Cautions and considerations when using arnica in massage base oil

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When used topically for long periods, in high concentrations, or on raw or broken skin, arnica has some side effects: Applying arnica topically for prolonged periods, especially on the same part of the skin, can result in irritation at the place where it is applied. If it is applied to the skin too long, too often, or in concentrations that are too high, arnica can cause blistering and allergic dermatitis that may leave permanent scarring. 1) Arnica can also be irritating to the eyes, nose, and other mucous membranes. People with sensitive skin including children, frail and elderly people may be more likely to have skin reactions. 2) It is best to avoid using topical arnica near the eyes and mouth. 3) People should avoid arnica if they have a known allergy to arnica or any member of the Asteraceae (daisy) or Compositaeplant families. Individuals who are allergic to sunflowers or marigolds may also be allergic to arnica. Signs of allergy may include rash, itching or shortness of breath. 4) Individuals who must handle arnica plants frequently have been known to develop contact allergies to it. 5) Therapeutic massage therapists who regularly apply blends containing arnica should be particularly careful. Arnica should not be used on open sores or large, deep wounds. Arnica should not be used on broken skin, such as leg ulcers. 6) Topical use of arnica is discouraged during pregnancy, while breast-feeding, or during early childhood. Although there is very little information available on how arnica might affect a developing foetus, an infant, or a small child, there exists a risk of birth defects or spontaneous abortion. 7)  8) In theory, arnica may increase the risk of bleeding. If the patient has diabetes or uses anticoagulants (blood thinners) or antiplatelet drugs the therapist has to be particularly careful. It is preferable to discuss the issue with the primary health care professional. It may be necessary to stop taking arnica before some surgeries. 9) Interactions There are no known scientific reports of interactions between arnica and conventional medications and the interactions with supplements and other herbs have not been thoroughly studied.10) It is prudent however to keep the following in mind before adding arnica to the base oil: People who take drugs for heart conditions should not use arnica without the primary health care professional’s input. 11) Arnica’s possible negative effects on the heart and its potential to raise blood pressure make it unsuitable for use by individuals who take drugs to control heart conditions or high blood pressure. 12) It is possible that arnica may decrease the effectiveness of drugs used to lower blood pressure. 13) In theory, arnica may increase the risk of bleeding when used with anticoagulants (blood thinners) or anti-platelet drugs. Examples include warfarin, heparin and clopidogrel. 14) Some pain relievers may also...

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Blending arnica oil with base oil poses no danger to patients. Fact or fiction?

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Arnica is a very popular herbal remedy usually blended in cream, ointments, lotions and salves to alleviate a number of ailments such as bruises and similar injuries. In particular, sports men and women swear by this remedy whether used internally or topically to soothe muscle aches and relieve the pain and swelling of sprains. Also professional body workers such as therapeutic massage therapists, physiotherapists and even beauty therapists use arnica massage oil blends to treat muscle soreness caused by exercise and to reduce inflammation. Pre-mixed oil may be used neat or added to almond or grapeseed oil. Often this blend is used for all patients across the board. So, how beneficial and how safe is it to use arnica in a massage base oil? Evidence for the beneficial effects of Arnica Montana One has to be careful when evaluating the evidence of arnica’s beneficial effects to distinguish between arnica as a homeopathic remedy (usually in the form of tablets or oral drops to be ingested) and arnica as a herbal remedy (presented as creams, ointments and in massage oil blends). According to Leivers (2005: 289) confusing the two has led to “the incorrect assumption that clinical research into homeopathic arnica may be used when assessing the evidence base of herbal arnica products.” The two types of remedies might share the same plant source but each stream uses very different formulae. He argues that the evidence base supporting each of them must therefore be reviewed separately. According to Leivers there is considerable pharmacological data to justify the herbal use of arnica. He quotes non-clinical and clinical studies that indicate a number of benefits: Studies of the components of the plant and related compounds have been shown significant anti-inflammatory action. Improvement to the venous tone, oedema and ‘feeling of heaviness’ in legs (A second identical study however indicated improvement for both the active and the placebo group with no difference between the two) Decrease in pain and stiffness after using arnica gel in patients with mild to moderate osteoarthritis of the knee. Relief of muscle ache after using arnica gel. A study by Widrig, Suter, Saller and Melzer titled Choosing between NSAID and arnica for topical treatment of hand osteoarthritis in a randomised, double-blind study, demonstrated that arnica gel was similar to ibuprofen gel in terms of hand functional capacity, pain intensity, number of painful joints, duration and severity of morning. Topical application of Arnica montana was chosen because: it has published data from preclinical studies of some anti-inflammatory action, the preparation has published evidence of skin penetration and it is available as a gel that is similar to the ibuprofen gel, so it could not be distinguished from the control during the...

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