Arnica montana (Mountain Arnica)

Arnica montana (mountain arnica) is a very old medicinal plant. The flower and flower heads are widely used in phytotherapy in numerous preparations. They have a broad spectrum of effects: bacteriostatic, fungistatic, antiinflammatory, antirheumatic, cardiotonic, and antihyperlipidemic. The industrial demand for Arnica montana of a standardized quality in its active substances is inconsistent with the still practiced wild collection of mountain arnica, its protected status in several European countries, and the difficulties in its cultivation. There are four different approaches to meet the industrial demand for Arnica and guarantee the supply of a standardized plant drug or of its active substances: (1) improvement of the cultivation of Arnica montana; (2) cultivation of other Arnica species with a similar pharmacological effect; (3) micropropagation for the production of a standardized quality; (4) in vitro production of secondary metabolites in cell cultures. In this chapter, literature on the distribution and importance of Arnica species and on the conventional and biotechnical approaches to their improvement and production is reviewed, and prospects for the latter approaches are discussed. Botany, Read more […]

Mediterranean and the Near East

Alexandra senna Senna alexandrina and Tinnevelly senna S. angustifolia / Fabaceae Both species are of desert origin: Tinnevelly senna, Senna angustifolia, is native to Arabia, West Africa and Asia, as far as Punjab, while Alexandra senna, S. alexandrina, grows naturally in northeastern Africa and it is harvested and cultivated in Sudan, China, and India. About 1,000 years ago the Arabs introduced the use of dried leaves and especially fruits of senna into Western pharmacopoeias as a laxative. Senna was mentioned in detail by Ibn al-Baytar (1197-1248), one of the most important Arabian scholars of the Middle Ages and the author of the famous medical treatise Jami’ al-mufradat. Over the centuries senna has proved its worth as an herbal drug and today represents one of the most widely used herbal drugs in the classical pharmacy. Artichoke Cynara cardunculus / Asteraceae Formerly known as Cynara scolymus, the artichoke is the best example of a food-medicine in the whole of European phytotherapy. Artichokes originated in the Mediterranean region and numerous diverse cultivars were subsequently developed. Many Mediterraneans used artichokes by soaking them in wine, then drinking the liquid as a digestive and a reconstituent Read more […]