Arnica: 9 Health Benefits, How to Use & Recipes

Updated in December 2023

Arnica is a medicinal plant that is rich in flavonoids and phenolic compounds. It has anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antimicrobial, antioxidant and anticoagulant properties. This plant can therefore be used to help treat various health problems, such as bruises, rheumatic pain, abrasions and muscle pain.

Although it has various health benefits, the use of arnica can also cause many side effects, especially when the plant is ingested. It can lead to nausea, vomiting, heart problems, miscarriage or shortness of breath. Arnica is contraindicated for pregnant women and people with liver problems.

Arnica can be purchased in health food stores, homeopathic stores or pharmacies. It is available in the form of dried flowers, tincture, oil, ointment or gel. It should always be used as directed by a doctor or medicinal plant specialist. 

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Health benefits

Due to its properties, arnica can be used for:

1. Wound healing

Some studies show that arnica has lactones with healing and anti-inflammatory properties. They can reduce the production of inflammatory substances such as prostaglandins and cytokines, and can be used to help treat skin wounds, abrasions, scratches, bruises or cuts.

In addition, arnica has an antihistamine action, which helps to reduce the swelling of wounds by inhibiting the leakage of fluids from the blood vessels to the wound site.

2. Bruises

Arnica, in the form of a gel or ointment, can be used in cases of bruising, trauma or blows that lead to a hematoma or ecchymosis under the skin. It contains lactones, helenalin and hexuronic acid in its composition, with anticoagulant, analgesic and anti-inflammatory action. These help to reduce the purple stain on the skin and pain at the site of the injury.

3. Joint pain

Because it contains helenalin, which has a powerful anti-inflammatory action, arnica helps to block the production of proteins responsible for chronic joint inflammation in people with osteoarthritis.

Some studies show that the topical use of arnica in osteoarthritis helps to relieve joint pain, improves movement and reduces morning stiffness in the hands.

4. Muscle pain or strain

Arnica helps to reduce pain and treat muscle distension caused by physical activity or in cases of torticollis. The lactones in its composition contain anti-inflammatory and analgesic action which help to relive discomfort.

5. Post-operative pain

Due to its analgesic, anti-inflammatory and healing effects, arnica helps to reduce post-surgical inflammation in the affected tissues after surgery, whic reduces pain. 

After surgery, it is normal for bruises to appear near the scar due to the rupture of blood vessels from any incisions. Arnica can be used to reduce purple coloring on the skin due to its anticoagulant effect. However, it should only be used after surgery as directed by the doctor and after the scar is already closed.

6. Varicose veins and hemorrhoids

The lactones and hexuronic acid present in arnica have an anticoagulant, anti-inflammatory and analgesic action which can be used to help treat varicose veins and hemorrhoids. Both conditions are associated with dilated veins that appear under the skin, and this plant can help to reduce pain and discomfort.

7. Toothache and gingivitis

Arnica contains analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, healing and antimicrobial effect due to the presence of helenalin in its composition. Therefore, it can be beneficial for reducing toothaches or gingivitis.

Although arnica should not be ingested due to its toxic effects, it can be used in the form of tea for gargling.

8. Boils

Because arnica contains lactones, flavonoids and phenolic compounds in its composition, it has antiseptic, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory action. This can help to reduce swelling and pain associated with boils.

9. Hair loss

Some studies with arnica have shown that using this plant together with other medicinal herbs such as jaborandi, chamomile or jojoba in natural hair shampoo formulations increases hair strength and growth and can be an important ally in the fight against hair loss.

How to use

The flowers are the main part of the arnica plant and can be used in the form of tea, tincture, ointment or oil for external application. It is important not to ingest arnica as it can cause intoxication, nor should it be applies to open wounds or surgical scars. It should also not be used for active bleeds, as it can be absorbed through the skin and cause toxic side effects.

1. Arnica tea

Arnica tea compresses are indicated for use on bruises, scrapes, contusions and hematomas on the skin.

