Herb: Mountain Tobacco

Latin name: Arnica angustifolia alpina

Synonyms: Arnica alpina

Family: Compositae

Medicinal use of Mountain Tobacco:

The whole flowering plant is antiecchymotic, antiphlogistic, nervine, sternutatory and vulnerary. This species is closely related to A. montana and is included in that species by some botanists. The medicinal uses of that plant are as follows:- Arnica has a long history of herbal use, especially as an external treatment for bruises and sprains - it is an ingredient of a number of proprietary preparations. Internally, it has been used in the treatment of heart complaints and as a booster for the immune system. Arnica increases local blood supply and accelerates healing, it is anti-inflammatory and increases the rate of absorption of internal bleeding. Generally the plant is nowadays only recommended for internal use as a homeopathic medicine, principally for treating shock, injury and pain. If used as a decoction or tincture it stimulates the circulation and is valuable in the treatment of angina and a weak or failing heart, but it can be toxic even at quite low doses and so is rarely used this way. The flowers are the part most commonly used, they are harvested when fully open and dried - the receptacles are sometimes removed since these are liable to be attacked by insects. The root is also used, it is harvested after the leaves have died down in the autumn and dried for later use. The whole plant is antiecchymotic, antiphlogistic, nervine, sternutatory, vulnerary. Although a very valuable remedy, it should be used with caution. It has been known to cause contact dermatitis when used externally and collapse when taken internally. Only take it internally under the supervision of a qualified practitioner. The freshly crushed flowers cause sneezing if inhaled. The leaves have also been smoked as a tobacco, though it is unclear whether this was for medicinal reasons The whole plant, harvested when in flower, is used in homeopathic remedies. It is especially useful in the treatment of traumatic injuries, sores and bruises. The homeopathic dose has also been used effectively in the treatment of epilepsy and seasickness, and it might be of use as a hair growth stimulant.

Description of the plant:


50 cm
(1 foot)

Habitat of the herb:

Pasture and open woodland on neutral to calcareous soils. Bare rocky alpine slopes and summits.

Other uses of Mountain Tobacco:

This plant is used as a hair conditioner. No further details are given.

Propagation of the herb:

Seed - sow early spring in a cold frame. Only just cover the seed and make sure that the compost does not dry out. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse or cold frame for their first winter. Plant out in late spring or early summer. Division in spring.

Cultivation of Mountain Tobacco:

Pasture and open woodland on neutral to calcareous soils. Bare rocky alpine slopes and summits.

Known hazards of Arnica angustifolia alpina:

The whole plant is toxic and should only be used for external applications to unbroken skin.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.