Arnica and Injury

Arnica and Injury

Today, we're excited to welcome Dr. Richard Pitcairn to our blog for the first of an installment of posts on Arnica and its applications for pets. If you're interested in using this herb with your animal, we recommend Nature's Sunshine Distress Remedy. Without further ado, here's what Dr. Pitcairn has to say about Arnica:

Today, we're excited to welcome Dr. Richard Pitcairn to our blog for the first of an installment of posts on Arnica and its applications for pets. If you're interested in using this herb with your animal, we recommend Nature's Sunshine Distress Remedy. Without further ado, here's what Dr. Pitcairn has to say about Arnica:

Most of us know that Arnica is the big go-to injury remedy for both humans and pets, but what is usually not known is that it is useful for only certain types of injuries. It has come into prominence because so often it addresses everyday types of injury: common bumps, contusions, and falls. But why doesn’t it deal with all injuries? This has to do with understanding how homeopathic remedies perform. Most of us buy into the idea that we have to deal with what caused the problem. If we have an injury, then we use a remedy that treats that injury; if we ingest or have contact with a poison, then we use a remedy that treats that poison. Homeopathy is not like that. The major discovery 200 years ago was that if the person is to regain health what must be treated is the effect of whatever happened to them, not the presumed cause.

Ok. Sometimes this is not immediately obvious, is it? Let’s look at it like this: say you were playing ball with your dog and he accidentally hits his leg on something in his excitement to play fetch. Is there only one injury that could happen? What will most likely occur is a painful bruising of the leg tissues, perhaps even turning black and blue. But what could also happen is a fracture of the bone, or if not that, then a bruising of the bone; or how about the skin being torn open? Or a blood vessel being smashed open and the tissues filling with blood? Get the idea?

So, we homeopathic practitioners pay close attention to the state of the person (or animal) after the injury has occurred. In a sense we are asking, “In what way were you affected by this?” We could just look at the injury as the cause and treat it that way, but it is not skillful or the way successful homeopathy has been practiced for over 200 years. The original discovery, that is the basis of homeopathic work, is that of the whole condition of the patient — the “part” that must be treated — is the state of that individual as a result of what happened.

So what kinds of injuries does Arnica correspond with? The state of the patient that most often makes Arnica useful is a feeling of soreness, of being bruised, as if they have been beaten. And this is primarily felt in the muscles and softer tissues of the body. Arnica does not specifically address injuries to bone, cartilage, nerves, internal organs, etc., although it could if there is a feeling of soreness and other symptoms that indicate a need for Arnica. However, there are other remedies usually much better suited for these injuries.

In the New World Veterinary Repertory, there are 42 remedies listed for the treatment of blows and contusions. Each of these remedies corresponds to specific states that follow the injury. Arnica is a biggie in that list, but there are other biggies as well, and then a multitude of less often used remedies that are useful in treating certain people and animals.

For example, you will see among those 42 remedies Calendula, a wonderful remedy for large ragged wounds of the skin. A lovely remedy for injuries to nerves, especially the tips of fingers and toes or the teeth; Hypericum, is also there. Then we have Ruta (and other remedies) for bone fractures. Each of these corresponds to a different state, different feelings, different pain, and different part injured, yet all of them are in the list of remedies for blows and contusions.

Have I confused you enough? It gets more complicated. For each of these injuries I listed above — laceration, nerve damage, or fracture — there are many remedies that are applicable to treat them, and each are a little different from the others. That’s why a homeopathic practitioner is so valuable. With the proper education and experience, a knowledgeable homeopathic practitioner can smartly choose the best remedy for that particular patient. Does it matter? Yes, because the best remedy will be almost miraculous in restoring health very quickly, while a less suitable remedy will have only temporary or partial effects. Thus, the skill the practitioner possesses is extremely important for the animal’s recovery process.

Is treatment of injuries the only use of Arnica? No, but let’s leave that for another piece on another day.

About the Author

Dr. Richard Pitcairn graduated from veterinary school in California in 1965. He first practiced with with a variety of animals: livestock, farm animals, circus animals, and pets; then after two years he took a faculty position at the Washington State University veterinary school. For a year he taught and operated the large animal clinic before he entered graduate school full time in the department of microbiology. After a seven-year period of study and research, with a major in immunology, he again joined the faculty to teach and do research. During this time an interest in nutrition developed and led him to re-enter practice to put nutritional therapy to a practical test. In 1978, Dr. Pitcairn began the study of homeopathy, and in 1985 established a clinic in Eugene, Oregon, which for over 20 years offered only nutritional therapy and homeopathic medicine. With time he began teaching others in this method, establishing a yearlong post-graduate training program for veterinarians, which is still ongoing and has graduated 500 veterinarians trained in homeopathic practice. In the 1990s he was one of the founders of the Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy, the first veterinary homeopathy professional organization in the United States. In 1982 Dr. Pitcairn, along with his wife Susan, published a book on natural animal care that is still in print, in its third edition, and has sold over 400,000 copies. Now retired from practice, Dr. Pitcairn focuses on writing, teaching, and research in the focus area of homeopathy.

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