All About Arnica Oil: Heal, Relieve, Soothe

A terrible forest fire raged through the mountains then led to fields of new arnica on our doorstep. Learn about...
All About Arnica Oil: Heal, Relieve, Soothe

A few years ago, a terrible forest fire raged through the mountains of Montana.

Some of the Aromatics team were living in a cabin on that land, and the flames came terrifyingly close—within 100 yards of the cabin! The family was forced to evacuate to safety.

The firefighters worked very hard and were able to save the cabin from destruction.

But talk about a close call! I was (and am!) so grateful that everyone got out safely.

Flash forward to today, and I now live in that very same cabin.

Right now when I step outside, I’m greeted by so much beauty! The land around my cabin is completely overgrown with gorgeous arnica flowers! The charred trunks of the trees are a stark reminder of the fire, but the bright yellow blossoms cover the burned mountainsides in a lush, protective, healing layer of life.

Just take a look at these pictures . . .

This land was covered with ashes and almost totally destroyed . . .

. . . and now the arnica flowers have moved in to help the land heal and start anew. They’re laying the path for the next generations of forest life.

I can’t help but feel amazed at how this shows us what arnica oil can do for us therapeutically, too.

Arnica, dotting gorgeous, subalpine meadows and sunny, forest-covered mountainsides, has been treasured for centuries for its ability to support the body’s healing process—physically and emotionally.

There is something magical about wildcrafted arnica oil. Those bright yellow, daisy-like blooms seem to hold the majesty, resilience, and soothing tranquility of the surroundings.

In the world of herbal medicine, arnica is often a top choice when we’re healing from discomfort and minor injuries.

What is Arnica?

Arnica is a rhizomatous perennial herb and member of the Asteraceae family (the same family that daisies and sunflowers are part of).

Its slender rhizome (underground rootstalk) grows tall stems bearing spear-shaped or heart-shaped leaves, depending on the species, and bright yellow, aromatic, starburst-shaped flowers.

Resilient and hardy, arnica’s rhizome is rugged enough to survive wildfires.

While the fire rages, the rhizome is cradled safely within the earth, waiting patiently for a chance to send forth its leaves and blossoms again.

Numerous species of arnica grow in high elevations around the world including:

  • Arnica montana (perhaps the most well-known variety—found in the mountainous regions of Europe)
  • Arnica cordifolia (also known as heartleaf arnica—native to the mountains of North America)
  • Arnica chamissonis
  • Arnica latifolia
  • Arnica sororia
  • Arnica fulgens

Arnica is typically found in wildcrafted preparations because it’s difficult to cultivate out of its natural habitat and terrain.

Overharvesting can cause irreparable damage to a species, so responsible and sustainable harvesting is of supreme importance in wildcrafting any herb or plant.

Arnica can be toxic if ingested or used on broken skin.

But we can use arnica oil safely when it’s prepared properly in:

  • Infused oils or tinctures made from the flowers (external use only)
  • Homeopathic preparations such as tablets, supplements, etc., made from the rhizomes, (highly diluted, used internally)

Aromatics International only carries arnica-infused oil.

What is Arnica-Infused Olive Oil?

Infusing herbs into oil is an ancient practice of harmonizing the plant and oil—a time-honored tradition we keep alive with the creation of our arnica oil.

Our arnica oil comes from the flowers of the arnica herb that grows in wild, sunny patches between towering conifers and pines high up in the mountains of Montana.

Every summer, the Aromatics team handpicks the flower tops and submerges them in organic cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil. The infusion soaks in natural sunlight for six weeks, creating an exquisite, rich, golden arnica-infused olive oil.

To learn more about this oil and how we make it, see a video of the entire process:

We also carry our own handmade trauma oil, a powerhouse blend of arnica, calendula, and St. John’s wort infused in organic, first-pressed olive oil.

In the recipes at the end of this blog post, you can easily substitute trauma oil for the arnica oil. Both work well!

What can we use Arnica Oil for?

Arnica oil has long been prized for its ability to ease many kinds of physical discomfort!

It helps soothe us through the discomfort of minor physical injuries, ease muscles, support the body’s natural healing processes, and restore a sense of health and strength.

We love to use arnica oil for:

Soothing Sore, Tender Areas

If you tend to bump into things and come away with sore spots, you’re going to love arnica oil!

It helps restore balance to tender skin and muscles, “summoning your body’s resources” to the area for fast support. (And even helping the skin look more healthy and beautiful!)

Relieving Discomfort & Healing

Did you sleep in a funny position, and now you can’t turn your neck?
Or perhaps you worked out a bit too hard, and now your muscles are protesting?

What about feeling stiff, sore, and immobile after a minor injury?

Reach for arnica oil! It loves to “call in your body’s natural cavalry,” and support the regeneration of physical balance, peace, and strength (think of the way it appeared after the forest fire!)

Just be sure the skin is intact before you apply it.

Restoring Ease & Mobility

It can feel so frustrating when your muscles or joints feel too achy, sore, and immobile to move easily!

Arnica oil loves to calm those sensations, and remind your body of how to move with ease and comfort.

Upset Stomachs & Muscles

Have you ever felt like your stomach can’t stop clenching and unclenching?

That feeling shows up in overworked muscles sometimes, too.

Arnica oil is a good friend to those who often have discomfort in and around their bellies. If you know that your stomach feels unsteady after you eat, or during your period, you might want to keep it in your cabinet.

It makes a wonderful relieving massage oil, too.

It’s easy to see why arnica oil is a top choice for holistic care!

We recommend keeping arnica-infused olive oil on hand in your home so you feel prepared for any unexpected physical upset.

Arnica Oil Safety

It is important to note that, in addition to its remarkable benefits, it 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!

When appropriately applied, arnica oil is safe to use.

It is even safe to use topically on children (above the age of 2) and the elderly.

Arnica Oil Recipes

To help you safely harness the benefits of arnica, here are a few of our favorite ways to use arnica-infused olive oil.

    There you have it...

    I’m definitely not saying to think of yourself as a mountainside ravaged by forest fire!

    But there are times when you feel sore, tense, achy, tight, tender . . . or just depleted. It can seem like your physical and emotional resources are nowhere to be found.

    Arnica oil is there for you. It wants to be the first on the scene to restore your comfort, strength, and health.

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    Karen Williams


    Hi, my name is Karen Williams. As a professional aromatherapist, I love to create amazing blends that inspire and promote a healthier lifestyle. I got my start many years ago as a registered nurse working in the hospital system. But along the way I knew something was missing. I wanted to help people more holistically. Then, I discovered essential oils, and my approach to life changed forever. Now, I’ve made it my mission to share what I’ve learned about aromatherapy with my friends, family, and the world. Because - life is so much better with health, happiness, and community. 

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