It took more than ten years of intensive work to cultivate the special variety of Arnica whose fresh flowers are used in the manufacture of A.Vogel’s Arnica products.
Arnica is, for many, a really helpful plant. The 19th century hydrotherapist, Sebastian Kneipp, was taken with it. He wrote, “I think that Arnica is the best remedy for wounds and for that reason, I cannot recommend it enough”. Alfred Vogel (1902-1996) passed similar judgement on this small, bright mountain plant. Today, experts agree that in many therapies, Arnica plays an indispensable role. But this popularity has its downside. The stock of Arnica has been drastically reduced over the years by intensive farming and excessive wild collection and as a result, the plant must be protected.
For Bioforce, the raw material for A.Vogel Arnica products was only viable if it were possible for it to be cultivated completely sustainably and without the use of chemical fertilisers, persticides and herbicides. Experts shook their heads in disbelief as the rare mountain plant, Arnica montana had so far resisted all attempts at cultivation. Could it be otherwise?
Professor Ulrich Bomme from the Bavarian Regional Institute of Agriculture in Freising (Germany) took up the challenge in 1983. “We had to start with nothing,” he recalls. “All previous attempts to cultivate the much sought-after healing plant had failed miserably.” Fifteen years later, his work bore the most wonderful fruit. In 1998 it became possible for the first time to cultivate a large crop of mountain Arnica with a high content of active ingredients. During these years, A.Vogel/Bioforce worked closely with an organic farmer who, for his part, followed Professor Bomme’s direction. Through his enthusiasm and his own development work, the farmer succeeded in achieving the same quality in his cultivated crop for A.Vogel as could be found in wild Arnica.
And so it is today. In the summer when the flowers are in full bloom and the yellow Arnica fields sway visibly in the wind, the golden blooms are picked at a carefully chosen time and used to make A.Vogel Arnica products within around 24 hours. Only flowers which are selected and picked by hand are good enough! Twenty fresh flowers are required to make a single tube!
The flowers are delivered in a fresh, pure condition to the manufacturer, A.Vogel/Bioforce, in Roggwil in the Swiss canton of Thurgau. Arnica flowers which have been overheated or discoloured during transportation are not accepted. Only fully fresh, bright yellow flowers are used in Arnica gel! Even with its careful cultivation, the company likes to be doubly sure so laboratory personnel take samples from the valuable harvest and examine the raw material using tried and tested protocols. These ensure its true identity, condition and purity from contaminants such as heavy metals, pesticides, alflatoxin as well as freedom from any microbiological contamination. When the Arnica flowers have undergone this detailed examination, production of the remedy can begin. At the same time, the plant material undergoes quality control. It is examined not only to check if it is actually the correct type (and not for example Arnica chamissonis which has fewer active ingredients) but also that the plant material meets with the required level of freshness and quality of active ingredients. Seamless quality control from seed to end product is a crucial feature of A.Vogel products.
A conveyer belt then transports the fresh flower heads to the macerator where they are chopped up. The alcohol and water mixture, into which the plant material is put, gently releases the valuable active ingredients and preserves them. The remaining tincture forms the base for the gel.