Herb: Arnica


Latin name: Arnica montana


Family: Compositae



Medicinal use of Arnica:

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:



Plant:
Perennial


Height:
30 cm
(11 3/4 inch)

Flovering:
July

Habitat of the herb:

Calcareous soils in mountain pastures. Found especially on granite or siliceous soils in the Alps, up to 2500 metres. Pasture and open woodland, usually on poorer acid soils.

Propagation of Arnica:

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in pots outdoors. Sow stored seed in early spring in a cold frame. A period of cold stratification is helpful. The fresh seed can germinate in 3 - 4 weeks at 13C according to one report, though it can be slow, difficult and erratic and take 2 years to germinate. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and plant them out into their permanent positions in the following spring. Division in spring.

Cultivation of the herb:

Calcareous soils in mountain pastures. Found especially on granite or siliceous soils in the Alps, up to 2500 metres. Pasture and open woodland, usually on poorer acid soils.

Known hazards of Arnica montana:

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.