Arnica, Shan Jin Che Hua, 山金车花, Arnica montana

Disclaimer    For educational purposes only.  Do not use as medical advice

AboutPlantsChinese MedicineCaution
Health Issues
For: Arthritis • Osteoarthritis • Muscle soreness • Insect bites • Bruises • Muscle tightness • Muscle pain and swelling

Attributes: Antihyperlipidemic • Emmenagogue • Anti-Inflammatory • Stimulant • Expectorant • Antiseptic • Astringent

Products (online examples)

Dried Flowers

Arthritis Tablets




Bruise Cream



Research (sample)



Sesquiterpene lactones • Dihydrohelenaline • Chamissonolid.5 • Amines • Betaine • Choline • Trimethylamine • Coumarin • Scopoletin • Umbelliferone • Flavonoids • Eupafolin • Luteolin • Patuletin • spinacetin • Terpenoids • Sesquiterpenes • Helenalin • Dihydrohelenalin

The constituent helenalin is the major active ingredient used to treat bruises.

Photos (Click to enlarge)
Fun Facts
Other Names: Wolf's bane • Leopard's bane • Mountain tobacco • Mountain arnica
Plant Family: Asteraceae
Arnica flowers treat inflammation for mouth, throat and other sores. It's more commonly used for insect bits, muscle tightness, pain and bruises.  In Asia, the roots are more popular.  They are soaked in alcohol and the combination treats injuries and skin disorders.[Ref]

Arnica is listed in the following pharmacopeias: German Commission E 1992 • Martindale Extra Pharmacopoeis 1972

A. Cordifolia, A. FulgensA. Sororia, A. Latifolia, A. Chamissonis, and A. Montana all have similar effects.  They all contain helenalin, the main ingredient in treating bruises and muscle pain.  A. Chamissonis is best suited for lower elevations.  Arnica Montana is the most popular and is the one commonly used for medicinal purposes.  Since A. Montana is now harvested to endangerment, many products are now made from cultivated plants.
Arnica tends to grow in the wild. There are several online videos on how to harvest, but I have not found any on how to grow them in a garden.
Harvesting A. Cordifolia at Washington North Cascade
Harvesting A. Montana by Commercial Companies
Arnica Montana can be found in the following locations.  Drill down via USDA Interactive Map:

USA: Arnica Montana is not native to the U.S.  However Arnica Cordifolia, Arnica Chamissonis, Arnica Sororia, Arnica Fulgens and Arnica Latifolia are native to the North western and western parts of the country.  A. Chamissonis is often used as a substitute for A. Montana at lower elevations.

USDA Zones: 5 to 9 

World: Europe alpine meadows, Estonia, Canada

Habitats: nutrient-poor and acidic siliceous meadows or clay soils, high altitude meadows (about 800m)

Properties, Actions, Indications, etc.              Category: Tonify Qi 
English: Arnica    Pinyin:  Shan Jin Che Hua      Pharmaceutical: Flos Arnica Montana    
Organs: Spleen • Kidney      Temperature: Neutral 
Taste: Sweet • Bitter • Pungent   
Toxicity: Toxic • Lethal at 1/2 tablespoon of tincture ingestion. Ingestion can cause cardiac arrest.  
Actions:  Tonify qiTonify yinTonify yang • Heal bruises
Indications: Bruises • Muscle pain • Muscle tightness
Contraindications: Pregnancy • Lactation • Open wounds • Bleeding
Typical Dosage: Topical use only • Never ingest unless it's carefully monitored by physician • Ingesting arnica while pregnant may cause abortion. 
Parts Used: Roots • Flowers 
Substitute: Arnica Cordifolia, Arnica Chamissonis, Arnica Sororia, Arnica Fulgens or Arnica Latifolia
Combine With Purpose
4 teaspoons arnica flower + 1 cup boiling water + cloth Bruises, muscle soreness, skin irritations.  Steep flower in boiling water for 10 minutes.  Then soak cloth with the solution and wrap it around the affected area for two or more hours[ref]
Arnica cream, gel, or ointment Apply to affected areas for muscle pain, skin irritation, and bruises.

Be cautions with all medicine.
  • Arnica is toxic for ingestion.  May cause cardiac arrest.
  • Ingestion of Arnica may cause abortion if pregnant.
  • Arnica contains coumarin and may interact with anticoagulant drugs or other anticoagulant herbs.
Potential Drug Interactions

Herbal medicine may interact negatively with pharma drugs and other herbs.  Examples below:

Herbs: ♦Anticoagulants: American Ginseng, Arnica, Rou Gui, Chamomile, Dan Shen, Dang Gui, Deertongue, Sheng Jiang, Goji Berry, Ginko Nutes, Notoginseng, Peach Kernel, Hong Hua, Sweet Clover, Vanilla Grass

Pharma Drugs:♦Anticoagulants: asprin , clopidogrel (Plavix) , Coumadin , dipyridamole , enoxaparin , Heparin

Information in this post came from many sources, including class notes, practitioners, websites, webinars, books, magazines, and editor's personal experience.  While the original source often came from historical Chinese texts,  variations may result from the numerous English translations.   Always consult a doctor prior to using these drugs.  The information here is strictly for educational purposes. 

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