External Applications in Anthroposophic Nursing

Arnica Heart Compress

Kind of substance

Arnica essence

Guiding principle for the application

This local moist-warm application has a calming and regulating effect on the heart. The aroma of arnica also has an anxiety-relieving and relaxing effect.

Guiding Principle for the substance


  • Angina pectoris
  • Fever in the elderly (to relieve the heart)
  • Heart failure (see example case)
  • Myocardial infarction
  • Cardiac arrhythmia
  • Carditis



  • Important: Administer in consultation with the treating physician!
  • Can be repeated several times a day if necessary, also by the patient himself, also at night

  • A small bowl
  • Arnica essence (Weleda 20%, flower, leaf and root,) 1 teaspoon in 150 ml water
  • Inner cloth (cotton, the size of a washing mitt), folded two to four times
  • Water, ca. 150 ml, usually cool, seldom lukewarm, some people with angina pectoris want it hot. Also, make sure it is not too cool in case of fever! With this compress patients indicate immediately and precisely what temperature works best, ask in advance if possible
  • An outer cloth (gauze diaper, flannelette or a terrycloth guest towel), folded so that it is a little larger than the inner cloth

  • Fold the inner cloth to the size required
  • Pour water and arnica essence into the basin: 1 teaspoon essence in 150 ml of water
  • Dip the inner cloth into the basin, wring it out thoroughly and place it on the heart (breastbone!)
  • Lay the outer cloth on top of it
  • Cover the patient, see “settling the patient”
  • Let work for 30 minutes, or for as long as the compress feels pleasant
  • Then remove both cloths
  • Another 30 minutes of post-treatment rest

Well-proven in many patients
Onset of effect
Length of therapy
Can help in acute cases, as well as over long periods of time
Do not use in cases of known arnica intolerance

Instructions to download

Case example

A 73-year-old male inpatient, admitted for decompensated cardiac deficiency, reporting thorax pain from exertion. ECG and laboratory findings gave no indication of a heart attack. A moist-warm compress with arnica essence was applied to the patient's heart region; he fell asleep during the application and afterwards was free of complaints. He slept during each additional daily application, despite the noisiness of the hospital room; the patient was free of complaints in the period that followed.




  • Merfort I. Arnika – Aktueller Stand hinsichtlich Wirksamkeit, Pharmakokinetik und Nebenwirkungen. Zeitschrift für Phytotherapie 31.04 (2010): 188–192.