@Jezebel deems a homeopathic product ‘Worth It’

Homeopathic medicine manufacturer Boiron, Inc. made it into @theJAYFK back in August because it was being sued for hawking a cold remedy product that doesn’t work.   Boiron is back in @theJAYFK because two of its products (Arnicare® Gel and Arnicare® Trauma) got a shout-out in the @Jezebel post ‘Worth It: A Homeopathic Pain Reliever That Actually Works‘.  Before we get to the bottom of these Boiron products, here’s a homeopathy refresher…

The principle of similars (or “like cures like”) is a central homeopathic principle. The principle states that a disease can be cured by a substance that produces similar symptoms in healthy people. [excerpt from here]

Besides “like cures like”, homeopathy goes with a “law of minimum dose” approach to active ingredients.  In homeopathy, “…the lower the dose of the medication, the greater its effectiveness.”  That means homeopathic medicines are often very dilute.  Because the active ingredient will be at some low concentration, milligrams (mg) are often not used to designate how much of an active ingredient is present.  Instead, you’ll often see “X” or “C” used to denote how much of an active ingredient is in a homeopathic concoction.  As Dr. Stephen Barrett explains in Homeopathy: The Ultimate Fake

Dilutions of 1 to 10 are designated by the Roman numeral X (1X = 1/10, 3X = 1/1,000, 6X = 1/1,000,000). Similarly, dilutions of 1 to 100 are designated by the Roman numeral C (1C = 1/100, 3C = 1/1,000,000, and so on).

Here is a handy figure used in our previous Boiron post that does a good job of explaining dosage in homeopathy…

Image is a screen capture from http://bit.ly/nNMKKh


Let’s take a look at those Boiron, Inc. homeopathic medicines Arnicare® Gel and Arnicare® Trauma


Image complied from screen captures of Boiron's Arnicare® http://bit.ly/xXdKZw Arnicare® Trauma http://bit.ly/zLNlCh

Both products list arnica montana (‘Arnica’ for short) as an active ingredient.  Arnica montana, commonly referred to as Leopard’s-bane, is a poisonous plant thought to have anti-inflammatory properties by those in herbal remedy circles.  It’s also pushed as a pain reliever and bruise fighter in the homeopathy world.  These supposed benefits of Arnica seem to be what turned that @Jezebel writer into a self-described “serious arnica connoisseur“.

For this @Jezebel writer, Tylenol (active ingredient: acetaminophen) just wasn’t cutting it.  Arnica gel, however, did the trick.  Boiron’s Arnicare® Gel lists active ingredient arnica montana at “1X”.  That’s 1 part arnica montana in 10 parts something else (inactive ingredients).

But soon, Arnica gel wasn’t enough…

About a year ago, I took my addiction to the next level. I’d started a new, much more intense exercise regimen that left me totally crippled with muscle soreness. My legs were so sore that I was yelping loudly when I tried to lower myself onto the toilet, and I could barely lift my arms above my head—super pathetic. I slathered myself with arnica gel, but it wasn’t giving me the whole body relief I needed. It was then that I discovered you could take arnica in pill form. Holy shit. Game changer. [excerpt from here]

Wait, isn’t Arnica poisonous?  Not to worry!  This is homeopathy we’re talking about, so poisonus plants at used at very dilute concentrations.  Arnicare® Trauma lists arnica montana at 9C.  That’s 1 part arnica montana in 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 parts inactive ingredients.  [For fun, try making that dilution at home!]

According to the @Jezebel writer that recommended Arnicare® Gel and Arnicare® Trauma, these products work.  That may be this writer’s experience, but a 2003 clinical trial showed that homoeopathic arnica is no better than placebo.  As stated in our previous Arnica post, claims made by arnica devotees aren’t backed-up by science.

You see, that is what is actually required when recommending a product for medicinal use – science.  Unfortunately, science is what’s missing in this @Jezebel ‘Worth It‘ post.


*I am not a medical doctor.  For medical advice, go see a reputable medical doctor.

Editorial Materials & MethodsmThe author enjoyed a gin & tonic while preparing this post.  The recipe: 1 part gin to 2 parts tonic water, topped with a tincture of key lime juice.



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