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Arnica Gel: A Remedy For Muscle Pain. But Does It Work?

arnica gel
photo by codiferous | Common Creative license

Arnica gel has some awesome features as a pain reliever.

Everyone suffers from muscle pain and stiffness sooner or later. To deal with this, many people take harsh over-the-counter medications that can cause upset stomachs and cause ulcers.

This is unfortunate since the Arnica plant in a gel form is a natural pain reliever that is just as effective without the side effects.

The Plant That Makes Arnica Gel Possible…

Arnica Montana is the plant at the root of Arnica gel. It is a type of perennial that grows naturally in Europe and is cultivated in the United States. During the hot months of the summer, the plant produces large flowers that look similar to daisies. For such a pleasant looking plant, this perennial packs some serious punch when it comes to the enzymes it contains.

Arnica Montana is unique in that it can be both toxic and a pain reliever. The toxicity is due to Helenalin in the flower and stems. When diluted, the toxicity is no longer a problem and the plant can be used as a pain reliever for muscle pain, stiffness and even bruising. This is due to a substance called thymol that is also found in the plant.

Thymol is what is known as a vasodilator. This means that it causes blood capillaries below the skin to expand. This draws blood and oxygen to the area of application. The additional blood and oxygen speed up the healing process. In fact, thymol is often used after surgeries to help with the reduction of pain and hematomas.

I found a really good video by Dr. Tates, answering a lot of questions about Arnica:

How Arnica Gel Is Made…

Arnica gel is a derivative of the Arnica plant. Given the toxicity issues, Arnica gel is the safest way to use Arnica for two reasons. First, Arnica is only toxic when it is consumed, which isn’t a problem with a gel for the skin. Second, Arnica gel is diluted to the point that it provides natural pain relief, but isn’t toxic.

How exactly is Arnica gel made? The flower and stems are ground into a paste. They are then mixed with either vegetable oil or ethanol to create the gel. The Arnica plant will typically make up between 15 and 25 percent of this gel with the remainder being comprised of the vegetable oil or ethanol as determined by the manufacturer in question.

Are There Any Arnica Gel Side Effects?

When used as directed, there are no proven side effects to Arnica gel. This is primarily due to the fact that by using the gel, one doesn’t ingest the Arnica. Continual use of the gel for longer than three weeks, however, can occasionally lead to skin irritation. If this occurs, the problem can be resolved by ceasing the use of the gel.

It is important to note that there are also homeopathic Arnica pills designed for digestion that are available on the market. One should be very careful when using such products. If you ingest a high dose by accident, there can be significant side effects that can really affect your health. These side effects include:

  • stomach discomfort
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • liver damage
  • kidney damage
  • organ failure
  • lesions of the mouth
  • potentially even death

None of these side effects exists with Arnica gel.

Can I Use Arnica Gel During Pregnancy?

There are a few homeopathic sites that recommend the usage of Arnica for discomfort during pregnancy. In truth, this is very poor advice. Because Arnica consists of vasodilators, there is a chance that oral doses could have an effect on the uterus such that a miscarriage could occur. That would obviously be a disaster. Gels aren’t supposed to be taken orally though, but you might want to stay off arnica during pregnancy. Just in case.

Other Arnica Gel Uses:

As Arnica gel has become more common, the list of medical problems that it can be used to treat have grown. One area where the gel has proven helpful is with bursitis. Bursitis is a painful inflammation of the fluid sacks that exist between the bones, tendons and muscles in the joints of the body. The gel has been shown to relieve this pain a great deal.

Arthritis is a huge problem for people as they age. Arthritis tends to result in pain in the joint area. The University of Maryland has reported that the application of Arnica gel to areas of arthritis has shown a significant ability to reduce pain. Having said this, Arnica is not yet an accepted treatment for the problem, but this could change in the near future.

Here are some different gels we’ve found for you:


For all our breakthroughs in medicine, the truth of the matter is our best medications still are based on plants. Arnica gel is just another example of this. The next time you’re suffering from mild muscle pain or stiffness, consider treating it with a good arnica gel.

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