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With the chill in the air, many people complain of nagging pains in their bodies that no medicine seems to treat. If you are one of these people, you may want to consider advice from the Queen of England’s own homeopathic physician (who is also a general practitioner) and use Arnica.

Derived from the plant arnica montana, Arnica is commonly used in the homeopathic form of a solution that should be taken orally; it has been in widespread use for the past 200 years. Two years ago, Arnica was registered with the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency in the UK as a treatment for sprains and bruises and is now easily available in Pakistan.

Arnica is usually associated with homeopathy; homeopaths insist that it can relieve almost any kind of pain, be it inflammation, swelling, muscular strain, aching joints, bleeding gums or bruises. It has also been known to reduce the bruising associated with varicose veins as well as helping cure endometrial cysts in women – known to followers of the treatment as ‘Joepathy’; some people also believe that it can prevent hair loss.

How it works is open to debate. Arnica solution carries sesquiterpene lactones and flavonoids which are known to reduce pain. It is also believed to stimulate the activity of white blood cells and disperse the fluid that accumulates around pain affected areas.

Of course, researchers continue to debate its efficacy. According to a study conducted by the University of Exeter, Arnica is effective as a placebo. Meanwhile, research at the Bradford School of Pharmacy indicates that Arnica does contain potent anti-inflammatory agents which can reduce bruising in low doses.

Homeopathic Arnica is available in a solution form for approximately Rs 200; it has no reported side effects, while other Arnica products (such as gels or pastes) should be rubbed on the affected area; they can be toxic if ingested.

– Shayan Shakeel

First published in the Health Advertiser section of the DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on March 11, 2012.

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