Information about the herb Arnica

Arnica montana, also known as Wolf’s Bane is part of the Compositae plant family. Arnica is a perennial plant that is native to the mountains of Europe and Siberia. It is also cultivated in mountainous areas of Canada and North America.

Botanical Name: Arnica montana

Common Name: Arnica flowers, Arnica root, Common Arnica,  Leopard’s Bane, Mountain Arnica, Mountain Tobacco, Wolf’s Bane

Plant Family: Compositae

History: Preparations made from the flowering heads have been used in homoeopathic medicine for hundreds of years.

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Plant Constituents of Arnica


  • Arnicin (a bitter yellow crystalline principle)
  • Carotenoids
  • Flavonoids
  • Inulin
  • Phulin
  • Sesquiterpene lactones (known to reduce inflammation and decrease pain
  • Tannin (not in the flower) 
  • Thymol (an essential oil)



  • Diaphoretic [an agent that promotes perspiration] 
  • Diuretic [an agent that increases the secretion and expulsion of urine]
  • Emollient [an agent used externally to soften and soothe]
  • Expectorant [an agent that promotes the discharge of mucous from the respiratory system]
  • Stimulant [an agent that excites or quickens the activity of physiological processes]
  • Vulnerary [a healing application for wounds]

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Usage of Arnica

Medicinal Part used: Fresh or dried flower heads, rootstock (rhizome)

Used extensively by both Europeans and Native North American Indians to:

  • heal wounds
  • reduce inflammation
  • soothe muscle aches


  • raises blood pressure, especially in the coronary arteries
  • has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory qualities that can reduce pain and swelling, improving wound healing
  • stimulates blood circulation

Arnica is primarily for external use:

  • as a footbath for tender feet 
  • for abdominal pain (hot compress)
  • for arthritis
  • for bruises
  • for chill blains (if skin is unbroken)
  • for irritation from trauma
  • for muscle or cartilage pain
  • for rheumatism
  • for sore or painful joints
  • for sprains
  • for swellings

and is used as an oil, salve, tincture. Arnica works by:

  • dispersing trapped, disorganized fluids from bumped and bruised tissue, joints and muscles
  • stimulating the activity of white blood cells that relieve congested blood cells
  • washing and cleansing wounds (very diluted)


Arnica in herbal form is primarily restricted to topical (external) use because it can cause serious side effects when it is used internally. As a general rule Arnica should not be used internally without professional advice but is sometimes used for:

Blood Conditions

  • internal bleeding in emergencies

Brain and Nervous System Conditions

  • paralytic afflictions
  • shock

Arnica is used homeopathically, usually in pillule form, for:

  • epilepsy [6x]
  • seasickness [3x]

Cardiovascular Conditions

  • angina
  • cardiac agent
  • coronary artery disease
  • senile heart

Respiratory Tract Conditions

  • inflammation of the mouth and throat as a gargle

Other Conditions

  • low fevers

Arnica Oil

Externally Arnica Oil is extremely beneficial for:

  • acne
  • bruises
  • hair loss if rubbed on scalp (make sure there is no broken skin)
  • inflammation from insect bites
  • muscle aches
  • rheumatic pain
  • sprains
  • strained or pulled muscles
  • superficial phlebitis
  • tendon strain
  • swelling due to fractures
  • wound healing (not on broken skin)


  • The tincture can cause blistering and inflammation when applied so it is important to use very dilute solutions of the tincture
  • Arnica should not be used on broken skin, including leg ulcers
  • People who are hypersensitive or allergic to the herb should avoid it.

Prolonged use may irritate the skin, causing :

  • blisters
  • eczema
  • peeling
  • other skin conditions.

Homeopathic preparations are also used to treat:

  • bruises
  • sore muscles
  • conditions associated with overexertion or trauma
  • trauma to soft tissues

Arnica is also sometimes used:

  • a compress on the stomach to relieve abdominal pains
  • as a poultice


Recommended dosage is as follows:

Internal – strictly as prescribed by practitioner or homoeopath

External  preparations of Arnica should always be extremely diluted

  • Poultices/Compresses – dilute tincture/extract 3-10 times with water
  • Oil (infused with vegetable oil)
  • Mouthwash – dilute tincture/extract 10 times with water. (Do not swallow)


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The internal use of Arnica is not recommended and should only be administered by a professional herbalist, naturopath or health practitioner.

It can cause:

  • dizziness
  • heart irregularities
  • increased heart rate
  • mucous membrane irritation
  • nervous disturbances
  • stomach irritation 
  • vomiting
  • tremors
  • weakness

Do not use if pregnant or breastfeeding

Drug Interactions:

Do not use Arnica without first talking to your practitioner or healthcare provider if you taking any of the following medications:

  • None known

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Global Herbal Supplies has Arnica available in the following forms: