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Healthnotes Index:

Arnica for Sports & Fitness

Why do athletes use it?*

Some athletes say that arnica helps reduce the pain and accelerate the healing of sports injuries, such as bruises, strains, and sprains.

What do the advocates say?*

Arnica is very useful in the early stages of an injury when there is swelling.

Arnica can be used prior to and immediately after a demanding athletic event (e.g., a marathon) to prevent post-workout soreness. While “weekend warriors” may benefit from arnica, they should not use it routinely in lieu of adequate training and stretching; overuse or arnica can cause it to lose its effectiveness or cause side effects such as pain and soreness.

Do not use arnica for more than seven consecutive days. You should discontinue use once your symptoms have improved.

How much is usually taken by athletes?

Arnica-containing ointments are recommended by many practitioners for the treatment of sprains and strains and other traumatic injuries.1 Homeopathic arnica tablets are also used by some practitioners for similar conditions.2 One uncontrolled trial showed that arnica gel applied twice daily reduced symptoms of osteoarthritis of the knee and a double-blind study reported that a combination of topical arnica ointment and oral homeopathic arnica tablets reduced pain in people recovering from hand surgery.3, 4 No other studies of topical arnica have been done, but several studies of homeopathic arnica have found it ineffective for treating muscle and joint pain.5, 6, 7


See a list of books, periodicals, and other resources for this and related topics.
*Athletes and fitness advocates may claim benefits for this supplement based on their personal or professional experience. These are individual opinions and testimonials that may or may not be supported by controlled clinical studies or published scientific articles.

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The information presented here is for informational purposes only and was created by a team of US–registered dietitians and food experts. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements, making dietary changes, or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2016.

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