Product Reviews

Weleda Arnica Massage Oil | Does it Work? Science talks

Weleda Arnica Massage Oil in its green bottle with its orange label with its orange box to the left.
Weleda Arnica Massage Oil ($23)

You’ve probably heard a lot about Weleda’s Natrue Certified Arnica Massage Oil.

But, what does the oil actually do? Is there any benefit to using it before or after a workout? Let’s take a look at each ingredient and see what the science has to say.

Table of Contents

Gen Info

Fast Facts | General Information about Weleda’s Arnica Massage Oil

Cliff Notes | Assessment of the Science vs Company Claims

Company Claims & Ingredients | Benefits and Complete Ingredient List

Science Stuff

Sunflower Seed Oil | Base Oil

Olive Oil | Base Oil

Arnica Montana Flower Extract | Herbal Extract for Pain Relief

Betula Alba Leaf Extract | Herbal Extract as an Anti-inflammatory

Parfum & Essential Oil Fragrance | Information on EO scents



General Info

Fast Facts

  • Signature product Arnica Massage Oil was created in 1923 and is one of its best-selling products, along with Weleda’s Skin Food. It is beloved by masseuses and athletes alike.
  • Hero Ingredient Arnica is hand gathered in the Carpathian mountains of Romania. In addition, it is also composed of Sunflower Oil, Olive Oil, Birch Extract and Essential Oil derived scents.
  • It’s widely sold on its website, on Amazon, or in Target for $22.50.
  • It is Natrue certified, Cruelty Free and Vegan.


Cliff Notes

  • As with many botanical ingredients, the science is still out on whether Arnica reduces pain or prevents swelling. It has however, been a traditional remedy for fever, inflammation and pain among others.
  • Sunflower Seed Oil has proven benefits for skin hydration and is the primary ingredient in this oil.
  • Olive oil is present and has been shown to possibly delay skin barrier recovery. However, since there is a high percentage of Sunflower Seed Oil, it is also possible that its high linoleic acid might help counter this.
  • Sunflower and Olive Oil also have been shown to help wound healing and inflammation.
  • Arnica is a possible pain reliever and anti-inflammatory although the science is mixed
  • Birch Leaf extract is a anti-inflammatory and has been used to treat skin diseases.
  • I’m cautiously in the buy side for this, despite sensitizing fragrance and confusing science. Still, take a look for yourself and see what you think.

Company Claims & Ingredients

Warming muscle massage with arnica extract. Before and after sport or strenuous activity, warm up or slow down with a vigorous arnica oil massage.

Sunflower Seed Oil Olive Oil Fragrance 1 Arnica Montana Flower Extract Betula Alba Leaf Extract Limonene 1 Linalool 1 Geraniol 1 Coumarin 1
1 from natural essential oils

Science Stuff

Sunflower Seed Oil

Sunflower Seed oil is beneficial to the skin in many way. Scientific studies have noted that it hydrates, reduces inflammation, aids wound healing and help heals the skin barrier. Its a frequently used carrier oil. 

Olive Oil

Olive oil helps in wound healing and delays skin cancer development. However, olive oil has been shown to delay skin barrier recovery. It is also a frequently used carrier oil.

Arnica Montana Flower Extract

Arnica is widely known as a pain reliever but the science can be a bit confusing. I believe it is possible that Arnica can reduce pain and help in inflammation, but the jury’s still out. 

  • An overall view of scientific literature suggests that arnica doesn’t actively relieve pain. However, a second review said that Arnica’s effectiveness couldn’t be proven or disproven. Several studies showed effectiveness, but more high quality ones were less likely to do so.
  • A double blind placebo controlled trial showed that oral arnica had no effect upon 64 adults who had elected to have carpal tunnel surgery. Results were recorded after 4 days by the McGill Pain Questionnaire, bruising at site, swelling and analgesic medication taken.
  • Another double-blind randomized study found less pain in the arnica group among 37 patients who had also undergone carpal tunnel syndrome. A separate study also found pain reduction in randomized double blind controlled study of 20 males 72 hours after exercise.
  • Perhaps Arnica’s effectiveness is due to its anti-inflammatory effect.

Betula Alba Leaf Extract

Betula Alba Leaf Extract has commonly been used to treat ezcema, psoriasis and other dermatitis. It’s also been shown to retard skin cancer.

  • Major component Betulin is known as an anti-infammatory.
  • It is used to treat dermatitis, ezcema and psoriasis. (Sellar W, The Directory of Essential Oils, 1992)
  • It is comparable to hydrophilic cream (nonionic emulsifying alcohols, 2-ethylhexyllauromyristate, glycerol, potassium sorbate, citric acid and water) in increasing stratum corneum hydration and helping skin erythema.
  • It has also been shown be effective against skin cancer in a number of studies.

Parfum and Essential Oil Fragrance

Scents can be irritating regardless of how it’s derived. Weleda lists several scent ingredients all taken from essential oils. 


Okay, here’s the thing.

While the science is confusing on many skin care products, that’s just par for course.

There aren’t a lot of scientific studies on individual ingredients or on their interactions with each other. Additionally, many studies don’t go into how it was extracted and things such as harvest, time and maturity of the plant. All these things affect potency.

Although there are exceptions, I tend to review products or companies I like and I like Weleda. They make a good effort to be transparent with their product lists and are certified. They firmly believe in organic gardening and make an effort to stay true to their values.

I’ve seen many, many companies really stretch the truth.

Weleda tries really hard not to and this product has a pretty simple ingredient list. It is relatively non-sensitizing (I’m getting to hate perfume as there are just too many studies against it) and beneficial.

I’d buy.



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