Before we move on to uses of Arnica outside of injuries, let’s explore more how Arnica can be used in different types of injuries. If you remember, from the last discussion, that a homeopathic prescription consists of using a medicine (remedy) that matches the condition the person is in. To decide what to use for an injury we find out first what is the result of the injury. Then knowing this, we select the medicine with accuracy. In selecting Arnica what we are matching is a feeling of soreness of the muscles and tissues due to being hit or falling down. If we use this understanding as a guide, then we can realize that there can be this soreness, at least as part of the problem, from being bitten, or from breaking a bone or some other cause.
For example, if a bone is broken it usually is because of a hit or fall, and so the tissues over the bone have been made sore, along with the bone itself being broken. Having stated this, you can see how Arnica can be useful in treating a fracture, but at the same time you realize there is more to the injury than the soreness of the soft tissues. In practice, then, it can be appropriate to start with a dose of Arnica, but then following in a few hours with another remedy that addresses the bone injury. To make this more clear, if there is very little soreness of the tissues outside the bone itself (perhaps a break occurs from stepping wrong?) then Arnica will have very little or no effect when it is used. It does not correspond to the pain coming from the periosteum (the covering of the bone from which pain is generated).
However, can you also see that there could be a type of bone injury (that being the diagnosis) where the major damage is to the soft tissues (around the bone)? There is a type of fracture called compound fracture, which means the bones are so separated that they stick out at an angle. For example, if it is a leg bone, the sharp broken ends can be sticking into the muscle, or even coming out through the skin. In this case, Arnica is a medicine par excellence because it addresses all that damage to the non-bone tissues which is the cause of the pain and suffering.
It can also occur, in an injury of multiple body areas, that the overwhelming sensation is the pain of the many macerated tissues even though there are also broken bones as part of what has happened.
Here is an example taken from the autobiography of Richard Moskowitz, MD who has had a career in homeopathic practice for several decades.
“My first patient was myself, waking from a concussion after a head-on collision with a drunk driver, bleeding from a scalp laceration, and in considerable pain from several rib fractures. Sitting erect in the ambulance, I felt dazed but otherwise tolerably OK until the EMT deposited me onto a Gurney at the ER, flat on my back, helpless, and immobile, the slightest change in position sending stabs of pain through my chest that sapped my strength and will to recover. When my nurse arrived to take me home, I took from my bag a powder of Arnica 200, put a few granules on my tongue, and within a few seconds was able to lift my bloody shirt over my head and take it off without her help, an incredible feat under the circumstances. Feeling no more pain for several days, I recovered without further incident.”
[From Plain Doctoring, Selected Writings 1983–2013.]
We see, in this example, that the primary injury was the massive and multiple concussions to his head and chest, and that Arnica corresponded to this and therefore acted magnificently. This points to the observation that has been made in homeopathic practice that if we identify and remove (by using the appropriate remedy) the primary disturbance then the body responds by rapidly healing all that is wrong. In other words, one does not always have to treat “separate” parts like the head injury, the scalp laceration, the broken ribs. When the appropriate remedy is given, the whole machine jumps into action and healing begins.
Next piece, let’s explore further the non-injury applications for which Arnica can be the best medicine.