There is something magical about wildcrafted arnica oil. Infused from the bright yellow, daisy-like blooms of the beautiful arnica herb, arnica oil seems to imbue the majesty, resilience, and soothing tranquility of the surroundings where this wonderful herb flourishes. Arnica, dotting gorgeous subalpine meadows and sunny, forest-covered mountainsides, has been treasured for centuries for its ability to stimulate the body’s healing process, relieve pain, and reduce inflammation. In the world of herbal medicine, arnica is often a top choice when needing to treat pain and injuries.

As with any herb, it is essential to know how to properly use it to get the best results as well as ensure that there are no harmful effects. Arnica, considered toxic if ingested or misused— on broken skin, for instance— we want to share with you how to safely take advantage of everything this wonderful herb has to offer.

Arnica cordifolia

Arnica Blossom

Arnica cordifolia Blossom

Arnica, a member of the Asteraceae (daisy, sunflower) family, is a rhizomatous perennial herb that flourishes at high elevations. Numerous species of arnica grow around the world. Arnica montana, perhaps the most well-known variety, is found in the mountainous regions of Europe. Arnica cordifolia, also known as heartleaf arnica, is native to the mountains of North America. Other varieties include Arnica chamissonis, Arnica latifolia, Arnica sororia, and Arnica fulgens, to name a few.

Arnica’s long, slender, laterally-spreading rhizome (underground rootstalk) grows one or more upright, above-ground stems that average anywhere between 6 inches to 2 feet tall. Each stem has 2 to 4 pairs of spear-shaped leaves. (The leaves on heartleaf Arnica (Arnica cordifolia) are more heart-shaped, hence the name!) Bright yellow, aromatic, starburst-shaped flowers top the long, green stems. These plants are resilient and hardy. In fact, arnica’s rhizome is rugged enough that it can survive wildfires!

Arnica is difficult to cultivate out of its natural habitat and terrain; therefore, it is usually only found in wildcrafted preparations. In order to protect plant populations from overharvesting which can cause irreparable damage to a species, responsible and sustainable harvesting is of supreme importance in wildcrafting any herb or plant. Making sure that the amazing plants that we love will always be around for future generations is a major focus for us at Aromatics International!

There are a couple of ways arnica is used safely:

  • Infused oils or tinctures (External use only).
  • Homeopathic preparations such as tablets, supplements, etc. (Internal use, but ONLY because they are EXTREMELY diluted!)

Typically, in infusions and tinctures, the flowers are used; in homeopathic protocols, the rhizomes. Since Aromatics International only carries arnica infused oils, they will be the focus of this blog.

Arnica Infused Olive Oil & Trauma Oil

Arnica Infused Olive Oil & Trauma Oil

Arnica Infused Olive Oil & Trauma Oil 

Infusing herbs into oil is an ancient practice. The resulting rich, synergistic blend has all the benefits of the infused plant in addition to the added benefits of whichever oil is used. Out of all the infused oils we carry, there isn’t a single one that we don’t absolutely love. In fact, we, at Aromatics International, craft several of our own artisan infused oils, including a beautiful Arnica Infused Olive Oil.

Every summer, we find our arnica growing in wild, sunny patches between towering conifers and pines high up in the mountains of Montana. Our team sustainably and respectfully handpicks the flower tops and submerges them in organic extra-virgin olive oil. The infusion is then left to soak in natural sunlight for eight weeks, creating an exquisite, rich, golden arnica infused olive oil. The entire experience, from harvest to finished product, is truly magical. 

Want to see the process? We documented the whole experience. You can watch it below:

We also carry Trauma oil, a powerhouse blend of arnica, calendula, and St. John’s Wort infused in organic, first-pressed olive oil. In the recipes we’ve included at the end of this blog, you could easily substitute trauma oil for the arnica infused olive oil.

How Can Arnica Oil Help?

Arnica, prized for its healing, pain relieving, and anti-inflammatory properties offers many ways to be useful.

