Arnica montana


Herbaceous plant 20-70 cm tall with a single stem. The leaves appear in basal rosettes and are opposite in decussate pairs, with an oval blade and an entire margin. The flower heads are terminal and emerge from the axils of the upper leaves. The flowers are tubular and ligulate, with an orange-yellow color. Fruit in achene.

It is a Eurasian plant, in montane grasslands on base-poor soils. His art used are the inflorescences.

Active ingredients:

Sesquiterpene lactones (0.2-0.8%) of the pseudoguayanolide type, mainly esters of helenalin and 11-13 dihydrohelenalin with short-chain fatty acids (acetic, isobutyric, 2-methyl-butanoic, isovaleric, alpha-methacrylic and tiglic).

Flavonoids (0.4-0.6%): isoquercitrin, astragalin, luteolin glycoside.

Essential oil (0.2-0.35%). Monoterpenes such as thymol and thymol esters.

Phenolic acids derived from cinnamic acid: caffeic, chlorogenic, cynarin and ferulic acids.

Hydroxycoumarins: scopoletin, umbelliferone.


High molecular weight heterogeneous polysaccharides (25,000-50,000) containing uronic acids.

Carotenes responsible for the yellow coloration of the flowers: alpha and beta carotenes, mono and dihydroxylated xanthophylls, epoxide derivatives.

It also contains choline (0.1%), tannins, free fatty acids, polyynes and pentacyclic triterpenes derived from taraxastane (arnidiol and faradiol).

Pharmacological action:

Therapeutic classification: PL01. Anti-inflammatory medicinal plants.

Arnica flower preparations have, especially in topical application, anti-inflammatory, analgesic and antiseptic action.

Topical anti-inflammatory Sesquiterpene lactones are responsible for this action due to their rubefacient and irritating effect when applied topically. The mechanism of action seems to be related to the inhibition of cyclooxygenase, and therefore, the synthesis of prostaglandins, and the inhibition of oxidative phosphorylation.

Arnica is an effective local anti-inflammatory that helps the reabsorption of necrotic biological debris that accompanies all trauma.

Antiplatelet agent. Effect due to sesquiterpene lactones that reduce sulfhydryl groups on the surface of platelets by up to 78%.

Antihistamine (sesquiterpene lactones). The aqueous extract produced an antihistamine activity on smooth muscle (in vitro).

Antirheumatic and antineuralgic (sesquiterpene lactones). Helenalin is, in laboratory animals, a good anti-inflammatory and inhibitor of prostaglandin synthesis, by inhibiting prostaglandin-synthetase.

Antibacterial. Sesquiterpene lactones have shown antibacterial activity in vitro against gram+ (Staphylococcus aureus, Micrococcus roseus, Bacillus subtilis) and gram – (Proteus vulgaris) bacteria.

Antieczematous. Sesquiterpene lactones inhibit oxidative phosphorylation of polymorphonuclear cells and their migration, while preventing the rupture of lysosomal membranes.

Modulator of the reflex activity of the CNS.

Experimental immunostimulant (polysaccharides).

Spasmolytic (triterpenes and flavonoids).


  1. Schroeder H, Losche W, Strobach H et al.” Helenalin and 11 alpha, 13-dihydrohelenalin, two constituents from Arnica montana L., inhibit human platelet function via thiol-dependent pathways”. Thromb Res 1990; 57(6): 839-45.
  2. Baillargeon L, Drouin J, Desjardins L et al. « Les effects de l´Arnica montana sur la coagulation sanguine. Essai clinique randomise ». Can. Fam. Physician, 39 :2.362-7, 1993 Nov.
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