Arnica Cream & Arnica Salve: Which One is Right for You?


Our shop has two very effective arnica products available: an arnica cream and a salve. I get asked about the difference between the two, and which one is best for specific situations. I’m sharing some helpful information with you here. If you prefer to watch instead of read, enjoy this short video, packed with all the facts you need to make a good decision.

Arnica is effective for swelling, bruising, and pain

I first used arnica a year ago, after I was hit in the face with a heavy steel hand truck. My face was swollen and red, and was starting to bruise. I happened to have some arnica steeping in oil because I was planning to make arnica cream and salve for the first time, so I applied the oil directly to my injury a few times over a 24-hour period right after the injury. I was amazed at how well it worked! After a full day, the swelling, redness, and bruising was completely gone.

Arnica is commonly used by athletes who find relief from pain by applying it to sore muscles and joints. Because these products are applied topically and work on the area to which they are applied, they don’t interfere with medications, and can be used as much as needed for pain relief.

Arnica Cream

Our Arnica Cream is a thick lotion that goes on smoothly and absorbs right away. It’s not sticky or tacky. It feels like a luxurious hand lotion.

Arnica Salve

Arnica Salve
is a beeswax and oil based product that is heavier and more moisturizing than our cream.

Q & A

How long does it take to find relief?

3-5 minutes from the time the product is applied

When should I choose the cream rather than the salve?

If you’re applying it under your clothing, go for the cream. Sore shoulders or elbows, pain in your lower back or hips, and stiffness in your knees, should all be treated by arnica cream. The cream is a light lotion that absorbs quickly, meaning it won’t stick to your clothing throughout the day!

What is the salve used for?

Any time you’re using arnica on an area of the body that’s not covered with clothing, the salve might be the right choice:

  • On the scalp
  • Hands and fingers. If you tend to have dry hands, the salve will add a moisture boost to your routine.
    ~ Choose the cream instead if: you find that hand lotion provides enough moisture on a regular basis – in that case, stick to the Arnica Cream for your hands.
  • Feet and ankles. Rub in some relief and moisture by using the salve under your socks.
    ~ Choose the cream instead if: sandals and flip flops adorning your feet this season. The cream will absorb quickly and not attract dirt when you head outdoors.


All Natural, Plant Based Skin Care

Our full line of herb-infused skin care products is made with all natural ingredients. We never use artificial or synthetic ingredients, and our products contain no parabens, no phthalates, and no artificial colors or fragrances.

The story behind an injury that changed my life

Hi! It’s Jillian here. 2017 went from Tragedy to Triumph for me, and it affected my personal health and my business. It’s time for you to hear my story.

Last year I suffered a brain injury that has had lasting, dramatic effects. Here’s the crazy thing – the changes have been good… really good. This is my story in a nutshell. 

A year ago, in January 2017, I was unloading my car after spending the day at the local farmers’ market with our table of Jillian’s Apothecary skin care products. As I was getting my heavy steel hand truck out of the car, it fell out and bounced up, hitting me square in the face. Right away my face started to swell and bruise, so I tended to it with ice packs and by applying some arnica, a fantastic herb for swelling, bruising, and pain. With the help of the arnica oil, my bruised face cleared up right away, and I appeared to be just fine after the unfortunate incident.

Inside my head, though, I was anything but fine. 

It was my first experience with a concussion or brain injury. I spent several weeks laying on the couch, sleeping and resting all day long. During this time, I realized that my left brain went quiet. Our left brain is where all the “helpful conversations” occur in our heads all day long. You know that voice that tells you when you did something wrong? Left Brain. How about the voice that says you’re not good enough and can’t possibly achieve your dreams? Left Brain. The voice that tells you to cheat on your diet? Yep, Left Brain.

All of those conversations were quiet for several weeks. It was like meditation on steroids. One of the purposes of meditation is to recognize the thoughts in our head that pretend to be helpful, but are actually critical, and tell those thoughts to be quiet so we can see things as they truly are. I saw everything as it truly was because I had absolutely no critical thoughts for weeks.

Here’s where the celebration comes in. 

As I recovered from my injury, I used my new way of thinking (my new way of not over-thinking, to be precise) to help me make some big changes. I was able to significantly cut down on wine and sugar because I wasn’t hearing those “helpful” voices telling me I deserved a glass of wine or a sweet little cookie. Let me tell you, cutting out that delicious glass of chardonnay at the end of the day was a huge feat for me, and I’m so proud of myself for doing it!

