Getting to Know Arnica

Getting to Know Arnica:

Arnica montana contains many chemical compounds. The quality of the plant particularly depends on the presence of a certain number of active substances, the content of which varies naturally.

The substances that Arnica produces generally help it protect itself. Its composition, therefore, strongly depends on its surrounding1 underground and air environment (animals, insects, sun, pH of the soil, etc.).

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For example:

  • Sesquiterpene lactones with anti-inflammatory properties described in the European Pharmacopoeia are found in the hairs of the bracts1, capitula in bloom and leaves.
    Their bitter taste is used to protect the plant from herbivore animals1.
  • Flavonoids, widely represented in the phlebotonic2 and anti-inflammatory class of medicines, are a family of compounds that can also be found in the stems and leaves of Arnica Montana1.
    Their antioxidant activity makes it possible for the plant to protect itself from the damaging effects of sunlight3,4.
  • Essential oils (mainly thymol used pharmaceutically for its antiseptic properties5) can be found in the capitula and the leaves, but are found mainly in the rhizomes and roots.
    They protect the plant from bacteria and fungi contained in the soil.

Did you Know?

Arnica has been known since the twelfth century, and the description of Arnica written by the abbess Hildegarde of Bingen (Saint Hildegarde) is used in the traditional Pharmacopoeia.


Sources:
1 Botanique, biologie et physiologie végétales [Botany, biology and vegetal physiology] 2nd revised edition Maloine
2 Vidal 2014
3 Observatoire National des effets sur le réchauffement climatique, [National Observatory on the effects of global warming], Technical Note No. 3 January 2006
4 Kouzi, Am J Health-Syst Pharm—Vol 64 Dec 1, 2007 p 2434-2442
5 Dorland’s Illustrated Medical Dictionary, 28th ed.

Photo credit ©Serge Sang

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