Most people know what pain relief cream is, and what it does. A good cream is going to relieve muscle pain and stiffness, and swelling and discoloration caused by bruises.
There are probably thousands of different brands on the market. However, many of them contain harmful chemicals. Or they include ingredients that are somewhat questionable. There are a couple of things you’ll want to look out for while searching for a safe, natural pain relief cream. Read on to find out what to look for in a brand, and which specific brands we recommend.
One of the common ingredients you’re going to come across is something called Arnica. What is Arnica, and why is it so popular with natural pain relief?
Arnica, known in the scientific community as Arnica Montana, is a yellow flower found growing in Europe and Siberia. While poisonous if ingested, Arnica has been used for centuries as a topical treatment for pain relief, and especially bruise treatment. It’s particularly popular with people who have just undergone surgery (plastic surgery or otherwise) as it facilitates rapid healing.
Before you start using Arnica you’ll want to take some precautions. You first want to make sure that you aren’t allergic to the plant. If you use an Arnica-based product, make sure to look out for rashes or irritation. Additionally, you’ll want to avoid using it on open wounds.
As mentioned above, Arnica is not used for internal medicine due to its potentially poisonous properties (there are exceptions. Arnica is sometimes given in pill form, but in these cases the plant is heavily diluted. And this is only done under the supervision of a doctor). For that reason, Arnica-based products are topical and only applied to unbroken skin.
Now that we know what the key ingredient is, let’s take a look at the two top brands that feature this ingredient. The first brand Arnicare is basic and cheap, while the second brand You + Relief features more advanced ingredients. Read our reviews below to learn more.
This product makes full use of Arnica’s pain-relieving qualities.
Arnicare cream is good for two reasons. One, it’s natural. Its primary ingredient is the Arnica plant, so you know you’re introducing something to your body that has been tried and tested over hundreds of years. Two, it’s paraben free. If a cream contains parabens, then the parabens are going to mimic and promote the production of estrogen. This can lead to estrogen dominance and an increased risk for other types of ailments. This is why a brand like Arnicare is preferable— it uses the naturally-occurring Arnica as its primary ingredient, and it’s free of parabens.
One problem with Arnicare is that it doesn’t feature its ingredients list online. They probably do this to keep competitors from acquiring their formula. Unfortunately for curious and health-conscious individuals like us, this makes it difficult to tell whether or not the cream really IS all natural. However we believe Arnicare is the real deal, a natural and effective product.
2. You + Relief
This brand is entirely up front about the ingredients of their product which gives them a solid, trustworthy reputation. That being said, some of the ingredients in You + Relief cream are tough to pronounce, so let’s just look at a few of them to make sure we know exactly what we’re putting on our skin.
Achillea Millefolium. Also known as Yarrow, this is a white flower that grows in the northern hemisphere. It’s entirely safe, even to eat, as it’s used to feed livestock in New Zealand and Australia. Some people chew on it for toothache relief or and some even add it to their salads. Unlike Arnica, Yarrow is entirely safe to apply to open wounds and is often done so to treat broken-skin injuries and hemorrhoids.
Chondroitin Sulfate. Despite its scary-sounding name, chondroitin sulfate is actually made by the body naturally, like progesterone and melatonin. It’s used by the body to help cartilage retain water. Its primary use in medical treatment is to treat arthritis, however people treated by chondroitin sulfate only experience an approximately 10% improvement in pain relief, which is why chondroitin sulfate is only a minor ingredient in this cream.
Dimethyl Sulfone. Dimethyl sulfone, also known as Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) is a naturally occurring substance found in plants, animals, and humans. It’s used to treat a range of different ailments, ranging from ‘sour stomach’ to allergy relief, and even cancer. One of its uses is as an arthritic treatment. It can be used to treat numerous types of arthritis ranging from osteoarthritis to rheumatoid arthritis. It’s included in You + Relief because it also treats chronic pain. In short, MSM is an effective pain relief ingredient across the board, and it’s entirely safe to use.
Gluconolactone. This particular ingredient gets a lot of scrutiny because while it’s found in the bodies of numerous mammals, when used for skincare products it’s typically manufactured. So what we’re looking at is a naturally occurring substance, however it is created in a laboratory, thus putting it in a sort of gray area. Gluconolactone in the body is used to break down carbohydrates, allowing carbs to break down so the sugars contained can be used to help the body function. It sees widespread use in skin care products because it attracts water molecules from the air, serving as a hydrating agent.
Its use in You+Relief cream is due to its quality as a ‘chelating’ agent, meaning that it cleans up metallic elements of the cream that would otherwise contaminate it. In short, gluconolactone is a necessary addition in order to preserve the integrity of the cream- without it, the cream might go bad, and then you’d be applying a dangerous substance to your skin. Plus its hydrating qualities make it ostensibly good for the skin, but at such a small dose, it may not make a huge difference.
Sodium Benzoate. This is used as a preservative, which like Gluconolactone, helps to keep the cream from spoiling. There are two things to be aware of, though— it, like Gluconolactone, is naturally occurring but is usually synthesized in a lab. Additionally, it’s commonly used in food for the same purpose, but when ingested it’s known to create some side effects. While you won’t be ingesting the cream, sodium benzoate’s qualities when used in other products is worth checking out.
Despite its numerous difficult-to-pronounce ingredients, a few minutes of research reveals that many of You + Relief’s ingredients are natural and harmless (albeit some of these natural ingredients are made in a laboratory).
There are plenty of products out there offering natural pain relief, and many of them are making an active attempt to move away from synthetic chemicals and more toward organic treatment. As long as you do your homework and thoroughly research the products you introduce to your skin, you’ll have the best chance of picking a cream that not only relieves your pain, but does so in a safe and all natural manner.