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.


Weleda Logo Superimposed on a Lavendar Field
Brand Reviews

Weleda | A 100 Year Old Brand’s Still Got It & Best Products

100 year old Weleda’s got some funky, way before their time founders, and really historic products all at an accessible price. A bit of the company’s history, what I think about their formulations, and their Best Products.

Weleda Table of Contents

Weleda Quick Facts | The company’s commitment to ingredients, the environment, ethics and its EWG and Good Guide Standing

Weleda’s Got History | 100 year old brand has founders far ahead of their time

Mainstay Products and Sheer Grit Keeps Weleda Going | Weleda Survives even when Natural isn’t popular

Weleda’s Understandable Formulations | Very transparent formulations and easy to understand ingredient choices

Best of Weleda | Products and Reviews

Weleda Quick Facts

Ingredients | Vegetarian, Natrue Certified, GMO free, Free Of List, Paraben Free, Preservative-Free, Sodium-Laurel-Sulfate-Free (SLS), Synthetic Fragrance-Free, Phthalate-Free, GMO-Free.

Eco-Friendly | Focus on continually reducing packaging and investigation into more environmentally friendly packaging with targets set in their annual report

Ethical | Fair Trade Sourcing, Cruelty Free

Good Guide | 4.3 over 70 products

EWG | 1-7 over 53 products

Weleda’s Got History

Bee pollinating an Arnica field. Biodynamic gardening does not rely on chemical fertilizers but instead treats each farm as a system that can effectively care for itself.
Weleda’s founders started biodynamic gardening which is the first organic farming movement. It treats each farm as a unified system of interrelated tasks that can effectively care for itself. As such, it excludes chemical preparations and uses natural fertilizers.

Weleda interest in biodynamic gardening, naturopathic medicines, and natural beauty products since 1921 put the company massively ahead of its time.

In many ways, this is due to its founders.

Rudolf Steiner and Ita Wegman were pioneers.

He was a philosopher who believed in viewing man as a whole and deeply connected to nature. A natural outcrop of this was a deep respect for natural farming techniques and holistic remedies.

A picture of Robert Steiner.
Rudolf Steiner was a philosopher who viewed man as a total system of mind, body and spirit. Inextricably bound to nature, nature was also the obvious source of healing. Via Biodynamics NZ.

In the field of medicine, Ita was one of the first women doctors and developed an extract from Mistletoe following Steiner’s advice.

Today, the company continues to be involved both in medicine and in cosmetics while maintaining the founders’ philosophies with regard to natural healing.

They have biodynamic gardens in Germany and a network of people throughout the world dedicated to organic farming. Their cosmetics have become increasingly prominent and are now two thirds of the company’s revenue.

Mainstay Products and Sheer Grit Keeps Weleda Going

Weleda's survived a Nazi decree to close them down, WWII, economic crises and decades of consumers not understanding the Weleda philosophy. A WWII picture of the Russian flag over the Reichstag.
Weleda’s survived a Nazi decree to close them down, WWII, economic crises and decades of consumers not understanding the Weleda philosophy.

In the early days the user…had to remember how much they loved natural: the colour of the creams was a bit muddy, they felt a little greasy, they would go very runny in summer and set firm in winter – but they were good for the skin and the environment! Now we have become so adept at formulating totally natural creams they are as attractive and easy to use as any conventional cream.

Loraine Murry, Weleda Natural Beauty Consultant

Weleda’s survived almost 100 years through sheer grit and determination.

WWII, economic crises, and a lack of understanding of the company’s natural offering all made Weleda a fairly small enterprise until the 90’s.

Then, things changed.

Consumers started to demand natural products and Weleda poured more effort into marketing.

The public exposure drove awareness and interest. Celebrities like Adele, Victoria Beckham and Julia Roberts started carrying Weleda’s signature Skin Food in their purses and magazines and publications gave them hundreds of awards.

The long and short of it was that the public rediscovered Weleda’s historic products. Skin Food is from 1926. Massage Balm with Arnica and the Rosemary Hair Lotion are also from the 1920’s. People started to appreciate their history and understand their offerings and sales grew.

Weleda’s Understandable Formulations

Weleda uses logical ingredient choices such as sunflower oil that has proven hydration and skin barrier repair functions.
Weleda uses logical ingredient choices such as sunflower oil that has proven hydration and skin barrier repair functions.

Looking through Weleda’s formulations, I’ve generally agreed with their ingredients and their choices.

Skin similar ingredient lanolin is used in their Skin Food and Diaper Care Cream. Humectant glycerin and occlusive beeswax attract and maintain moisture for dry skin creams.

They use a mix of proven science and new ingredients, but even when they choose a unique item, I can follow along with their thinking.

Weleda has logical choices or uses traditional herbs and I like that they keep their claims not to far beyond the realm of possibility.

Science hasn’t quite caught up with all the skin care ingredients out there. A lot are used based on marketing or belief, and very few are well researched or proven. And their interactions between each other are not entirely known.

So, when I look at Weleda’s ingredient list on a per product basis, I take that all into account. I see which ones are good with scientific evidence, have a strong history of use, and those which the company includes to stabilize the formula.

In addition to generally agreeing on their ingredient choices, I like that they have essential oil fragranced or unscented options.

Personally, I am not a fan of essential oil fragrances although I don’t go and ban them outright. Some have been shown to provide anti-microbial, anti-bacterial or other beneficial effects, but I’m sensitive to all scent and prefer them out of my beauty products altogether.

And their packaging is nice, not just professional looking but also thoughtful enough to preserve their ingredients.

All in all, I’d say this is a nice, responsible brand with solid products that work well.

Best of Weleda | Products and Reviews

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