Medicinal Plant Profiles: Arnica montana

If you live with chronic pain, and especially arthritis, you’ve probably been told about the pain relieving and anti-inflammatory properties of Arnica montana. If you’ve done your own research, you may have come across some confusing and contradicting information that left you feeling unsure about adding arnica into your self-care routine. In this article we’re aiming to sort some of that confusing information out for you, and hopefully leave you feeling a bit more empowered in your ability to decide whether or not Arnica montana is right for you, to start let’s learn a little more about the plant itself.

Arnica montana is a flowering and herbaceous perennial plant that grows between 1 – 2ft tall. Its flowers are yellow-orange in color, and have a similar appearance to daisies. The stems of the plant are round and hairy, and end in one to three flowers that are spaced roughly between 2 – 3in apart. Unlike what you might expect, arnica has a pine-y sage-like smell to it, and doesn’t smell like flowers at all! Arnica has been used in homeopathic medicine for its pain relieving properties since the mid 16th century, and is generally taken either internally via tinctures or used topically in body oils. Arnica is considered generally safe to use, but it is possible to have an adverse reaction, and it isn’t recommended for use if you’re pregnant or breast feeding.

Allergic reactions are one of the most common adverse reactions to have when adding herbal supplements into your self-care routine, and it can be hard to know whether or not you’ll have an allergic reaction to something new, but knowing what family your herb comes from can help with that. How? Well, herbs of the same family (much like people of the same family) share a lot of genetic materials, so it’s likely that if you have an allergic reaction to one herb in that family, you’ll have an allergic reaction to the rest of the herbs in that family. All of that being said – Arnica montana is a member of the Asteraceae family, so if you’ve experienced allergic reactions to plants like marigolds, daisies, and chamomile then it’s likely you could experience an allergic reaction to arnica as well, and you should probably avoid it. 

Remember to consult with your primary care physician when considering adding any new supplements to your self-care routine, to ensure the supplement you want to take won’t worsen any current conditions you might have. If you’re taking medications your doctor might recommend you check-in with your pharmacist about any contraindications for arnica that may be listed for any of your medications. Though most herbal supplements carry little to no side effects when used and consumed responsibly, it’s always important to check-in with your physician to make sure you’re not going to cause undue harm to yourself while trying to care for yourself.

Alright – so you’re not allergic to daisies, and you’ve gone to your doctor and you got the green light for adding arnica supplements into your routine. Now what? At this point it’s time to do some product research, figure out which arnica products have the highest customer reviews, and choose the product that’s right for you! In the United States herbal supplements typically aren’t regulated by the FDA, so it’s really important to read the product reviews in order to know the product you’re buying comes from a consistently reliable source. Thankfully I’ve done a little of that research for you myself, and I’ve listed some of my favorite products and companies below!

As always Mountain Rose Herbs is probably one of my favorite places to shop for herbal supplements, and shopping for Arnica montana is no exception! Their dried arnica is perfect for those of you out there who, like me, love to make you own body products. They have a lot of handy articles on their website that teach you all about how to make things like salves and body oils, to help those of you who might be unfamiliar with their products, or DIY body products in general. Their website also lists where each of their products are harvested from, whether or not it’s organic, and their recommended uses. 

Another family of products that comes highly recommended, and that I’ve enjoyed using myself in the past when necessary, are the Arnicare products. They have a wide variety of products available for you to choose from – topical gels, creams, as well arnica tablets and pellets that you take internally. Their website contains a lot of useful information about their products and the healing benefits of Arnica montana for a wide variety of injuries and illnesses. This family of products is owned by the Boiron Company which has been developing homeopathic herbal supplements since 1932.

For those of you out there who already know your body works well with plants from the Asteraceae family and are looking for a new skin care routine for your sensitive skin, I recommend going with the Calm Skin Starter Set from Eminence Organics. This starter set comes with a one-month supply of everything in it, and it’s centered around the anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties of the Asteraceae family. The set contains two Arnica products which come highly recommended – their Arnica Masque and their Arnica Booster Serum. Honestly, you get a lot of bang for your buck with the Eminence Starter Sets, I bought a different starter kit from them a while back (just to try), I loved every product and I was able to get more than a month out of some of the products simply because I didn’t need them every day.

We hope this article has been useful to you, that you feel more empowered in managing your self-care, and that you’ve learned something new with us here today. Please feel free to reach out to us with any questions or comments you might have, we love hearing from our readers!

Additional Resources…

  1. Mount Sinai, New York. Health Library. Herb. Arnica, Arnica montana; leopard’s bane. Link to article here.
  2. Healthline. Medically reviewed by Debra Rose Wilson, Ph.D., MSN, R.N., IBCLC, AHN-BC, CHT — By Joe Bowman — Updated on July 14, 2020. Does Arnica Help With Pain? Link to article here.
  3. Smith AG, Miles VN, Holmes DT, Chen X, Lei W. Clinical Trials, Potential Mechanisms, and Adverse Effects of Arnica as an Adjunct Medication for Pain Management. Medicines (Basel). 2021 Oct 9;8(10):58. doi: 10.3390/medicines8100058. PMID: 34677487; PMCID: PMC8537440. Link to study here.

Published by Well-Go tiny spa

Hey there! My name is Britt, I've been working in the lovely state of Oregon as a Licensed Massage Therapist since 2008, and I want to share my knowledge and experience with you! Follow my blog to find awesome self-care tips and learn how you can bring spa-level luxe into your daily routine. Do you have questions about massage therapy, self-care, or about how to book Well-Go tiny spa services for your next event? Be sure to write me an email or leave a comment!

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