The “Strange History” of Arnica Montana
Arnica is an herb with a “strange history”, as herbalist Rudolf Weiss comments. “It used to be very popular, being used internally as well as externally. It is said that the German writer, poet and scientist Goethe would ask for arnica tea when in his old age he experienced anginal pain due to coronary arteriosclerosis” (Weiss: 1994, 169). In fact, Goethe claimed that arnica had saved his life. He sang the praises of arnica, holding it up as an archetypal healing herb with associations to Helios (the all-knowing God of the sun, of prophecy, and of healing) and Asclepias (son of Helios, the caduceus wielding God of medicine, healing, and rejuvenation who oversees physicians and the practice of the healing arts amongst human beings).
In this lecture we will explore Arnica’s strange history, talk about the evolution of its use and its place in modern clinical herbal practice. A discussion of the homeopathic indications of Arnica, and what herbalists can learn from them, will also be included in this presentation.