Arnica

Authors: Prof. Dr. med. Peter Altmeyer, Prof. Dr. med. Martina Bacharach-Buhles

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Last updated on: 29.10.2020

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Synonym(s)

arnica chamissionis; Arnica montana; Chamisso-Wohlverleih; Maguire; Meadow Carnica; Mountain lodging; Rental

Definition
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A plant belonging to the compositae (composite plants ). Arnica is protected in some countries. Ingredients of the essential oils extracted from arnica montana are fatty acids (50%), terpene hydrocarbons, e.g. azulene (12%), paraffin, thymol and various other substances. Thymol derivatives. Furthermore flavonoids, coumarins, caffeic acid, phytomelans, sesquiterpene lactones.

Occurrence
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In Europe mainly found in the low and high mountains (up to 2800m) as well as in western North America.

Field of application/use
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Arnica is an old household remedy, used in Europe since the 16th century, since the 18th century also adopted in orthodox medicine. Today the "Red List" lists many ready-to-use preparations containing arnica alone or in combination with others.

According to DAB9, Arnica chamissonis and Arnica montana are official parent plants for arnica flowers (Arnicae flos) from which Tinctura arnicae is also extracted. Radix arnicae (off. ÖAB90) is also extracted from the roots of these species.

The popularity of arnica preparations as "old household remedies" has been increasing again recently. They are used in hygiene products, cosmetics, liqueurs (herbal bitters), shampoos, bath additives, soaps, massage oils, healing ointments, wound cloths for foot and mouth care. The most widespread use of arnica tincture (Tinctura arnica) is probably for light injuries and sprains in compresses and compresses (sports medicine).

Undesirable effects
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Known allergens: Sesquiterpenlactones such as xanthalongine, helenalin, carabron and other substances of this group, which have not yet been experimentally investigated, must be considered potential contact allergens.

Sensitizing potential: Strong. Experimental sensitization showed a strong sensitizing potential with wild plants as well as with commercially available drug material and individual isolated sesquiterpenlactones.

Frequency of sensitization: Compared to other plants, arnica allergy is relatively frequent due to its multiple uses. Arnica is one of the most important contact allergy inducing species within the composite family. Sensitization does not only occur in people who grow, harvest, extract and process the plants (occupational), but especially in individuals who use arnica tinctures and other external agents containing arnica.

Improper use (not diluted down) initially leads to an irritative reaction with blistering, which then results in sensitization.

Cross-reactions with other composites, especially yarrow, chrysanthemum, feverfew and sunflower have been observed. Cross-reactions with other plant species (e.g. laurel and magnolias) which also contain sesquiterterpene lactones may occur.

Trade names
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ABC heat plaster N®, Arnica Kneipp® ointment, Arnikamill® wound and healing ointment, Artosenex® N ointment, Cesrasanol®, Combudoron® jelly, Derma-loges® N wound and healing ointment, Dolo-cyl® oil - muscle and joint oil, Dr. Klinger's stomach tea, Essaven® Sports Gel, Guttacor Balm® N, Hocura® Spondylose Ointment, Palatol® Ointment N, Phoenix Calophoen Ointment, Species Sclero Diabeticum, Tauma-cyl Ointment, Varicylum® S Ointment, Zeel® T Ointment

Note(s)
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For epicutaneous testing, either arnica tincture diluted 1:10 or arnica short ether extract 0.5% in Vaseline is used.

Literature
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  1. Arberer W (2008) Contact allergy and medicinal plants. JDDG 6: 15-24
  2. Mitchell JC et al (1979) Botanical Dermatology. Vancouver, Greengrass