Methods: Twenty subjects completed a maximal eccentric exercise protocol with the non-dominate elbow flexors to induce delayed onset muscle soreness. Either Arnica or placebo tablets were administered in a random, double blinded fashion immediately after exercise and at 24 hours and 72 hours after exercise. Before exercise, immediately post-exercise, and at 24, 48, 72, and 96 hours post-exercise, assessments of delayed onset muscle soreness and muscle function included: 1) muscle soreness and functional impairment; 2) maximum voluntary contraction torque; 3) muscle swelling; and 4) range of motion tests to document spontaneous muscle shortening and muscle shortening ability. Blood samples drawn before exercise and at 24, 48, and 96 hours after exercise were used to measure muscle enzymes as indirect indices of muscle damage.
Results: Regardless of the intervention, the extent of delayed onset muscle soreness and elevations in muscle enzymes were similar on the days following the eccentric exercise protocol. The post-exercise time profiles of decreases in maximum voluntary contraction torque and muscle shortening ability and increases in muscle swelling and spontaneous muscle shortening were similar for each treatment intervention.
Conclusions: The results of this study did not substantiate the clinical efficacy of Arnica at a high potency on moderating delayed onset muscle soreness and accompanying symptoms of muscle dysfunction. Despite the findings of this study, future investigations on the clinical efficacy of homeopathic interventions should consider incorporating research strategies that emphasize differential therapeutics for each patient rather than treating a specific disease or symptom complex, such as DOMS, with a single homeopathic remedy.
First author: Julie A. Plezbert
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