Arnica Montana

Meet Arnica, another yellow flower, this one for bruises, pain and swelling. If you haven’t met her maybe you don’t live in a mountainous part of the northern U.S., Canada or Europe. She blankets the ground with heart shaped green leaves and fuzzy backed yellow flowers. Arnica stands a foot or two in height. Both the flowers and the root are medicinal, but the flowers are the part I like to harvest to make oil.

Arnica Blanket

How do we use Arnica in our Family?

We have several forms of this plant in our medicine cabinet. We use arnica both internally and externally at our house, but that isn’t always recommended or safe. I actually buy a homeopathic remedy that we take internally, I haven’t ever attempted to make anything myself that we ingest. I do however make my own oil and salve that we use externally.

Externally we use on bruises, bites, wounds, and irritated skin. A soothing salve, oil or tincture can be quick pain relief and actually help reduce swelling. Internally, I took arnica right after I gave birth to my second baby. I share this with most of my doula clients, and recommend they have some on hand for postpartum support. I often take an Arnica Montana remedy in place of Tylenol or Ibuprofen as an analgesic. We always keep one in our camping kit and in our medicine cabinet at home.

Herbal Actions

Speaking of an analgesic this is only one of this magical plant’s herbal actions. It is also a stimulant, diaphoretic, expectorant, emollient, and vulnerary.

This plant has been used since the 16th century as a treatment for bruises and sprains and painful injuries. A quick trip to your local herb store will offer an array of products, if you’d rather not craft your own. If you decide to wildcraft, make sure you’re harvesting where there is a great abundance of the plant. And, of course you’d never want to harvest from a place that has been sprayed.


If you find yourself with acres of arnica, it is best to pick the flowers on a warm sunny day when they are looking particularly happy.

Arnica Montana

After you’ve gathered what you need, don’t wait too long or you’ll end up with a jar of seeds.

Drying Arnica
slightly dry
Arnica Seeds
very dry

I only let my flowers dry on a screen for about an hour before I start my infusion. I put them in cold-pressed olive oil and let the magic happen. 4-6 weeks later I have a healing oil that I can turn into a salve.

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