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Arnica montana oil for arthritic pain

By Ann C Wooledge
on September 20, 2012

Organic Arnica oil for arthritic pain and inflammation

Arnica montana organic flowers 

Arnica (Arnica montana) is a well-known and well-established herbal cure for anyone who has ever experienced the debilitating  pain and inflammation of arthritis, broken bones, sprains, gout, pulled muscles or torn ligaments. We began infusing (also commonly referred to as macerating) our own Arnica oil several years ago when we realized that some of the most important constituents in this amazing herb can be lost if processed at high temperatures. This herb has also been referred to as Arnica chamissonis, leopard's bane and mountain tobacco. The product we use is from the flowers of Arnica montana that are collected at the end of the summer and dried for medicinal use. We are diligently looking for local growers and our dream, of course, is to have land of our own to grow and dry our own plants. In the meantime, we carefully source our herbs from a company who is extremely concerned about the environment and tests for pesticides and heavy metals. We receive fresh herbs that still have their natural color and brightness intact, as you can see from the picture. If not used immediately, we store our herbs in dark glass in dark closed cabinets.

What are the benefits of Arnica montana oil?:

Traditionally the benefits from this plant are obtained from the flowers and the roots. In countries where Arnica is indigenous it has been used as a popular remedy for pain, bruises, rheumatism, as well as many other inflammatory conditions. In North America the flower is what is used most frequently and this is in fact what we use in our organic Arnica infused oil - not to be confused with an essential oil.  Although due to its potential toxicity the internal use of Arnica is allowed only in homeopathic remedies - this caution does NOT apply to the external topical application. In fact, this particular plant is well-known as one of the best remedies for external local healing and can be used as a compress or included in a massage oil or cream. Which is why it is one of the main ingredients in our very popular Spicey Muscle Oil.

According to the most reliable authority, The Complete German Commission E Monographs, arnica contains helenalin, its most active sesquiterpene lactone, responsible for its anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects (1, 2), for those who are interested,  and 11,13-dihydrohelenalin. This plant also contains the flavanoids of isoquercitrin, luteolin-7-glucoside, and astragalin, the volatile oil (with thymol and its derivatives), phenol carbonic acid (chlorogenic acid, cynarin, caffeic acid), and coumarins (umbelliferone, scopoletin). Arnica montana is known to contain 10 different constituents which have anti-inflammatory and pain relieving benefits. According to the Aromatic Guide to the Use of Herbs by Kolbjorn Borseth, the essential oils of this plant "stimulates the mopping up and reabsorption of blood from the bruised tissue and hastened the replacement of damaged tissue with new cells.” According to Richo Cech in his classic book Making Plant Medicine, he indicates that "arnicated oil" is an excellent penetrating anti-inflammatory for treating traumatic injuries such as bruises, sprains and torn ligaments. He goes on to say that “Arnica resolves stuck blood.”  And in yet another herbal classic entitled "The Herbal Medicine Makers Handbook" by James Green, he indicates that Arnica oil can also be blended into equal parts with infused calendula and infused St. John's Wort oils for soothing traumatic injuries including small to major ones. We are also offering these two infused oils on our website and, of course, they are the base for our previously mentioned Spicey Muscle Oil.

Our organic herbal tradition process:

While making our unique infused oil, we use only the certified organic flowers of Arnica montana and infuse these flowers in a certified organic high oleic sunflower oil. The sunflower oil alone has an amazing array of benefits the details of which can be found on our website. Research has shown that sunflower oil when used on premature infants actually increased their ability to survive. Use in soaps, creams, lotions and/or massage oils. As mentioned previously, we infuse these flowers for weeks at low temperatures to ensure that we are obtaining the maximum amount of healing constituents. We are now offering this infused oil to the public on our website in a one ounce treatment bottle, or 2 or 4 ounce glass amber bottle. The amber glass is used to protect these precious healing constituents from UV light. Our prices are extremely competitive as our overhead costs are substantially lower than larger operations. Additionally, in the best herbal tradition,  we do this process in small batches and fully believe that the energy of good will and purpose as we stir these oils daily will be reflected in the overall quality of the end product. Our final infused/macerated oils are stored in recycled wine bottles with vacuum pumps to insure no benefits are lost - and we store them in a refrigerated room to insure their freshness.


All herbalists agree that Arnica montana oil should not be applied to an opened wound. Repeated application to the skin can cause irritation. Do not apply to broken skin and this herb is not recommended while pregnant or nursing. 

Thanks for listening!

1. Lyss, G., T. J. Schmidt, I. Merfort, and H. L. Pahl. "Helenalin, an anti-inflammatory sesquiterpene lactone from Arnica, selectively inhibits transcription factor NF-kappaB." Biological Chemistry 378.9 (1997): 951-61. Web.