That’s not all. Not only have I revamped my health and wellness habits, I’ve become more focused, attentive, and present.

I learned that multitasking is a huge waste of time.

In the weeks after my accident, I could only hold one thought in my mind at a time. At first, holding a thought for more than a few seconds was a challenge. As I got better, I could focus on and take action on just one thing, and nothing else. I started to see that by not multi-tasking, I was actually more productive than I had been before the accident, when I would do several things at once. I would actually complete tasks, instead of having a dozen things in progress. And when you complete something, the sense of satisfaction feels wonderful. It gives you more energy to move to the next project on your list.

Now I try to live each day by practicing what I’ve learned. 

Rule 1: Listen to my body and fuel it well. Think twice before indulging in wine and cookies!

Rule 2: Get more done and feel more relaxed by doing only one thing at a time. No more multitasking!

Terrible accidents can have transformative results. I’m so thankful that I’m able to apply these new lessons to my life. I’m able to serve everyone in my life even better now.


XO, Jillian

PS A year after my accident, I decided to have a celebration sale to mark the milestone. Here’s a Facebook live video where I talk about the sale and about my accident 🙂

5 Herbs to Plant This Year
~In-person class~


5 Herbs to Plant This Year {PLUS learn to make an herbal balm!}

As you’re planting your garden and filling patio containers this year, be sure to add a few medicinal herbs! They’re easy to grow and have multiple uses for common health ailments.

Join community herbalist Jillian Ehrenberg for a fun and informative class on Saturday, May 13. We’re going to talk about 5 herbs to plant this year for health and wellness. These 5 herbs are easy to grow and use as tea, or take it a step further and transform them into soothing skin care balms.

Register online now!

All of the herbs on our list will be available for sale at Revibe the day of the class.

Lemon Balm

Bonus Activity – Learn to Make an Herbal Balm!

And… because I believe so strongly in the power of herbs, I’ve added a bonus activity to this class! We’ll be making an herbal balm together using a blend of our 5 herbs and other ingredients you can find locally. Everyone who attends will go home with a container of handcrafted herbal balm from our activity.

5 Herbs to Plant This Year {PLUS learn to make an herbal balm!}

94 Broad Street
Schuylerville, NY 12871 (map)

Cost: $25

Every class participant will be given a reference booklet containing information covered in class and a tin of the handcrafted herbal balm we prepare together.

The 5 herbs featured in this class will be available for purchase at the class. Light snacks will be served.

Registration link is open now! 


A mid-winter peek at the beehive


Within the full line of herbal skin care products featured in our shop, you can find several balms and salves that contain beeswax. Beeswax is a wonderful addition to an oil-based type of product, especially one that you might store in your medicine cabinet. The wax we use at Jillian’s Apothecary is minimally processed and retains all of the beneficial properties that the bees put in it, even after it’s been cleaned and strained. Beeswax is hydrating, and holds in moisture by creating a thin barrier between our skin and the outside elements. It also attracts water, and our skin soaks up this extra moisture when it’s dry. The beeswax in our skin care products is used to store honey and pollen in the hive, and although the large particles are strained out when the wax is cleaned, trace amounts of these important building blocks for a healthy beehive remain behind. Beeswax is amazing stuff!

I’m a beekeeper, and a good part of the beeswax that goes into our products comes straight from my own beehives. When I run out, and have to wait until the next honey harvest to gather more wax, I purchase it from beekeepers in surrounding towns. My beehives contribute to so much in my life—not only do the bees provide wax for our products, they provide honey for our tea, and they pollinate the garden and apple orchard. Just as important, they help deepen my connection to our natural world. To raise bees in a way that primarily benefits the bees is to truly be a student of nature. I will be in awe of bees for as long as I live.

This week I checked on the beehive, the first time since last fall. The warm temperatures (up to 60 degrees!) prompted the bees to crawl out of the hive and take a short “cleansing flight.” They never take a restroom break inside the hive, so they store it all up during the winter months, waiting (anxiously, I imagine) for a day that’s 50 degrees or higher to go out and relieve themselves. Yes, this is all true! Crazy, right?

