Does Arnica Work For Pain? (The Good VS The Bad)
If you suffer from chronic pain – you surely heard of Arnica Montana.
It’s a common ingredient in pain and ointments – basically for one reason. It’s an anti-inflammatory.
Now – on paper, it can be used for several problems:
- muscle soreness
- joint inflammation and pain
But here’s my question. Does Arnica work for pain – for real? I’m talking about pain in general – whether it’s your joint, knee or shoulder aching.
Does it really improve the pain visibly – or it’s just a fuss around it?
I analyzed both its positive and negative side. So if you’re looking for an honest answer about Arnica – you’re in the best place.
What Makes Arnica An Anti-Inflammatory
The best way to explain this is by looking at the substances inside Arnica. There are basically 3 major compounds:
- sesquiterpene lactones (especially helenain)
- caffeic acid derivatives
Now – the lactones are basically the responsible for the anti-inflammatory effect.
That’s because of 2 proprieties they have:
- Reduce the number inflammatory molecules
- Decrease blood vessels’ permeability
I know it sounds really complicated – but it’s not.
Basically, the compounds from Arnica prevent inflammation. Also they make your blood vessels react harder to inflammatory molecules.
It’s pretty simple actually. But there’s 2 conclusions you can draw – based on this:
- Arnica works better for prevention – than for decreasing actual pain
- It’s not a very strong anti-inflammatory – compared to turmeric or Boswellia
So on paper – Arnica won’t be the best remedy for your pain. But even so, it can be effective.
Now, that was the theory. It’s time to move to the real side – let’s check out the benefits and the downside of using Arnica for your pain.
#1 – Good For The Long Term
As I said before – Arnica isn’t the best pain reliever you can get:
- it’s not very strong – compared to others
- it doesn’t work instantly (1)
However, it seems like a better choice on the long term. What do I mean?
It’s more the kind of remedy that works in time. So you’re not going to see an instant relief – as long as you’re using Arnica alone.
But if you have patience, this herb can help a lot – in terms of relieving pain.
Now – here’s another thing I want to point out:
- Arnica is only used in creams
- So most products contain some other ingredients besides
That’s why you’re not going to find a pure Arnica cream. But that’s totally fine – because combinations work way better.
However, here’s the point – Arnica is a pretty good solution for pain, but only on the long term.
It needs a few weeks to work at its best – so don’t expect any miracle within a couple of days.
#2 – Used Worldwide
In my opinion – that’s the best proof that Arnica isn’t a useless herb.
So here’s the thing:
- It’s one of the top ingredients in pain relieving creams
- Many lotions or ointments also contain Arnica
- Only menthol, camphor and essential oils are more popular
I’ve checked out pain lotions all around the world – and many of them contain Arnica.
Believe me – if it wasn’t effective, it wouldn’t be on that list.
Other than that, most creams from Amazon for pain contain this herb.
However, I have rarely seen a pure Arnica lotion or cream. That makes me think that this herb alone isn’t that powerful.
#1 – Doesn’t Treat The Pain
Here’s the thing – Arnica does relieve the pain, but it doesn’t treat it. What do I mean?
- it only masks the painful symptoms
- it doesn’t improve the joints (or the cause of pain) in any form (2)
But that’s basically for one reason – it’s only applied on the skin.
In this way, only a small quantity gets to the painful spot. That’s enough to relieve the pain – but it’s not enough to help the joints in any way.
Besides, Arnica isn’t a very strong anti-inflammatory – I’ve said it before.
So I wouldn’t recommend you to use this herb in 2 situations:
- if you want a fast, durable pain relief
- if you need a joint treatment
Basically – Arnica isn’t a joint treatment, it’s just a remedy for your symptoms.
That’s why your condition can worsen – if you’re only using Arnica. It manages to mask the symptoms, but the real cause still exists.
#2 – Dangerous To Use
As I mentioned before – Arnica doesn’t treat the joints because it’s only applied on the skin.
So normally, using the supplements instead should lead to a better effect – right? Well, not really.
That’s because Arnica is a very toxic herb – if you’re taking it in high doses. It can can some major problems:
- stomach problems and diarrhea
- increased bleeding
- even death
Now – lots of people use homeopathic products based on Arnica. They are totally safe – because the dose is extremely little.
However, higher doses are very dangerous. But what do I mean by that?
- Let’s take turmeric as an example
- An average dose of turmeric powder is around 1000 mg – it’s totally safe
- Well, 1000 mg of Arnica is probably lethal
That’s the reason why you can’t find this herb as supplements.
You can only find it in homeopathic tinctures – but as I said, the dose inside is insignificant. So it can’t possibly harm you.
#3 – Uncomfortable
That’s actually a problem of creams in general – not of Arnica creams. But here’s what I mean:
- you can only find Arnica in creams and lotions
- they have to be applied every 2-3 hours
- that is pretty inconvenient, if you ask me
Let’s assume you work in an office, 8 hours per day.
If you’re using a cream – it means you have to apply it every 3 hours (on an average).
According to my calculations, you would have to apply the cream 3 times at work. So you would have to take 3 different breaks just to apply it.
Does that seem comfortable to you? Because to me – it’s far from that.
That’s the reason why I don’t like creams, lotions and ointments:
- you have to apply them so frequently that you’re losing so much time
On the other hand – it’s a lot easier with supplements. That’s why my top recommendations for pain are always supplements.
My Verdict – So Does Arnica Work For Pain?
Short answer: Yes it does – but it’s not among the best. Here’s what I mean:
- it only masks the pain temporary
- it doesn’t improve the cause of the pain in any way
- plus, it only works on the long term
- and last but not least, it’s better for prevention
Besides – you can only use it as a cream. It’s a very toxic herb, so you can’t find Arnica supplements or patches.
So overall – it’s not very strong, but it’s also pretty dangerous.
It could be a solution for your pain, because it does work. But I wouldn’t advise you to try it – its benefits aren’t as major as of turmeric.
That’s the herbal remedy I would recommend instead – the supplements make real miracles, if chosen right.
The Other Alternatives You Have
As I said – I wouldn’t really recommend Arnica. I won’t repeat the reasons – but it’s simply not the best thing.
Now – my top recommendation is surely turmeric. But other that that, there are some other herbs that can help:
- Boswellia – is a very strong anti-inflammatory (#2 – after turmeric)
- Celery – is effective and pretty easy to find
- Bromelain – is a natural enzyme from pineapple
- Cherry juice – also helps inflammation
- CBD oil – is very powerful, even though it’s hard to find
That’s just a short list. If you’re looking for some others, here’s my full article on the best remedies for joint pain.