004. Arnica montana. Mountain arnica.

Botanical name: 

004. Arnica montana. 004. Arnica montana. C. Synonyma. Arnica, Pharm. Lon. & Edin.
Doronicum Austriacum Quartum, Clus. Pann. p. 520.
(greek), Reneaulme, p. 118.
Doronicum Plantaginis folio alterum, C. B. 185. Tourn. Institut. 487.
Doronicum Germanicum, Park & Ray.
Doronicum Germanicum foliis semper ex adverso nascentibus villosis, J. B. III. 19.
Calendula Alpina, Gerard 740.
Arnica foliis conjugatis, ovatis, integerrimis, Hal. Stirp. Helv. No. 90.

Class Syngenesia. Ord. Polygamia superflua, L. Gen. Pl. 958.
Ess. Gen. Ch. Recept. nudum. Pappus simplex. Corollulae radii filamentis 5 absque antheris.
Spec. Char. A. foliis ovatis integris: caulinis geminis oppositis.

This plant is very common upon the northern mountains of Germany and Switzerland, and was first cultivated in this country by Mr. P. Miller in 1759. [Hortus Kewensis, vol. 3. p. 226.] The stalk grows above one foot high, erect, roundish, striated, rough, hairy. The radical leaves are oval, narrow at their bases, and more obtusely lanceolated than the cauline leaves. On the stalk they are sessil, entire, oval, obtusely lance-shaped, and stand in pairs: the flowers are large, yellow, radiated, solitary, terminal, appearing in July: the calyx is imbricated, and consists of a single row of narrow, pointed, rough leaflets: the root is perennial, thick, fleshy, and spreading.

The odour of the fresh plant is rather unpleasant, and the taste acrid, herbaceous, and astringent; a watery infusion of it strikes a black colour by the addition of sal martis [Bergius, M. M. 683.], and the powdered leaves act as a strong sternutatory.

That the Arnica is a medicine of considerable activity, there cannot be a doubt; but how far it deserves the extravagant praises it has received at Vienna, is not for us to determine; either the facts stated by Dr. Collin are not admitted by the physicians of this country, or we are disregardful [The author has not been able to procure this plant from any of the London druggists.] of a remedy of the first importance in the Materia Medica.

But as our business is to adduce whatever is recorded of each plant by authors of respectability, (whether of Arnica or Hemlock) still the medical reader must form his own judgment of the evidence.

The virtues of this plant [There is a variety of this species with narrower leaves, which is more powerfully medicinal. Gmelin Flor. Sibir. t. 2. p. 153.] according to Bergius, are emetica, errhina, diuretica, diaphoretica, emmanagoga, and from its supposed power of attenuating the blood, it has been esteemed so peculiarly efficacious in obviating the bad consequences occasioned by falls and bruises, that it obtained the appellation of panacea lapsorum [Fehrius Eph. N. C. Dec. 1. ann. 9 & 10. Obs. 2. Acta Med, Berolin, Dec. 1. vol. 1. n. 4. vol. 10. p. 80. Dec. 2. vol. 1. p. 66. Buchner, Diss. de genuinis principiis et effectibus Arnicae. Schulzius, M. M. De La Marche Diss. de Arnica: verae usu. Rosenstein. Apot. p. 21. Scopol. Fl. carn. p. 377.]; and to this resolvent power its success in sundry diseases has been accounted for, particularly pulmonic complaints, suppressio mensium, and visceral obstructions [Fehr. loc. cit. Brückner, in Sel, Med. Francaf. vol. 3. p. 190. Act. Berol. Dec. 1. vol. 9. p. 24. Quarin, Meth. Med. inflam. p. 80. Act. Berol Dec. 1. vol. 10. p. 82. l. c. Dec. 2. vol. 4. p. 92 & 94. Nebel in Act. nat. cur. vol. 8. Obs. 113. Vater, Diss. de Ictero.] . Of the advantages derived from its use in paralytic and other affections depending upon an interruption or diminution of nervous energy, we have several proofs [Bergius m. m. Junker Therap. gen. p. 173. Eschenbach Obs. p. 353. & Dr. Collin, Flor. Arnicae Vires, mentions twenty-eight cases of paralysis, and nine of amaurosis. Aaskow Societ. Med. Havan. vol. 2. p. 162.]; and it is observed in these cases, that the recovery is generally preceded by great uneasiness, or acute pain in the parts affected. But it is the extraordinary febrifuge and antiseptic virtue of the Arnica, which have been so highly extolled by Dr. Collin [Hen.Jos. Collin, physician to the Pazman hospital, De arnicae in febribus, & aliis morbis putridis viribus.].

It had long been a desideratum of his to find an European plant of equal medicinal powers with the Peruvian bark in fevers of the intermitting and putrid kind; and after several fruitless trials of different simples, at last he had the satisfaction to find them in the Arnica; for by the flowers of this plant, made into an electuary [R. Pulv. Flor. Arnicae drach. ix. mellis q. s. bidui spatio absumendum.] with honey, he cured more than one thousand patients labouring under the different species of intermittent fevers in the Pazman hospital, from December 1771, to July 1774; and during the following winter the Doctor made trial of a watery extract of the flowers, by which he cured thirty quotidians, forty-six tertians, and fifty-eight quartans [Dr. Collin is, we believe, the only author who has experienced the good effects of Arnica in intermitting fevers, if we except the two cases stated by Aaskow (l. c.) where it acted as a powerful evacuant. Bergius employed it in quartan intermittents, which were aggravated, rather than bettered, by the use of this medicine, m. m.].

In putrid fevers the Doctor experienced equal success with the flowers employed in the way of infusion [R. Flor. arnicae unc. j. infunde in s. q. aquae servidae per ½ horam, deinde vase clauso per medium ¼ horae ebulliant; colat. lib. ij. add. syr. capill. vener. q. s. ad gratiam; et omni bihorio diei fumat unc ij.], with which many hundreds of patients were snatched from the very jaws of death. However, there are some cases where the Doctor recommends the root [R. Pulv. Rad. Arnicae unc. ij. digere in phiala alta balneo arena adaptata, exacte clausa, per 12 horas cum aq. q. s. colatur unc. xxx. adde syr. aelth. unc. iij. m. sumat aeger omni bihorio unc. ij. vel iij. And to make this medicine more palatable to the patient, he occasionally added lemon juice, spt. vitriol, or wine.] in preference to the flowers, believing the former to possess more cordial, tonic, and antiseptic qualities; and it is accordingly directed in those cases where putridity and debility are more prevalent than fever; also in a malignant dysentery Dr. Collin could relate many hundred instances of the superior efficacy of Arnica root, and his practice in this disease was imitated and confirmed by Dr. Dietl [Physician to the military hospital of invalids, at Vienna.].

Dr. Collin farther ascertains the medicinal powers which he attributes to this root in thirteen cases of gangrenes, where its antiseptic effects admitted of more evident proof. As the Arnica, when first administered, often excites vomiting, or uneasiness at the stomach, it will be necessary to begin with small doses; but by repeating the medicine two or three times, this uneasiness goes off.

Medical Botany, 1790-1794, was written by William Woodville, M. D., and illustrated by James Sowerby.