2. Lyss, G., A. Knorre, T. J. Schmidt, H. L. Pahl, and I. Merfort. "The anti-inflammatory sesquiterpene lactone helenalin inhibits the transcription factor NF-kappaB by directly targeting p65."  Biological Chemistry 273.50 (1988): 33508-16. Web.

Is massage safe while pregnant?

By Healthy Planet Blog Nutrition and Natural Health
on January 27, 2012
1 comment

Massage therapy during pregnancy - is it safe?


This question was presented to me a few weeks ago. And I seriously didn't know for sure what the answer should be. I do now. Not only is it safe - it is very good for both the pregnant mom and the baby. 

Below are some research articles showing this to be true.

I began doing more research about pregnancy and nursing mothers fairly recently while our daughter-in-law was pregnant with our second awesome grandson. Prior to that most of my research had centered around what essential oils and other personal care products should be used during pregnancy. Since that time one of our very good friends has arrived at her due date - which could be any day now. I was asked if I could make an oil for her labor. Being ignorant of this natural birth method, I began to do some research into how the oil (vegetable oil, not essential oil) is used and, of course, ended up with a huge amount of information about doula's, mid-wives, lactation  educators and more. I have to admit I mourned for more than just a few days that all of this wasn't available to me when I was pregnant 38 years ago as I contemplated what I had missed, and more importantly what my daughter had missed. Maybe she wouldn't have been born with colic and eczema?  I was told NOT to nurse, which was the prevailing "wisdom" given by doctors then, or perhaps it was the part of the country in which I lived. I was also encouraged to NOT have natural birth - "for heaven's sakes why would you want that when we can make it perfectly painless." Good grief.


In one study, women who were in prenatal classes were divided into two groups, one group to receive massage and coaching in breathing during labor and the other group to receive coaching in breathing only. At the end of the study, the mothers who received the massage indicated less depressed mood, anxiety and pain than the other group. They also had less anxiety after the first massage following labor, less time in the hospital and less postpartum depression.(1)  This is huge. I don't know if essential oils were incorporated in this or not, but I do know they would definitely be beneficial.


In yet another study, pregnant women who reported being depressed were randomly divided into three groups: A massage therapy group, a progressive muscle relaxation group and a regular prenatal group with no additional therapies added. Trained massage therapists taught the massage to the ‘significant others’ of the women, who then conducted the twice-weekly massages for the 16-week period. The results of the study showed that the massage therapy group reported less anxiety and depression, as well as less leg and back pain. To add to that, this group had higher levels of neurotransmitters that create good mood (serotonin and dopamine) and less neurotransmitters that indicate stress and anxiety (cortisol and norepinephrine.) These findings were believed to have correlated with better neonatal outcome and less chance of premature or low birthweight babies. To see in more detail the protocol that was used please email me. 

Tell me, did you receive massage therapy during your pregnancy? If so, I'd love to hear how it worked for you - and your baby.

Thanks for listening!

(1) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10212885

(2) http://informahealthcare.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01674820412331282231

Massage instead of a prescription!?

By Ann C Wooledge
on July 14, 2011

Can massage really relieve chronic back pain? 


You may be saying - well or course it can, which was my first response. But it's nice to be aware of a new study that was funded by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine that clearly shows that: “Massage therapy may be effective for treatment of chronic back pain, with benefits lasting at least 6 months.” As you read the study itself, you see that massage is not just a "may be effective", but is definitely the winner in this contest. This is also not the first study to confirm massage is effective for relief of back pain - see here.

Back pain is, as you probably personally have experienced it, quite common and chronic back pain is an epidemic. Finding the reason for one person’s back pain versus another person’s back pain keeps radiologists and physical therapists busy. And if you’re like me, you may have 2 or 3 different reasons and 2 or 3 different areas in your back where you have chronic and often debilitating pain. My husband has had back surgery and has been told he needs more back surgery – that was over 5 years ago and we haven’t been back (pun not intended). Let’s just say that our family has a lot of back pain.

What’s the usual treatment?

If you’ve read anything I’ve ever written you probably know that I don’t like taking or giving medications,  either prescribed or over-the-counter.  Unfortunately, the common treatment for all types of back pain is usually prescription pain killers for the rest of your life (many of which are very addictive),  muscle relaxants that make you a zombie for 24+ hours, and/or over-the-counter NSAID’s, which have their own history of reasons not to take them on a chronic basis. More and more insurance companies are paying for chiropractic treatment – which is good and that does have a history of success.  Now, this study may give more reason for your insurance company to also cover massage therapy treatment. They pay for physical therapy – why not massage therapy? I think some do. I try not to consider or think about the impending healthcare reform.

What did this study prove?

