Check out the best essential oils for arthritis mentioned in this article for a holistic lifestyle.
What Is an Essential Oil?
A popular form of aromatherapy – essential oils are made of plant extracts, an alternative and complementary medicine to support our well-being.
They have a particular plant’s flavor and scent obtained through the distillation or cold-press method. The aromatic chemicals and carrier oil are combined to create the final product.
These can be used either by applying on the skin or inhaling them, having several health benefits like helping blood pressure and heart health.
How It Helps Arthritis?
The swelling and tenderness caused in joints, which increases with age, are symptoms of arthritis. The common ones are – Osteoarthritis which causes the cartilage to break down, and rheumatoid arthritis, where the immune system attacks the joints.
The symptoms of arthritis-like swelling, pain, and stiffness are reduced with essential oils due to their anti-inflammatory and calming properties.
Let us look at these in detail.
1) Essential Oils for Arthritis
These essential oils are safe to treat arthritis symptoms and are as effective as other alternative medicines like acupuncture and meditation to gain relaxation and reduce stress.
Check out the best essential oils for arthritis –
1.1) Lavender Essential Oil
With a herbal and woody smell, lavender is one of the essential oils for arthritis that helps with emotional problems like anxiousness and distress. It has been medically proven in a review to reduce anxiety. Read more here.
Studies have shown that a 5% mix of lavender essential oil with sweet almond oil provides pain relief from osteoarthritis over 3 weeks.
Research suggests that mixed with juniper, Cananga oils, and coconut oil can help with pain management and fatigue caused by rheumatoid arthritis after 6 weeks. Check this link for details.
1.1.1) How to Use
1) Make a diffuser with a few drops of lavender oil-water (3 ounces), with 30-45 drops of this oil can be used as an aromatherapy spray to provide better sleep.
2) Add 15-20 drops of lavender oil and bergamot with almond or jojoba oil (1 ounce) as a massage on your wrists or skin to relieve pain.
3) It can also be used as a bath oil with ginger oil, cypress (10 drops), and any carrier oil (10 ml).
1.2) Eucalyptus Essential Oil (For Rheumatoid Arthritis)
Coming from the evergreen tree, Eucalyptus is one of the arthritis essential oils filled with anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties.
It has a compound called eucalyptol which increases the blood vessel size and allows it to help blood circulation, relieving general aches and pains.
A study conducted in 2013 shows inhaling eucalyptus can reduce inflammation, pain, and blood pressure following a total knee replacement surgery. This is due to the oil’s anti-inflammatory properties and increased serotonin, reducing arthritis symptoms.
1.2.1) How to Use
1) Mix 5 drops of eucalyptus oil for a body massage in a carrier oil. For extreme joint pain, dilute 10 drops in a carrier oil, then apply topically.
2) For general arthritis pain, use 5 drops of eucalyptus oil with peppermint oil (5 drops), ginger oil (5 drops), and any one of the carrier oils (1 tbsp) like olive oil.
1.3) Peppermint Essential Oil
Made of water mint and spearmint mix – peppermint is one of the essential oils for arthritis relief that has soothing properties. Used popularly among hot and cold pain relief ointments due to the presence of menthol (44%).
Research shows wintergreen and peppermint essential oil can be used as an alternative medicine with fewer risks. A study conducted in 2015 also shows a menthol gel can provide migraine relief after two hours of application.
Made of dried chili peppers – cayenne pepper essential oil is another that helps relieve muscle pain and throbbing sensations by nulling neurotransmitters.
Studies have also found that using essential oils for arthritis-like copaiba, peppermint, wintergreen, and camphor produces less pain.
1.3.1) How to Use
1) Dilute 10 drops of it with a carrier oil like coconut oil; this is apt for topical application.
2) Peppermint essential oil with 1 tsp carrier oil can be used for a massage, or you can mix it in water to use it as a bath oil.
3) Peppermint, jasmine, and citrus fruits can also be used for recharging pleasant scents, even if they act as mild irritants.
1.4) Frankincense Essential Oil (For Rheumatoid Arthritis)
An aromatic gum resin obtained from the Boswellia tree, Frankincense is one of the essential oils for arthritis and is used to relieve chronic pain and inflammation.
The Arthritis Foundation states Boswellic acids have analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties that help ease arthritis pain. They also prevent cartilage damage and prevent autoimmune responses. Click here to know more.
A study conducted in 2010 confirmed this as one of the popular essential oils for arthritis that reduces inflammatory responses. Notably, it helps with osteoarthritis. Animal studies have also shown it can help treat arthritis.
1.4.1) How to Use
Arthritis patients can use frankincense oil by applying a diluted mix topically – 10 drops with 1 tsp of base oil.
1.5) Orange Essential Oil
Filled with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory effects, this is one of the popular essential oils for arthritis. It also has antiseptic and antidepressant properties.
A study conducted in 2017 reviewed the effect of orange oil under aromatherapy on patients having pain from fractured limbs.
Comparatively, this produced less pain and was concluded as one of the beneficial complementary therapies for joint disease.
1.5.1) How to Use
1) For arthritic pain, one can topically apply this oil. Dilute 10 drops of it with a tsp of base oil before applying. The same can be used as a bath oil to reduce body pain.
Note – It can cause photosensitivity, so be careful of using it under direct sunlight. This applies to other citrus oils as well.
2) Arthritis sufferers having moderate to severe knee pain can apply a mix of orange and ginger oil (10 drops) with almond or jojoba oil (1 ounce) and massage it onto the skin as an effective remedy.
