Arnica Reduces Postoperative Bruising
The homeopathic remedy Arnica montana significantly reduced the area of bruising after plastic surgery, according to a study in the Archives of Facial Plastic Surgery (2006;8:54–9).
In a double-blind clinical trial, 29 women undergoing a facelift (rhytidectomy) were randomly assigned to receive either a placebo or homeopathic arnica (12 C potency; 500 mg) beginning the morning of surgery, and repeated every eight hours for four days. Facial bruising and swelling were evaluated by doctors and nurses, and also by computerized digital image analysis of photographs taken before and after surgery. Although subjective symptoms and the degree of discoloration were not significantly improved by arnica when compared with placebo, the area of bruising (ecchymosis) was significantly smaller on the first and seventh days after surgery in those taking the arnica.
Past research on plastic surgery outcomes has been hampered by the lack of reproducible, objective ways to measure healing. Advances in digital image analysis have made it possible for researchers to more objectively evaluate these outcomes. Ten profile images were taken for each woman: two prior to surgery, and two on each of four days after surgery (days 1, 5, 7, and 10). The images were digitized and analyzed using widely accepted, readily available software. The development of this objective computer model was another success of the study.
Probably the most widely known and prescribed homeopathic remedy, arnica (also known as Leopard’s Bane) is a perennial mountain herb that has been used for centuries to combat a variety of ailments. The most common way to use arnica is in homeopathic dilution. Many studies have been done on homeopathic arnica, but the results have been conflicting.
The mechanism by which homeopathic remedies work cannot be explained using current biological principles, presenting an intellectual impasse for many scientists. Detractors contend that the reported clinical effects of homeopathy are simply due to chance, or to the “placebo effect.” However, a growing number of clinical trials, including this most recent one, have found that homeopathic dilutions have a greater effect than placebo, and a prominent 1997 study of 89 placebo-controlled trials concluded that homeopathy’s effects could not be attributed to chance alone.
The results of the new study suggest that the homeopathic remedy arnica could provide relief for the bruising common to people who undergo plastic surgery.
Jeremy Appleton, ND, CNS, is a licensed naturopathic physician, certified nutrition specialist, and published author. Dr. Appleton was the Nutrition Department Chair at the National College of Naturopathic Medicine, has served on the faculty at Bastyr University of Natural Health Sciences, and is a former Healthnotes Senior Science Editor and a founding contributor to Healthnotes Newswire. He has worked extensively in scientific and regulatory affairs in the supplement industry and is now a consultant through his company Praxis Natural Products Consulting and Wellness Services.
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