arnica montana flower

Arnica

Arnica is a genus of 32 medicinal plants with European arnica, Arnica montana, being the most common plant used medicinally.

Family

Asteraceae

OTHER NAMES

Mountain arnica, wolf’s bane, mountain tobacco, leopard’s bane

Botanic Characteristics

Arnica montana is a hardy herbaceous perennial native to Central Europe. It grows 20-30 cm (8-12 in) with opposite leaves and 1-3, rarely 5, flowerheads per stem. In late spring or early summer, the vibrant yellow flowers appear

CULTIVATION

Arnica grows well in nutrient-poor moors and heaths in full sun. It grows best between 600 and 2800 m where the light is very intense and the soil moist and cool. Because it is an endangered species, it is a great idea to grow it in your garden and avoid harvesting it from the wild. One can propagate it from seed but 20 % germination failure is common.

HARVEST

Harvest from your garden when the flowers are fully developed.

DRYING

Remove the bract and receptacles from the flowers and lay them on a flat surface in a well-ventilated room. Alternatively, dry the flowers in a dehydrator at maximun 40 degrees C (104 F).

CONSTITUENTS

0.3-1.0% sesquiterpene lactones (no less than 0.4% helenalin), flavonoids (16 aglycones and 17 glycosides), essentail oils (thymol – strongest when at bloom), polysaccharides, coumarin

PROPERTIES

Anti-inflamatory, vulnerary, analgesic, antibacterial, fungicide, antiseptic, immunostimulant

ENERGETICS

Hot and dry

TASTE

Slightly bitter, pungent and spicy

ODOR

Faintly aromatic.

MEDICINAL USE OF ARNICA

Arnica is mostly used externally to promote healing of closed wounds. It has an anti-inflamatory effect similar to cortisone and soothes pain on inflamed and swollen tissues like bruises, concussion, strains and crushes. It helps to reduce swelling in the area around a fractured bone and to improve bad-healing wounds. It promotes the flowing of blood in the capillarities and stimulates the lymphatic system. It causes reabsorption of internal bleeding in bruises and sprains. Diluted tincture is used to clean open wounds such as abscesses, boils and ulcers. Only homeopathic Arnica should be used internally.

Topic application for:

  • Bruises
  • Concussion
  • Sprains and strains
  • Crushes
  • Fractured bones (reduce swelling)
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Cleaning open wounds such as abscesses, boils and ulcers
  • Difficult to heal wounds
  • Muscle soreness
  • Joint pain due to rheumatic diseases
  • Vein related ailments (edema)
  • Early stages of lymphangitis (inflammation of lymphatic vessels and channels)
DAILY DOSE

Poultice: 2-4 tablespoons (1-2 g) flowers per 150 ml water

Tincture: 1:3 (1 ml tincture in 2 ml water) to 1:10 (1 ml tincture in 9 ml water) dilution

Mouthwash: 1:10 dilution (1 ml tincture in 9 ml water)

HOMEMADE PREPARATIONS
  • Poultice
  • Tincture
  • Bath
  • Infusion (for topic application)
  • Gel
  • Mouthwash
SIDE EFFECTS

Arnica contains helenolides which are damaging to the heart. Long topical use can lead to tissue damage. Use arnica externally only in diluted form and for no longer than 30 minutes.

CONTRA-INDICATIONS

Arnica allergy and allergy to any plant in the Asteraceae (sunflower) family such as chamomile, yarrow, etc.

CULINARY USE

Some people use the arnica roots to flavor alcoholic beverages. Because of the poisonous effects of the sesquiterpene lactone helenalin, arnica should not be taken internally with great caution.

arnica flower

References
Bühring, U. 2015. Alles über Heilpflanzen. 3rd ed. Stuttgart: Ulmer.
Bühring, U. Girsch, M. 2016. Praxis Heilpflanzenkunde. Stuttgart: Haug.
Wichtl M. 2004. Herbal drugs and phytopharmaceuticals – A handbook for practice on a scientific basis. 3rd ed. Stuttgart: medpharm Scientific Publishers

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