This arnica tea recipes can also be used as a gargle for sore throats or toothaches. It should never be ingested, as it can cause side effects such as nausea, tremors and irregular heartbeats, and can be fatal if taken in high doses.


  • 1 teaspoon of dried arnica flowers
  • 250 ml of boiling water

How to prepare

Place the dried arnica flowers in the boiling water and infuse for 10 minutes. Strain, soak the compress and apply while warm to the affected area 2-3 times a day.

Arnica infusions should not be applied to open or bleeding wounds, nor to the eyes.

2. Arnica ointment

Arnica ointment is a great option to apply to injured skin with bruises, blows or purple marks. It can be used to relieve muscle pain and helps eliminate the purple marks very efficiently.


  • 5 g beeswax
  • 45 ml of olive oil or sweet almond oil
  • 4 tablespoons of chopped dried arnica leaves and flowers

How to prepare

Place the ingredients in a pot over a bain marie and bring to a boil over low heat for a few minutes. Then turn remove from heat and leave the ingredients in the pot for a few hours to release the active substances. Before cooling, strain and store the liquid in a clean, dry glass container with a lid. Always keep the glass in a dry, dark and airy place. This ointment has a shelf life of up to 1 year and can be applied to the skin 2-3 times a day.

3. Arnica tincture to apply on the skin

An arnica tincture, prepared with ethanol, is an excellent remedy for treating purple marks caused by bumps, bruises and muscle injuries. It also helps to treat joint pain caused by osteoarthritis. This preparation should only be used on the skin and should not be ingested.


  • 10 grams of dried arnica leaves
  • 350 mL of ethanol
  • 150 mL of filtered water

How to prepare

Crush the dried arnica leaves with a pestle to release the active substances. Then place the crushed dried arnica leaves in a clean, dry glass jar with a lid and add the alcohol and filtered water. Close the glass with the lid, cover the outside with aluminum foil and leave to stand for 1 week.

It is important to shake the jar every day. After 1 week, remove the arnica leaves from the solution and transfer the tincture to another clean, dry glass jar covered with aluminum foil. This tincture has a shelf life of up to one year.

Before using the tincture, shake the bottle. Apply the arnica tincture to the desired areas 2-3 times a day using a cotton ball, massaging the area.

Arnica tincture should not be used on open or bleeding wounds as the alcohol in the tincture can cause the wound to burn.

4. Arnica oil

Arnica oil can be used to treat bruises, bumps, sprains, muscle pain, joint pain or swollen legs, due to its anti-inflammatory, analgesic and anticoagulant properties.

This oil should only be used on the skin and not consumed.


  • 10 grams of dried arnica flowers
  • 100 ml of olive oil, almond oil or jojoba oil

How to prepare

Place the dried arnica flowers and oil in a clean, dry glass jar with a lid. Mix with a spoon, cover the jar with aluminum foil. Shake the bottle well to help release the active substances in the arnica. Store the bottle in an airy place away from light for 30 to 40 days. After this period, strain the oil to remove the arnica flowers and store the oil in a clean, dry bottle with a lid, covered with aluminum foil. You can use arnica oil 2-3 times a day on the affected area.

Possible side effects

Arnica is safe for most adults when used topically for a short period of time. However, this plant can cause skin irritation, swelling or dermatitis.

Arnica should not be ingested as it is considered to be a toxic plant. It can cause mouth and throat irritation, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, hallucinations, dizziness, shortness of breath, arrhythmia, increased blood pressure, muscle weakness, bleeding, coma and death.

You should seek medical help immediately or go to the nearest emergency room if you experience symptoms of arnica poisoning or an allergic reaction, such as difficulty breathing, nausea, vomiting or convulsions.

Contraindications for use

Arnica should not be used by people who are allergic to this plant or have liver disease. It is not indicated for use by children under 12, pregnant women or breastfeeding women,

This medicinal plant should also not be used on skin with open or bleeding wounds or in the eyes, and should never be ingested due to its toxic effects.

In addition, because it contains alcohol, the use of arnica tincture is not recommended for people undergoing treatment for alcoholism.