Controlling Arthritis and Inflammation with Essential Oils
In this article, you will learn about:
- What is Arthritis?
- Why the Medical Approach to Arthritis Fails
- Pain Relieving Essential Oils
- Anti-Inflammatory Essential Oils
- Arthritis or Fibromyalgia?
For people afflicted with arthritis in some form, pain is a regular, often daily, circumstance. Arthritis, and the hurtful inflammatory conditions associated with it, plagues millions of people in our country and more around the globe.
Handling pain and helping to prevent flare-ups is a constant battle when you have and, fortunately, easy-to-implement lifestyle changes like using essential oils can help to ease the tension of day-to-day life.
What Is Arthritis?
Arthritis can refer to approximately 100 different diseases that cause pain in the joints, bones, and surrounding tissues. Customarily, we refer particularly to osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis when we discuss the topic. Here are some notable facts: (1)
- Osteoarthritis is known as degenerative joint disease (DJD) because it is primarily related to aging.
- Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune condition.
- DJD deposits calcium while RA attacks joints and tissues with painful inflammation.
- RA is inflammatory, whereas DJD is not.
- In totally, both affect nearly 1 in 10 adults in the US, and far too many children.
- Basic lifestyle choices can help considerably for all types of arthritis, such as maintaining a regular exercise regiment, dropping extra weight, and eating a plant-based, whole foods diet.
For inflammatory arthritic diseases, implementing anti-inflammatory strategies such as supplementing with curcumin, eating foods like green leafy vegetables, cutting out sugar and grains and enjoying the benefits of essential oils is exceptionally helpful.
Why the Medical Approach to Arthritis Fails
Pain relief is the most immediate and pressing need for arthritis relief. Struggling against an illness defined by its diverse instances of pain isn’t easy, which is why so many people resort to drugs like NSAID’s (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like aspirin (Bayer, Bufferin, Excedrin), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB) and naproxen (Aleve). Namely, because far too many physicians recommend them without second thought. Not to mention, most people don’t realize that natural therapies are as (if not more) effective.
This is key: the medications tied to pain-relief commonly given to arthritis patients are not only completely ineffective at managing the root cause of the disease, they are riddled with side effects. Even the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) admits that, “NSAID medicines may increase the chance of a heart attack or stroke that can lead to death!” (2) Other complications include:
- Anemia (low red blood cells)
- Asthma attacks
- Heart burn
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Kidney failure
- Life-threatening skin reactions
- Life-threatening allergic reactions
- Liver failure
- Stomach bleeding and ulcers
- Stomach pain
- And more!
So the question is: If you could deal with arthritic pain without prescriptions, would you?
If the answer is, “Yes!” you will find essential oils a great therapy to implement immediately!
Top Essential Oils For Pain Relief
Unlike the conventional medical approach, by using natural therapies like essential oils you can effectively sooth sharp pains related to arthritis and relieve secondary conditions like insomnia with virtually no side effects!
The research literature is quite clear that aromatherapy is exceptionally effective at helping arthritis patients and these oils stand out amongst the rest.
Special Arthritis Pain Blend
Traditionally, several essential oils have been used for arthritic pain relief. However, we don’t have too many studies to prove this.
One of the most promising was published in 2005 by Korean researchers who evaluated how this special blend affected arthritis patients: eucalyptus, lavender, marjoram, rosemary, and peppermint (blended in proportions of 2:1:2:1:1). These oils were blended with a carrier oil mixture composed of almond (45%), apricot (45%), and jojoba oil (10%) and then diluted to 1.5% (roughly 9 drops of essential oils per 1 ounce of carrier). After applying the blend topically, the results were outstanding, “Aromatherapy significantly decreased both the pain score and the depression score of the experimental group compared with the control group,” the researchers stated, with no side effects reported! (3)
Best Essential Oils For Inflammation
On the other hand, more studies have been published regarding the anti-inflammatory effects of essential oils; which is a primary cause of pain in people suffering from arthritis. We need to remember that for inflammatory arthritic illness, anti-inflammatory oils, herbs, and foods are a welcome addition.
