(Arnica montana)

 Arnica is a genus of perennial, herbaceous plants in the sunflower family, which is native to the mountainous regions of Europe and Southern Russia. It has also been known to grow in parts of North America and Canada.


This herb is also known by the names of Mountain Tobacco, and Leopard’s bane and Wolfsbane. Another herb, Aconite/Monkshood is also known as Wolfsbane. It was used by Swiss mountain guides to prevent fatigue when chewed and was also used as a substitute for tobacco.


Arnica montana has been used for medicinal purposes since the 1500’s and is still popular today. It grows to approximately 1 – 2 feet, has yellow flowers with an orange centre and has an appearance similar to that of daisies. The stems and leaves of these plants are bright green and hairy, which is the reason for its original Greek name Arni, meaning ‘lamb’ (in reference to the plant’s soft leaves).


The main part of this plant used for medicinal purposes are the flowers, but the roots and rhizomes (continuous horizontal underground stem) are often utilized as well.


Health Benefits of Arnica:

  • Reduces inflammation: This is due to the presence of helenalin, a sesquiterpene lactone that is highly effective as an anti-inflammatory agent. It is therefore effective for treating bruises, sprains, muscular aches, superficial phlebitis, joint pain, wounds, insect bites, and burns


  • Stimulates and speeds up the healing process


  • Reduces muscular spasms


  • Soothes irritated skin and treats conditions such as acne, boils, rashes, and dandruff


  • Improves circulation


  • Treats hair loss


  • Prevents premature hair greying


  • Treats sore mouth and throat when taken orally (diluted). It is also used after surgery of wisdom teeth


  • Stimulates kidneys


  • Reduces pain


  • Treats bacterial infections


  • Effectively treats spider veins


  • Reduces fevers


  • Treats rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis


  • Treats carpal tunnel


  • Mixed with carrier oils, Arnica is used to treat dry skin due to its moisturizing effect


  • Alleviates headaches and migraines


  • Treats scarring and stretch marks


  • Can reduce bacterial resistance to antibiotics due to the presence of a compound called Thymol


  • Studies suggest that Arnica may assist in the recovery of surgery and childbirth


  • Treats frostbite and chilblains (the inflammation of small blood vessels in the skin due to the repeated exposure to cold but not freezing air)


  • Used for treating stress and depression



Arnica is not considered safe to ingest. It is considered generally safe to use on the skin, but it is not suggested to use on broken skin for prolonged periods of time because it often results in irritation.

Symptoms of this type of irritation include eczema, peeling, blistering, and other skin conditions.


Used internally, Arnica can cause dizziness, tremors, heart irregularities, irritation of the mucous membranes, nausea, vomiting, stomach pains, and diarrhoea. In severe cases, this herb can cause gastroenteritis, internal bleeding of the digestive tract, dyspnoea, paralysis of the nervous system, and cardiac arrest, sometimes resulting in death. Tablets and pills containing Arnica should only have a small dose which is safe for ingestion.


This herb should never be used during pregnancy or breastfeeding, especially as it used to be used to induce abortions.


There are no known interactions with other herbs or medications and should always be used under the directions of a doctor or physician.



Kiara James

The Herb Companion: The Essential Guide to Using Herbs for Your Health and Well-being – Edited by Alison Candlin