- Family Compositae
- Arnica montana, A. mexicana
- Mountain Tobacco, Leopard’s Bane, Wolfsbane, Arnica Flowers, Arnica Root, Camphor Weed, Telegraph Weed
- Spanish: Falsa árnica, Arnica del pais
- Nahuatl: Tlályetl
- Even in low doses, the plant can be toxic. Therefore, it must be used only under the guidance of a professional.
- Arnica montana is a wildflower native to Europe and Western Asia, while the false arnica (Heterotheca inuloides) is a plant native to Mexico and the southwestern US, but used similarly as a topical ointment or liniment. Both have small yellow or orange daisy-like flowers. It is important to know which plant is which if it is to be taken internally.
Arnica is found in Europe from Scandinavia to southern parts of Europe, as well as in southern Russia and central Asia. It is also found in the Pyrenees, Siberia, Canada, and the northwestern US. This aromatic, perennial grows to about a foot high, producing downy, egg-shaped leaves and bright yellow, daisylike flowers, which are harvested when in full bloom. The rhizomes are unearthed after the plant has died back in the fall.
Arnica has been used extensively in European folk medicine. In his old age, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832), the German philosopher and poet, drank arnica tea to ease his angina.
- circulation stimulant
- heart tonic
- topical disinfectant
- sesquiterpene lactones
- volatile oil (including thymol)
- Flowers, rhizomes
- decoctions or tinctures to stimulate circulation
- ointments and compresses to treat bruises, sprains, and muscle pain
In North America, the species A. fulgens is used in place of A. montana.
Arnica is a valuable external treatment for bruises and sprains as it improves the local blood supply and speeds healing. It increases the rate of absorption of internal bleeding.
Generally, the plant is now taken only as a homeopathic remedy for shock, injury, or pain. Previously, arnica was also used in the treatment of angina and a weak or failing heart, but it is rarely used for this anymore because of the risk of toxicity.
Herbalists worldwide have found it effective in treating wounds, hemorrhoids, bruises, toothache, sore muscles, bronchitis, stomachache, diarrhea, and menstrual cramps.
In Russian folk medicine, it is used to treat uterine hemorrhaging, myocarditis, arteriosclerosis, angina, exhaustion, cardiac insufficiency, sprains, contusions, and hair loss from psychological causes.