Be sure to use these anti-inflammatory oils into your regular, daily essential oil routines in order to begin addressing the root cause of the disease.
The pain relieving ability of aromatherapy massage was tested with patients struggling with cancer. They were treated with an aromatherapy hand massage that included frankincense, and their pain was relieved significantly. (4) Because there is a connection between inflammatory processes and pain, oils that are anti-inflammatory (as we will see below) are often analgesic, as well. Frankincense has this dual role.
While the trial may have been directed toward cancer rather than arthritis, the hands are a common site of pain for people with arthritis, and the analgesic effects can be appreciated by all.
These pain-relieving essential oils can be used in diffusers, topical body care products, and can be directly inhaled.
As an anti-inflammatory oil, lavender can help to relieve the painful swelling and inflammation that arthritis, in its various forms, creates. Lavender is an analgesic as well, tackling arthritic pain from multiple angles. (5)
Since lavender can be used for anxiety and depression, it may also help to relieve secondary issues that arise in a life of a person in chronic pain. Its gentle nature makes lavender a reliable choice for most people's use and application.
Roman chamomile essential oil is regularly used for its calming, soothing, and anti-inflammatory effects. (6) As a whole herb, chamomile is renowned for its healing, soothing, and calming effects. The essential oil isolates some of these abilities, especially as an anti-inflammatory substance.
To work the anti-inflammatory compounds into the skin and onto joints and other sites of pain, add roman chamomile to topical massage oils. You can also diffuse chamomile for relaxing an anxious or depressed mind.
Yarrow is a soothing and healing herb, and its essential oil also carries anti-inflammatory components that can be beneficial for arthritic ailments. Yarrow essential oil is used in many anti-inflammatory preparations, and is part of the Ayurvedic tradition. (7)
Topical preparations of yarrow can help to improve anti-inflammatory and pain relieving combinations. Making the most of synergistic reactions – oils working together to make each other more effective – creates special blends that help to relieve pain and inflammation for your specific arthritis conditions.
Wintergreen oil, another traditional analgesic that has helped countless arthritis patients, is known as “liquid aspirin.” Used with peppermint, it is particularly effective in reducing inflammation. A 2014 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine states,
“The predominant natural ingredient in wintergreen oil is methyl salicylate, which is a compound closely related to acetylsalicylic acid, or aspirin. When applied to the skin, including tissues at the site of pain, wintergreen oil has analgesic properties… A combination of wintergreen oil and peppermint oil is commonly used because it is believed to give far better pain relief than either wintergreen oil or peppermint oil alone. In addition, the combination of the two oils may potentiate the individual effects of each oil, thus enabling the use of lower doses of each, which, as a consequence, is likely to produce fewer side effects.” (8)
Arthritis vs Fibromyalgia
Discovering the kind of inflammatory joint disease you have is important for choosing treatment options. For example, if you have osteoarthritis, your body is likely depositing calcium around joints, probably a specific joint; and has gotten worse with age.
On the other hand, you may have fibromyalgia (FM), which is not inflammatory by nature, and primarily affects women. Thankfully, clinical research has been tested how specific essential oils can help people suffering fibromyalgia with great results. Each active ingredient has been evaluated for pain relief and may be the solution that you’re looking for!
In 2013, the Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine journal published a study that detected blending these essential oils has “significant effects on improving the symptoms of FM compared to conventional drug or placebo:” (9)
- Aloe vera oil
- Camphor oil
- Eucalyptus oil
- Lemon oil
- Orange oil
- Peppermint oil
- Rosemary oil
It is important to remember that the specific approach that will work for an inflammatory arthritic illness might not be the same as for a non-inflammatory arthritis. Taking some of the oils discussed in this article and trying to discover different blends that respond well to your body’s chemistry is key. Always dilute with a carrier oil, try to have fun with the process and listen to your intuition. You body is the best doctor you can ever have so pay attention to what it’s saying!