In the Annals of Medicine, the new study looked at 401 people with chronic back pain. They also looked at 2 different types of massage which are routinely offered for low-back pain relief. Now, I’m not a massage therapist, and I’ve only had one paid-for massage in my life time (which was amazing), but apparently one type is relaxation which relaxes the targeted muscles and the other type is structural aimed to release tension in “specific tissues and joint structures.” My friendly massage therapists, please comment and let us know more about this. This study looked at both of those types of massage as well as what they referred to as “usual care” – as mentioned above.  The researchers were attempting to determine short-term and long-term effects of these 3 methods.

The study found that after 10 weeks those who received massage therapy, with one type not being any better than the other, was more successful in relieving pain, as well as improving daily functioning, than those who received the “usual” care! The massage therapy led to “more rapid improvement” in low back pain than the usual medical care. Now that’s very cool!  And to top that – the massage therapy pain relief lasted for at least 6 months and perhaps longer.

What about aromatherapy?

Well,no the study didn’t use any aromatherapy and that’s probably good because it would have just muddied the waters. But aromatherapy added to massage could and would make a huge contribution to pain relief. I say this because I have many testimonials, personal and public, that aromatherapy blends have worked very well on people with just rubbing the oil treatment into a painful area. There is also a wealth of research and anecdotal information proclaiming the ability for essential oils to absorb into the affected area and bring pain relief.  Some of the most used for muscle, bone or nerve pain relief would be ginger, plai, nutmeg, helichrysum, and black pepper.

What else is important about this study?

Let me say, first of all, the fact that a study was even done regarding the benefits of massage therapy versus pharmaceutical drugs  is a major advancement. Drug companies obviously have no profit incentive for discovering that an alternative (also referred to as complementary) treatment works better than their high-priced, prescription-required medications.  This study was, in fact, a randomized, controlled trial, which is one of the types of studies the medical establishment requires in order to be even tentatively considered valid. Additionally, the proven fact that probably all medical studies done in the past 50 years are flawed due to financial conflicts is still being shoved under the rug. Even as far back as May 2000, our friend (not personally, of course, just that we appreciate all the drug-free information he disseminates on a daily basis through his website), revealed several instances of blatant conflicts of interest – read here.  

Then in 2004, and the one that truly amazes me (and I don’t amaze easily when it comes to the deplorable practices of Big Pharma) was revealed by a New York Times article that a certain doctor was given the option to buy 72,000 shares of a particular pharmaceutical company's stock for a mere $25.00 after declaring one of their drugs was effective while another company's drug was not.  Both probably were not, but that’s another discussion for another day. Those shares would have been worth – and this is the truth – more than $1 million! Read here. 

Another indictment came through one of my favorite magazines, Science Daily, when they wrote an expose in 2008 with an article entitled “Big Pharma Spends More On Advertising Than Research And Development, Study Finds”. The study was done by two York University researchers and they found that the U.S. pharmaceutical industry “spends twice as much on promotion as it does on research and development, contrary to the industry’s claim.” it’s a good read – here. And, of course, although some things have changed in that the physician/scientist presenting a “paper” must disclose “financial conflicts”, the practice blatantly continues.

What's that got to do with massage?!

What’s the point of reiterating what most of us already know about Big Pharma? It is to highlight the fact that alternative/complementary medicine has only recently begun doing research studies such as the one discussed here. By recently, I mean in the last decade. So, when your doctor asks you why you want to have a massage instead of a prescription for the highly addictive Percocet, you can send him a copy of this study. There are many ways and means that alternative medicine accomplishes health and wellness more quickly, and cheaply, with less or probably no side effects – and you don’t have to walk through your doctor’s door to use them. They may not have a placebo-controlled, double blind study to prove an alternative treament such as using elderberry tincture to prevent the flu – they ONLY have centuries of successful use. Do you really think Grandma would tell you that elderberry tincture is great for keeping the flu away if it hadn’t worked for her – of course not! Many Grandma’s later, we are still finding that to be true. No, Big Pharma will not do a study to prove this, though it has been easily proven. They would much rather take it to their lab and recreate a synthetic patentable representation that they would sell for a ridiculous amount of money and because it’s not a true synergy from nature, there will always be side effects. If there’s one thing the pharmaceutical industry has proven to us is that ALL synthetic medications have 2 to 3 pages worth of documented side effects.

For further reading, please see links below.

Thanks for listening!

Group Health Research Institute (2011, July 5). Massage eases low back pain in randomized controlled trial. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 14, 2011.

SOURCES: Daniel Cherkin, Ph.D., director, Group Health Research Institute, Seattle; Robert Duarte, M.D., director, Pain and Headache Treatment Center, North Shore-LIJ Health System, Manhasset, N.Y.; July 5, 2011, Annals of Internal Medicine








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