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
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
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
- 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.
- 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
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.
- Sunflower oil increased skin hydration 12-14% after four weeks of twice daily application in a study of 19 volunteers.
- It may possibly restore skin barrier function but the answer isn’t clear cut. An Acta Paediatrica mouse study showed it accelerated barrier recovery 1 hour and up to 5 hours after while other oils such as mustard, soybean and olive oils delayed it. However, another study of 22 preterm infants showed that it possibly delayed barrier recovery and showed increased water lost from the body. Still, most literature does believe it helps the skin barrier, possibly due to its high linoleic acid content. High linoleic acid content has been shown to regularize keratinocyte differentiation due to PPARomega activation.
- It prevents bacterial infection. An Egyptian study of 104 preterm babies showed significantly decreased infection. A separate Berlin study also of infants randomized into 2 groups showed the same benefit and those with Sunflower Seed Oil had 41% less infections.
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.
- Olive oil is a very good antioxidant and has been shown to reduce skin cancer tumors in mice when applied after exposure to UVB.
- However, it has impaired skin barrier function in a study of 19 volunteers who applied it twice daily for 5 weeks. It also reddened the skin.
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.
- Studies show fragrance is sensitizing. Several usual mixes used to test allergies to fragrance showed 2% of British children to 14.5% of 10,000 Belgian dermatitis patients.
- Many fragrances form new sensitizers when oxidized or through enzymatic activity.
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.