Homeopathic Remedy Arnica

By Richard Pitcairn, DVM, PhD

Part 1: Arnica and Injury

Most of us know that Arnica is the big remedy for injuries but what is usually not known is that it is useful for only certain types. It has come into prominence because it so often addresses the type of injury one experiences: the common blows, contusions, and falls. But why doesn’t it deal with all injuries? This has to do with understanding how homeopathic remedies act. Most of us slip into the idea that we have to deal with what caused the problem. If an injury, then a medicine that treats injury; if a poison, then one that treats poison. Homeopathy is not like that. The major discovery 200 years ago was that what must be treated if the person is to regain health, is the effect of whatever happened to them, not the presumed cause.

OK, this is not immediately obvious is it? Let’s look at it like this: Say you were playing baseball and your friend accidentally hits your arm with a bat. Is there only one thing that could happen? Most likely is a painful bruising of the arm tissues, perhaps even turning black and blue. But what could also happen is a fracture of the bone, or if not that, then a bruising of the bone. Or how about the skin being torn open? Or a blood vessel being smashed open and the tissues filling with blood? Get the idea?

So we homeopathic practitioners pay close attention to the state of the person (or animal) after the injury has occurred. In a sense we are asking “In what way were you affected by this?” We could just look at the injury as the cause and treat that way but it is not skillful or the way successful homeopathy has been practiced for over 200 years. The original discovery, that is the basis of homeopathic work,  is that of the whole condition of the patient — the “part” that must be treated — is the state of that individual as a result of what happened.

So what does Arnica correspond to? The state of the patient that most often makes Arnica useful is a feeling of soreness, of being bruised, as if they had been beaten. And this is primarily felt in the muscles and softer tissues of the body. Arnica does not especially address injuries to bone, cartilage, nerves, internal organs, etc., although it could if there is a feeling of soreness and other indications of Arnica. However, there are other remedies usually much better suited for these injuries.

In the New World Veterinary Repertory, there are 42 remedies listed for treatment of blows and contusions. Each of these remedies correspond to specific states that follow the injury. Arnica is a biggie in that list but there are other biggies as well, and then a multitude of less often used remedies that are useful to know as sometimes that is how it goes for some people and animals.

For example, you will see among those 42 remedies, Calendula, a wonderful remedy for large ragged wounds of the skin. A lovely remedy for injuries to nerves, especially of the tips of fingers and toes or the teeth, Hypericum, is also there. Then we have Ruta (and other remedies) for bone fractures. Each of these corresponds to a different state, different feelings, different pain, different part injured, yet all of them are in the list of remedies for blows and contusions.

Have I confused you enough? It gets more complicated. For each of these states of injury above — laceration, nerve damage, or fracture — there are many remedies that are applicable, each a little different from the others. The homeopathic practitioner, from study and experience, chooses the best one for that particular patient. Does it matter? Yes, because the best remedy will be almost miraculous restoring health very quickly, while a less suitable remedy will have only temporary or partial effects. Thus the skill the practitioner possesses.

Is treatment of injuries the only use of Arnica? No, but let’s leave that for another piece (to be continued).

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