Traumeel: medicine or myth?

Since February, I’ve felt a nagging sensation in my posterior right knee after sitting in virasana. I feel fine during the pose, but it can be downright excruciating when I straighten the knee. In a minute, my knee feels fine again. Bending my knee to 90° in virabhadrasana II and other standing poses is fine. I can tell it’s a muscular or tendon issue, not bone or ligament.

My conjecture? I’ve strained my gastrocnemius (calf) muscle origin or a hamstring attachment. While the injury is not debilitating, it’s lingering and thus frustrating. Today, in a fit of curiosity (plus desperation, I admit), I bought a tube of Traumeel, a homeopathic ointment containing Arnica montana. An acquaintance recently recommended it, adding that she, too, was a major skeptic before she tried it.

Chances are, this is just another medical myth. Just another case of the placebo effect. That said, who cares if it works by placebo, by one’s subjective perception of recovery? If you believe that drinking rooibos tea, wearing a magnet bracelet, or taking glucosamine supplements are therapeutic, go for it. No skin off anyone else’s nose. Sure its not an official thing like Podiatry Los Angeles, but if you think everything needs to be approved by the FDA or something like that, then you are going to miss out on a few things. At the very same time though, with xarelto class action lawsuits become the norm, we definitely need our better judgement sometimes.

Reading that Wikipedia definition of placebo effect, I learned about its counterpart, the nocebo effect, in which one’s symptoms are worsened by taking an inert placebo treatment—simply due to one’s pessimistic attitude and expectation that the treatment would cause undesirable results.

I contemplated the larger idea: that our thoughts alone can either improve or worsen our health. We’ve all probably experienced the phenomenon of self-fulfilling prophecies. Think the worst and the worst will happen. (Of course, thinking positive can still precipitate the worst-case scenario. But the suffering is shorter.)

Back to Traumeel: Has anyone tried it? Please give me a review (and tell me if you’re typically a believer or a skeptic?

Image: voodoo doll, Vince Versace’s blog

Advertisements

30 thoughts on “Traumeel: medicine or myth?

  1. I’ve always found the placebo and nocebo effects fascinating, too. I think it shows the power our mind and beliefs can exert over our body and perception of the world.

    I also see the nocebo effect extend into my current day job as a web developer. My department recently tested a plug-in to our email client and quickly received numerous complaints about performance issues. It was discovered after a little debugging that one such vocal objector never even successfully installed the plug-in. Nothing had actually changed about that person’s email client, but they experienced a negative impact nonetheless — because they expected to see it.

  2. I have used another brand of arnica gel before when I strained a ligament in my wrist. (Fell forward in bakasana. Ouch.) I honestly don’t know if it sped up healing. My acupuncturist recommended tiger balm, which has a nice tingling/warming effect, but again, not sure it does much more than that. Either way, I felt that at least I was doing something proactive to heal the injury and perhaps that alone helped me to heal faster!

  3. Whether I endorse Traumeel might not mean much, but Arlene Hoffman, my foot doctor does, and you’ll find her credentials here: http://arlenefhoffmandpmphd.com/. She’s one of those rare doctors who seems able to combine Western medicine with alternatives, using what works for her patients.

    She’s recommended Traumeel to me on several occasions, and I’ve always used it. Because I didn’t have a control foot to gauge my results against, I don’t know if it worked better than nothing, but respect Arlene’s expertise.

  4. My Accupuncturist,(Sergio Delagarza) (love him!) who happens to be gorgeous and Mexican swears by Traumeel. I have a torn hamstring AND a wicked neck injury (both long stories), but each night (when I remember) I apply Traumeel Gel and a hotpack. Soothing-yes. A cure, who knows?
    Dhana

  5. I’m with LJacoby – no control body parts to test it on – but it did seem to work when I applied it to a sore shoulder.
    And Judy Russell, my physio, called it “magic.”
    Since I think of Judy as “my magic physio,” the recommendation had a lot of weight.

  6. While I am open-minded to non-modern-Western medicine and philosophy (obviously!), I am also rooted in rationality and the scientific method. So, thanks for your comments, Laura and Eve. Knowing that your respected podiatrists, physiotherapists, and other health professionals recommend it gives me more hope (and hope might be key here).

    I agree with Jessica and Dhana that self-care is soothing and might speed healing just because we stop and tend to the injury. Applying Traumeel can be a mini massage, and hot/cold therapy reputedly works wonders.

  7. There was good explanation about Arnica which I needed, as I do use the Arnica and Ivy extract in a cream medium sometimes for massage work. Many people seem to know about it, and believe it works, although I have not had this experience for myself. I suppose it compliments the Ivy extract. That being said, since I’ve started to use more oil with essential oil for harmony and energy, I notice my hand has pain now sometimes, which was not common then. It would be interesting to see if my pain or stiffness would be alleviated with consistent use of this cream again.

