Common name: Arnica
Other Names: Leopard’s Bane, Wolf’s Bane, Mountain Tobacco
Latin Binomial: Arnica montana
Parts Used: Flower head
Well-indicated for the relief of inflammation from bruises, strains, muscles, veins, and joints (Hoffmann, 2003). Chemical constituents contained in Arnica have been found to stimulate the phagocyte cells of the immune system, which ingest bacteria particles (Wagner and Jurcic, 1991). Phagocytes are cells that destroy bacteria and cell debris from areas of injury and inflammation (Marieb, 2015). This accounts for the well-deserved reputation the herb has as a powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial.
- Sesquiterpene lactones (bitter chemical constituents that exhibit anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial actions) – insoluble in water but soluble in ethanol
- Volatile Oils
- Flavonoids (antioxidants) – soluble in water
- Phenolic Acids (stimulates the immune system) – approximately 80% soluble in water
- Coumarins (aromatic with anti-spasmodic, vasodilation, and antifungal actions) – soluble in ethanol
- Resins – soluble in ethanol
- Tannins – soluble in water and ethanol
- Carotenes – fat-soluble
Body Organs Acted Upon
Almost all when applied locally as a topical
When and How to Use It
Use as a tincture of fresh or dried flowers or as an oil infusion of dried flowers by applying topically to the affected area. A poultice made from a water infusion, when time or resources do not permit preparation of a tincture or oil infusion. For a tincture, use 45% ethanol. For an oil infusion, use 1 part Arnica flower heads to 5 parts oil. As an infusion, cover 2-3g of flower heads with 1 cup of water and steep for 10-15 minutes. Other effective Arnica preparations are lotions and ointments or salves (Bone and Mills, 2013).
While the herb is taken internally as a homeopathic formulation, this is separate and distinct from herbal preparations, which are the subject of this documentation. When taken internally, it can be toxic at low doses, therefore, this should be done only under the care and oversight of a qualified and reputable homeopathic physician.
Do not take this herb internally. Do not use on broken skin or open wounds. This herb is not for long-term usage. It should be used on an as needed basis for inflammation; use should be discontinued once relief has been received. Some may experience allergic irritation of the skin with topical application, in which case it can be washed off and either used at a lower dosage or discontinued altogether.
No adverse impact reported for topical applications during pregnancy. Topical applications during lactation should not be near the nipple or larger breast area. Take care not to apply to areas of body where small children could place their mouth or other incur accidental oral ingestion, including the hands, which should be washed thoroughly after application.
Bone, Kerry and Mills, Simon (2013). Principles and practice of phytotherapy: Modern herbal medicine, 2nd ed. Churchill Livingstone, Elsevier, Ltd. China.
Chevallier, Andrew (2000). Encyclopedia of herbal medicine: The definitive reference to 550 herbs and remedies for common ailments, 2nd ed. Dorling Kindersley. New York, NY.
Hoffmann, David. (2003). Medical herbalism: The science and practice of herbal medicine. Healing Arts Press. Rochester, VT.
Marieb, E.N. (2015). Essentials of human anatomy and physiology, 11th ed. Pearson Education, Inc. Glenview, IL.
Wagner, H. and Jurcic, K. (1991). Immunologic studies of plant combination preparations. In-vitro and in-vivo studies on the stimulation of phagocytosis. Arzneimittelforschung. 41(10). 1072-6.