In: Drugs and Lactation Database (LactMed®) [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): National Institute of Child Health and Human Development; 2006.


The flowers of various Arnica species contain flavonoid glycosides, terpinoids, amines, coumarins and volatile oils. The flowers are most commonly used to make homeopathic products that are used topically as an analgesic agent. Arnica in homeopathic preparations has been used to treat mastitis and breast pain.[1] It is also sometimes used to treat postpartum perineal pain.[2,3] No information is available on the excretion of Arnica components in breastmilk. Maternal use of Arnica tea probably caused hemolytic anemia in one breastfed infant. Arnica is "generally recognized as safe" (GRAS) as a food by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, but is not allowed in food in Canada. Oral ingestion of botannical Arnica products should be avoided because of its many toxic components, but homeopathic products and topical application are usually safe during breastfeeding. Arnica should not be used on broken skin and may cause allergic skin reactions as well as cross reactions in those allergic to members of the Asteraceae or Compositae families of plants (e.g., chamomile, chrysanthemum, dandelion, marigold, sunflower).

Dietary supplements do not require extensive pre-marketing approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Manufacturers are responsible to ensure the safety, but do not need to prove the safety and effectiveness of dietary supplements before they are marketed. Dietary supplements may contain multiple ingredients, and differences are often found between labeled and actual ingredients or their amounts. A manufacturer may contract with an independent organization to verify the quality of a product or its ingredients, but that does not certify the safety or effectiveness of a product. Because of the above issues, clinical testing results on one product may not be applicable to other products. More detailed information about dietary supplements is available elsewhere on the LactMed Web site.

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