Some herbalists believe arnica has exciting medical possibilities. The German government has approved it as a topical agent for relief of inflammation, pain, and bacterial infections. Nonetheless, the Food and Drug Administration considers arnica unsafe.
Arnica comes from the flowers and rootstocks of Arnica montana, A. fulgens, A. sororia, and A. cordofolla. Certain Arnica species are native to Alaska, the western United States, and Mexico. Others are native to Europe and Siberia.
Common doses of Arnica
Arnica comes as a spray for topical application and as tablets, teas, gels, tinctures, creams, ointments, and underthe-tongue preparations. Creams typically contain 15% arnica oil. Salves should contain 20% to 25% arnica oil.
Experts disagree on what dose to take. Homeopathic doses (trace amounts) seem to be most popular.
Why people use arnica herb
- Joint aches
- Muscle aches
- Wound healing
Side effects of Arnica
Call your health care practitioner if you experience any of these possible side effects of Arnica:
- allergic skin inflammation with topical use
- irregular heartbeats and headache (from high blood pressure)
- nausea, vomiting, stomach discomfort, diarrhea, and appetite loss (from stomach and bowel inflammation
Arnica also can cause:
- liver failure
- muscle weakness, collapse, and possibly death
- nausea, vomiting, organ damage, coma, and possibly death in children who eat arnica flowers or roots
- nervous disorders
Combining herbs with certain drugs may alter their action or produce unwanted side effects. Don’t use arnica while taking drugs that lower blood pressure.
Important points to remember
- Don’t use arnica if you’re pregnant. This herb may cause uterine contractions and has unknown effects on the fetus.
- Don’t apply arnica to broken skin or open wounds.
- Keep arnica preparations out of children’s reach.
- Know that when taken orally or applied on an open wound, arnica may cause high blood pressure, severe heart problems, vertigo, and kidney dysfunction.
- Avoid prolonged topical use because of the risk of allergic reaction.
What the research shows
Clinical studies don’t bear out herbalists’ claims that arnica has medical benefits. Studies of postoperative dental patients and hysterectomy patients suggest the herb isn’t effective in treating pain. Also, a small study of marathon runners found that arnica didn’t help relieve muscle stiffness or promote healing of muscle injuries. What’s more, arnica carries a significant risk of allergic reactions.
Other names for Arnica : –
Other names for arnica include arnica flowers, arnica root, common arnica, leopard’s bane, Mexican arnica, mountain arnica, mountain daisy, mountain tobacco, sneezewort, and wolfsbane.
Products containing arnica are sold under such names as Arnicaid, Arnica Spray, and Amiflora (Gel).