Arnica montana, sometimes mistakenly referred to as leopard's bane,has also been called wolf's bane, mountain tobacco and mountain arnica, is a European flowering plant with large yellow capitula. It also grows at about 4000 feet in the mountains of British Columbia.
Distribution and habitat
Arnica montana is endemic to Europe, from southern Iberia to southern Scandinavia and the Carpathians. It is absent from the British Isles and the Italian and Balkan Peninsulas. A. montana grows in nutrient-poor siliceous meadows up to nearly 3,000 metres (9,800 ft). It is rare overall, but may be locally abundant. It is becoming rarer, particularly in the north of its distribution, largely due to increasingly intensive agriculture. In more upland regions, it may also be found on nutrient-poor moors and heaths.
A. montana has tall stems, 20–60 centimetres (7.9–23.6 in) high, supporting usually a single flower head. Most of the leaves are in a basal rosette, but one or two pairs may be found on the stem and are, unusually for composites, opposite. The flower heads are yellow, approximately 5 cm in diameter, and appear from May to August.
Uses and toxicity
Arnica montana is sometimes grown in herb gardens and has long been used medicinally. It contains the toxin helenalin, which can be poisonous if large amounts of the plant are eaten. It produces severe gastroenteritis and internal bleeding of the digestive tract if enough material is ingested.[medical citation needed] Contact with the plant can also cause skin irritation. The roots contain derivatives of thymol, which are used as fungicides and preservatives and may have some anti-inflammatory effect. Arnica cream or oil has long been used externally to treat bruising, soft tissue damage and the shock of impact, whether from falling or being struck.[medical citation needed]. Bruises are reabsorbed more quickly after the use or application of arnica. Arnica gel is often sold as a homeopathic medicine, in which case the concentration of arnica within it is lower than an undiluted gel.
A scientific study by FDA funded dermatologists found that the application of topical arnica had no better effect than a placebo in the treatment of laser-induced bruising.[non-primary source needed]
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- Delilah Alonso, Melissa C. Lazarus & Leslie Baumann (2002). "Effects of topical arnica gel on post-laser treatment bruises". Dermatologic Surgery 28 (8): 686–8. doi:10.1046/j.1524-4725.2002.02011.x. PMID 12174058. Retrieved January 27, 2008.
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