Arnica: What Is It, When and How to Use It

Arnica (Arnica montana) is a bright yellow perennial herb. It has been used for centuries in homeopathic medicine, as well as a flavor enhancer.

In this article, we’ll focus on arnica and its homeopathic medical uses.

It’s important to note that you should only take arnica in its homeopathic dilute form, as it is poisonous when consumed directly.

However, homeopathic arnica comes in many forms.

So, let’s do a deep dive together into what Arnica is, and the various ways you can use it!

Arnica Flower

What is Arnica?

The use of arnica in homeopathic medicine has been around since the 1500s, with the roots and heads used in highly diluted forms.

Native to Europe and Siberia, arnica is also cultivated in North America and can be found in East Asia. Mexican arnica (Heterotheca inuloides) is closely related to its European cousin.

Arnica belongs to the sunflower family and closely resembles daisies in appearance.

Due to this, it’s sometimes called the “mountain daisy”, though can also be known as leopard’s bane, wolf’s bane, mountain arnica, mountain tobacco, mountain snuff, smoke herb, wound herb, or thunderwort.

Arnica can grow to a height of one to two feet. Visually, the stems are round and hairy, with bright green leaves and yellow-orange flowers.

Typically, a single plant may have one to three flower stalks, with each flower roughly two to three inches in diameter. Arnica plants flower from June to August.

There is no clear answer for how exactly arnica works, but it is widely believed that the roots and flower heads contain the active ingredients of the plant. These are often dried, and can be powdered.

Usage is broadly the same, though active principles within the plant differ.

Growing Arnica Plants

What is Arnica Used For?

Arnica can be used for:

  • Sore or achy muscles
  • Bruises
  • Joint pain and stiffness
  • Inflammation
  • Arthritic symptoms
  • Diabetic eye damage
  • Hair loss

There have been medical trials conducted that point to evidence that arnica can be an effective natural pain relief option.

Be sure to use arnica only ever in a commercial preparation form. These forms are diluted and safe for use. The plant, when undiluted, is toxic to the liver.

Typically, when used in homeopathic dilutions, arnica products contain 5c–30c dilutions.

This means that the active ingredient, the arnica plant, was diluted by 100-fold (the “c”), and then diluted again 5 or 30 more times.

When used in such dilute forms, there is no detectable amount of active chemical, making it safe to use. Caution must be excised when considering arnica dietary supplements, as any measurable amount of arnica may be toxic.

Studies have shown that arnica has anti-microbial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties.

However, more research is needed to conclusively state that arnica is 100% effective.

Arnica Plants Growing in the Moutains

How to Use Arnica

Arnica comes in many different forms.

It is often made in creams, ointments, or gels, which should be applied to unbroken skin.

Arnica can also come as oral supplements which are highly diluted. Fresh plant gel can be applied to the skin, but it is advised that this is only for a short period of time.

Arnica Cream

What is Arnica Cream?

Arnica cream is a homeopathic commercial preparation of arnica. It has been diluted to a safe amount and mixed with cream.

It is widely available at health food stores, as well as pharmacies.

We also have the Kanjo Homeopathic Pain Relief Arnica Cream that will help reduce muscle pain and bruising that were caused by injury or surgery

What is Arnica Cream Used for?

Arnica cream can be used for bruising, joint pain, muscle soreness, swelling, and inflammation.

Recommended use is to rub the cream into the affected area two to three times daily for three weeks.

Never rub arnica cream into an open wound.

It’s advised that you check with your doctor before using it on broken skin, as it can cause irritation and be toxic.

Arnica Tea

What is Arnica Tea Good For?

Though it is called a tea, arnica tea should not be consumed.

It can help with inflammation, arthritis, anxiety, and infections.

When applied topically to the scalp, it can also help with hair loss and dandruff control. It has also been known to help relieve stress, especially when used as a foot bath.

Mexican arnica tea has traditionally been used for treating nervous disorders, fevers, and stomach issues.

It is not recommended to take it internally, however, due to risk of poisoning. Use arnica externally only!

There is evidence that consuming arnica products can lead to gastrointestinal distress, internal bleeding, tachycardia, dispnea, and coma.

A word of caution: If pregnant or breast-feeding, do not use arnica. Using arnica when pregnant can result in miscarriage and should be avoided.

How to Make Arnica Tea

To make arnica tea, you can buy prepared dried herbs or powder from a health store. This should be infused into hot water (follow manufacturer’s instructions).

