Body PainPain

Dialing Down The Pain

Dialing Down the Body Pain of Superficial Siderosis

Gary always hurts

It’s a fact-of-life he can’t run from; from his head to his toes, 365 days a year, 24-hrs a day.


Most days, his pain scale reads 3 or 4; those are the good days.  Many days he can look forward to hitting 5 or 6 on the pain scale; in the past, if a headache decides to join in at full force, you could throw the scale away. Doctors frown upon taking acetaminophen in truckload quantities, and floating in a haze of prescription painkillers is not an option Gary is willing to begin.

Finding Alternative Methods for Pain Relief

It’s understandable why we try to find him relief using alternative methods. Thankfully there are ways to ease some of the body ache and joint pain.

Arnica infusion for alternative body pain relief
Arnica Montana

I make Arnica-infused olive oil in large batches. I first experimented with arnica when I hurt a flexor muscle running. (Lesson- stretch, stretch, stretch). Arnica is really available over-the-counter in a variety of forms, cream, balm, or oil. I tried a cream first but found the oil-based formula worked the best. Gary was still working full-time back then, but I was convinced it could help him too.

We started by rubbing just the sorest spots on his back and moved up to using it as a full body massage oil, back, arms, legs, and neck. It quickly became pricey when the bottle is only 3.4oz (100ml).

Making Your Own Arnica Infusion

I began experimenting with several methods of making our arnica infusion. You can steam distill arnica flowers to extract the essential oil with a home distiller if you’d like to create a balm. My original recipe included several other herbs, but I chose simplicity for our final version: dried arnica flowers and olive oil. It’s true. Less is more.

Arinca Slow Infusion Method One

I added one ounce of dried arnica flowers to a quart-sized mason jar and filled it to the top with olive oil. It’s that simple. You don’t need to buy expensive gourmet olive oil; choose 100% olive oil. No blends. I set this in the sun for a few days to kick-start the process and then let it sit in a darkened cupboard for a month. Finally, I strain the oil through a coffee filter and store it in dark-colored glass bottles.

Arnica Quick Infusion Method Two

You can quick-start a batch of arnica infusion by using a slow-cooker. Place one ounce of dried flowers and 2 cups of olive oil in your pot, set it on the lowest heat, and walk away for 24hrs: strain and store.

Tips For Storing Your Arnica Infusion

Olive oil keeps better than most other oil choices as long as you store it in a dark glass container; there isn’t a problem with it going rancid. We keep our large batch in a cupboard and fill a small bottle up for daily use.

Benefits and Cautions

Arnica helps ease the pain from sprains, deep tendon soreness, and swelling; it helps relieve arthritis, muscle, and joint pain. It also helps with bruises by reducing swelling and cutting down the ugly green-purple stage.

Arnica flowers contain helenalin, a very potent anti-inflammatory, which may cause an allergic reaction in people with skin sensitivity. One of our granddaughters developed a mild rash while using arnica-infused oil, so you might want to test a small area of skin first. You should never apply arnica to an open wound, cracked skin, or ingest it.

Source: Personal experience

UPDATED: 09.04.21

Kriplani P, Guarve K, Baghael US. Arnica montana L. – a plant of healing: review. J Pharm Pharmacol. 2017 Aug;69(8):925-945. doi: 10.1111/jphp.12724. Epub 2017 Apr 11. PMID: 28401567.

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Rori Daniel

Living With Superficial Siderosis began as a way to keep family and acquaintances updated after my husband Gary was diagnosed with Superficial siderosis in 2014. In 2019, became a partner in the Superficial Siderosis Research Alliance. Together our alliance has expanded into research, advocacy, and patient education. Rori Daniel, Editor,


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