ARNICA, THE WONDER HERB


The great man was in too much of a hurry. I asked the patient whether she felt any difference after taking Arnica and she affirmed positively that each dose relieved the discomfort and made the pain bearable. The nursing home sisters were also agreeably surprised how wonderfully well the arm got on. The movements at the elbow joint are almost perfect; and there is no disfiguring swelling, and the union of the fragments is sound.


YOU have often heard it mentioned that there are no specifics in homoeopathy a specific being a drug which in a doctors as well as in lay peoples mind is associated with a certain disease; the better known specifics are of course the salicylates for rheumatism and Quinine for malaria. There is no rule without an exception, we were taught in grammar and even in homoeopathy you get exceptions to rules, The best specific I know in homoeopathy is Arnica for injuries, falls and accidents of all sorts. Indeed it has been well known for centuries as a domestic household remedy for falls.

In the German language it is known as Fall Kraut, or falling herb, to show its main action. In my student days, Arnica was still mentioned in orthodox materia medica books as possessing certain virtues in bruises and sprains when applied externally. Our professor of materia medica, however, referred to it contemptuously and slightly in passing, as being an “old wives remedy” and that any virtue it might possess was due to the cold water it was mixed with.

A cold water compress by itself did just as much good-much water has flown under the bridge since then; I have learnt a great deal which my revered teacher would condemn out of hand, but I do agree with him still that external applications of Arnica by themselves are not very effective; though if you apply it when the skin is broken you may get quite severe inflammation and a rash almost resembling erysipelas. I am afraid, I should shock the dear professor and he would almost turn i his grave, if he knew that I had found Arnica extremely beneficial when given in the minutes doses, in which I prescribe it now.

In fact I should not like to be without it, and I assert most strongly that it relieves the pains of an injury, concussion, rapidly and miraculously without any of the bad after effects of morphia. It does not lead to a craving for the drug either, and the sufferer is saved from the ghastly fate of becoming a morphiamaniac, which is a common result of being given morphia after injuries. Did you see the other day that a wing of a plane broke off during flight and the finder was asked to report it and return the packet of morphia tubes which were fixed to its under-surface.

Evidently a precaution in case the pilot had a crash and was so severely injured that morphia was necessary and while he was far away from medical aid. Rather a dangerous drug to have about, free for any young man to use ad lib! Again I say that Arnica, when given internally works better than morphia for the relief of pain. I wish the orthodox school would try it out, much unnecessary pain and suffering could be alleviated with it.

It is always interesting to trace the origin of our remedies, and where they come from. As its latin name, Arnica montana shows, a mountain daisy, it grows in the mountains, not on the tops of the mountains, but where it is of most use on the long slopes of the mountain valleys and meadows. A kind providence so frequently arranges that the means of cure is near at hand where most wanted.

Terrible accidents, sudden ghastly accidents occur when climbing and scrambling in the mountains, and Arnica is growing near, so as to show us to what use it can be put and ought to be put, to relieve the suffering after falls-Isnt it often so, if we could only see it in our blindness? We despise the humble herbs in our fields and meadows, and yet God for centuries has made them grow and blessed them for our use.

For example, the common nettle stings and burns us, when we inadvertently touch it lightly; and there is an antidote growing near by, cheek by almost, the common dock, we pass it by and ignore it, but yet, apply a cool dock leaf to the burn of a nettle and the weal which a nettle produces disappears at once. By the by both the stinging nettle and the dock have been proved homoeopathically on healthy individuals and have proved to be valuable remedies in various diseases. Perhaps sometime or other I may talk about their uses.

To go back to Arnica, it has large handsome golden flowers which you can recognize at once, many golden flowers grow in the alpine meadows; but Arnica is unique, it stands there so proudly with its head erect, always turned towards the rays of the sun, asking for its blessings; I like to call it “Le preux chevalier des montaignes” the proud knight of the mountains. It seems to know that it is something apart from other herbs; even the cattle never touch it, they also know it is something too previous for them to take; it must be left for the use of man, the lord of mountains.

