Arnica Herb Profile

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Arnica for muscle recovery and healing
Wellness Mama » Blog » Natural Remedies » Arnica Herb Profile

I use many herbs daily for their medicinal, culinary and therapeutic properties. One herb that I don’t use daily but always keep on hand is Arnica (or scientifically, Arnica Montana).

Though this is not an herb that can be taken internally, it has definitely earned its place in our house. It is well known for its ability to help externallywith bruises, sprains, strains, etc. and can remove shock and speed healing. It can be put on areas of trauma after falls, accidents, etc.

Arnica is native to Europe and has been used for centuries. Many athletes use some form of it to recover from muscle strain and speed recovery after a work-out.

Though it should never be taken internally, some homeopathic remedies are available that are generally considered safe. It should also not be applied to broken or burned skin.

From Mountain Rose Herbs:

How to Use:

It can be used in various ways depending on the need:

  • On the skin as an infusion to spray on for aches and sprains (1 teaspoon dried herbs in 1/2 cup water)
  • A tincture (1 ounce dried flower preserved in 8 ounces/1 cup of food grade alcohol)
  • An infused oil (1 ounce dried flowers preserved in 4 ounces/.5 cup oil) This post explains how to make an infused oil.
  • Arnica oils and creams are used topically to treat sprains, bruises, and muscle pain. Diluted tinctures of arnica are used in foot baths (1 teaspoon of tincture to a pan of warm water) to soothe sore feet.
  • Homeopathic arnica is traditionally used to treat seasickness. Research published in June 2005 in the journal Complementary Therapies in Medicine found that homeopathic arnica can reduce post-partum bleeding.

Important Notes:

Arnica is never to be used internally and it is important not to ingest any form of arnica except homeopathics. It is also not recommended to apply to broken or cut skin and some people may notice skin irritation from the use of arnica topically. Not recommended (even topically) while pregnant or nursing. (except in homeopathic form)

Arnica Salve Recipe

Arnica can be used in tinctures, salves, vinegar tinctures, decoctions, etc. Here is a recipe for a salve I always keep in the house:

Directions: Warm oil in double boiler. Add beeswax and stir until melted. Add Wintergreen Oil in desired amount (warning-wintergreen is very strong!). Pour into desired storage container (we use small tins or little jam jars). Let cool.

Can be used on bruises, sprains, strains, head bumps, etc.

Other Natural Remedies:

Check out my full index of natural remedies by clicking here.

If you’re just getting started with natural remedies, I’d also recommend some of these basic recipes:

Ever used Arnica? How did it work for you? Share below!

Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


55 responses to “Arnica Herb Profile”

      1. Lindsay Avatar

        Would you not use it on kids just because of the wintergreen? If I left the wintergreen out, would it then be safe to use? Thanks!

  1. Esther Avatar

    I used the topical Arnica gel to treat a septorhinoplasty about 2 weeks post op. I was hesitant to try it until I confirmed there was no stimulant effect, but oh wow do I ever wish I’d used it sooner! I literally saw my eye bruising fade gradually within HOURS! Also, I have fibromyalgia and used it to message sore neck and shoulders with quick relief. Can’t say enough good things about it! I did also try the pellets but haven’t noticed much of a difference.

  2. Chuck Avatar

    I’d avoid alcohol as it dries the skin…though of course it also dries on the skin rapidly.

    I just use water extract for spray.

  3. Phyl Avatar

    I’m looking for directions to make arnica spray for sore muscles. The suggestion was to put the dried arnica in a quart jar, cover with alcohol, place outdoors in the sun for a day, then to strain thru a filter. Does this sound about right? How much dried arnica flower to how much alcohol?

      1. Mary Jo Avatar

        Do you infuse arnica into rubbing alcohol or grain alcohol or,,,? I have made tinctures with grain alcohol, but it’s been a while. BTW, I love what you do and am thankful for all your hard work and info!

  4. Charles Avatar

    I’m looking for a salve/ointment recipe which uses water extracted A. montana rather than oil or alcohol….

  5. Michael Avatar

    A while ago I sprained my ankle really bad. I was used to just applying ice. But the swelling, bruising and pain didn’t subside. Until finally my mom told me about arnica. At first I didn’t believe it could help me but my mom kept pushing me to use it. When I finally did the next morning I woke up great. My ankle was better. This thing works wonders!!

  6. Zoe Bratianu Avatar
    Zoe Bratianu

    I’m wondering where you found info for breastfeeding precaution. I had formerly been told it was considered safe topically while nursing, thank you.

  7. Meghan Schaffer Hamilton Avatar
    Meghan Schaffer Hamilton

    Love it! My podiatrist recommended it when I was having severe foot problems. It helped a great deal during my recovery.

  8. Melanie Avatar

    How do you dry the flowers correctly and then store them? Anyone have a good website showing this? I have natural Arnica flowers growing like mad, and would like to use them.

    1. Chuck Avatar

      Pick and lay out on screens to dry in the shade.

      Store in dark, cool place.

  9. Rachael Louise Shannon Avatar
    Rachael Louise Shannon

    Hello! I was wondering if you could use Arnica oil instead of infusing oil yourself?

  10. Mae Avatar

    I use Arnica for my hair…. its great for making your hair grow healthy n fast…. I boil arnica and rosemary, cool it, strain it then use the liquid in my hair after I shower while its still damp… It works!!

    1. NorRie Avatar

      Ok ok so how much of each do you use? In one cup portion? Does it gradually lighten hair colour?

