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Arnica (topical)
  Evaluated for:
Effectiveness Rating Effectiveness Rating
Arthritis (hands and low back)
+1 (Slight Evidence)
Post-operative bruising
-1 (Possibly Ineffective)


  • Arnica, from the flowers of the plant Arnica montana, is most commonly applied as a cream to intact skin. It is thought to have anti-inflammatory properties. The active constituents of arnica, called sesquiterpene lactones, are thought to inhibit production of certain pro-inflammatory agents, such as NF-kappa B and cyclooxygenase-2.
  • Arnica can be tried topically to reduce arthritis pain. Some studies found arnica gel to be as effective for relieving hand pain due to arthritis as the gel formulations of diclofenac and ibuprofen, two other commonly used topical anti-inflammatory medications. It also showed some benefit for treatment of low back pain due to arthritis. Arnica is considered safe for topical use. It should not be ingested.


  • No evidence was found in the research literature for the effectiveness of arnica in treating bruises. While there is some evidence of effectiveness in reducing pain of osteoarthritis, more studies are needed to evaluate its use for treatment of bruising.

DOSAGE: 5-20% arnica cream

CONCLUSION: If you elect to try Arnica, remember to include it in your list of medications when you visit your doctor and other health care providers.