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Arnica for the Skin and Muscles

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Arnica for the Skin and Muscles

Allison Bingham

Arnica Montana is native to Europe but is most commonly found as a hybrid across the globe. She is an alpine plant that grows well in nutrient-poor soil and prefers high altitudes, which breed more aromatic plants.

As a member of the Asteraceae family, Arnica shares herbal benefits with Calendula, Chamo­milla, Echinacea, Millefolium (Yarrow), Solidago (golden rod), Taraxacum (dandelion), and is relative to the common sunflower and daisy.


Arnica Montana is one of the best-known and most widely used natural remedies for bruising, muscle soreness, and trauma. Plastic surgeons and skin care professionals swear by Arnica for post-treatment recovery.

The Arnica flower (fresh or dry) is most commonly used, although parts of Europe utilize the root in herbal preparations. Flowers begin to appear mid-summer and are harvested early in the blooming season for best results.

General advisement promotes Arnica as a topical treatment, and not an internal treatment, although some say the romantic German writer Goethe used to take arnica tea to relieve him from chest pains.

While internal consumption is advised against, there is an abundance of merit in the topical and herbal use of the Arnica plant. In fact, keeping some dried arnica plant on hand proves very useful for the immediate treatment of various external conditions!

To guide you through some of them, here is a list of some common uses:


Homeopathy refers to an alternative practice of medicine that originated in Germany over 200 years ago. It follows the principle of “like cures like”, which is the notion that an ailment can be cured by negligible amounts of a substance that produce similar symptoms in a healthy person. There is little evidence to this practice, but it has gained a large following nonetheless.


It is important to note that the treatment is highly personalized. Careful preparation and precaution are advised for anyone who chooses to utilize the arnica plant as a homeopathic treatment.


While homeopathy may be lacking in research, the treatment of bruises, strains, and sprains has a lot of backing. The plant contains chemicals with anti-inflammatory properties, such as sesquiterpene lactones and flavonoids that strengthen blood vessels and diminish blood leakage, characteristic of bruises and swelling from fractures.

Arnica also contains powerful antioxidants such as selenium and manganese, which is elemental in the formation of healthy bones, wound healing, and processing of proteins, cholesterol, and carbohydrates.


A study reveals that scheduled use of Arnica before and after marathon running has a positive effect in reducing muscle soreness.


Some people use a diluted form of topical ointment to improve blood circulation in the scalp, which leads to stronger hair (and less hair loss), thereby improving hair growth and quality.

To apply externally, there are many different forms.

  1. A spray-on infusion made with 1 teaspoon of dried herbs mixed with ½ cup of water.
  2. A tincture made of 1 part dried arnica flowers to 8 parts alcohol.
  3. An infused oil derived from 1 part dried flowers in 4 parts oil.  
  4. A topical ointment combining 1 part arnica oil to 4 - 5 parts base.
  5. A mouth rinse made of 1 part arnica tincture to 10 parts water.  
  6. A foot bath with 1 teaspoon arnica tincture in a pan of warm water.

(To make your own at home, check out Arnica flowers in our shop!)

It must be reiterated that internal consumption can be dangerous to the body, with known effects such as heart palpitations, nervous disturbances, dizziness or nausea, and irritation of the digestive system. An external application should also be applied with caution to avoid allergic reactions. To obtain certainty, consult your physician before using Arnica.