Arnica is listed in the Red Book. It grows wild in forest meadows, edges, glades of coniferous and beech forests, among shrubs mainly in the Carpathians, as well as in the dry meadows of the Upper Dnieper, Belarus, and the Baltic countries.
Currently, three species of arnica Arnica mountain, arnica Chamisso and arnica densely deciduous are cultivated.
Arnica is a perennial herbaceous plant of the Asteraceae family with a height of 15 to 80 cm. Not long to 15 cm, but branched roots grow horizontally, overgrown with numerous threads of accessory roots. The straight stem is overgrown with opposite, sessile, whole-edged leaves, inversely ovate in shape, naked from below they reach a length of 15-17 cm, and the largest form a rosette.
Arnica blooms in June-July with yellow large up to 3 cm inflorescences-baskets, formed by 14-20 reed pestle marginal flowers and less bright tubular ones.
The seeds ripen in July-August are a cotyledon with a tuft, 6-10 mm long of a dirty gray color, resembling a pubescent cylinder narrowed to the base.
Arnica flowers have choleretic properties, and also have a hemostatic effect, enhance the tone and contractions of the uterus. Preparations from arnica flowers in small doses have a tonic effect on the central nervous system, and in large doses – sedative and prevent the development of seizures.
Preparations from the roots of arnica increase the amplitude of heart contractions, dilate coronary vessels, improve the nutrition of the heart muscle. Arnica flowers have the ability to reduce the reflex excitability of the brain and dilate cerebral vessels. On this basis, arnica was previously used in the recovery period after cerebral hemorrhages in order to more quickly restore the functional state of the nervous system. The best results were observed from the use of tincture of fresh arnica flowers. Unlike ergot preparations, arnica lowers blood pressure. Tincture also has a choleretic effect.
Arnica flowers are collected during flowering in the second to third decade of June and early July, starting from the second year of the plant's life. Cut flower baskets at the very base without peduncles, so that the remnant of the peduncle is no more than 1 cm. Dried in the shade without access to sunlight in the open air or in a well-ventilated room, laying out a layer of up to 5 cm on paper or fabric for 7-10 days or in dryers at a temperature of 55-60° C. During drying, it is not recommended to turn the raw materials over, as the baskets will crumble. This is due to the fact that even in cut baskets, flowering processes continue, so drying is recommended to be carried out quickly.
Store raw materials for 2 years. Storage conditions: dark room, humidity of raw materials should not exceed 13%.
In pharmacology, the roots of arnica are also used.
The action of arnica flowers is attributed to the coloring substance arnitsyn, contained in flowers in an amount of up to 4%. The bitter substance arnicin consists of a mixture of 3 substances: arnidiol (arnidendiol), faradiol (isoarnidiol) and a limiting hydrocarbon.
It also contains cynarin, an essential oil in an amount of 0.04-0.07%, which is a red-dark or blue-green oily mass.
From the flowers, oil containing 56% of unsaponifiable substances is also isolated; the saponified part of the oil is 50% represented by saturated acids; there are hydrocarbons, two resinous substances and a red coloring agent lutein. Two resinous substances and a red coloring substance lutein were found. Organic acids were found: fumaric, malic and lactic, which are both in a free state and in the form of calcium and potassium salts. The content of vitamin C is about 21 mg / %.
In the flowers of arnica, 2.5% fructose, 0.5% of other reducing sugars, 1% sucrose, inulin, tannins, proteins, chlorophylls and various ballast substances were found. Inflorescences contain about 5% tannins, as well as cynarin, choline, alkaloids.
Arnica roots contain unsaturated hydrocarbons and small amounts of phytosterols. It also contains essential oil (up to 1.5% in fresh raw materials and 0.4-0.6% in dried), which is a light yellow, gradually darkening liquid with a pungent odor. In the roots of arnica in a significant amount of organic acids are found: isobutyric, formic and angelic.
Among ancient alchemists, arnica symbolizes the sun, looking at the flower it is not difficult to guess. Its aroma was used to stone the premises before meditation. The effect of the aroma on the nervous system is sedative, helping with insomnia.
Infusion of arnica flowers has a hemostatic, analgesic, anti-inflammatory and wound-healing effect. In folk medicine, it is used to get rid of bruises.
In individual cosmetics for hair, arnica is used as a hemostatic and stimulating local blood supply, which allows arnica to be used for hair loss. Anti-inflammatory properties help with inflammation of the scalp. The rich composition of phytoncides and other bioactive substances allows cosmetics manufacturers to effectively use arnica extracts for damaged, dry, colored hair.
In dental practice and traditional medicine, arnica infusion is used in the form of a rinse to increase resistance to gum and oral infections.
Arnica, like most medicinal plants, can be poisonous. It is necessary to observe the exact dosage. It is strictly forbidden to use arnica to people with increased blood clotting, with individual intolerance to arnica.
In case of an overdose of drugs prepared from arnica, patients may experience sweating, nausea, chills, shortness of breath, abdominal pain, diarrhea or constipation, as well as vomiting. In severe cases, the activity of the cardiovascular system may be disrupted. With any of the above symptoms, you need to urgently consult a doctor.
External use of arnica can also provoke side effects. These can be allergic reactions, itching and burning, bubbles may form on the affected area.