Arnica is a flower to be used externally only, as it may be toxic – even deadly – if taken internally (unless as a weak homeopathic preparation, which has been used for seasickness and post-partum bleeding). One of the ways Arnica acts is as a stimulation to local blood supply, which brings healing blood flow to a local area. It is useful for bruises (causing re-absorption of internally-spilled blood); dislocations; muscle strains and spasms; ligament sprains or tears; rheumatic and arthritic aches, menstrual cramps; washing wounds and sores; soaking sore feet; alleviating the pain and inflammation of chilblains, phlebitis, varicose veins, swelling, shingles and other painful and inflamed conditions where the skin is not broken. It also fights bacterial and fungal skin infections and helps with chapped lips, skin rash, and acne.
Common Name of Herb: Arnica
Latin Name: Arnica montana
Parts Used: Flower heads and sometimes roots.
Actions: For external use, Anti-inflammatory; vulnerary, bactericidal, fungicidal
Preparation and Use: Diluted tincture or infusion for compress, wash, or foot/hand bath (1 teaspoon tincture or 1 cup of infusion to a pan of warm water); Lotion (tincture mixed with witch hazel), oil infusion (1 part arnica to 4-5 parts oil), or salve (same ratio as oil infusion).
Cautions and limitations of use: Tincture, infusion, lotion, salve or oil infusion are all for external use only. Homeopathic preparations may be used internally, taken strictly according to directions. Arnica preparations may cause allergic reactions, especially in people sensitive to other plants belonging to the daisy family; such as sunflower, ragweed and feverfew.
- Constituents: (Per The Complete German Commission E Monographs), sesquiterpene lactones of the helenanolid type, predominantly ester derivatives of helenalin and 11,13-dihydrohelenalin; flavonoids (e.g., isoquercitrin, luteolin-7-glucoside, and astragalin), volatile oil (with thymol and its derivatives), phenol carbonic acid (chlorogenic acid, cynarin, caffeic acid), and coumarins (umbelliferone, scopoletin).
- How to gather: Collect yellow flowers in summer, particularly late summer.
- Other English Common Names: Leopard’s Bane, Mountain Arnica, Mountain Tobacco, Wolf’s Bane, Meadow Arnica
- Other Language Common Names: Arnicabluten (Ger), Fleurs d’Arnique (Fr), Flor deArnica (Span)
- Where it grows: Woodlands in Europe and Western United States
- How to identify: Yellow flowers. Leaves are opposite branching, with a hairy stem.