The Natural Remedy That Can Ease Your Joint Pain As Well As Ibuprofen

Arnica flowerheads have traditionally been steeped in hot water to prepare topical remedies for pain relief. Arnica appears to possess anti-inflammatory properties, and research suggests that in topical gel form, it can relieve osteoarthritis pain as effectively as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen. In my experience, topical arnica is also great for managing bruises, sprains, and muscle pain.


You can find tinctures, creams, gels, and oils, all for topical use, at most health food stores and some pharmacies. I use a tincture, made with arnica and alcohol, which both smells good and feels good. Liberally massage topical arnica into any sore or injured area with unbroken skin. (Do not apply arnica in any form on an open wound—you risk absorbing a toxic dose.)

Or, try making an arnica compress: Dip a gauze pad into a tablespoon of arnica tincture mixed with a pint of spring or purified water, then put it on the arthritic joint or injured area. Some people are sensitive to a component of arnica, so stop using it if a rash develops.

Do not take arnica internally except in homeopathic form. While research findings have been inconsistent, personally and in my practice, I find the 30X potency beneficial as a first-aid treatment for trauma, such as a dental procedure, or any sports-related injury involving sprains, strains, or bruising. Some people take homeopathic arnica prior to and following surgery, but there are conflicting research findings about the effectiveness of this practice.


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