Thursday, June 30, 2011

Leopard's Bane/ Guldblomme

Arnica montana

The Leopard's Bane has got many names, like Cure all , Fallherb, Golden-fleece, Lambskin , Mountain daisy, Mountain Tobacco, Sneezewort, Tumblers  and Wolf's Bane. It is also called by the Latin name Arnica. In Denmark is it known as Guldblomme, Volverlej and Arnica. 

The Arnica is an about 50 cm tall herbaceous plant with flowers of a warm golden yellow colour in May and June. The plant has a strong aromatic scent. The genuine Arnica is often found growing wild in moors and upon dry hills. It contains several more etheric oils than the garden species and its scent is more aromatic.

Arnica montana is endemic to Europe, from southern Iberia to southern Scandinavia and the Carpathians. It is absent from the British Isles and the Italian and Balkan Peninsulas. Arnica montana grows in nutrient-poor silicaceous meadows up to nearly 3,000 metres (9,800 ft). It is rare overall, but may be locally abundant. It is becoming rarer, particularly in the north of its distribution, largely due to increasingly intensive agriculture. In more upland regions, it may also be found on nutrient-poor moors and heaths.The plant origins from Asia, North America and the Alps. It is listed in the Alps, in Germany and Denmark.  The plant is in decline in Denmark, it is relatively common in Jutland, but rare on the islands.

Folk Medicine:
In the 1600s was the plant entered into the pharmacopoeia and recommended by physicians in fevers, epilepsy, paralysis and rheumatism. If someone suffered from rheumatism, broncitis or heart-sclerosis they could drink a tea from flowers, leaves and roots. A thinned essence from the plant was dabbed upon blue bruises and sprains, and a thinned essence was used  as a gargling-water in inflammation of the mouth and in parodontal disease. The plant has an old reputation as a means of fetal expulsion but is fatal if consumed in large amounts.

Torup, Mid Jutland . Here was the Arnica.

Medicine Today:
Today is the plant used in ointments upon pulled muscles and sore blue bruises. See: Arnica montana  

Arnica-tinctur has been sold from the pharmacy to treat spavin in heifers.

Clinical Tests:
The juice from the plant irritates the skin. Big doses of the plant-content has proved a poisonous effect on heart and circulation in clinical tests with rabbits.
If the plant is drunk in wine it strengthens love and promotes love-making. People had an ancient belief that the plant worked as a means to fertility. In Jutland they fed the cow with the flowers shortly before it was covered by the bull. In Himmerland gave the young guy an Arnica to his chosen girl. If she accepted it, she was bound.

Arnica was once used in beer-brewing. The spicy-scented flowers were an ingredience in Benedictine-liqueur. In Jutland was the dried plant used as a snuff -  and French shepherds used the leaves for tobacco.

Goethe used Arnica to easen pain in heart attacks.

The Arnica is especially known in Denmark as a kloster-herb by the ancient name Volverlej

photo Torup, Mid Jutland 25 June 2011: grethe bachmann

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