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If you’ve ever dealt with a muscle sprain, back pain, or even run-of-the-mill soreness, it’s likely that your doctor or therapist has recommended arnica cream as a therapy. And with good reason: derived from a flowering herb found in Europe, Siberia, and North America, this powerful herb is known for its ability to treat swelling and decrease pain.
But can it also provide benefits in skincare? Here’s what you should know.
First thing’s first: what is arnica, and how is it incorporated into products?
Arnica comes from a perennial flower in the sunflower family called Arnica montana (otherwise known as the “mountain daisy”). It’s commonly applied topically and even ingested -- though most doctors do notrecommend the pills -- to treat a variety of ailments, including:
The secret ingredient? An anti-inflammatory called helenanin acetate that’s shown to have anti-inflammatory and even anti-cancer benefits (even though it can be toxic when ingested or left undiluted).
This can translate to some pretty significant skincare benefits.
Arnica contains a whole range of anti-inflammatory compounds, including sesquiterpene, lactones, flavonoids, and phenolic acids. These have given the arnica plant antibacterial, anti-tumor, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties.In skincare, this can translate to:
Fighting the effects of a nasty mosquito bite or even a bee sting? Arnica can help here too, working to calm inflammation in the area and clear out any extra histamine. Translation? Less itching and redness, faster.
Did you break a bone or even get elective surgery? Consider adding arnica to your healing regimen. In fact, many surgeons actually “prescribe” arnica to their patients before and after a procedure thanks to its ability to help with bruising and inflammation.
Why? Well, in addition to providing pain relief, arnica is also shown to possibly stimulate the flow of white blood cells and increase circulation -- both of which can lead to faster healing after surgery.
That said, be sure you’re not using it on an open wound unless you’re specifically instructed by your doctor.
Less inflammation and more white cells don’t just mean improved healing -- it also means less pain. In fact, in a 2014 study, topically applied arnica was found to be as effective as topical ibuprofen at improving physical function. Not too shabby!
Want to learn about more good-for-your-skin ingredients? Learn more about our Eight Saint ingredients and why we use them here.