Homeopathic medicine is gaining recognition as a natural, safe and effective treatment for pain, but what exactly is it and how does it work? Could homeopathic pain treatments be right for you?

Homeopathy is a total body medical and wellness system. It has been practiced around the world for more than 200 years as a way of preventing and treating illnesses and health conditions. Like acupuncture and chiropractic, it promotes the idea that the body can heal itself.  Homeopathy is based on these concepts:

  • The Principal of Similars (or the "Like cures Like" principal): Homeopathic remedies (medicines) contain minute doses of highly diluted substances that in larger doses would produce illness or symptoms. The National Center of Complementary and Alternative Medicine says, "This principle states that a disease can be cured by a substance that produces similar symptoms in healthy people. It's thought that if a substance could cause disease symptoms in a healthy person, small amounts could cure a sick person who had similar symptoms.
  • The Principle of Dilutions (or "Law of Minimum Dose") states that the lower the dose of the medication, the greater its effectiveness. The amount of the original substance is so low in the final production of homeopathic medicines that it is undetectable, but it's believed to still contain enough essence to trigger the body's own healing properties.
  • Heartburn?

Do Homeopathic Pain Treatments Work? 

Homeopathy remains controversial because few scientific studies have produced consistent results.  Some studies indicate however, that there are benefits to using homeopathy to treat pain.  In many parts of the world (including the United States and Europe) where homeopathy is commonly used for medical treatment, patients report that it works well for painful conditions including arthritis, muscle pain, bruises and injuries. A randomized study performed in 2007 stated that people suffering with arthritis in their hands received as much pain relief using a homeopathic pain-relieving gel as they did with ibuprofen. Another study found patients who used a similar homeopathic remedy for knee pain experienced significant reduction in pain and stiffness.  

There are many homeopathic pain treatments, but Arnica Montana is among the most commonly prescribed.  Arnica is derived from an herb grown in Europe and North America and has been used for centuries to treat pain, inflammation and bruising. How it works is not clear. Arnica is usually prescribed as pills that look like little balls and are dissolved under the tongue; or in a cream or gel compound. Creams and gels are rubbed into the skin and muscles where pain is present. 

Where Do You Get Homeopathic Remedies?

Some homeopathic remedies are available over-the-counter at natural food stores, but individualized treatment by a licensed homeopathic practitioner, naturopath, osteopath or medical doctor is strongly recommended.

What are the Benefits of Homeopathy?

  • Homeopathic remedies are frequently less expensive than traditional pain medications.
  • There are only rare reports of side effects.
  • They're generally well tolerated and becoming more widely accepted as an effective, natural way to allow the body to heal itself.
  • They can compliment other types of medical treatments

What's the Downside of Using Homeopathic Pain Treatments? 

  • They may not be covered by insurance.
  • They aren't as widely tested as more traditional treatments.
  • They may not be effective for all people.


National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Homeopathy: An Introduction


New York Times

The Alternative Medicine Cabinet: Arnica for Pain Relief