Arnica - The Herb

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Arnica - Uses, Benefits, Properties, Description, Effects and Details of Arnica explanation and other information*

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Common Name/s: Other Name/s: Botanical  name/s:
Arnica Leopard's bane, Mountain tobacco, European Arnica Arnica Montana

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General description and domicile:

Arnica is a perennial plant that hardly exceeds twelve inches in height and has marigold-like yellow flowers. It grows well high on the slopes of mountains just below the snow level.

Arnica Montana is a highly toxic herb to the extent that modern herbalists tend to use other, less toxic, herbs if possible. Even when used externally it is wise to exercise care as extended application can cause inflammation. It is still regarded as an important homeopathic remedy.

Originally used in Central Europe the herb has been used for topical applications for hundreds of years in most European countries. Because it is so irritant to mucus membranes it will cause severe gastric complaints if ingested and in significant doses could even be fatal. Even as a topical compress for muscular aches prolonged use will cause severe inflammation exacerbating rather than curing the problem. Do not ingest!

Part used and extraction:
Flowers and root.

Remedy preparation:
Tincture and cream

Although this herb was popular with mountain climbers who chewed the herb to relieve the pain of inflamed muscles and as a soothing compress for bruises and sprains it is toxic in significant doses and an irritant to mucus membranes.
The leaves of the plant were also dried and smoked (hence the name Mountain tobacco).

Used for treatment of:





Dihydrohelanin: A Sesquiterpene lactone, see below, has been studied for its apparently strong anti-inflammatory effect.

Sesquiterpene lactones: There are thousands of sesquiterpene lactones known. They mostly occur as a combination of several sesquiterpene lactones and are more prevalent in leaves and flowers.

Commonly valued for the digestive bitter benefits sesquiterpene lactones are also anti-inflammatory, antiprotozoal, antibacterial and antimicrobial.

A large majority of sesquiterpene lactones irritate the skin on contact causing dermatitis and often acute inflammation.

Used in China as an infertility agent in men it should not be used in this context as it could cause permanent infertility in men. Sesquiterpenes have antifungal, antibacterial and anaesthetic properties.

It is also thought that they prevent migraines and can be used as antibiotics and to treat Malaria but there is very little in depth testing results available to support these claims.

Lactones: A lactone is an Ester that's functional group has become part of a ring structure with carbon atoms.

Lactones are widely present in the plant kingdom and many are expectorants and febrifuges.



Flavonoids: Flavonoids occur (as white and yellow plant pigments found almost as commonly as chlorophyll) as Glycosides or in a free state. In plants it is essential for protecting plant tissue from UV radiation and acts as antioxidants. As pigments it is also responsible for Autumn colors in leaves and yellow/red pigmentation in flowers.

Laboratory experiments have been conducted on the beneficiary effect of Flavonoids on the heart and circulatory system. Flavonoids are also used to mitigate stress, especially environmental stress. Flavonoids are often used for their antioxidant effect against free radicals. There are also strong indications that they have antiviral, anti-inflammatory and anti-hypertensive properties but dosage has not been determined which will obviously have a profound effect on their efficacy as a component of this herb.

a Volatile oil containing Thymol

Thymol: A phenolic volatile oil.

Phenolic oils: Found only in a select few aromatic herbs Phenolic volatile oils are very potent and caustic, expectorant, antispasmodic and antimicrobial but very irritant to the mucus membrane. Phenols can be either Monoterpene (thymol, carvacrol found in thyme and oregano) expectorant, antispasmodic and antimicrobial which is very irritant to the mucus membrane or Phenylpropanoid  (Euganol which is widely distributed in plants) that is much more benign while having the same properties.




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