Going natural with plant oils

Natural healing remedies often get bad press from the pharmaceutical industry. But one age-old plant oil has found acceptance, even among mainstream pharmacies – that’s Arnica used externally for reducing swelling and bruising.


In New Zealand, I found that Naturo Pharm’s Arnica Cream happily sits on the shelves of pharmacies, alongside Voltaren Gel. The clinical pharmacology of Voltaren Gel is said to work  by inhibiting “the enzyme, cyclooxygenase (COX), an early component of the arachidonic acid cascade, resulting in the reduced formation of prostaglandins, thromboxanes and prostacylin. It is not completely understood how reduced synthesis of these compounds results in therapeutic efficacy.” That’s a bit of an act of faith!

Nothing natural in chemicals is there?

The chemical composition of Voltaren is explained in Wikipedia as: “The name “diclofenac” derives from its chemical name: 2-(2,6-dichloranilino) phenylacetic acid. Diclofenac was originally developed by Ciba-Geigy (now Novartis) in 1973.”

Naturo Pharm says their “range of natural homoeopathic remedies will help boost your body’s natural responses to a wide spectrum of life’s ailments and injuries.” Arnica Cream in particular is a “homoeopathic remedy Arnica Montana … manufactured from the herb commonly known as Leopards Bane. … Arnica assists the body’s natural response to shock, injury, fatigue and bruising and aids normal muscle recovery after strenuous exercise or exertion.” That’s also an act of faith!

Can chemicals and natural plant oils come together?

Having used both, I know that both work. So why is the remedy based on plant oils considered more ‘quackery” than chemical medicine? And is the attitude toward older remedies changing?

The reality is that natural plant oils are chemicals too. They have not had the scrupulous double-blind testing that chemical medicines have in recent decades. Instead, they have stood the test of time as centuries of wise men and women have passed on their knowledge of which plants work for which ailments.

The question is: Which is a better safeguard? Centuries of use or a double-blind test?

The question is also: Is western government’s insistence on double-blind testing a con pulled by chemical pharmaceutical companies to get rid of centuries-old natural remedies?

My favourite plant oils

I have a few plant oils I like to use and I find effective in treatment of minor ailments. I am currently using A.M.O’s Skin Treat Healing Cream that contains Arapawa Island’s manuka oil. New Zealand Manuka oil is a close cousin or Australian Tea Tree and probably of tea tree oils across the globe. To quote the advertising for the cream, the “blend contains manuka honey, red manuka and white manuka essential oils, essential oils of peppermint, lavender, orange, apricot, almond, and wheat germ in a rich and moisturising cream base.”


Manuka and Lavender flowers used for their plants oils in natural medicines

The cream is treating a skin irritation and is working. It’s said to be able to treat tinea, but I have already discovered how effective tea tree plant oil is on tinea (Athlete’s Foot). I use it daily in olive oil at a rate of 10 drops to a tablespoon of olive oil to cure and keep my feet clear or tinea. I add to the plant oil mix bergamot and rosewood purely for their pleasant smells, but you could add other oils, like lavender because of its “antiviral, bacterial and anti-inflammatory powers”.

Going natural with plant oils might be an act of faith, however, given the track record of double-blind tested medicines that have caused people harm in recent decades, my money’s on the natural remedies supported by centuries of people testing. I’ll still be aware of potential side-effects because everyone is different. But then, that’s taking responsibility for my own health and well-being.

Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author