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Mexican Arnica Anti–Inflammatory Action: Plant Age is Correlated with the Concentration of Anti–Inflammatory Sesquiterpenes in the Medicinal Plant Heterotheca inuloides Cass. (Asteraceae)1


Mexican Arnica Anti–Inflammatory Action: Plant Age Is Correlated with the Concentration of Anti–inflammatory Sesquiterpenes in the Medicinal Plant Heterotheca inuloides Cass. (Asteraceae). Mexican árnica (Heterotheca inuloides Cass.) is a widely used anti–inflammatory medicinal plant in Mexican folk medicine. Although it has been suggested that plant age, fertilization, and harvesting regime influence the concentration of secondary compounds affecting the therapeutic activity of the plant, the effect of these variables on the concentration of the Mexican árnica anti–inflammatory compounds was not known. We quantified anti–inflammatory sesquiterpenes (caryolan–1, 9β–diol, cadalen–15–oic acid, 7–hydroxycadalene, 4–hydroxy–2–isopropyl–4, 7–dimethyl–1[4H] naftalinone, 7–hydroxy–4αH–3, 4–dihydrocadalene, β–caryophyllene, and β–caryophyllene epoxide) in Mexican árnica plants subjected to fertilization and successive harvests of flowering stems, conditions that mimic the cultivation and harvesting for árnica in México. Fertilization and successive harvesting and their interaction had no significant effect on the concentration of anti–inflammatory compounds. However, the concentrations of these compounds were 60% higher in flowering stems from 15–month–old plants than in those from 4– or 8–month–old plants and was independent of the number of harvests and fertilization regime applied.

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We are grateful to Heberto Ferreira Medina, Saúl Bernabé Caballero, and Miguel Trejo for their technical support. This project was partially supported by DGAPA, UNAM (Project IN233202), and The International Cooperative Biodiversity Group’s “Bioactive Agents from Dry Land Plants of Latin America” Grant UO1TW00316 from the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and U.S. Agency for International Development.

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Correspondence to Robert Bye.

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Maldonado–López, Y., Linares–Mazari, E., Bye, R. et al. Mexican Arnica Anti–Inflammatory Action: Plant Age is Correlated with the Concentration of Anti–Inflammatory Sesquiterpenes in the Medicinal Plant Heterotheca inuloides Cass. (Asteraceae)1 . Econ Bot 62, 161–170 (2008).

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Key Words

  • Cadalenes and isocadalenes
  • β–caryophyllene
  • terpenoids
  • cultivation of medicinal plants
  • Mexican árnica
  • Carbon–nutrient balance hypothesis