Arnica: as Effective as Ibuprofen
Arthritis affects over 8 million people in the UK, with osteoarthritis of the fingers being the third most common type, after knee and hip. Many sufferers prefer to use an externally applied anti-inflammatory. In 2002 research1 was carried out using a gel made from fresh, organic Arnica montana flower heads - Atrogel Arnica gel - that showed a significant reduction in the pain, stiffness and loss of function with patients using this gel.
It was then decided to look at the effectiveness of the gel as an anti-inflammatory against one of the leading synthetics, Ibuprofen, with very positive results.
Between May 2003 and March 20042, 20 doctors in Switzerland undertook a strictly controlled study involving 204 patients using the Arnica montana gel and ibuprofen gel.
Improvement in the two main areas – pain reduction and the functional capacity of the hands – had to be achieved for the study to be successful. In both cases the gel containing Arnica montana proved to be as effective as the synthetic gel.
A number of secondary targets were also set and here again Arnica gel achieved the same values as ibuprofen gel.
- The number of painful joints decreased equally in both groups.
- Morning joint stiffness diminished equally in both groups.
- The duration of morning joint stiffness decreased from about 10 minutes to 5 minutes in both groups.
In addition, of the patients who assessed efficacy as ‘very good’ or ‘good’, more patients in the Arnica group (64.0%) expressed satisfaction with their gel than in the ibuprofen group (58.8%). The investigators also generally evaluated the efficacy of the Arnica gel as better than that of the ibuprofen gel. As regards tolerability, patients evaluated Arnica at 89.5% and ibuprofen at 92.9%.