You can also brew arnica tea by sourcing the ingredients yourself from a health store.

One suggested recipe is to add 1 tablespoon of dried arnica flower powder to 8 oz of boiling water, brew for 5–6 minutes, and then strain.

Excessive use of arnica tea can cause rashes and psoriasis.

Consumption can cause irritation to the skin, mouth, throat, and stomach, as well as stomach conditions, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Arnica Oil

What is Arnica Oil?

Arnica oil contains arnica plants that have been extracted into a carrier oil.

Same as with other topical arnica products, such as gels and creams, the oil is believed to have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

Arnica oil may also be used as an active ingredient in hair care products, such as shampoos and conditioners, as well as leave-in treatments.

It is possible to buy ready-made arnica oil products, or make your own.

If making your own, you will need to mix arnica oil with another carrier oil, such as coconut or almond oils.

It is recommended to mix two to three drops of arnica oil with eight to ten drops of carrier oil, in order to make your own.

As with all of the other applications of arnica products, exercise caution and consult your healthcare professional before use.

Arnica Oil


What is Arnica Oil Used for?

It is believed that arnica oil can help with hair loss issues, treatment of dandruff, split ends, and premature graying.

The application of arnica oil to the scalp may help to clear sebum oil which blocks hair follicles.

It may also help improve the texture of your scalp, and relieve inflammation and itching (though this has not been scientifically proven).

Anecdotal evidence also suggests that by coating the hair strands from root to tip, it can help strengthen the proteins in the hair- thereby preventing split ends.

This same theory also applies to premature graying.

As with the topical creams, gels, ointments, and other dilute forms of arnica oil, caution should still be excised.

Anyone with a ragweed allergy (including ragweed, chrysanthemum, marigold, daisy, etc.) should avoid using arnica oil, as it may cause an allergic reaction.

Arnica Cream Makeup

Ere Perez - Arnica Concealer


Is Arnica Makeup Safe to Use?

There is a variety of commercial make-up on the market which uses arnica in its chemical composition.

It’s believed that arnica may help soothe bumps and bruises and indeed, it has been used in Mexican culture for many years.

Therefore, arnica make-up can be effective when combined with foundation or concealer to create a smoother appearance of the skin.

As long as you follow precautions, arnica is safe to use.

Never ingest arnica, or use it in undiluted forms.

If you have a ragweed allergy, avoid using products containing arnica- even in small amounts!

If you have any open wounds or sores, do not use arnica products on these areas, as it could lead to irritation, or toxicity poisoning.

As with any of the other arnica products discussed in this article, do not use arnica products if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. It is also not recommended for children.

What is Arnica? Final Thoughts

Providing that you only use homeopathic dilute dosage arnica products, and you take proper precautions, arnica can be safe to use.

As there is limited scientific evidence- and most of it anecdotal- it is not conclusive as to whether arnica is entirely effective.

However, considering its long usage history particularly in Mexican culture, it is not possible to rule it out either!

For help in pain relief, Kanjo has two arnica gels that are perfect for relieving muscle and joint pain. 

1. Kanjo Natural Pain Relief Gel with Menthol and Arnica 

2. Kanjo Hemp Pain Relief Gel with Menthol, Arnica, and Hemp Seed Oil 


Arnica Flowers Growing

How Long Does It Take for Arnica to Work on Bruises?

A: It is recommended that you use arnica cream two to three times a day for three weeks in order to see desired results. The key is consistency.

What is Arnica Montana?

Arnica montana is the Latin name for the arnica plant, found primarily in the mountainous ranges of Siberia and Europe. Heterotheca inuloides is the closely-related Mexican plant.

What Does Arnica Smell Like?

Arnica has a very distinct pine-sage odor. The smell is particularly pungent when the leaves of mature plants are bruised or rubbed together.

How Much Arnica Should You Take?

Arnica comes in many different forms and every manufacturer will have different recommended amounts. There are homeopathic tablets or pills that can be taken orally, but you should carefully read the manufacturer’s instructions for the exact amount you can take.

Be sure to talk to your healthcare professional before taking any arnica products.

How Much Arnica to Take Before Fillers?

Arnica pills have been recommended to take four to five days before fillers to help with bruising. However, you should always talk to your health professional before taking any arnica products.

This is especially important if you have a ragweed allergy, or are taking any medications such as blood thinners.




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