Alongside the rising popularity of Arnica-based medicine there has also been an increase in Arnica products, many of which are available all over the world. In the field of homeopathic medicine, you will also find a variety of forms, including Arnica gel, Arnica cream, Arnica ointment, Arnica tablets, and other oral and topical Arnica products. With so many different options and uses for Arnica, it can be difficult to choose a homeopathic product. We want to help make that process a little easier by providing a detailed overview of the benefits of both.
First Step: Make Sure the Arnica is Homeopathic
It is easy to confuse herbal and homeopathic products, especially when they are sitting right next to each other on the shelf, but there are major differences to note, specifically regarding safety and uses. Therefore, before you get to the point of deciding between an oral or topical, the first step is verifying whether or not the product or brand you are looking at is indeed homeopathic. The product should be labeled “Homeopathic,” but if you do not see that anywhere you can also look for the words HPUS (which stand for The Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the United States). If HPUS is indicated next to the ingredient or potency, the product is homeopathic.
Keep an Eye Out for Arnica Potencies
Homeopathic potency is a major consideration because it reflects the amount of dilution present in a product. Lower dilutions (reflected by a smaller number next to the numeral X, C, etc.) equate to a greater concentration of an ingredient. For topical Arnica, it is common to find potencies as low as 1X (1 to 10 ratio) or as high as 6X. For oral products, you may find potencies ranging from 4X-200C depending on the manufacturer.
Understanding Topical Arnica Gels, Creams, and Balms
Topical Arnica products are everywhere, but what is the difference between using an Arnica cream or an Arnica gel for bruises? And what about salves, balms, and ointments? The major distinctions here will likely be ingredients and Arnica potency. Consequently, an Arnica gel from one manufacturer may work differently than the product(s) from another.
Most people choose an Arnica topical based on familiarity (prior use), as well as the texture, smell, and general feeling the product creates on their skin. Some topical products can be more greasy or sticky, fragrant or scentless, etc. To determine which type of topical is best for you, be sure to check all ingredients, including those labeled “inactive.” This section is where you will locate any scents, oils, and other compounds including preservatives that differentiate the product. Noting the inactives is especially important for those who are allergic to any commonly used ingredients.
For example, an Arnica gel or combination product may contain the following active ingredients:
Active Ingredients | Purposes:
Arnica montana 2X HPUS: bruising; stiffness; pain; trauma
Bellis perennis 3X HPUS: muscular soreness; fatigue; sprains
Hypericum perforatum 3X HPUS: weakness in limbs; joint pain
Ledum palustre 3X HPUS: swelling; aches and pains
Ruta graveolens 3X HPUS: pain in limbs; joints and bones
As well as the following inactive ingredients:
Chondrus Crispus (Carrageenan), Hydroxyethyl Cellulose, Potassium Sorbate, Purified Water USP, SD Alcohol, Sodium Benzoate.
Compare this to an Arnica cream with similar active ingredients, and you may find very different inactives:
Butylparaben N.F., Glyceryl Monostearate N.F., Kokam Butter, Methylparaben N.F., Olive Oil N.F., Propylparaben N.F., Purified Water, Soy Lecithin N.F., Stearyl Alcohol N.F., Wintergreen Oil Natural.
In either case, the Arnica montana, complementary active ingredients, and potencies may be the same or similar, but the inactive ingredients completely transform the overall experience of using each product. Thus, there is not one option that works better for everyone. The choice is truly yours and may require some product research and sampling before a decision can be made (and that is just fine). For instance, do you need multiple ingredients? Are you comfortable using parabens?
Understanding Oral Arnica Tablets, Pills, and Capsules
Oral homeopathic Arnica is used quite commonly for various types of pain relief. The most common forms of oral Arnica include quick-dissolving tablets, swallowable capsules (or caplets), and liquids (taken with a dropper).
Similar to the topical varieties, the type of oral Arnica product you choose is really a matter of preference. Some people enjoy having sweet, candy-like capsule dissolve under their tongue, while others prefer not having to taste much of anything at all. In any event, the same rules apply: Always check the ingredients label and watch out for possible allergens (both active and inactive).
Oral or Topical: Which is it?
Homeopathic Arnica can be incredibly helpful for all sorts of minor aches and pains, and in some cases, both oral and topical products are appropriate options. We’ve compiled a short list of uses* most commonly associated with homeopathic topical Arnica and homeopathic oral Arnica to help you make a decision.
Most Common Uses for Topical Arnica:
- Muscle soreness
- Body aches
- Joint pain in the hands and feet
- Minor pain in isolated areas that you can reach
Most Common Uses for Oral Arnica:
- Acute headache
- Minor back pain
- Minor arthritis pain
- Mouth/gum pain
- Leg cramps
- Minor pain in hard to reach, widespread areas
* Over-the-counter (OTC) homeopathic remedies should only be used for self-limiting conditions like minor aches and pains, bruising, and so on; therefore, the information in this article applies only to instances where one would normally use OTC pain relievers or muscle therapy ointments. Please address any serious injuries or chronic symptoms with a health care professional immediately – your safety always comes first!