  • Diminishing Bruises – Contusions are painful. Arnica relaxes and soothes angry blood vessels and promotes white blood cells to be brought to the area, stimulating the healing process. This process helps clear away the old blood from broken vessels quicker, diminishing the discoloration of the bruise. Arnica’s analgesic activity also helps relieve any pain.
  • Pain Relief – Arnica acts as an analgesic where applied, helping to relieve pain while also encouraging your body to recover faster from whatever is causing the pain. Arnica can help with sore muscles, back, and neck pain, joint pain, cramps, contusions, welts, and numerous other painful conditions where the skin is intact.
  • Reducing Swelling/Inflammation – Arnica is an anti-inflammatory powerhouse, helping to knock out inflammation and swelling. This process not only includes swelling caused by injuries but also from conditions such as arthritis.
  • Healing and Soothing Injuries – Arnica is perfect for treating injuries thanks to its healing activity. By stimulating your body to send more white blood cells to an area, it essentially calls in the body’s natural healing cavalry. Of course, its pain relieving and inflammation reducing abilities are invaluable to the healing process, too! Try using it on sprains, strains, overexerted or pulled muscles, fractures, blunt force injuries, etc. Arnica is pretty much great for any damage to the intact skin. Do not use on open wounds!
  • Relieving Stiff, Cold Joints – Arnica is a popular choice for helping relieve painful, stiff joints thanks to its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties as well as its white blood cell encouraging activity. If you have arthritis or just stiff, cold joints, give arnica a try!
  • Cramps, Spasming Muscles – Arnica’s antispasmodic activity can help reduce cramping and spasms, making it helpful to use as a belly oil for digestive tract issues related to cramping and spasming of the intestines or stomach as well as for reducing cramps related to the monthly cycle. It is also great as a massage oil for muscle cramps elsewhere on the body, such as legs, arms, shoulders, etc.

With all things considered, it is easy to see why arnica has been and continues to be a top choice for holistically healing injuries and relieving pain and swelling. It is a wonderfully versatile herb. We highly recommend keeping some arnica infused olive oil on-hand in your home!

Arnica Oil Safety

There are a couple of important things to note about Arnica. In addition to its remarkable benefits, arnica oil also contains some toxic components, including trace-alkaloids and helenalin.

  • DO NOT INGEST – The plant or infused oil should never be ingested! The only exception is homeopathic preparations that are extremely diluted and prepared by a skilled homeopathic practitioner using proper homeopathic dilution procedures.
  • DO NOT USE ON BROKEN SKIN – Never use arnica infused oils, creams, lotions, or tinctures on broken skin or open wounds!

It is not our intent to scare you away from using arnica. When appropriately applied, arnica is entirely safe to use. In fact, it is even safe to use topically on children (above the age of 2) and the elderly!

Arnica Oil Recipes

To help get you started on the road to safely harnessing the benefits of arnica oil, here are a few of our favorite blends utilizing arnica infused olive oil. Enjoy!

1. Soothing Arthritis Relief with Arnica Oil

Directions: Pour the arnica oil into a 1-ounce glass bottle and gently blend in essential oils. Rub onto stiff joints as needed.

2. Relieving Digestive Support with Arnica Oil

Directions: Pour the arnica oil into a 1-ounce glass bottle and gently blend in essential oils. Massage onto the abdominal area for the relief of occasional nausea and intestinal cramps.

3. Cramping Relief Support with Arnica Oil

Directions: Pour the arnica oil into a 1-ounce glass bottle and gently blend in essential oils. Massage onto the lower abdominal area for support in relieving spasmodic discomfort.

4. Soothing Pain Relief with Arnica Oil

Directions: Pour the arnica oil into a 1-ounce glass bottle and gently blend in essential oils. Massage gently on painful areas.

5. Bruising and Healing Relief with Arnica Oil

Directions: Pour the arnica oil into a 1-ounce glass bottle and gently blend in essential oils. Gently rub on bruised areas.

Like what you read? Check out more of our awesome blog content HERE!

SOURCES:

  • Fire Effects Information System (FEIS), Index of Species Information, SPECIES: Arnica cordifolia. Found here: https://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/forb/arncor/all.html
  • Flora of North America Vol. 21, Page 374, Heartleaf arnica, Arnica cordifolia. Hooker, Fl. Bor.-Amer. 1: 331. 1834. Found here:
  • https://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/forb/arncor/all.html
  • Hyland’s, Inc. (2018). Arnica.com. All about arnica and its uses. Found here: http://www.arnica.com/
  • World Health Organization (2007). “Flos Arnicae.” Who monographs on selected medicinal plants. Volume 3. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization. pp. 77-87. ISBN 9789241547024