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Arnica

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Arnica is a genus with about 30 perennial, herbaceous species, belonging to the sunflower family Asteraceae. Arnica montana or Leopard's Bane is a perennial herb, indigenous to Central Europe. It has been found in England and Southern Scotland. The leaves of Arnica montana form a flat rosette, from the centre of which rises a flower stalk, 1 to 2 feet high, bearing orange-yellow flowers. The rhizome is dark brown, cylindrical, usually curved, and bears brittle wiry rootlets on the under surface.
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Botanical Names
Arnica montana
Indian Names
Arnica
Chemical Constituents
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. 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 The active compounds contained by arnica are its volatile oil, carotenoids, flavornoids, and triterpenic alcohol. Its roots contain volatile oil (0.5 - 1.5 percentage), caffeic acid, inuline, thymol, and saccharose (1).
Pesticide Limits
A limit for pesticide is one of the major issues in standardization of medicinal plants and products in view of the worldwide widespread use of pesticides in cultivated plants. The presence of pesticides in extracts increase the health risk by many folds. The pesticides can be extremely irritant on skin as well as in the internal organs, it is essential to monitor its concentration as a part of GMP. Various analytical methods for the quantitative determination of pesticides by gas chromatography coupled with mass-spectrophotometer are in use. Konark Research Foundation (KRF), a NABL certified lab is well equipped with the latest technology and instruments and monitors the pesticide limit as part of its GMP.
Chromatographic Profile
From the pharmacopoeial perspective, a better quality control of raw material can be achieved by specifying quantitative test procedure for the determination of the range or a minimum content of the active ingredient or marker substances. A chromatographic finger profile represents qualitative/ quantitative determination of various components present in a complex plant extract, irrespective whether or not their exact identity is known. Thin layer chromatographic technique is the simplest and least expensive method that provides plenty of information on the composition of raw herbs and its preparation. For quantitative analysis of active ingredients or marker substances with simultaneous separation and detection High Pressure liquid chromatography is the best technique. We use the latest model of HPLC for all its analysis.
Limits of Impurities
A test requirement for foreign organic matter would ensure the extent of contamination of extraneous matters such as filth and other parts of botanicals not covered by the definition of the herbal drug. Since sand and soil are predictable contaminants of botanicals, test requirements for ‘total ash’, water soluble ash’, ‘acid soluble ash’, residue on ignition and sulphated ash would be expected to limit such contaminants. Test requirement for heavy metals in botanical raw material are probably more relevant for parts of plants growing under ground than for the aerial parts of the plant. The presence of high levels of minerals interacts with the final product there by affecting its keeping quality.
Microbial Limits
If the raw herbs are to be used directly without boiling in water prior to consumption, restrictive limits on microbial contaminants are required for pathogens such as Salmonella sp. Enterobacter and E. coli which are causative agent for various gastrointestinal diseases. A lower level of yeasts and molds and a limit on total aerobes are considered appropriate in plant material for topical use. The presence of aflatoxins detected by chemical means is generally independent of the number of viable molds that are detected using microbiological methods. Aflatoxins in microgram quantity are capable of giving serious hypersensitivity reactions which can be extremely harmful to human health.
Pharmacology
Arnica has antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, decongestive and antifungal properties. It also stimulates the forming the granular tissues and thus accelerating the healing process. It eliminates micro-organisms and keeps bacteria and pathogenic funguses from multiplying. The arnica flowers are used for treating the pale face skin complexion, wounds, bruises and burns (2). Other medicinal uses of this herb involve the treatment of bruises, dislocations, bacterial infections, skin cancer, bronchitis, tonsillitis, pharyngitis, flu, lung virosis, cystitis, nephritis, kidney infections, coronary insufficiencies, hypertension, breastplate angina, cerebral trauma, headaches, paresis, semiparesis, insomnia, heart palpitations, nightmares, night terrors, moral depressions, neurosis, hysteria etc.
Health Benefits
Arnica is used topically for a wide range of conditions including bruises, sprains, muscle aches, wound healing, acne, superficial phlebitis, rheumatic pain, inflammation from insect bites, and swelling. An experienced clinician may recommend arnica as herbal remedy for senile heart, angina, or coronary artery disease (3). Homeopathic preparations are also used to treat sore muscles, bruises, and other conditions associated with overexertion or trauma. Homeopathic doses are much diluted and generally considered safe for internal use when taken in accordance with the directions on the product labeling. Arnica can also be used externally to treat tired, overstressed muscles (4). One study performed in Norway showed that marathon runners who applied arnica to their skin before the event experienced less pain and stiffness afterward. Arnica is a relaxing addition to the bath, and has been shown to be particularly helpful for soaking tired, aching feet (5).
Application in Cosmetics
When used in natural skin care products, it is beneficial for swollen and puffy skin and helps to reduce puffiness around the eyes. Arnica’s antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effect may be of some benefit to those with inflammatory skin disorders. This herb is traditionally used as a topical treatment for burns, eczema, and acne (6). However, arnica should not be applied to an open wound, as it could cause painful irritation. Arnica Montana Flower Extract is a dark brown clear liquid made from the flowers of the plant Arnica montana. In cosmetics and personal care products, Arnica Montana and Arnica Montana Flower Extract are used in the formulation of a variety of product types, including skin care products, skin fresheners, shampoos, conditioners and hair care products Arnica is often used in hair care products because of its anti-inflammatory properties which can help to control dandruff and promote hair growth. Arnica extract can be safely used in hair preparations at a concentration of 1 to 2 percent. Arnica extract also acts as an antidandruff which can help to treat an infection on the scalp. The use of arnica extract in hair conditioners and oils is used to rejuvenate the scalp and also to stimulate hair follicles, which in turn will strengthen the hair and keep it from falling out prematurely. Arnica extract may also help to prevent premature graying of the hair.
Research References
1. Beer A. M., Lukanov J, Sagorchev P. Effect of Thymol on the spontaneous contractile activity of the smooth muscles. Phytomedicine. 2007 Jan;14(1):65-9. 2. Elias, Jason and Shelagh Ryan Masline. The A to Z Guide to Healing Herbal Remedies. Lynn Sonberg Book Associates, 1996. 3. Magic And Medicine of Plants. The Reader's Digest Association, Inc. 1986. .4. Tyler, Varro E., Ph.D. Herbs Of Choice, The Therapeutic Use of Phytomedicinals. New York: The Haworth Press, Inc., 1994. 5. Kaziro GS. Metronidazole (Flagyl) and Arnica montana in the prevention of postsurgical complications: a comparative placebo controlled clinical trial. Br J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 1984;22:42-49. 6. PDR for Herbal Medicines. New Jersey: Medical Economics Company, 1998. 7. Willuhn, G. T-Muurolol chief constituent of Arnica longifolia. Phytochemistry 1971, 10, 901–902. 8. Lange, D. (1998). Europe's medicinal and aromatic plants: their use, trade an conservation. Cambridge, TRAFFIC International. pp.73 9. Phillips, Roger and Nicky Foy. The Random House Book of Herbs. New York: Random House, Inc., 1990