I can talk about arnica forever! So let’s get to it.
If you haven’t read part 1 yet, I recommend doing so. I spoke briefly on the differences between using arnica homeopathically and at a full strength. There are other considerations to take when choosing an arnica product to get the best quality for your uses that I want to discuss today.
So we know that there are different strengths of arnica products. Homeopathically arnica can be purchased at different strengths. Arnica creams are often 1X which are still amazing and safe at any usage level. These are about 1/10 the strength of a full strength arnica cream and still offer the molecular benefits of a full strength product with a lower potential for side effects making it an excellent option for a first arnica product. Some arnica creams are lower in molecular benefits, being a higher homeopathic potency (we will be writing about what this means in a month or two). These may or may not be a product to use, one that is 6C or 30C or any number other than 1X.
Homeopathic arnica is also often used as 6C, 30C, or 200CK for internal use, which I will not be speaking on much. These are different homeopathic potencies and are not generally considered to add molecular/chemical benefits to the body when used.
Full strength arnica products do exist out there. Don’t worry, keep looking, you can find one. Many herbalists discuss use of an arnica oil. The main effective molecule in arnica is called helenalin and is a sesqueterpene lactone, a class of molecules. Ok science for a minute. Sesqueterpene lactones should extract from a plant as an ESSENTIAL OIL, not an infused oil. I personally believe that somewhere there was a mistranslation or copy error and this is why arnica began to be used as an infused oil. While this infused oil may still be effective for some individuals, the primary effective molecule, helenalin, does not extract in infused oil.
So I need to use arnica essential oil then, right? Well, probably not. While most sesqueterpene lactones extract in essential oil, not all of them do. Helenalin is one of them and actually extracts best in a high percentage alcohol solution. This is how arnica was used 150 years ago by herbalists, as a tincture.
When looking at the strength of a tincture that was used 150 years ago the extracts were 1:10, meaning that for every 10ml of alcohol there was 1g of arnica. When we move into safety this will be super important to pay attention to because most tinctures of arnica that are available today are 1:5, twice as strong so we need to use half as much.
For more information on arnica be sure to subscribe to The Dancing Herbalist blog and visit our website. We offer a variety of topical herbal products for joint and muscle care like our Arnica Cream. Be sure to also sign up for our FREE Wellness Newsletter for our free gifts to you and monthly wellness tips right to your inbox.