Arnica, also known as arnica montana, is one of the most beneficial substances available in nature’s pharmacopeia. In fact, it is one of the most widely used herbs in homeopathic medicine.
Its many health benefits come from a number of compounds found in arnica, such as helenalin, linoleic acid, palmitic acid and thymol.
The herb is used topically to treat different issues, due to its anti-irritant, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antirheumatic, antineuralgic and anti-edema properties.
You can find arnica in the market in convenient forms including a liquid, lotion, oil, cream, gel and ointment. It is a gret addition to a first aid kit.
Although modern medicine is not too eager to acknowledge the benefits of arnica, most people who believe in homeopathy or herbal remedies swear by its efficacy.
How to Prepare Arnica Oil at Home
You can easily prepare arnica oil at home with dried arnica flowers.
- Put dried and ground arnica blossoms in a mason jar.
- Pour sufficient olive oil over the herb to cover it.
- Keep it in the sun for 2 or 3 weeks for infusion.
- Strain the oil. It is now ready for use.
Here are some of the different uses of arnica.
1. Relieves Arthritic Pain
Be it any kind of arthritis, pain is a common symptom. Arnica is very beneficial for treating pain associated with arthritis.
A study published in Advances in Therapy in 2002 reports that topical application of arnica montana gel for six weeks was a safe, well-tolerated and effective treatment for mild to moderate osteoarthritis of the knee (1).
A 2007 study published in Rheumatology International found that arnica is not inferior to ibuprofen when treating osteoarthritis of the hands (2).
- Use arnica gel or oil to massage the affected area several times a day. For best results, apply a warm compress after the massage. When using the oil, make sure you dilute it with any carrier oil of your choice in a ratio of 3:7.
2. Heals Bruises
Arnica is known for its anti-bruising property, so you can rely on this herb when it comes to healing bruises.
Its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties aid in reducing inflammation, swelling and pain.
A 2010 study published in the British Journal of Dermatology reports that topical 20% arnica ointment may be able to reduce bruising more effectively than a placebo and more effectively than low-concentration vitamin K formulations, such as 1% vitamin K with 0.3% retinol (3).
- Mix 5 drops of arnica oil into 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Use it to gently massage the affected area a few times daily. You do not need to rinse it off your skin.
- If you have a topical arnica gel or ointment, apply it to the injured area a few times daily.
3. Works as a Muscle Relaxer
Arnica is also a natural muscle relaxer. Its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties are effective in reducing pain, inflammation and muscle damage.
Also, it boosts blood circulation to support quick recovery of the damaged muscles.
A 2014 study published in the European Journal of Sport Science highlights the positive effect of topical arnica on performance, pain and muscle damage after intense eccentric exercise. However, the effect was noticed three days post-eccentric exercise (4).
- Mix a few drops of arnica essential oil into any carrier oil.
- Use it to gently massage the affected area.
- Do it a few times daily.
4. Treats Sprained Ankles
The most common use of arnica is as a soothing agent for inflammation. For treating a sprained ankle, which can be due sports injuries or exercising, arnica is very effective.
As an added benefit, arnica increases circulation and helps prevent bruising in the injured area.
- Dilute arnica essential oil with a little water.
- Apply it on the affected area and gently massage it for a couple of minutes.
- Wrap a bandage over the area and leave it on for at least 5 hours.
- Remove the bandage and repeat the process again after a few hours.
- Do this for a few days until your ankle is completely healed.
5. Cures a Black Eye
Whenever you have an injury on your face, especially near the soft and tender skin around your eyes, it can lead to a black eye.
A black eye can be very painful as well as unpleasant to look at, but you can get rid of the problem quickly with arnica.
Arnica’s anti-inflammatory nature can reduce the swelling that often occurs with a black eye. Plus, it heals the eye muscles and any other tissue that may have been damaged.
- Apply arnica cream or oil on the affected area a few times a day. Be sure that it does not enter the eyes.
Note: If the cream or oil enters the eyes, rinse your eyes with cool water immediately.
6. Promotes Hair Health
If you are noticing more hair loss than usual, start using arnica oil.
A regular scalp massage with arnica oil can provide invigorating nourishment to the scalp, which in turn stimulates hair follicles. This supports the growth of new and healthy hair.
A 2017 study published in the Journal of Drug Delivery and Therapeutics reports that arnica oil rejuvenates the scalp, stimulates the hair follicles by improving the blood flow and prevents premature hair loss (5).
- You can mix a few drops of arnica oil in your regular hair oil or even shampoo, or you can use shampoos, conditioners and other hair products that contain arnica oil, to reap the benefits.
- Some people are sensitive to arnica, so do a patch test before using it on the affected area.
- Do not apply arnica gel, cream or oil on broken skin or open cuts.
- The arnica herb should not be taken internally.
- If you are allergic or hypersensitivey to the daisy (Asteraceae) family (like chamomile, ragweed, etc.) there’s a good chance that you might be allergic to arnica as well.
- Pregnant or breastfeeding women should consult their doctor before using arnica.
- Arnica montana gel in osteoarthritis of the knee: an open, multicenter clinical trial. Advances in therapy. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12539881.
- Choosing between NSAID and arnica for topical treatment of hand osteoarthritis in a randomised, double-blind study. Rheumatology international. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17318618. Published April 2007.
- Accelerated resolution of laser-induced bruising with topical 20% arnica: a rater-blinded randomized controlled trial. The British journal of dermatology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20412090. Published September 2010.
- The effects of topical Arnica on performance, pain and muscle damage after intense eccentric exercise. European journal of sport science. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23947690.
- Arnica Hydrogel: An Oil Replacement For Hair Loss Treatment. Journal of Drug Delivery and Therapeutics. http://jddtonline.info/index.php/jddt/article/view/1575.