Family • Compositae / Asteraceae - Arnica montana Linn. - MOUNTAIN ARNICA - Shan jin che

Scientific names

Arnica montana Linn.
Arnica helvetica Loudon
Arnica petiolata Schur
Arnica plantaginisfolia Gilib.
Doronicum montanum Lam.
Doronicum arnica Desf.
Doronicum oppositifolim Lam.

Common names

Arnica (Tag., Engl.)
Common arnica (Engl.)
Leopard’s bane (Engl.)
Mountain arnica (Engl.)
Mountain tobacco (Engl.)
Wolf’s bane (Engl.)
Shan jin che (Chin.)


Arnica is a perennial plant growing to a height of 20 to 60 centimeters.Stems are round, slightly hairy, 20 to 60 centimeters, usually supporting a single flower head. Leaves are bright green, oblong-ovate, short-petioled, most in a basal rosette. The upper ones are smaler and sessile, toothed and slightly hairy, while the lower leaves have rounded tips. Flower heads are 8 to 9, large and daisy-like, yellow-orange, about 5 centimeters in diameter. Fruit is brownish, with a single row of white barbed hair.

May be abundant in higher elevations.

– Yields traces of non-toxic alkaloids tussilagine and isotussilagine.
– Also yields arnicin (more in the flowers than the rhizomes), a volatile oil (0.3 – 1.0%), thymol (an essential oil), fatty acids, caffeic acid, phytosterols, flavonoids, inulin, carotenoids, resin, tannins, phulin.
– Yields amines (betaine, choline and trimethylamine), carbohydrates (mucilage, polysaccharides including inulin), coumarins (scopoletin and umbelliferone), flavonoids (betuletol, eupafolin, flavonol glucoronides, hispidulin, isorhamnetin, kaempferol, laciniatin, luteolin, patuletin, quercetin, spinacetin, tricin) and terpenoids (sesquiterpene lactones of the pseudoguaianolide-type).

– Bark is bitter and acrid, the smell similar to apples.
– Considered antispasmodic, carminative, diuretic, emolient, expectorant, parasiticide, vulnerary.
– Considered estrogenic, galactagogue, emmenagogue.

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Arnica Montana as Herbal Remedy / Chinese Herbs

(2) Arnica montana L. / Judith Ladner / FAO

(3) Poisonous Plants of North Carolina / Dr. Alice B. Russell, Department of Horticultural Science

(4) Choosing between NSAID and arnica for topical treatment of hand osteoarthritis in a randomised, double-blind study / Reto Widrig, Andy Suter, Reinhard Saller and Jörg Melzer / RHEUMATOLOGY INTERNATIONAL, Volume 27, Number 6, 585-591, DOI: 10.1007/s00296-007-0304-y

(5) Effects of Topical Arnica Gel on Post-Laser Treatment Bruises / Delilah Alonso MD, Melissa C. Lazarus BS, Leslie Baumann MD / Dermatologic Surgery, Volume 28, Issue 8, pages 686–688, August 2002

(6) Arnica montana gel in osteoarthritis of the knee: An open, multicenter clinical trial / Otto Knuesel, Michel Weber and Andy Suter / ADVANCES IN THERAPY, Vol 19, No 5, 209-218 / DOI: 10.1007/BF02850361

(7) Arnica montana / About Herbs / Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center

(8) Arnica / Find Support & Treatment / American Cancer Society

(9) Anti-inflammatory activity of Arnica montana 6cH: preclinical study in animals / Macêdo SB, Ferreira LR, Perazzo FF, Carvalho JC / Homeopathy. 2004 Apr;93(2):84-7.

(10) The effect of the homeopathic remedies Arnica montana and Bellis perennis on mild postpartum bleeding–a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study–preliminary results / Oberbaum M, Galoyan N, Lerner-Geva L et al / Complement Ther Med. 2005 Jun;13(2):87-90.

(11) Efficacy of Arnica montana D4 for Healing of Wounds After Hallux Valgus Surgery Compared to Diclofenac / Jens-Hagen Karow, Hans-Peter Abt, Markus Frohling, Hanns Ackermann / The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. January 1, 2008, 14(1): 17-25 / doi:10.1089/acm.2007.0560

(12) Arnica montana, a homeopathic flowering herb, did not reduce ecchymosis after upper blepharoplasty / Ophthal Plast Reconstr Surg. 2010;26(6):395-397.

