WALA Plant Library
Synonyms: Mountain Tobacco, Leopard's Bane
Scientific Name: Arnica montana L.
Family: Asteraceae (Daisy Family)
HabitatThe plant is indigenous to the mountainous regions of Central Europe, from southern Norway and Lithuania in the north to southern Russia in the east.
Volatile oil, flavonoids, choline, procyanides, bitter compounds, sesquiterpene lactones.
Arnica montana is medicinal plant of the year 2001. If you want to find it in the wild you will have to climb up high as this plant is at home in unfertilised or barely fertilised mountain pastures and in mountain heathland, where it displays its radiant yellow flowerheads from June to August. As in all members of the daisy family, the flowerhead consists of numerous individual florets: small tubular florets at the centre, surrounded by larger tubules with long petals extending outwards - the ray florets. A characteristic feature of Arnica is that this ray floret has three teeth at the tip. The robust stems bearing the flowers rise from a rosette of leaves and can reach a height of up to 50 cm. The whole plant is perennial and survives the hard mountain winter by withdrawing its energy into the rootstock.
As an important vulnerary, Arnica has wound-healing, disinfecting and anti-inflammatory properties. It helps to regenerate the tissue and is suitable for the treatment of all injuries resulting from impact, falls, stabs and cuts. In haematoma, muscle and tendon sprains, torn muscles, bruises and contusions it removes congestion and relieves pain. Arnica relaxes the tissue and makes it supple and is therefore irreplaceable in the prevention and treatment of sore muscles. Arnica ointment is important for the prevention and treatment of phlebitis. In inflammation of the mouth and throat gargling or rinsing with Arnica stimulates the circulation and the immune functions of the mucous membranes.
The origin of the name Arnica is disputed. According to some sources it is derived from the Greek arnakis = lamb's skin, an allusion to the downy sepals. Others see the name as an abbreviation of the word ptarmike from the Greek ptarmos = to sneeze. Dioscurides is said to have given this name to the members of the daisy family because of their tendency to cause sneezing. As third variant, the name is thought to originate from the Arabic word arnich.
One of the German names for Arnica is Wolfsblume or wolf flower. Arnica has the wild nature of the wolf. The entrapped mountain sunlight flashes from its flowers, reminding one of the yellow eyes of a wolf. In late summer, when the wind is rustles through the ears of corn, the corn wolf roams through the corn. In heathen times this mythological figure symbolised the strength of the field, the spirit of the corn, and provided the energy for ripening. As soon as he left the field, the corn withered. So farmers used to place Arnica around their fields to keep the corn wolf in. As "wolf's plant" they believed it could stop the corn wolf from leaving the field. As soon as the last corn was cut he would escape and slip into the last sheaf. This was often decorated and then carried into the village amidst great rejoicing. Later, farmers placed Arnica around the fields on Midsummer's Day to protect the corn against
Bilwisschnitter – the corn demon.
Arnica was dedicated to Freya and was one of the most important herbs associated with the feast of St. John. Alongside St. John's wort and bracken, it was an obligatory part of any summer solstice ritual. Arnica was also believed to have magical powers that could influence the weather and used to be burned during thunderstorms. A German rhyme goes:
"Set arnica alight, set arnica alight
Make the thunderstorm take flight"
Use in Skin Care and Remedies
As remedy of choice for sore muscles, Arnica is contained in Dr.Hauschka Birch Arnica Energising Body Oil, which has activating and relaxing action after physical exertion.
Its stimulation of the circulation supports the regenerating action of Dr.Hauschka Neem Hair Lotion which strengthens the hair and scalp.
In WALA medicines Arnica is used in the treatment of sprains and bruises. Arnica Ointment* and Arnica Essence*, for example, are used externally to treat blunt injuries with sprains, contusions, bruises and haematomas. Arnica Wipes* are a must in every first aid kit. The convenient individually wrapped, ready-to-use wipes are ideal for travel and hiking.
Arnica preparations should not be used in hypersensitivity to Arnica. In rare cases, if there is hypersensitivity to Arnica, allergic skin reactions can occur. In this case the preparation should be discontinued.
* Prescribing information for the preparations mentioned (the indications are derived from the anthroposophical understanding of man and nature):
Arnica montana e floribus LA 20%
Stimulation for the healing of tissue and organs with particular emphasis on metabolic processes, e.g. blunt injuries such as strains, contusions, bruises, muscle soreness; muscular knots (myogelosis), subacute and chronic-inflammatory joint diseases; conditions after a concussion, stroke (apoplexy), palsies. Contains 25% alcohol by volume.
Stimulation of tissue and organ healing after blunt injuries and in inflammatory and degenerative disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Contains peanut oil and wool fat.
Arnica montana e floribus LA 20%
Stimulation for the healing of tissue and organs with particular emphasis on metabolic processes, e.g. for first aid of blunt injuries such as strains, contusions, bruises. Contains 25% alcohol by volume.
For information on risks and side-effects please read the pack insert and ask your doctor or pharmacist.