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An arnica tincture is a preparation of the herb arnica that can be applied directly to a patient's skin. This remedy has been used for many centuries, though its medicinal effects have not been evaluated by medical professionals. Many people who use this remedy claim it decreases pain, bruising and swelling, and promotes healing. A patient who wishes to use this type of medication should check with a doctor first because it can interact with other medications, leading to potentially serious complications.
The main ingredients in an arnica tincture are alcohol, arnica blossoms, and sometimes arnica leaves, stems and roots. The arnica is placed in the alcohol, often ethanol, though glycerol, ether and other non-potable alcohols can also be used, and allowed to sit in the liquid for a few weeks or more. This process infuses the arnica into the alcohol so that patients can use the tincture after the arnica has been removed.
Patients use an arnica tincture by diluting it with water and then dabbing it onto a bruise, sprain or strain. Bandages can also be soaked in the tincture and then wrapped around the affected area. This treatment can be quite strong and patients should follow dosage instructions carefully when using it.
When applied directly to the skin, an arnica tincture is said to reduce swelling, internal bleeding, and pain. Anecdotal evidence has shown that this medication can be effective in relieving these symptoms though scientific studies are needed to confirm its usefulness as a medical treatment. It is safe to use arnica along with some other medications, though it can interact with a number of medicines. A patient should discuss the use of this arnica with a doctor before beginning treatment with this herb.
An arnica tincture can be toxic if used incorrectly. Both the arnica and the alcohol it has been infused in can cause serious illness or death if swallowed. Patients need to be careful to keep this medication away from the mucus membranes, which can become irritated if exposed to arnica. It is also not recommended to use this treatment on broken skin.
There are a few potentially adverse reactions to the use of an arnica tincture. The most common side effects of this treatment are irritation or inflammation of the part of the skin it was applied to. Serious allergic reactions are also possible, and patients who experience dizziness, shortness of breath or loss of consciousness should seek medical attention.