(13) Inflammatory Process Modulation by Homeopathic Arnica montana 6CH: The Role of Individual Variation / Ana Paula Kawakami, Cesar Sato, Thayna Neves Cardoso, and Leoni Villano Bonamin / Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Vol 2011 (2011) / doi:10.1155/2011/917541

Toxicity concerns
– Contains toxin helenalin, poisonous when ingested in large amounts, producing gastroenteritis and GI bleeding, vomiting, shortness of breath, palpitations. and coma in children.
– May also cause contact dermatitis, especially in those sensitized by sesquiterpenes of the helanalin type.
– The German Commission E has approved arnica only for use on the skin for treating superficial injuries, effects of accidents, insect bites. It is considered unsafe for internal use.
– Most studies and available scientific evidence do not support most of the claims about Arnica’s effectiveness.

Parts used
Flowers, roots.

– Tinctures or salves used to promote healing of wounds and bruises.
– Infusion of flowers used to relive stomach and abdominal pains.
– In homeopathy, commonly used as a tincture, or as a base for compresses and poultices.
– Veterinary: In veterinary phytotherapy, used topically for the treatment of tendon, joint and udder inflammations. Also, for cleaning and treatment of skin and mucous membrane wound, eczema and skin inflammations.

Study Findings
• Topical Analgesic / Osteoarthritis: A study was done comparing the effects of ibuprofen and arnica gel preparation for symptom relief in osteoarthritis. With the primary endpoints of pain intensity and hand function, results showed the arnica preparation was not inferior to ibuprofen in treating osteoarthritis of the hands.
• Anti-Inflammatory Study: A animal preclinical study was done to evaluate the anti-inflammatory effect of AM 6cF in acute and chronic infllamation models. In the acute model, no inflammatory inhibition was note with Arnica treatment prior to carrageenin. In the chronic Nystatin-induced edema model, there was reduced inflammation 6 hr after the application of the inflammatory agent. In a histamine-induced model, pretreatment blocked the action of histamine in increasing vascualr permeability.
• Inflammatory Process Modulation / Role of Individual Variation: Study concludes proposing two hypotheses: there is no selective modulation of leucocyte subsets by AM 6cH treatment and there is clear interference of individual kinetic variation in vascular events after treatment with AM 6cH.
• Postpartum Bleeding: In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, treatment with homeopathic Arnica montana and Bellis perennis may reduce postpartum blood loss, as compared to placebo.
• Wound Healing: Study concludes that after foot operations, Arnica D4 can be used instead of diclofenac to reduce wound irritation.
• Effects on Post-Laser Treatment Bruises / No Statistical Difference: A randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled study of 19 patients to evaluate topical arnica’s effect on post-treatment bruising after laser treatment for facial telangiectasia. Results showed no significant difference between topical arnica and vehicle in the prevention or resolution of bruising.
• Homeopathic arnica “no better than placebo”: A study looked at 3 groups of patients for carpal tunnel surgery receiving high-potency homeopathic arnica tablets, low potency tablets, and placebo. Results showed “no significant difference” in pain, bruising or swelling between the patient groups.
• Multicenter Trial / Osteoarthritis / Safety and Efficacy: An open multicenter trial investigated the safety and efficacy of A. montana fresh plant gel applied twice daily to 79 patients with mild to moderate osteoarthritis of the knee. Results conclude topical application of the AM gel for 6 weeks was a safe, well-tolerated, and effective treatment of mild to moderate OA of the knee.
• Postoperative Blepharopasty Ecchymosis: A DB, placebo-controlled, prospective study showed no statistically significant differences among Arnica prescribed or placebo in reducing post-blepharoplasty ecchymosis.

Herb-Drug Interactions
• Antihypertensives: Arnica may reduce hypotensive effects.
• Anticoagualants / Antiplatelets: Arnica may potentiate the anticoagulant effect of coumarin constituents. This effect has not been documented in humans.

Tinctures, gels, creams and ointments in the cybermarket.