A set of active ingredients can be extracted from the arnica plant, and used to treat small bruises: they are the core of seemingly countless products on the market. Preparations vary depending on formulation – for example gel or ointment – as well as on the concentration of arnica, and on the presence or absence of other compounds that can boost anti-inflammatory action. How can you choose? Here are some tips, to help you pick the product that best suits your needs.
Concentration is crucial
One of the most important parameters to take into consideration to distinguish (and pick) arnica-based products is how concentrated active ingredients are. Concentration represents the quantity of the substance in the product. As for arnica, on the market you can find products with concentrations ranging from a minimum 10 per cent, with a milder effect, to 50 per cent or greater, which ensures effectiveness as a remedy against pain in the muscles and limbs.
Emulsion-gel is the way to go after a real blow
Emulsion-gels are products that are easy to apply, and therefore allow the skin to promptly absorb active principles so they can be immediately effective. On top of this, their non-greasy texture makes application effortless and particularly pleasant, with a fresh effect. This type of formulation is the most suitable in case of particularly severe joint inflammation, which usually requires cold treatment. Finally, it can also have a moisturising effect and lets the skin breathe. That is why it is often the preferred choice for people who play sports, or follow an intense workout routine.
For pain, apply heat
Arnica can also be used in synergy with a source of heat – such as bandages or, even better, thermal pads (which are available in pharmacies and can be both hot and cold). Heat promotes the relaxation of muscle tension, relieves joint stiffness, and lessens muscle and rheumatic pain.
Extra strength with additional ingredients
Arnica can be used either pure or with other plant extracts. One complementary ingredient is menthol: thanks to its well-known refreshing and mildly analgesic properties, it can provide a pleasant fresh feeling to the skin, and immediate relief to the treated area.
Devil’s claw and its secret
Arnica can also be complemented by devil’s claw, a substance obtained from the African plant of the same name, which can enhance soothing action. An emulsion-gel product with devil’s claw is recommended for tendonitis, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and as a natural remedy for sciatica, back pain, headache from cervical osteoarthritis, or general neck pain.