The whole plant is highly aromatic and grows only in peaty soils. I was told last summer in Switzerland that the local peasants and inhabitants of the Swiss valleys always knew where Arnica grows and went to the meadow from far and wide to collect it and dry it for home use for the rest of the year, and made infusions and tisanes (teas) both for external applications and internal use for falls and injuries. I have used Arnica in numerous cases, I could fill a book with examples of its use; but I shall mention just a few characteristic ones.

The sister at the dispensary was urgently sent for to a school near by as one of the boys who had been watching a game of cricket, had been knocked out by a ball which hit him under his belt, his solar plexus. He was cold, collapsed, with a feeble thready pulse and greyish face. She had brought some Arnica 30 with her and after giving a dose, noticed an instantaneous improvement in pulse and colour. Ten minutes later he was able to stand and after a little longer rest, he was sent home quite recovered.

A similar case was seen by me at the same dispensary some months ago, only it was a football which had done the damage. He was carried by the teacher and a big lad, as he could neither walk not stand. He won-but, almost before he was settled on the couch in the surgery. I gave him 2 doses of Arnica 30 at ten minutes interval and watched with great interest how quickly he came round.

I shall not forget either in a hurry the screaming harridan of a mother who had been told that her offspring had been killed and who insisted in demanding the head of the guilty attacker on a salver; and then the anticlimax, when we had at last succeeded in soothing her and we showed her the so-called “body” very much alive, in fact able to walk and stand up himself.

Knockouts can be very serious at times, the shock kills many a delicate lad and very little is found at a post-mortem to account for the cause of death, usually it is due to an enlarged thymus gland. I have never waited to see in any cases of mine how long it would take before they came round naturally; I had the means at hand to shorten the period of collapsing and Arnica never lets me down.

A slightly different case now; a twelve years old boy while at a School camp was fooling around and his foot was struck by a brick, the foot was badly lacerated and he was taken to the local cottage hospital, x-rayed, six stitches put in and he was kept in bed for a week. When I saw him ten days after the accident his foot was still nearly twice the size of the normal one and he was unable to put it to the ground.

He was in a pickle. The elastoplast which had been used as a dressing had allowed the stitches to go septic under the dressing which accounted for some of the pain. After a good soak and a fomentation the septic condition improved and with Arnica three times a day, he walked into the surgery two days later, and a week afterwards he could be discharged as cured. Unable to move for ten days after the first dose of Arnica! How long would it have been before the could have walked if left alone to nature?.

Now a personal experience. I was rushing along the endless stoney passages of the underground to catch a train which was signalled; the next moment I collided with the sharp edge of the curved dividing wall and found myself on the ground. I saw stars, and the stripes soon showed themselves on my forehead. And after all this I saw the train go out without me! I got home three quarters of an hour later; my temple was throbbing, the blood vessels were plainly visible, and a beautiful egg had developed along with a cut on the scalp.

I had visions of going round with a black eye for days. However, there was my medicine case at hand, and I helped myself to a dose of Arnica 1m-I spent the next hour in front of a mirror, watching the rapid disappearance of the swelling; the throbbing went in a few minutes, the head cleared, I showed my head to a doctor friend the next morning, fifteen hours afterwards and there was not a trace left, even the cut in the scalp had healed! She was very much impressed by this ocular proof of the efficiency of Arnica in bruises. No need to rush off for a piece of raw meat to hide the wounds after boxing. Arnica will act much better.

Now to prove what a wonderful painkiller Arnica is in fractures. A lady I knew fell last winter on a slippery frosty morning and hit her elbow on a tramway line. I saw the arm within roughly an hour and found that the bone of the forearm was broken into two fragments at the elbow and there was a large blood blister over the injured area, the size of a tangerine orange. I gave the arm a gentle soap and water massage and reduced the swelling completely and after an x-ray at the Hospital which confirmed my diagnosis, she was packed off to bed; naturally Arnica 30 was given straight away.

