Arnica montana

Part of the plant used for medicinal purposes: arnica montana flower (Arnicae flos)

Other names: St Anthony’s flower (in Slovenia, St Anthony of Padua has his name day on 13 June; arnica montana is most probably names after this popular saint in Slovenia because the plant blooms in June), mountain tobacco, wolf’s bane, leopard’s bane, mountain arnica.

Description and harvesting

Arnica is a perennial plant in the daisy family (Asteraceae), growing 20 to 70 cm tall. It grows in nutrient-poor soil typical of acidic meadows and highlands. The stems are glandular and hairy. It is recognised for its 60 to 80 mm large orange-yellow flower heads on a 2 to 3 cm long stem. The flower heads are picked from May to June, quickly dried and stored in a dark place. Our ancestors harvested arnica montana in abundance, but today it is an endangered species in Slovenia, so it is prohibited to harvest it. Its flower heads can easily be confused with those of some other plants. The most reliable properties that separate arnica montana from other plants are the colour of the flowers, the fine aromatic fragrance (of spices) and, most of all, 5 to 12 well-visible veins along the rosette. If you find arnica in nature, do not pick it; instead, be happy that you’ve seen it.

Constituents and medicinal use

Arnica montana flower extracts are used in ointments. Arnica montana contains essential oils (5mL/kg), sesquiterpene lactones: 0.2 to 0.5% of helenanin and phytisterols, polysaccharides, cumarins, phenolic acids and carotenoids which give the flower head its yellow colour. When tested on mice, helenanin displayed anti-inflammatory properties. Additionally, it relieved pain in mice with arthritis. Laboratory tests have shown that arnica montana has antimicrobial and antifungal effects and that it reduces thrombocyte aggregation (prevents blood clogging). It is used on contusions, bruising, dislocations, sprains, and fractures because of its anti-inflammatory, analgesic and anti-blood-clogging properties. It also reduces the possibility of an infection on the bruised or injured area due to its antimicrobial properties. It accelerates healing – polysaccharides in arnica promote the function of the immune system. In a clinical trial conducted on patients with knee osteoarthritis, arnica montana reduced pain, stiffness and knee function. In a clinical trial conducted on patients with varicose veins, the swelling, stiffness and pain in legs diminished. Arnica montana is only used for external application because of the toxic sesquiterpene lactones that it contains.

Application of arnica ointment may cause an allergic reaction. Stop the use immediately if you notice redness or skin rash.

Monk Simon Ašič’s product containing arnica montana flower:


1. Kreft S, Kočevar Glavač N. Sodobna fitoterapija. Z dokazi podprta uporaba zdravilnih rastlin. Slovensko farmacevtsko društvo, Ljubljana, 2013.
2. Kukman J. Domača lekarna patra Simona Ašiča. Priročnik za nabiranje zdravilnih rastlin. Celjska Mohorjeva družba, Celje, 2007.
3. Messegue M. Zelišča za zdravje. CZNG, Ljubljana, 1980.
4. Willfort R. Zdravline rastline in njih uporaba. Založba obzorja Maribor, 1983.
5. Galle-Toplak Katja. Zdravilne rastline na Slovenskem. Založba Mladinska knjiga, Ljubljana, 2002.

Arnica montana L.

Product containing arnica montana flower:

Arnica montana