External Applications in Anthroposophic Nursing

Arnica Compress

Kind of substance

Arnica essence


  • Pulled ligaments (Example case 2)
  • Acute joint inflammation (Example case 1)


1 tbsp. arnica essence in 250 ml of ca. 40° warm water as a wrung-out compress or wrap, wrapped around the affected joint together with a terrycloth hand towel to protect from moisture (gauze diaper, cotton cloth or the like). The pack should not be too tight, so that moisture can condense. Duration: ½ hour per application, then renew as needed.

Well-proven in many patients
Can be applied several times a day
Onset of effect
Immediate pain alleviation
Length of therapy
For the duration of the acute inflammation
Other recommended therapies
The cooling, detumescent and pain alleviating effect can be strengthened by mixing the same quantity of arnica essence into ca. 200 g of low-fat quark and placing the pack (e.g., in a dishtowel) onto the affected joint. The quark should first be warmed up to room temperature, after being taken out of the refrigerator. Remove the pack when the quark begins to dry out (after ca. 1–2 hours).
Exercise caution in cases of sensitivity to composites and when there is a known arnica allergy

Case example

Example case 1

A 59-year-old female patient with seropositive rheumatoid arthritis developed acute complaints in her right knee. The joint was clearly swollen, overheated and very painful; it was first treated externally with cooling elements. A stronger and longer-lasting analgesic and detumescent effect was only achieved through arnica essence compresses, later also treatment with a quark poultice. Overall improvement came only after systemic use of cortisone.

Example case 2

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. This 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 wrapped 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.


Red., BD, SKO


  • Widrig R, et al. Choosing between NSAID and arnica for topical treatment of hand osteoarthritis in a randomised, double-blind study. Rheumatology international 27.6 (2007): 585–591.
  • Merfort I. Arnika – Aktueller Stand hinsichtlich Wirksamkeit, Pharmakokinetik und Nebenwirkungen. Zeitschrift Phytotherapie 2010;31(4)