A Herb Listing

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Heart Leafed Arnica

Heart Leafed Arnica – Arnica cordifolia

Family – Asteraceae
Botanical Name – Heart-Leaved Arnica, Arnica cordifolia, A. chamissonis, A. montana, and others
Common Names – Heart-Leaved Arnica, Mountain Arnica, Leopard’s Bane, Mountain Daisy, Wolf’s Bane
Description – Many varieties of Arnica are found throughout the world. Of these Heart-Leafed Arnica, Arnica cordifolia is probably the most common found growing in the western United States. It grows on the edge of the forest from the high mountains to around 4,000 feet and seems most abundant in loamy soils of the tall spruce. Arnica grows from 1 to 2 feet tall with solitary composite flowers rising from a single stalk. The yellow flowers resemble a cross between a small sunflower and a dandelion. The leaves are opposite and  heartshaped.                                                                                                                             Part used – Gather the whole plant, root and all. The flowers are sold in bulk through a number of herb houses.
Primary Constituents – A bitter, yellow, crystalline principle, Arnicin, a volatile oil, tannin and phulin are present. Arnica flowers contain a number of sesquiterpene lactones, including helenalin and related compounds as well as acetic, isobutyric, and other carboxylic acids. A number of flavonoids have been identified including isoquercitrin, luteolin, kaempferol, quercitin, and astragalin. Pyrrolizidine alkaloids tussilagine and isotussilagine may pose a risk of hepatotoxicity.
The flowers also contain caffeic acid and its derivatives and an essential oil containing fatty acids, carotenoids, and thymol derivatives, along with the coumarins umbelliferone and scopoletin.
Medicinal Properties – Analgesic, Anti-inflammatory, Anti-microbial, stimulant, gastro stimulant, and immunostimulant
Energetic Qualities – Hot and dry
Preparation – Tincture, Liniment, Oil and Ointment
Medicinal use – Primarily an external remedy, Arnica has been used for hundreds of years to relieve the muscular pain and soreness associated with overexertion, advanced stages of disease, bruises, and pain from repetitive motion, sprains, strains and broken bones. Its use is specifically indicated when there is soreness or pain upon movement, and it works very well and is helpful when heat is applied to the area. Externally, Arnica is applied to the skin as a cream, ointment, liniment, salve, oil, infusion or tincture.
Internally, Arnica should be used with caution. The tea taken internally burns the digestive mucosa. Arnica is an irritant and works through the immune system. It’s a strong vasodilator and cardiovascular stimulant helping to counteract adrenalin, keeping the blood supply in the main organs and body rather than rushing out into the limbs. Use only 3 to 10 drops of the tincture in water as first aid after rough and tumble events such as falling off your motorcycle or losing a boxing match. You get the idea; I’m talking about the kind of event that will produce bruises and strains but nothing serious. Its use increases immune response by stimulating microphage activity. A few drops of the tincture taken in water or added to other herbs will help ward off infection and take advantage of Arnica’s immune-boosting effects. Internally, Arnica Should be used with Caution and Respect.


Preparation Methods & Dosage – The fresh plant tincture is made my stuffing as much fresh Arnica (whole plant, root and all) as will fit into a quart canning jar, fill it with 100% ethanol alcohol, and shake it every day for a minimum of 2 weeks. It is then strained and used as a liniment or as a tincture 3-10 drops taken as discussed above. Remember less is always more when using herbs. Start with a little and build up to more if needed.
Dry the flowers and whole plant for use in herbal oils, salves and ointments.

Interactions and Counter-indications – Large amounts taken internally can cause death. The tea when taken internally may cause burning of the digestive mucosa. Over use, or using too much arnica internally can cause acid indigestion, vomiting, heart palpitations, burning mucosa, headache, and tremors.
Ask your Doctor if it’s right for you if you’re pregnant of breastfeeding. Arnica should not be used on small children or infants.

Peoples Pharmacy
Moore, Michael. Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West, revised and expanded edition, Santa Fe, NM; Museum of New Mexico Press, 2003
University of Maryland Medical Center