Arnica is a well known traditional remedy for the treatment of inflammation and its associated pain. Arnica actually includes a large number of closely related plants from the Asteraceae family including Arnica montana, Arnica chamissonis, Arnica fulgens, Arnica cordifolia and Arnica sororia. Like many plants arnica contains anti-inflammatory compounds and therefore its use as a herbal treatment for inflammations is logical and scientifically validated. One possible candidate for the anti-inflammatory effects or arnica is the sesquiterpene lactone called helenalin and similar compounds. Evidence shows that arnica can decrease the release of proinflammatory cytokines such as nuclear factor kappa beta and that this in turn is able to lower pro-inflammatory eicosanoids including 5-lipoxygenase and leukotriene C4. In addition, helenalin may also downregulate tumour necrosis factor alpha, nitric oxide and cyclooxygenase as an alternative route for decreasing inflammatory pathways.
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