The flower of arnica is used to make medicine.
Arnica is applied to the skin for pain and swelling associated with bruises, aches, sprains, and arthritis. It is also applied to the skin for insect bites, muscle and cartilage pain, chapped lips, and acne.
It is also taken by mouth for sore mouth and throat, insect bites, painful and swollen veins near the surface of the skin (superficial phlebitis), sore gums after removal of wisdom teeth, and for causing abortions.
In foods, arnica is a flavor ingredient in beverages, frozen dairy desserts, candy, baked goods, gelatins, and puddings.
In manufacturing, arnica is used in hair tonics and anti-dandruff preparations. The oil is used in perfumes and cosmetics.
How does it work?
The active chemicals in arnica may reduce swelling, decrease pain, and act as antibiotics.
Possibly Effective for:
Possibly Ineffective for:
- Reducing pain, swelling, and complications of wisdom tooth removal.
- Diabetic retinopathy.
- Muscle pain.
- Insect bites.
- Pain (post-surgical).
- Sore throats.
- Chapped lips.
- Other conditions.
Side Effects & Safety
Arnica is POSSIBLY SAFE when used in the amounts commonly found in food or when applied to unbroken skin short-term. The Canadian government, however, is concerned enough about the safety of arnica to prohibit its use as a food ingredient.
Amounts that are larger than the amount found in food are LIKELY UNSAFE when taken by mouth. In fact, arnica is considered poisonous and has caused death. When taken by mouth it can also cause irritation of the mouth and throat, stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea, skin rashes, shortness of breath, a fast heartbeat, an increase in blood pressure, heart damage, organ failure, increased bleeding, coma, and death.
Do not apply arnica to damaged or broken skin. Too much could be absorbed.
Arnica is often listed as an ingredient in homeopathic products; however, these products are usually so dilute that they contain little or no detectable amount of arnica.
Special Precautions & Warnings:Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Don’t take arnica by mouth or apply to the skin if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. It is considered LIKELY UNSAFE.
Allergy to ragweed and related plants: Arnica may cause an allergic reaction in people who are sensitive to the Asteraceae/Compositae family. Members of this family include ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, daisies, and many others. If you have allergies, be sure to check with your healthcare provider before applying it to your skin. Do not take arnica by mouth.
Digestion problems: Arnica can irritate the digestive system. Don’t take it if you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), ulcers, Crohn's disease, or other stomach or intestinal conditions.
Fast heart rate: Arnica might increase your heart rate. Don’t take arnica if you have a fast heart rate.
High blood pressure: Arnica might increase blood pressure. Don’t take arnica if you have high blood pressure.
Surgery: Arnica might cause extra bleeding during and after surgery. Stop using it at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
Moderate Interaction Be cautious with this combination
- Medications that slow blood clotting (Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs) interacts with ARNICA
Arnica might slow blood clotting. Taking arnica along with medications that also slow clotting might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding.
Some medications that slow blood clotting include aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), diclofenac (Voltaren, Cataflam, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), naproxen (Anaprox, Naprosyn, others), dalteparin (Fragmin), enoxaparin (Lovenox), heparin, warfarin (Coumadin), and others.
The appropriate dose of arnica depends on several factors such as the user’s age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for arnica. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.