Recently, while having dinner at my favorite Italian restaurant, I overheard chatter coming from a nearby table of senior-aged women. They gabbed about everything from Making a Murderer to Medicare to lower back and hip pain. I also couldn’t help but notice they kept mentioning “arnica” throughout the conversation.
For centuries, arnica montana, a yellow, daisy-like flower grown in the mountains of central Europe, has been a key ingredient in folk remedies to treat bruises, rheumatic pains, heart weakness, and asthma.
Today, it’s widely used as an ointment, gel, or cream to prevent discoloration from bruises. So, if you whacked your leg at the edge of the coffee table, rubbing in arnica gel might actually reduce the rainbow of colors that forms as a result. That’s why some doctors recommend using arnica both before and after surgery to help minimize bruising or speed up their healing.
Arnica’s effects are particularly impressive in the pain department, which explains why athletes and arthritis sufferers also keep it on hand to relieve muscle soreness, stiffness, and swelling. According to one study, arnica performed as well as ibuprofen when used as a topical treatment for osteoarthritis of the hands—with fewer side effects to boot; another clinical trial proved its effectiveness as a treatment for knee stiffness.
Boiron’s all-natural Arnicare is quickly absorbed by the skin so it provides instant, cooling relief to muscles without leaving a sticky feel. Added bonus: The gel comes with a tube of arnica montana oral pellets, which can be taken for combined pain and bruising relief.
Photo credit: Alicia Cho