  8. Hi, I use traumeel both personally and recommend it to clients and athletes who require relief of both chronic and acute pain. Being a member of the physiotherapy profession, I understand the value of research. I read this recently, “Evidence of no effect is not the same as no evidence of effect. Not knowing if something works is not the the same thing as saying it doesn’t work.” Traumeel has been around for thirty years. Sometimes we don’t have to know why something works, just trust that it does.

  9. I have used Lehcare for my aches and pains. This botanical analgeic has done wonders for the aching pain in my neck due to a car accident several years ago.

  10. Traumeel and other homeopathic arnica creams and gel work! I have used them for years with great success. I don’t care if there’s no scientific evidence of how or why or if they work — I know from first had experience that they do work! And also, thank God for them.

    Another wonderful thing is the ayurvedic oil: mahanarayan oil.

    I have a neck injury from a car accident and both traumeel and mahanarayan oil have been my valuable healing allies through this process.

  11. It was expected that someone would make a study that arnica does not work when real patients say it does. You see, some big companies are losing dollars!

  12. When I had my wisdom teeth removed, I used Traumeel gel a few days after the surgery, as my cheeks were swollen.
    For me, Traumeel really worked, it only took a few days before my cheeks were less painfull and less big.

  13. I tore a calf muscle in 2002. The muscle tear was big enough to cause it to tear again and again. At one point, it was about 8cm (over 3inches) long and about 0,5cm (.2inch) wide (although only 2mm deep) and it keep tearing at the top and bottom.
    I had surgery in 2005 where they removed some of the scar tissue and stitched it back together. Sadly, about 6 months later it tore again and the doctor told me it probably was going to do that every now and then.
    I went to several specialists who all told me the same thing : it’s a weak spot, you’ll get small tears there when you push the muscle hard.

    Finally, I ended up at doctor who goes to all big championships with the Belgian track&field athletes. He looked it over, loosened a few things in my back and then turned his attention to my calf. He suggested trying an injection with a new product he was trying and seeing what the result was.
    This was in 2007 and I’ve never had problems since. When I had a back problem, I visited him again and it was then I asked him what he injected me with : Traumeel.

    For the sceptics : I have ultrasonography of the muscle from both before the injection (quite a few, since it kept tearing) and 1 from afterwards. The difference in the muscle is so huge my physiotherapist couldn’t believe it.
    So for me Traumeel has nothing to do with placebo, since it allowed me to start running again, which I couldn’t do anymore at all.

    1. Interesting firsthand report. Thanks for sharing. I have never heard of US or Canadian physicians injecting Traumeel (Arnica montana) into muscle tissue. But it seems that different countries approve different drugs. Eg, a yoga colleague informed me that Voltaren is injected for anti-inflammatory effects; in Canada, you can buy Voltaren topical treatment (gel) OTC; in the US, you need a prescription; but in neither Canada nor the US is Voltaren injected into the body, as far as I know.

      Both of these alternates to steroid injections might be worth consideration. Did you see this recent NYT article on contaminated steroid injections: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/18/sunday-review/steroids-and-back-pain-an-uneasy-match.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0.

  14. Traumeel didn’t relieve pain at all, but I only used it once in awhile. I don’t know if you have to keep using it to get the benefit. In all fairness, Voltaren didn’t work either. Curcumin worked pretty well.

  15. I will start by stating, I am always skeptical (I think it’s healthy), especially with anything labelled “Homeopathic”. That said, I have found Traumeel (cream and gel) to be very helpful with minor aches and pains. For me these are usually related to resistance training and jogging. I should also mention that I used to be quick to reach for NSAID’s and never had experienced any negative side effects with said. However, if I can get better results with a cream that is less damaging to my body I am all for it..:)
    37yr old
    Male
    Athletic

    1. Thanks for your comment. Stay tuned for another post on dealing with aches and pains. IMO if we are active, we inevitably face little injuries. After all, we must explore our limits and experiment with techniques and training–and we might push too hard. As we age, it’s important to have a recovery plan.

    1. Thanks for the link. The problem with this paper: It was sponsored by Heel, which produces Traumeel. The acknowledgments state as follows: This paper was supported by Biologische Heilmittel Heel GmbH, Baden-Baden, Germany.

      Further, there’s a disclosure by the author: CS has received research support and speaker fees from Biologische Heilmittel Heel GmbH, Baden-Baden, Germany.

      Re arnica: Maybe it does have therapeutic effects/benefits, but Traumeel contains only a trace amount of it (http://saveyourself.ca/articles/arnica.php).

      That said, if there is a positive placebo effect for someone, terrific!

