducing bruising. Thymol also has fungicidal activity, a property that is used in several preparations, mainly in toothpastes and mouthwashes.

But helenalin also has high toxicity, especially in the gastrointestinal tract, liver and lymphatic system. The flowers are the most toxic part of the plant, with the leaves and roots being the most used parts. Although used topically on the skin is quite safe, prolonged use can cause eczema and other forms of skin irritation. Homeopathic dilutions of 24x or more contain undetectable amounts of helenalin and are believed to be non-toxic.

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Use during pregnancy

Many pregnant women use arnica creams and ointments to relieve muscle and joint pain and improve varicose veins. Arnica is also used during childbirth in homeopathy to facilitate the process. Homeopathic arnica preparations in high dilutions are also used for days after delivery to reduce swelling and bruising.

Arnica can have a stimulating effect on the uterine muscle. Therefore, moderate use topically during pregnancy is recommended, but not orally, as there is a risk of inducing premature labor or miscarriage. Additionally, due to its gastrointestinal effects, arnica taken by mouth can worsen some pregnancy symptoms, such as nausea and vomiting.

It is important to point out that oral forms of arnica are not considered safe, either by the FDA or the European Medicines Agency, for pregnant women or for children under 12 years of age due to a lack of data on its safety and effectiveness.

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