What is arnica?
Arnica, also called Arnica montana, is a plant that is native to the mountainous regions of Europe and southern Russia. The flowers and leaves of this plant have many traditional medicinal uses.
Arnica is available as an ointment or gel and can be found in most health food stores.
What is it used for?
People use arnica as a cream or gel for soothing muscle aches and inflammations and healing wounds. When applied to the skin, it may improve healing by decreasing swelling and pain and speeding blood reabsorption.
People also apply arnica to the skin for treatment of acne, boils, and rashes.
Is it safe?
Arnica is recommended for external use only. Do not put arnica inside your mouth or swallow it. The plant is poisonous and, if swallowed, it can cause stomach pain, diarrhea, vomiting, difficulty breathing, cardiac arrest, and death.
Do not use arnica if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Do not use it on open wounds or broken skin. Stop using arnica if you develop a skin rash.
Always tell your doctor if you are using an alternative product or if you are thinking about combining one with your conventional medical treatment. It may not be safe to forgo your conventional medical treatment and rely only on an alternative product.
Primary Medical Reviewer Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Brian D. O'Brien, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Current as ofMay 22, 2015
Public Health Alerts
Public health alerts include information about outbreaks, advisories and product recalls. Click on the links below to read the most recent alerts, or visit our Public Health Alerts web page.
Want More Information?
HealthLink BC, your provincial health line, is as close as your phone or the web any time of the day or night, every day of the year.
Call 8-1-1 toll-free in B.C. or for deaf and hearing-impaired, call 7-1-1.
You can speak with a health service navigator, who can also connect you with a:
- registered nurse any time, every day of the year;
- registered dietitian from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday;
- pharmacist from 5pm to 9am, every day of the year.
Translation services are available in more than 130 languages.
FIND Services and Resources
If you are looking for health services in your community, you can use our directory to FIND hospitals, clinics, and other resources.
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2015 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Is it an emergency?
If you or someone in your care has chest pains, difficulty breathing, or severe bleeding, it could be life-threatening. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately. If you are concerned about a possible poisoning or exposure to a toxic substance, call Poison Control now at 1-800-567-8911.