Arnica (Arnica montana)

Arnica (Arnica montana)

Other common names: Mountain tobacco, leopard’s bane

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Family: Asteraceae


Diagram courtesy of Franz Eugen Köhler, Köhler’s Medizinal-Pflanzen


Analgesic (esp. nerve pain), nervine, anti-inflammatory, fungicide (roots only), vasodilator, antipruritic, stimulant, diuretic, diaphoretic, emollient, expectorant, circulatory stimulant, antimicrobial.


Harvest flowers as soon as they open, remove from receptacles. Roots are harvested in fall after the aerial parts have died off.

Part used: Flowers especially, also dried roots.


Thymol (roots only), helenalin (and other sesquiterpene lactones), carotenoids, flavonoids, arnicin, inulin, phulin, tannins (roots only).


Used to treat bruises, sprains (but not open wounds or mucous membranes), neuralgia, fungal infections, joint pain, insect bites, swelling, abdominal pain (using a hot compress), foot bath for sore feet.

Medicinal preparation:


Homeopathic only. Preferably 24X or higher dilution.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons


Arnica can be infused in oil, made into salves, creams and washes. You can also infuse it into a “tea” or make a tincture, again, for external washes or poultices only. It is popular for its use in liniments for athletes, and especially for those suffering from nerve pain. It is generally safe for use in those with allergies to NSAIDS.


Do not use if pregnant or nursing, and only use internally if it is in a homeopathic formula. Do not apply externally to open wounds or mucous membranes. Arnica contains the toxin helenalin, which can be poisonous if large amounts of the plant are eaten, and contact with the plant can also cause skin irritation in sensitive individuals, or those who use it for prolonged periods. If enough of the material is ingested, the toxin helenalin could produce severe gastroenteritis, and internal bleeding of the digestive tract. While arnica ingestion has not caused any documented deaths or even illnesses, we must err on the side of caution regardless, due to its toxic potential. It may also be associated with liver toxicity when taken internally in its non-homeopathic form. Do not use any form of arnica within 24 hours of surgery, or it can interfere with the body’s ability to be anesthetized.

I suggest consulting a pharmacist or physician before starting any herbal supplement if you are taking a prescription medication or have serious underlying health concerns. 

arnica montana seeds

Photo courtesy of Roger Culos / Wikimedia Commons

Energetic/traditional use:

Addresses emotional and mental problems due to past trauma (when used homeopathically), comforts and calms, brightens the mental disposition in a depressed or over-stressed individual. It perks up someone who has been burnt out and lost hope. It is used for mental, emotional or spiritual shock.

Over the years, arnica has been used to instill confidence and encourage a sense of safety. It was believed by homeopaths to help with those who have lost a family member suddenly, or for those with prolonged illnesses, business worries, or stressful jobs. It was given for baldness, emotional concerns, forgetfulness, travel sickness and other complaints over the course of history.

Disclaimer: The information on this website is intended as general education on herbs and is not intended to take the place of medical care. Please consult a health care professional before embarking on any health regime.

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