Arnica montana is used as a herbal medicine for analgesic and anti-inflammatory purposes. Arnica is a flowering plant, aromatic, herbaceous and perennial. Flowering period is between May and August (Central Europe). Distinguished by its large yellow flower head.
The flowers are harvested when fully developed and dried without their bracts or receptacles. The roots can be harvested in autumn and also dried after being carefully washed. Arnica Montana is sometimes grown in herb gardens.
Naming & Classification
The name of the genus Arnica comes from the Greek arni, "lamb", in reference to the soft, hairy leaves of the plants. The Latin proper adjective montana refers to mountains or coming from mountains. Also known as wolf's bane, leopard's bane or mountain smoke, it is a moderately toxic European flowering plant in the daisy family Asteraceae.
Arnica Montana is widespread in most of Europe. It also grows in nutrient-poor silicate meadows or clayey soils. It grows mainly in alpine meadows and up to almost 3,000 meters. In more mountainous areas, it can also be found in nutrient-poor moors and moors.
Chemical structure of helenalin
The main components of Arnica montana are essential oils, fatty acids, thymol, pseudoguaianolide sesquiterpene lactones and flavanone glycosides. Pseudoguaianolide sesquiterpenes make up 0.2-0.8% of the flower head of Arnica montana. It is the toxin helenalin and their fatty esters.
Use in herbal medicine
Historically, Arnica montana has been used as an herbal medicine for centuries. The traditional uses of the plant are similar to those of willow bark, generally being used for analgesic and anti-inflammatory purposes.
• In pain and inflammation
• Fractures and bone regeneration
• In injuries, bruises and sprains
• In Homeopathy
Clinical trials of Arnica Montana have yielded mixed results:
When used topically in a 50% concentration gel, Arnica was found to be about as effective as a 5% Ibuprofen gel in treating the symptoms of hand osteoarthritis.
Arnica should not be consumed or used by mouth.
The US Food and Drug Administration has classified Arnica montana as an unsafe herb due to its toxicity. Arnica contains the toxin helenalin, which can be poisonous if large amounts of the plant are consumed or small amounts of concentrated Arnica are used. It should not be taken by mouth or applied to open wounds where absorption may occur. Arnica irritates the mucous membranes and can cause stomach pain, diarrhea and vomiting.
Eating Arnica montana can cause severe gastroenteritis, internal bleeding of the digestive tract, elevated liver enzymes (which may indicate inflammation of the liver), nervousness, rapid heart rate, muscle weakness, and death if ingested in large amounts.
Use as directed by your doctor or pharmacist.
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