Other Common Names:
The other common names for the herb arnica are Leopard's bane, Mountain tobacco, Common Arnica, Mountain Arnica, Mountain Daisy and Wolfsbane.
The word arnica comes from the Greek "arnakis", meaning lamb's coat, and refers to the felt-like sepals covered in soft hairs that surround the flower. Arnica is an alpine herb with a long history of use in the folk medicine of Russia and the Swiss Alps. Today, many plastic surgeons recommend that their patients use arnica creams to reduce post surgical bruising, and athletes often carry a tube in their gym bags to soothe sore muscles. One of the best known herbal sports medicines, arnica has dramatic results if used immediately after an injury.
Arnica is an herbaceous perennial plant. The stem of the herb which bears the flowers is normally not branched and slightly hairy in appearance, this flowering branch tends to reach from twelve to twenty four inches in height, and is noticeable by bearing only one to two pairs of leaves on opposite sides of the branch. The plant height ranges from 30 –60 cm. One or two pairs of leaves form a flat rosette. They are entire, bright green, toothed and somewhat hairy on the upper surface. The lower leaves are clustered, ovate, and ciliated and have rounded tips. The upper leaves are smaller, lance-shaped, opposite and attached directly to the stem. From the centre of the rosette rises a round and hairy stalk that ends in 1-3 flower stalks bearing each one orange-yellow daisy like blossom. The fruits are bristly achenes. The rhizome is dark brown, cylindrical, usually curved, and bears brittle wiry rootlets on the under surface.
The arnica is a native of temperate climates, and grows in the wild in the mountain woods and the pastures all along the central part of the European continent, it is also native to regions like the Pyrenees, it is also found in the wild in large tracts of Siberia, in the mountains and plains of Canada, and in vast areas along the continental northwestern US.
Arnica thrives best in calcareous soils in mountain pastures and found especially on granite or siliceous soils
Arnica thrives in a mixture of loam, peat, and sand. It may be propagated by root division or from seed. Sow in early spring in a cold frame, and plant out in May. Seeds are best sown as soon as it is ripe in pots outdoors. A period of cold stratification is helpful. The fresh seed can germinate in 3 - 4 weeks at 13°c according to one report, though it can be slow, difficult and erratic and take 2 years to germinate. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and plant them out into their permanent positions in the following spring. The flowers are collected entire and dried, but the receptacles are sometimes removed as they are liable to be attacked by insects. The root is collected in autumn after the leaves have died down. The harvest of arnica flowers is usually carried out when the plant is in full bloom during the summer. On the other hand, the rhizomes of the arnica are harvested during autumn, following the death of the plant as the temperature gets colder.
Arnica bears golden yellow flowers having a daisy like appearance and structure which tend to bloom during the autumn where it starts appearing by mid-summer.
Pests and Diseases
Crown rot is a rare disease which may affect arnica.
||The most commonly used parts of the herb arnica are the roots and the flowers for its medicinal and commercial purposes.
Medicinal and Commercial Applications
- The tincture of arnica is used for external application to sprains, bruises, and wounds, and as paint for chilblains when the skin is unbroken.
It is used in treating low fevers and paralytic affections.
Arnica helps in baldness by inducing growth of the hair.
Arnica is useful and effective against the painful sensations encountered during dental extractions and it is also extensively used to treat physical injuries.
Arnica brings relief from the pain in rheumatic joints, and they are also used in the topical treatment of painful and swollen feet.
Internally, it has been used in the treatment of heart complaints and as a booster for the immune system.
Arnica increases local blood supply and accelerates healing; it is anti-inflammatory and increases the rate of absorption of internal bleeding.
The homeopathic dose has also been used effectively in the treatment of epilepsy and seasickness.