Arnica is a group of plants that have medicinal uses against inflammation. It has been reported that compounds within arnica, including a group of sesquiterpene lactones, are able to attenuate the inflammatory process and in doing so may reduce pain (as pain is a by-product of the inflammatory process). Arnica preparations are often used topically to treat bruises and inflammation, and there is evidence that the sesquiterpene lactones in arnica can permeate the skin. For example, in one study, researchers used a tissue culture model to replicate the cells of the skin, and administered sesquiterpene lactones to epidermal cells. The results of the study showed that by 12 hours no sesquiterpene lactones had diffused through the skin cells. However, after 12 hours sesquiterpene lactones derived from the main active principle in arnica (helenalin) were detected as permeants. When a 10-fold concentration of the arnica extract was used, these compounds were detected within 3 hours of application.
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