External Applications in Anthroposophic Nursing

Arnica Compress

Kind of substance

Arnica essence, later Arnica gel and arnica ointment

Guiding principle for the application

Arnica always works to relieve pain, reduce swelling and helps to resorb hematomas. It can have a beneficial effect on pain and swelling when it is applied as a compress or applied externally as close as possible to bone fractures and contusions. If a hematoma is present, it visibly recedes.

Guiding Principle for the substance


  • Fracture (bone fracture) (see example cases 1&2)
  • Pulled ligament (see example case 3)
  • Hematoma
  • Bruises
  • Contusions


In principle, the following sequence of application is recommended for the use of arnica for the indications mentioned:
Arnica essence, arnica gel, arnica ointment (30%, Weleda)
If it is not possible to use arnica essence, start with gel. Ointment is best used for the further healing process.

Instructions Arnica Essence Compress

  • Arnica essence
  • Water
  • Tablespoon
  • A small bowl
  • Inner cloth to fit the size of the affected area, folded into 4 layers
  • Terrycloth hand towel

  • The patient lies down in bed or sits in a comfortable armchair.
  • Mix 1 tablespoon Arnica essence in 250 ml of water just below body temperature.
  • Dip the inner cloth into the liquid, wring it out and wrap it around the affected area.
  • Wrap the terrycloth towel around it to provide moisture protection.
  • Duration

In the case of acute events such as strains, bruises and fresh hematomas, it is advisable to leave the compress on over several hours. The compress should always be kept moist.
For fractures: Use several times a day, it is advisable to take a break between each application.

Has worked well for many patients
Onset of effect
Immediate. Rapid pain alleviation
Length of therapy
As long as necessary. As the healing progresses, the treatment can be continued first with the gel, then with the ointment.
Other recommended therapies
Useful on the road: individually wrapped arnica tissues (WALA)
Additional internal medication with a doctor’s prescription
Exercise caution in cases of sensitivity to composites and when there is a known arnica allergy (observe well, especially during prolonged use)

Case example

Example case 1
When a concrete slab slipped, a male doctor colleague sustained a dislocated finger tip fracture with a subungual hematoma, which had to be relieved by puncture.
It was first treated with arnica ointment (WALA, combined with formica and symphytum), without any noticeable improvement. Then arnica 30% ointment (Weleda) was tried, with an immediate and lasting reduction in pain, as well as reduced swelling in the days that followed.

Example case 2
A 60-year-old woman slipped on ice and suffered a complicated forearm fracture. Accordingly, the pain was intense. She was already operated on 2 hours after the accident. After the operation the pain became severe again as soon as the effect of the painkillers had subsided. She refused any further painkillers but received an arnica treatment on her upper arm twice a day, which quickly made the pain bearable.

Example case 3
A young man suffered a strained ligament after a sports injury to his ankle. This was treated locally for over a month with various orthodox medical measures, such as ice padding, lymph drainage, Aircast boot and Diclofenac. He also received physiotherapy and crutches to enable him to move around. His non-receding swelling and pain had been going on for a month.
The patient had no experience with natural remedies and reluctantly agreed to a compress with arnica essence.

He received a tempered arnica compress with 3 dl water and 6 ml Arnica essence Weleda. The nurse soaked a cotton band (made from old linen) in the liquid, wrung it out lightly and wrapped the foot from the toes to the ankle. She fixed it in place with an elastic bandage.
She showed the patient how to do it on the first day. On the second day he reported on the incredible results of the first application: within the first 24 hours the swelling decreased by about 70%!
Over the course of the next three days the swelling disappeared completely. The patient was overwhelmed and very happy about this success. After one week he reported that he had only applied the compress for 4 days and no swelling was visible anymore.


BD, US, SKO, Red


  • Merfort I. Arnika – Aktueller Stand hinsichtlich Wirksamkeit, Pharmakokinetik und Nebenwirkungen. Zeitschrift für Phytotherapie 2010; 31(4)
  • Cassu, RN, et al. Analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects of Arnica montana 12CH in comparison with ketoprofen in dogs. Ciência Rural 41.10 (2011): 1784–1789.