Arnica (Arnica montana)

Arnica montana is the Latin name for a perennial that grows 1 to 2 feet tall with bright, yellow daisy-like flowers that appear in July and August. It is found on the moist, grassy upland meadows in the hills and mountains of northern and central Europe and Siberia. It is also found sparsely in the northwestern United States. More common names for Arnica are mountain daisy, leopard’s bane, and mountain tobacco. Its medicinal history dates back several centuries and arnica continues to be popular today.

Arnica (Arnica montana)


Its flowers and roots have been used to treat bruises, sprains, arthritic pain, and muscle aches Arnica can be used as an ointment, gel, or cream on unbroken skin or taken internally when it is diluted homeopathically. Arnica is also used in homeopathic remedies. Since at least the 16th century, mountain people in that area have used it to relieve muscle aches and bruises. St. Hildegard, a German nun known for her keen observation of nature and physiology, among other things, wrote about the healing properties of the Arnica montana plant in the 12th century. The German Commission E approved the external use of arnica flower for injuries and consequences of accidents, e.g., hematoma, dislocations, contusions, edema due to fracture, rheumatic muscle, and joint problems. It is also approved for use in inflammation of the oral and throat region, furunculosis, inflammation caused by insect bites, and superficial phlebitis.


It contains sesquiterpene lactones of the helenanolid type, predominantly ester derivatives of helenalin and 11,13-dihydrohelenalin. Additionally, the herb contains flavonoids (e.g., isoquercitrin, luteolin-7-glucoside, and astragalin), volatile oil (with thymol and its derivatives), phenol carbonic acid (chlorogenic acid, cynarin, caffeic acid), and coumarins (umbelliferone, scopoletin).

Clinical Studies

Arnica montana is widely held to improve blood circulation, allowing oxygen to get to the cell faster. Used topically, Arnica Montana is touted as a great way to speed the healing of bruises and sprains, and it is used as an alternative treatment in sports-related injuries of this type. Arnica Montana acts as an anti-inflammatory and has even been indicated as a way to speed the absorption of internal bleeding back into the body. Preparations made from the plant are often thought of as preferential treatment for leg ulcers in diabetic patients.

Contemporary studies demonstrate in vitro antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, positive inotropic, respiratory-stimulating, and uterine activities. Experimental trials suggest further potential uses. Arnica enhanced immune response in laboratory animals against Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella typhimurium. One trial found that bile and liver enzyme levels improved when rats with carbon-tetrachloride-induced hepatic toxicity were administered phenols obtained from arnica.

Studies show that arnica has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. A few clinical trials suggest that topical arnica is helpful for osteoarthritis, and significantly reduces bruising compared with placebo or low-concentration vitamin K ointments. Studies report reduced postoperative swelling in patients following knee surgery, and reduced pain following tonsillectomy.

Biomechanical Mechanism


Brinkhaus B, Wilkens JM, Ludtke R, et al. Homeopathic arnica therapy in patients receiving knee surgery: results of three randomised double-blind trials. Complement Ther Med. Dec 2006;14(4):237-246.

Chaiet SR, Marcus BC. Perioperative Arnica montana for Reduction of Ecchymosis in Rhinoplasty Surgery. Ann Plast Surg. May 2016;76(5):477-482
Dinman S. Arnica. Plast Surg Nurs. Jan-Mar 2007;27(1):52-53.

Jager C, Hrenn A, Zwingmann J, et al. Phytomedicines prepared from Arnica flowers inhibit the transcription factors AP-1 and NF-kappaB and modulate the activity of MMP1 and MMP13 in human and bovine chondrocytes. Planta Med. Oct 2009;75(12):1319-1325.

Knuesel O, Weber M, Suter A. Arnica montana gel in osteoarthritis of the knee: an open, multicenter clinical trial. Adv Ther. Sep-Oct 2002;19(5):209-218.

Leu S, Havey J, White LE, et al. Accelerated resolution of laser-induced bruising with topical 20% arnica: a rater-blinded randomized controlled trial. Br J Dermatol. Sep 2010;163(3):557-563.

Ross SM. Osteoarthritis: a proprietary Arnica gel is found to be as effective as ibuprofen gel in osteoarthritis of the hands. Holist Nurs Pract. Jul-Aug 2008;22(4):237-239.

Robertson A, Suryanarayanan R, Banerjee A. Homeopathic Arnica montana for post-tonsillectomy analgesia: a randomised placebo control trial. Homeopathy. Jan 2007;96(1):17-21.

Schroder H, Losche W, Strobach H, et al. Helenalin and 11 alpha,13-dihydrohelenalin, two constituents from Arnica montana L., inhibit human platelet function via thiol-dependent pathways. Thromb Res. Mar 15 1990;57(6):839-845.

Schulte KE, Rucker G. [Polyacetylenes and some other new contents of Arnica blossoms]. Arch Pharm Ber Dtsch Pharm Ges. May 1966;299(5):468-480.

Simsek G, Sari E, Kilic R, et al. Topical Application of Arnica and Mucopolysaccharide Polysulfate Attenuates Periorbital Edema and Ecchymosis in Open Rhinoplasty: A Randomized Controlled Clinical Study. Plast Reconstr Surg. Mar 2016;137(3):530e-535e.

Widrig R, Suter A, Saller R, et al. Choosing between NSAID and arnica for topical treatment of hand osteoarthritis in a randomised, double-blind study. Rheumatol Int. Apr 2007;27(6):585-591.