Soothing our aches and pains with arnica

Soothing our aches and pains with arnica

18 May 2020

Dr Rosy Daniel, Weleda’s Integrative Health Consultant, shares some top tips to ease aches and pains and minor sports injuries, which can flare up even when we are exercising at home.

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Every single one of us will suffer from aches and pains at some point in our lives, whether as a result of injuries, surgery or dental work, or the pains of rheumatic arthritic joints or achy muscles. There are many things we can do to help manage these issues at home, but let us start first by looking at the nature of these problems in order to understand how best to deal with them.

Trauma to the body, whether planned (through surgery for example) or as a result of accidents, involves shock, bruising and the need for tissue repair. Here Arnica is the king of the castle, helping with both the emotional and physical elements of trauma. It is recommended when going in for surgery or dental treatment to take homeopathic arnica starting on the day afterwards and continuing for around five days until the bruising has subsided. We can speed wound healing with a zinc supplement, and of course good nutrition is vital for us to heal well, with plenty of greens and fresh fruit to promote wound healing and prevent infection.

Arnica is a herb with a long history of use, and Weleda has been using arnica for nearly 100 years. This Image titlealpine plant is packed with effective botanicals: over 150 active compounds have been found in arnica. Traditionally used for rheumatic pain, muscular pain and stiffness, backache, bruising, cramp and sprains, it’s a familiar friend to sports enthusiasts and a perfect training partner.

Arnica has proved difficult to grow in abundance in Derbyshire where Weleda’s 13-acre Demeter-certified herb gardens are located, as the soils are too heavy and damp. Arnica thrives in colder, drier climates, so Weleda grow theirs in the Scottish Black Isle where the crisp cold and intensity of light result in prolific flowering.

When we strain our muscles, tendons and ligaments during intense athletics or contact sports like rugby, there is bleeding and swelling - this is the time that a cold compress is helpful as quickly as possible after the original trauma. This will stop internal bleeding and prevent uncomfortable swelling. Once you have limited the swelling, then gently massage in a little Arnica Cooling Gel as a brilliant source of relief. Once applied, you can then bandage the strained area into its natural position so that the tissues heal again as close to their original blueprint as possible. In fact nowadays, it is quite usual for a badly sprained ankle to be set in a cast so that the tendons and ligaments are immobilised while healing takes place – but do see if you can get some arnica on there before it is bandaged or set, to speed recovery. Image title

Another time that a cold compress is also useful is when there is inflammation or spasm of muscles following an injury to the back. When there is pressure on a nerve, such as when we have a slipped disc, the body’s reaction is to ‘splint’ the sore place with muscle contraction. However, this can sometimes make the pain even worse. So a cold compress can relieve this type of reaction and literally cool down a hot inflamed area.

The reverse strategy is employed when we have muscle tension due to anxiety, when the muscles have taken a grip and as a result are cutting off the blood supply to our joints. This is the most common cause of a frozen shoulder for example. Most often this is seen in the left shoulder of a right-handed person and vice versa. The right-handed person ‘does the world’ with their right hand but holds their vulnerability and tension in the left shoulder, which can be seen to be visibly higher than the right. In this situation both the blood and nerve supply to the shoulder joint can be impaired and crystals of calcium start to form with nasty joint pain ensuing. The traditional Chinese model of illness talks about pathology developing Image titlewhere there is stagnation of chi or energy in the body – and this is a very good example of that concept.

Here, the answer is to get the blood flowing again and to release the muscle tension. So this is where deep massage and a hot compress (or hot water bottle for example) will help greatly, along with remedies and balms that provide deep heat. This type of problem will also respond to a magical rub with Arnica Massage Oil, or Arnica Muscle Soak added generously to the bath. This same approach applies if we have overdone it in the garden, or if we are suffering from fibromyalgia with nasty achy muscles. You may also find that an energising shower with Arnica Sports Shower Gel is helpful if you are pushing yourself hard as an athlete.

Image titleLet us think about the other kinds of aches and pains that are caused by destructive processes such as rheumatoid arthritis. This is an autoimmune inflammatory process where we are literally making antibodies against our own tissues – in this case, against the cartilage lining of our join cavities. This makes our joints hot and swollen and the hallmark of this is that the problem can flit from joint to joint. You may well find help from a homeopath, but the first thing to do is to avoid all acid food and drink and to get the body to a more alkaline state. I have had clients whose arthritis has gone altogether by leaving out acidic foods - and this includes lemon, vinegar and tomatoes too, which are the only acidic vegetable, but often the culprit.

Get hold of some litmus paper and check your saliva’s pH first thing in the morning before tea, water, toothpaste or breakfast. You are aiming to get it to 7.4 and if yours is lower than this, you may well have found the cause of your inflamed joints! Our saliva is a much better indicator of tissue pH than our urine, and getting alkaline also protects us against infection and cancer. If you find yourself to be Image titlevery acidic, you can take alkaline salts and green juices to speed up the process of re-balancing yourself. The usual offenders are cigarettes, tea, coffee, wine, beer, lager, cider, fizzy drinks and sour fruits. Tonic water for example is pH 3, and cola is around pH 2!

If you think that you are achy because you are toxic due to smoking or drinking which is causing gout in your joints, Birch Juice can be a useful natural supplement to support the body’s detoxification processes, especially in springtime after hibernating all winter. So why not treat yourself to a wonderful ‘spring clean’ and get yourself fresh, alkaline and supple ready for the summer to come?

With best wishes for a most beautiful spring!

Weleda has a range of arnica products to ease minor sports injuries and aid recovery.

Arnica Massage Balm 
If an old sports injury flares up or you want to address a niggling backache, this is a high quality golden oil to gently massage in to the problem area. Relieve rheumatic pain, muscular pain, stiffness, fibrositis, bruising, cramp, sprains and minor sports injuries. Made with biodynamic arnica grown in the Scottish Black Isle, and fragranced with aromatic rosemary and lavender oils.

Arnica Bumps & Bruises Skin Salve
A soothing ointment to help with sprains and bruises, this handy tube is easily packed in a sports bag or pocket, to have to hand for the relief of muscular aches, pain, stiffness, sprains, bruises and minor sports injuries. Your perfect training partner.

Arnica Bumps & Bruises Spray
A convenient spray to ease minor sports injuries, muscular pain, stiffness and sprains. Simply spray onto the painful area, up to four times a day, or onto a damp cloth to use as a soothing compress. Best applied immediately after injury, to prevent a bruise developing.

Muscular Pain Relief Oral Spray
A convenient homeopathic oral spray made from three useful remedies: arnica, ruta grav and rhus tox. This little spray is easily zipped into a pocket or handbag if you have strained a muscle and are feeling particularly achy. Suitable for adults and children over 12, it’s easy to take - just one or two pumps with the metered spray, three times daily, straight onto or under the tongue.

Arnica 6X Tablets
The first port of call for accident upset – homeopathic arnica in tablet form that’s easy to take, to help with the bruising, both physical and emotional, of minor trauma such as bumps and bruises. A great little remedy for all the family, suitable from age 3, to help with everyday knocks.

Skin Tone Lotion
A soothing, oil-free lotion made with arnica, witch hazel, and carefully selected plant extracts including blackthorn, iris and lemon chosen for their natural therapeutic properties, to refresh and revitalise tired limbs. A great choice if you often have aching legs from a long day on your feet, or tired arms from clearing the garden. Simply massage lightly into the skin and leave to dry.

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