Leopard's Bane

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(ar-ni-cuh) ,

Arnica montana

(trade name),

leopard’s bane

(trade name),

mountain tobacco

(trade name),

mountain snuff

(trade name),

wolf’s bane

(trade name)


Therapeutic: immune stimulants
Topical treatment of insect bites, bruises, acne, boils, sprains, muscle, and joint pain


Polysaccharides in arnica may produce a slight anti-inflammatory and analgesic effect. Some antibacterial effects are seen, in addition to a counterirritant effect, which may aid in wound healing.

Therapeutic effects

Decreased inflammation.
Pain relief.


Absorption: Systemic absorption may occur following topical application to broken skin.
Distribution: Unknown.
Metabolism and Excretion: Unknown.
Half-life: Unknown.

Time/action profile



Contraindicated in: Not for oral use (except in highly diluted homeopathic preparations). ; Arnica allergy; Avoid use on broken skin; Infectious or inflammatory GI conditions; Obstetric: Pregnancy and lactation.
Use Cautiously in: Infectious or inflammatory GI conditions; Surgery (discontinue use 2 weeks prior to procedure due to antiplatelet effects).

Adverse Reactions/Side Effects


  • abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea (if taken orally)


  • edematous dermatitis with pustules (chronic treatment of damaged skin)
  • eczema (prolonged use)


  • local allergic reactions


Alcohol -containing preparations may interact with disulfuram and metronidazole.Potential for reduced effectiveness of antihypertensives has been noted.May potentiate the effects of anticoagulants and antiplatelet agents, increasing the risk of bleeding.May ↑ risk of bleeding with clove, garlic, ginger, ginkgo, and ginseng.
Topical (Adults) Topical—rub or massage arnica tincture, cream or gel onto injured area. Do not apply to broken skin; Compress—dilute 1 tablespoon of arnica tincture in 1/2 L water. Wet a gauze pad with solution and apply to affected area for 15 minutes. For use in poultices, dilute tincture 3 to 10 times with water.


Cream, tincture, salve, ointment, gel and oil: OTC
Topical (preparations should contain not more than 20-25% arnica tincture or 15% arnica oil): OTC
Homeopathic preparations: OTC

Nursing implications

Nursing assessment

  • Inspect skin for breaks prior to application to ensure arnica is applied only to an intact surface. Note the size, character, and location of affected area prior to application of arnica.
  • After application, assess the affected area for signs of allergic response.
  • Systemic absorption may result in nausea, vomiting, organ damage, hypertension, cardiotoxicity, arrhythmias, muscular weakness, collapse, vertigo, renal dysfunction, coma and death. If ingested orally, induce emesis and gastric lavage to remove undigested contents. Supportive care may be necessary. Do not take orally or apply to nonintact skin to avoid systemic absorption.

Potential Nursing Diagnoses

Acute pain (Indications)


  • Clean skin with a non-alcohol containing cleanser prior to applying arnica. Apply topically to affected area, or site of injury ensuring skin is intact.
  • Do not take orally or apply to an open wound because of potential for systemic absorption with toxicity.

Patient/Family Teaching

  • Teach patients to inspect the affected area for breaks in the skin and not to apply arnica to any areas where the skin is broken.
  • Warn patients that use on nonintact skin and oral ingestion may cause life-threatening toxicity.
  • Advise patients that arnica should only be used for short period of time in the treatment of minor aches and pains associated with local muscle, joint or skin pain. Prolonged use may cause allergic/hypersensitivity reactions to develop.
  • Instruct patients taking antihypertensive agents to avoid concurrent use of arnica.
  • Advise female patients to notify health care professional if pregnancy is planned or suspected. Arnica should be avoided during pregnancy.

Evaluation/Desired Outcomes

  • Relief of, or improvement in, minor aches and pains associated with muscle or joint overuse, or sprains and/or local skin irritation from insect bites, bruises, boils, or acne.
Drug Guide, © 2015 Farlex and Partners


The dried flower heads of Arnica montana (family Compositae); cardiac sedative seldom given internally; used externally for sprains and bruises; formerly widely used as a counterirritant liniment.
Synonym(s): leopard's bane
[Mod. L.]
Farlex Partner Medical Dictionary © Farlex 2012
One of the many synonyms for Arnica montana, a folk remedy
Segen's Medical Dictionary. © 2012 Farlex, Inc. All rights reserved.
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References in periodicals archive ?
Leopard's Bane (Doronicum) reliably produces bright yellow daisy-like flowers each spring.
Arnica, also known as leopard's bane, has traditionally found use as an anti-inflammatory in the treatment of bruises, sprains, and rheumatism.
Other good plantings include Leopard's bane, Doronicum, a group of yellow daisy-flowered perennials which are clump forming, hardy will grow in most soils and take shade.