  11. Amanda Bombardier Avatar
    Amanda Bombardier

    I’m a roller derby girl where bumps and bruises are the norm. Arnica gel is amazing at healing them up quickly. I also took it homeopathically when I got my new piercing to aid in healing. Such wonderful stuff!

  12. Ginny Avatar

    We use Arnica homeopathy (internally) and gel (externally) to avoid bruises, also for leg pains (growth pain) which happened to my son at night, very soothing. Finally Arnica homeopathy combined with Cinchona homeopathy pre and post surgery, my recovery was amazing.

  13. Martie Avatar

    We have been using arnica for the past 30 years. We use it in alcohol and also in olive oil. We add Rue and St. John’s Wort. Just be careful with these other two herbs. Rue can be a skin irritant and S.t John’s Wort interacts with Psychotropic Medications.

    I developed arthritis in my knees after a car accident and have trouble sleeping because of the pain. I just wake up and apply the arnicated olive oil and within a 5 to 10 minutes I’m back to sleep for another 4 hours or more. Yes, it’s greasy. You can purchase an expensive small bottle of THE Arnica Rub cream that is absolutely fabulous! It does have additional herbs such as comfrey, rue, S.t John’s Wort.

    For sprains we don’t use ice, we make a hot tea (about 4 cups of water & 2 tb herb) and once it cools down a bit we dip a wash cloth in the hot tea and then apply to washcloth to the sprained area. The washcloth should be hot but NOT burning. Remove it once it is no longer really warm and wring out the washcloth and re-dip in the hot tea. The area should be treated for about 30 to 60 minutes so Repeat as necessary. Warn the patient that just because the pain, bruising and swelling is gone or severely reduced, the affected area still needs to be treated gently, as muscles or ligaments could be torn and they need to heal. —Okay, my IDIOT ex thought the just because there was no more pain that he could go off the do what he wanted—moron ended up injuring himself further. So, sometimes pain is there to warn you that something is wrong.

  14. Charles Avatar

    We use the homeopathic arnica all the time in both tablets (internally)and in a gel (externally). I learned it from my mother who has been using it for about 25 years. It is amazing what it does. If the gel is put on right after an injury, bruises usually go straight to yellow rather that black. Life saver with little kids.

  15. Cyndel Jones Avatar
    Cyndel Jones

    I use the homeopathic version and love it, though I’d love this for minor bruises…esp since my 5yo thinks every bruise needs med and band aid which we can’t afford.
    Hmmm How much does this usually cost you?

  16. Heather Avatar

    I was introduced to the homeopathic version of arnica in Germany. I got to know a few people who gave it to their kids. I decided to try. It worked wonders for my toddler when he got hurt. Also, I just had my 3rd child via water birth in July, I took arnica for about 5 days afterwards. It helped my bleeding, no heavy bleeding after a week! Also I swear it helped with those breastfeeding contractions because they were much better than the last time!!

    1. Heidi Avatar

      My knowledge of Arnica also originates in Germany. I grew up during and after WWII there, and my grandmother used “Arnika Tinktur” for our scrapes and bruises. We never had an infected scrape, although I’m reading here that you should not put it on broken skin. (It feels like putting iodine on, which I don’t use). She grew up in the Harz Mts. – in the late 1800s – where everybody knew about arnica and other herbs and used them. One thing she was adamant about was “Don’t ever swallow it.” So I’m surprised about the widespread use of arnica tablets.

      1. Retsuzen Shikata Avatar
        Retsuzen Shikata

        That’s funny. I make herbal tinctures at home, loads of different ones and for all sorts of reason. In fact, I have my own apothecary for my family and that is all we use, herbal meds. I take Arnica flowers and infuse them in 80-100 proof non GMO Vodka and we use the arnica tincture in teas to drink ALL THE TIME. No one seems to have any affect negatively, in fact, it is one of the best pain killers we use, right next to boneset herb. I was actually just now shocked to find numerous articles saying do not take internally but none state any reason except it is toxic? Well, we have had no issues. It is the only internal pain killer that touches the pain associated with a pinched nerve in my lower back.

        1. Chuck Barnard Avatar
          Chuck Barnard

          That is strange, though what I remember was along the lines of being cautious in how much to use internally. It it “stings like iodine’ it’s a pretty potent antibiotic.

          Lots of things are toxic, when the warning isn’t definitive, they tend to err conservatively.

          You don’t give dosage information that you are using, but if you are using a tincture .as an additive in a tea, you’re probably safely below your LD. (Obviously so, as you live.)

          Were you to drink a cup of extracted tincture, things might not go so well.

          Toxic/medicinal is a fine line sometimes. Legally you never go wrong by saying “don’t use this–it may kill you.”

  17. Mo Avatar

    I LOVE my arnica salve, made very similarly to yours: Arnica in a good quality olive oil, although I infused it in the oil at low heat for about 6 hours. Then beeswax and 400 iu of Vitamin E, put in little jars. I pulled the MCL on my left knee about a month ago, and had terrible pain (ouch!!). I used the arnica balm every 4-6 hours and was pain free in 24 hours, and no problems since, altho I had a little twinge in same area a week ago and used more arnica balm…Twinge gone!!! Incredible for bruising also!!! I think I added a little eucalyptus essential oil to the balm also, tho not necessary.

    1. Sarah Avatar

      hello! i’m new to this, but really want to make your arnica salve. i like that it has vitamin e, but am wondering, how do you know how much 400 iu = in terms of measuring? if i have vitamin e oil and 400 iu is = to 3 drops, do i merely add 3 drops to the entire batch of salve? thanks!!

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