  16. My family has used Traumeel and Arnica for years. We use it mostly for trauma that will most likely bruise. I used it regularly on my kids when they were younger. Five years ago I fell down six slate steps and was pretty banged up. Bruises and scrapes on my legs, arms and face. I broke my nose. I started taking Arnica pellets 4-5 times a day, as well as using Traumeel cream on all the places where the skin was still intact. I wouldn’t use the cream if the skin is broken. I also iced. A week later, when I met the ENT that was going to deal with my nose, he couldn’t believe my accident had only been a week ago. He said the bruises looked at least four weeks old! That to me is proof this stuff works. I bruise easily, so if I bump into something hard enough and use the Traumeel immediately, the bruise generally doesn’t appear. My dermatologist also recommended using it orally a few days before some facial treatments I was planning to have. I feel that it minimized the bruising there as well.

  17. Ok, I’ve seen many comments about placebo-effects and so on, fact is that homeopathic therapy is widely laughed at here in the US while successfully practiced in Europe. I was diagnosed with Arthrosis (similar to Arthritis, but not the same) at age 14 and my doctor told me if I don’t slow down I end up in a wheelchair before I’m 20… I became a horse-trainer at age 16 after 2 years of Rehab and learned about homeopathic medicine at 19, when I was working for a World-champion. A year later I had a bad spell and went to an Alternative doctor, who gave me Traumeel (which I was familiar with since I gave that to my horses to keep them clear and running all the time). I was stunned to learn it works… I’m now 43 and still running after horses and enjoying life in a less painful world… I’ve tried other medication but have no tolerance for potent pain medications, which made me go back to what I know works. It doesn’t mean it is a miracle medicine, but its benefit proved itself to me and anyone I told about it. If you ask your doctor about it plainly, tell him it is in his Prescription-drug desk book, under Heel. They don’t prescribe it because you can get it cheap and less profit to be made. Benefit is whatever bone and joint problems you have, it slows the process down, has no side effects, no bad drug interaction and you don’t have to be a believer to benefit from it… It’s been used in Europe for over 90 years with success and it worked for me for over 20, as I said I am able to do what I love (training horses) because of it!

  18. It’s truly a nice and helpful piece of information. I’m happy that
    you simply shared this helpful info with us.
    Please stay us informed like this. Thanks for sharing.

  19. I have never used Traumeel however have heard great things about it. placebo effects or not. My choice pain cream is Lehcare. It has help alleviate the pain in my right arm due to Bursitis. Not a cure however sure helps me sleep at night. I love the warming sensations which sometime lasts for hours.

  20. I use it all the time on small muscle tears, painful knots, and persistent shoulder problems I have from bulging discs in my neck. And it WORKS–really well! Even though I’m a huge fan of natural and herbal treatments, I was initially fully prepared for Traumeel NOT to work… I mean, homeopathy doesn’t really make that much logical sense, after all, despite people swearing by it. But whether the whole science of homeopathy is sound or not, Traumeel works. It just does, and I’m 100% sure it’s not a placebo effect. It works, and I don’t care if I can’t really explain why.

  21. I used the cream on my neck, cheeks and chin after jaw surgery. Recovery from the surgery is approximately one month. I used it 3-5 times a day. When I went in for my one week, post-surgery checkup, the nurses couldn’t believe I had been in surgery the week before. I had no bruising in my neck. I looked like it had been a month. They also couldn’t believe I was able to speak.

  22. My sister, who does MMA, introduced me Traumeel cream. She swears by it for all her injuries, as well as our home made cannabis oil capsules. Cannabis oil and other edibles and smokeables, has almost replaced ibuprofen and tylenol for me. I have MS, which involves a great deal of varying types and levels of pain. Now I say ‘almost replaced’ because with this disease, sometimes things work, sometimes not.
    I use Traumeel cream for everything anti-inflammatory… cuts, hang nails, bruises, tendonitis, cutilce rips, zits, neck issues… it is fantastic.
    I use homeopathics in general, and I find them very effective. Cures some things, aids others, prevents a hell of a lot.

  23. I kinda got tricked into taking it. I have been having a really bad heel spur flare up but I’m diabetic and cortisone is not an option because of its dangerous effects on blood sugar. So my podiatrist prescribed traumeel injects…neglecting to tell me that it was homeopathic.

    I went from true believer to true skeptic about homeopathy in the 90s after homeopathic treatments left me worse with a bout of pneumonia. So I have been.skeptical about these injections. But I had my second yesterday and my foot is 80% better today. Almost no pain in the morning and I’m getting around OK now. I’m about to walk to the store and am not dreading it. I’m cautiously optimistic about this medicine.

Please post a comment. Your email address will be kept confidential.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s