Arnica montana (also called mountain daisy or leopard’s bane) is one of the most popular homeopathic remedies, bolstered by many users’ experience of a nasty bruise that faded surprisingly quickly when arnica gel or ointment was applied after the initial injury. Studies have shown homeopathic arnica (in pellet and gel forms) can help reduce muscle soreness, osteoarthritis pain and symptoms, and postoperative swelling and bruising. “I recommend arnica for both acute and chronic pain,” says Anne Meyer, MD, a Los Angeles–based integrative pain-management specialist. “By acute, I mean new injuries: strains and sprains, tendinitis, swelling, and bruising. It’s a great remedy for the weekend warrior who goes too far.” For longer-term, chronic muscle aches associated with arthritis or repetitive injuries, she recommends using arnica both topically and internally.

An increasing number of cosmetic surgeons are prescribing arnica to postsurgery patients to decrease swelling and bruising. To speed healing after either an injury or surgery, Meyer generally recommends taking five 12C arnica pellets three to five times a day, as well as frequently applying arnica ointment or cream to the affected area. “Don’t put ointment on open skin,” she warns; it may cause irritation. Instead, rub it into the area surrounding any cuts or abrasions. Arnica gel also helps relieve sunburn, she says.

Some evidence indicates that homeopathy helps people who suffer from the chronic pain condition fibromyalgia. A well-regarded 2004 study published in Rheumatology found that of 62 patients with the condition, those given individually selected homeopathic remedies reported significantly less pain after four months than those given a placebo.