Since they were out and about and obviously not freezing, I weighed the risk of opening the hive to check on their food supply. I have patties I can feed them if they run low in the winter. The bees need enough food to make it until spring, but they also need a warm, draft-free hive to keep them warm and dry during the winter. Bees make a glue-like substance called propolis and seal up all the cracks in the hive so they can stay warm. If I open the hive to check their food supply, I’ll break the seal, and since it’s “off season” for them, they can’t seal it back up. They’re not in the business doing serious hive maintenance until we have consistently warm spring days. A few weeks from now, at best.

So the gamble is, do I open the hive to feed the bees and let cold air through the cracks, or leave the hive alone?

I put my ear to the wall of the hive and listened for their hum. In the winter, they don’t spread out all over the hive, but tend to cluster into a tight ball to stay warm. As they empty the honey comb, their cluster moves in an upward direction, moving on to the next set of full honey cells. This week the hum of the group was pretty close to the top of the hive, which means they’re running out of food.

I decided to open the hive and feed them the patties. The patties are made up of a thick, sticky substance that’s designed specifically for honey bees. I don’t make it, I purchase it from a beekeeping supply company. The consistency always reminds me of the inside of a fig newton, but I’m sure it’s significantly healthier than one of those cookie bars.

I’m happy to say that overall, the hive looks good. Some dead bees, but not a lot, and a lot of happy, healthy living ones. They have enough food to make it until the warm weather, so I’m hoping the cold won’t kill them. Crossing my fingers, tightly!

And check out these cuties… the bees weren’t the only ones out and about this week. Our 13 chickens are pretty happy about the warm weather too.

How I Erased a Bruise with Arnica


I have a quick story to tell you about bruising and swelling that should have been so severe that anyone taking a glance at me would have known something big happened… except the bruising and swelling never came. I owe it all to a powerhouse little plant called Arnica.

My accident involved a fierce encounter with a heavy steel hand truck. It bounced on its big, rubber wheels, flew up, and smacked me in the face. I knew right away that something very wrong had happened. Everyone asks if I saw stars, and my answer is no, I didn’t. And I did have the presence of mind to ice it on the spot with a handful of snow.

After icing the injury, I realized it was bright red and the side of my face was starting to swell up. Always on the lookout for ways to use plant medicine to my advantage, I remembered a jar of arnica-infused oil that I had recently strained and tucked away in my apothecary cabinet. I had steeped it a while ago but never found a use for it. To be honest, I wasn’t exactly sure what it would be good for. In all of my classes on herbal medicine, and in all of my books about herbs, arnica is virtually invisible. No one really talks about it in great length. I had heard about it from sporty friends who sung its praises for treating sports-related injuries, and that’s about it. Not being a super-sporty person myself, I had little reason to use it.

Well, I thought, if there’s ever a time for me to experiment with that jar of arnica-infused oil, now is the time. I applied it directly to my face, covering every red, tender spot I could see. I allowed it to sink in to my skin and a few hours later I applied it again. And that was it for the arnica oil. Back it went into the cabinet.

I’ll tell you one thing, getting hit in the face like I did is awful. I was in pain, and I had a concussion that left me feeling dazed, exhausted, and unable to think clearly for a few weeks. I went to bed that first night feeling sure that I was going to wake up to a swollen, black-and-blue face.

The next morning I peeked in the mirror and was amazed at what I saw. Not a single bruise or discoloration of my skin. No swelling. When you looked at me, it was as if it never happened. A major injury was completely wiped clean, thanks to the arnica oil. I couldn’t believe it.

I’ve since learned that arnica is used for bruises, swelling, and soft tissue and muscle pain relief. You can bet it’s going to be a staple in my medicine cabinet, and I’ll be making some products for my shop that use arnica as the base. I saw with my own eyes how powerfully it worked on my damaging injury, and I know I have to add arnica to some easy to use, effective products. Now that I’ve had a chance to use arnica on my own body, I have an idea of what kinds of products I would like to see it in. A lotion or thick cream is a must-have. I applied the oil directly to my face, and I would have preferred to have a lotion on hand. I also think an oil and wax balm would be a great way to apply it to areas where it might be covered by a bandage.

How often do you have an experience like that, where one plant can change the outcome of the situation? I don’t have them often enough! I love hearing stories about how people use plants with amazing results, and I love sharing it when it happens to me, too.

Keep and eye out for some arnica-infused products in my shop! I’m excited to share them with you!