|| Arnica montana
Arnica (Arnica montana) is very
popular—Germany alone has manufactured more than 100
drug preparations containing this herb. Applied topically as a cream, ointment,
liniment, salve, or tincture, arnica has been used by both Europeans and Native
Americans to soothe muscle aches, reduce inflammation, and heal wounds. While
arnica has also been used internally as an herbal remedy for certain heart
disorders, it should only be used in this way under the supervision of a
healthcare provider. In fact, arnica in herbal form is primarily restricted to
topical (external) use because it can cause serious side effects when it is used
Arnica is a perennial that grows to a height of 1 to 2 feet with
yellow-orange flowers similar to daisies. Stems are round and hairy, ending in
one to three flower stalks, with flowers 2 to 3 inches across. Leaves are bright
green; the upper surfaces are toothed and slightly hairy while lower leaves have
rounded tips. It is native to the mountains of Europe and Siberia, and
cultivated in North America.
Fresh or dried flower heads are used in medicinal
|Medicinal Uses and Indications|
- Arnica is used topically for a wide range of conditions including
bruises, sprains, muscle aches, wound healing, acne, superficial phlebitis,
rheumatic pain, inflammation from insect bites, and swelling due to fractures.
- An experienced clinician may recommend arnica as an herbal remedy for
senile heart, angina, or coronary artery disease.
- Homeopathic preparations are also used to treat sore muscles, bruises,
and other conditions associated with overexertion or trauma. Homeopathic doses
are very diluted and generally considered safe for internal use when taken in
accordance with the directions on the product
Many topical preparations containing arnica are available commercially.
Arnica is most commonly prepared as a tincture, which can also be used as the
base for creams, ointments, compresses, and poultices. Arnica oil may also be
used in topical preparations.
As an internal herbal remedy, arnica may be taken as a tea.
A number of homeopathic remedies are available in pill, topical, or
|How to Take It|
Arnica should not be taken internally as an herbal tea except under direct
supervision of a healthcare professional, as side effects may be severe (see
Homeopathic products should be used in accordance with the directions on the
label or a homeopathic practitioner should be consulted. Healthcare
professionals may administer injectable homeopathic preparations to adults in an
appropriate clinical setting.
Internal use of arnica as an herb is not recommended for children.
Homeopathic preparations may be used to treat bruising, swelling, and trauma to
soft tissues. Follow the dosage instructions on the product label or consult a
Topical preparations of arnica may be prepared as follows:
- Tincture: a 1:10 tincture prepared with 70% ethanol
- Creams and ointments: 20% to 25% tincture or a maximum of 15% arnica
oil made from one part dried arnica flower head and five parts vegetable oil
- Compresses: tincture diluted 3 to 10 times with water
- Poultices: tincture diluted 3 to 10 times with
- Mouthwash: tincture diluted 10 times with water (should not be
Used topically, arnica is generally safe. However, prolonged use may irritate
the skin, causing eczema, peeling, blisters, or other skin conditions. Arnica
should not be used on broken skin, such as leg ulcers. Also, people who are
hypersensitive or allergic to the herb should avoid it.
Arnica is rarely used as an internal herbal remedy because it can cause
dizziness, tremors, and heart irregularities. It may also irritate mucous
membranes and cause vomiting. Arnica should only be used internally under the
supervision of a professional clinician who understands the risks and benefits
of this herb. Homeopathic remedies, which use minute amounts of their herbal
ingredients, do not generally carry these risks.
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you should consult with your physician
before taking any medication, including herbs.
There are no known scientific reports of interactions between arnica and
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|Review Date: December 2000|
|Reviewed By: Participants in the review process include: Gary Kracoff, RPh (Pediatric
Dosing section February 2001), Johnson Drugs, Natick, MA; Steven Ottariono, RPh
(Pediatric Dosing section February 2001), Veteran's Administrative Hospital,
Londonderry, NH; Marcellus Walker, MD, LAc, St. Vincent's Catholic Medical
Center, New York, NY; David Winston, Herbalist, Herbalist and Alchemist, Inc.,
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