She slept all night, in fact she lost practically no sleep during the four weeks she spent in bed. She had daily massage and gentle active movements from the first; the surgeon saw her on the Sunday in case an operation were necessary to join the fragments to the bone. He decided against it and was very surprised how quickly the swelling had disappeared and remarked on the absence of rise of temperature which was usual after such a severe injury. I did not explain to him that it was due to the Arnica.

The great man was in too much of a hurry. I asked the patient whether she felt any difference after taking Arnica and she affirmed positively that each dose relieved the discomfort and made the pain bearable. The nursing home sisters were also agreeably surprised how wonderfully well the arm got on. The movements at the elbow joint are almost perfect; and there is no disfiguring swelling, and the union of the fragments is sound. Arnica plus massage and active exercises produces rapid convalescence.

I remember another lady some years ago who slipped in the bath and managed to get a backward dislocation of the left elbow. After an x-ray, the dislocation was reduced under an anaesthetic, and the elbow was firmly secured with a bandage which was taken down daily and massaged.

The result was perfect freedom of movements after three weeks; and this lady always clamoured for her nightly dose of “morphia” which kept her free from pain for twenty-four hours. “And it never made her feel stupid,” she added, “her head must be very strong not to be affected by morphia.” I never enlightened her; she never knew she had nothing but doses of Arnica m. So you see, Arnica acts and it is not due to faith either – it relieves the acute pains of fractures and dislocations in a most satisfactory manner.

Now Arnica is not only of great use in recent injuries, but it still acts years after, if the after effects of accidents persists. I knew a young woman who suffered for several years from agonizing and recurrent headaches after a motoring accident; after a few doses of Arnica, she lost them for good. All the usual dopes had been of no use!.

Lately I have seen some striking examples of the marvellous effects of Arnica in the late results of accidents. A boy of 8 years of age fell down some steps and within a day or two developed a severe squint after it, which lasted for 8 months; he was under an eye hospital with a view to an operation later on. Arnica 30 night and morning and within a month the squint had disappeared!.

A woman of the working classes fell down a flight of stairs on to her back and thought she had broken it. Ever since for ten long years, she had suffered from agonizing backache and stiffness which did not give her much peace.

She tried all sorts of treatments, she was curetted, she had her uterus stitched up; she was given Radium to stop her periods, she swallowed pounds of pain killing medicines; she had her back x-rayed and massage and light and still the backache was ever a part of her, until she had Arnica 30; it eased up after the first dose and she lost it for good after a couple of weeks; it went gradually; and suddenly she realized one morning that she had felt no pain for several days.

She has now been free of this pain for several days. She has now been free of his pain, which had lasted for ten years, for over six months. Yes, wonders will never cease!.

And it is so easy to prove to yourself the power which homoeopathy possesses; the power which a kind providence has given to this golden mountain daisy to charm away the pains of fractures, of sprains, of concussion and all kinds of other injuries, which happened months ago. Yes, the proud knight of the mountains is ready and willing and waiting to serve you. Aye, in the words of the palmist: “Lift up your eyes to the hills from whence cometh your help”.

N.B. – There is no need to restrict yourself to the high potencies, Arnica in low potencies, works very well. As a girl in my teens, I had a white owing to a heavy thunderstorm which raged all night. I took Arnica 3x for heavy head, the bruised feeling as if beaten all over, and it made me feel fresh and cleared my head. Housewives who overdo themselves spring cleaning and are stiff and tired and all in, should take Arnica 3x or 6x.

They would soon recover their old vim and the stiffness would go. – Also ramblers who have walked too far and feel stiff and weary, would feel refreshed, if they took a dose or two or Arnica. The same for tiredness and stiffness after any form of excessive physical exercise, such as tennis, gardening or boxing, etc. The patrician Romans used to employ slaves to give them massage, to tone up their overtired muscles after exercise; Arnica will take the place of massage and make you limber and active.

Dorothy Shepherd
Dorothy Shepherd 1885 – 1952 - British orthodox physician who converted to homeopathy. Graduated from Hering College in Chicago. She was a pupil of J.T.Kent. Author of Magic of the Minimum Dose, More Magic of the Minimum Dose, A Physician's Posy, Homeopathy in Epidemic Diseases.