Illustration_Arnica_montana.jpgArnica (Arnica Montana)
Overview:
Arnica Montana, commonly referred to as just Arnica and sometimes called Leopard’s Bane, is a perennial flowering plant of the Asteraceae family, found throughout Europe and Siberia, primarily in mountainous regions, and is now cultivated in North America as well. Arnica is a fairly small plant growing to a mature height of only about one to two feet. The flowers of the Arnica Montana plant are a yellow-orange color that are about two to three inches in diameter and resemble the flowers of their relatives the daisies. The fresh and dried flowers of the Arnica plant are used in medicinal preparations and have been used in this way since at least the 1500’s.(University of Maryland: Medical Center)


Asteraceae family:
Commonly referred to as the Aster, Daisy, or Sunflower family, the Asteraceae family is a large and widespread family of vascular plants. It is one of the two largest flowering plant families in the world with 22,750 currently accepted species, spread across 1,620 genera and 12 subfamilies. Most members of Asteraceae are herbaceous, but a significant number are also shrubs, vines and trees. The family is distributed throughout the world, and is most common in the arid and semi-arid regions of subtropical and lower temperate latitudes. Many economically important products come from composites, including cooking oils, lettuce, sunflower seeds, artichokes, sweetening agents, and teas. (Wikipedia)





Important Relatives:
Some important relatives of Arnica Montana used for food are Sunflowers and Artichokes. Other relatives that are used for ornamental purposes are Marigolds, Daisies, and Dahlias.




Uses and Efficacy:
Arnica is used most often topically in creams and ointments to treat a number of conditions including bruises, sprains, muscle aches, wounds, superficial phlebitis, joint pain, inflammation from insect bites, and swelling from broken bones.The plant is also used in homeopathic preparations to treat sore muscles, bruises, and other conditions caused by overexertion or injury. These homeopathic doses which can be taken orally, through injection, or topically are extremely diluted and have no detectable amount of the plant in them and are generally considered safe for internal use when taken according to the directions on the label.(University of Maryland: Medical Center) "There are few well-conducted clinical trials that examine the efficacy of arnica compared with placebo or any other treatment for soft tissue injuries (such as bruising and exercise-induced muscle soreness). Consequently, results found may be biased in some way.Small numbers of patients were enrolled in the included trials (only one trial had more than 100 participants), which makes it difficult to know if there are any important differences between homoeopathic arnica and placebo treatments for the treatment of pain and inflammation.In general the well conducted studies yielded negative findings, either of no difference in effect between arnica and placebo or a difference favouring the placebo treatment.There is little evidence that homoeopathic arnica is more effective than a placebo in relieving the pain associated with bruising and swelling.There is no evidence to suggest that a particular potency of arnica or dose regimen is superior to another potency or dose regimen.There is no evidence that homeopathic arnica is more likely to benefit a particular patient group (e.g. those with bruises or injury to the limbs) over another."(Complementary and Alternative Medicine). Despite clinical trials on Arnica, anecdotal evidence from various sources shows that Arnica does work for the treatment of sore overworked muscles as well as to speed up the healing of bruises. Most of the positive anecdotal evidence that says Arnica works comes from those who have used Arnica in salves and creams. The compound that is most prevalent in Arnica is thymol which does is normally used as anti-fungal which surprisingly is not cited use of Arnica, however this compound may have something to do with its supposed efficacy.
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An Arnica Salve from NYR Organic, a product I have used with success on tired feet and shoulders



Possible Side Effects:

Skin redness or irritation may occur. Irritation inside the mouth may occur when arnica is used as a mouthwash. If any of these effects persist or worsen, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly. A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare (MedicineNet.com).Arnica is rarely used as an internal herbal remedy because it can cause dizziness, tremors, and heart irregularities. It may also irritate mucous membranes and cause vomiting. Large doses can even be fatal. Do not take arnica by mouth except under close supervision of your doctor. Homeopathic remedies, which use extremely small amounts of arnica, can usually be taken safely (University of Maryland: Medical Center).


Geographic distribution:

Arnica Montana is found throughout the mountains of Europe and Siberia as seen in the map below.Today it is also cultivated in the U.S.A. however it is not indigenous.737px-Location_of_Arnica_montana.svg.png

Sources:1) "Arnica Montana." MedicineNet.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Jan 2012.<http://www.medicinenet.com/arnica_arnica_montana-topical/index.htm
2) "Asteraceae." Wikipedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Jan 2012.
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asteraceae

3) "Homoeopathic arnica for the treatment of soft tissue injury." Complementary and Alternative Medicine. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Jan 2012.
<http://www.cam.org.nz/Treatment%20Methods/Homoeopathy/soft_tissue_injury.htm


4) University of Maryland: Medical Center, . "Arnica."University of Maryland Medical Center. N.p., 2011. Web. 11 Jan 2012. <http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/arnica-000222.htm>.