2) Other Essential Oils for Arthritis Pain
Many essential oils can be used as alternative methods along with traditional medicine for arthritis treatment like –
2.1) Ginger Essential Oil
The popular herb used in meals, ginger is one of the essential oils for arthritis that helps with chronic inflammation and pain.
Once digested, natural anti-inflammatory compounds called gingerol help with arthritis pain.
In a study conducted in 2001, the analgesic effects of ginger were reviewed for the knee and joint pain of osteoarthritis patients. They had less pain and used some drugs only over time to reduce joint swelling.
This can also treat rheumatoid arthritis, as proven by an animal study conducted in 2016, which reduced rates of chronic joint inflammation in female rats.
A 2019 review also showed this essential oil has therapeutic properties that can be helpful in pain receptor blocking, reducing inflammation, relieving cough, and against cancer.
2.1.1) How to Use
These can be used as spice ingredients, supplements, and effective aromatherapy treatments.
Ten drops of this essential oil with 1 tsp base oil can be massaged onto the skin. For additional benefits, use a hot compress over the massaged area.
Note – Ginger can produce allergies, always do a test patch first.
2.2) Turmeric Essential Oil
This spice is also one of the essential oils for arthritis because of its anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce swelling and pain and improves circulation due to the active compound curcumin.
In a comparative analysis – curcumin ointment was found to be more effective in reducing osteoarthritic knee pain than petroleum jelly over 6 weeks.
Scientific evidence suggests turmeric extract can reduce arthritis symptoms. Click here to read the details.
Animal studies have also shown turmeric as one of the essential oils to reduce joint inflammation. However, its full effects are yet to be determined.
2.2.1) How to Use
1) 10 drops of turmeric oil with a tsp of base oil can be applied to the affected areas.
A diluted mix can also be applied for a full body massage.
2) For rheumatoid arthritis, topically apply turmeric oil to the affected area or infuse it in the air. It can also be added as a spicy ingredient in cooking.
2.3) Basil Essential Oil
This popular Italian cooking ingredient can be used as one of the essential oils for arthritis as it contains therapeutic compounds like linalool that have anti-inflammatory properties and reduces swelling.
It can lower the causes of cartilage damage – a common symptom of rheumatoid and osteoarthritis.
An animal study conducted in 2013 showed that rats with induced arthritis were administered with basil oil (150-300 kg) which reduced their joint swellings. Other effects were lower chances of cartilage damage and less edema (fluid buildup caused by inflammation.)
2.3.1) How to Use
This can be topically applied, 10 drops with a base oil, or use a diluted mix of basil oil (5 drops) with a base oil for a massage.
2.4) Chamomile Essential Oil
One of the relaxing essential oils for arthritis is that it can also relieve pain with its sedative properties. It can reduce inflammation caused in the affected area.
A study conducted in 2015 concluded that using chamomile oil could reduce osteoarthritis pain medications. Another one, after two years, found applying topical chamomile oil can reduce symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome patients.
2.5) Rosemary Oil
Knowing for increasing alertness and reducing stress levels, this is one of the highly aromatic essential oils for arthritis. This can be used as a hip and knee massage oil with a mix of juniper, marjoram, and black pepper.
A mice study conducted in 2015 showed rosemary oil has therapeutic potential when combined with analgesic drugs to reduce pain.
It can also provide relief for stroke survivors suffering from shoulder pain as one of the acupressure blends when applied twice for 20 minutes every day. Click here to know more.
2.6) Primrose Essential Oil
With two effective anti-inflammatory compounds – beta amyrin and gamma-linolenic acid – this is one of the essential oils for arthritis that can reduce tenderness and stiffness caused in the connective tissue.
Although it is popular as a carrier oil, 540 mg – 2.8 gm is safe to use in small doses daily. To avoid side effects, a diluted mix of primrose oil should be topically applied to the skin.
3) Precautions And Risks
It is best to know how to safely use aromatherapy as integrative medicine for those suffering from any chronic disease and general health.
Never use it directly on the skin, even for the diluted ones – do a patch test.
If you are pregnant, nursing, have any serious medical condition, or are wondering whether to use it on children or old people, consult your doctor.
Common side effects of certain oils include – skin irritation, inflammation, sun sensitivity, and allergic reactions. It can cause gastrointestinal problems and hormonal imbalance with certain oils like lavender.
1) Lavender oil is the only one considered safe to use directly on the skin, other needs a base oil like jojoba, coconut, or any vegetable oil. Always use less, not more, there could be reversed side effects.
2) Better consult your physician and doctor before starting this alternative method for arthritis pain for a holistic treatment. Completely ignoring traditional methods can be hazardous to health.
3) For a correct massage, choose a base oil that won’t spoil your skin, and mix it with 10-20 drops of essential oil. Let it be absorbed for 15 minutes, and you can reapply it after 6 hours.
Note- Do not apply on an open wound or irritated skin; this can worsen the problem.
4) Popular Mixes
Essential oils for arthritis can be mixed for more effective and varied results.
A study conducted in 2016 for rheumatoid arthritis patients who used a mix of juniper, lavender, rosemary, and ylang-ylang diluted mix with coconut oil experienced diminished pain and fatigue after 4 weeks.
A popular homemade mix for arthritis pain-reducing ointment is added eucalyptus (14 drops), sweet marjoram (14 drops), lavender (7 drops), peppermint (7 drops), rosemary (7 drops), almond and jojoba (2 ounces and 1 tbsp).
If you choose commercial mixes, always look to if pure ingredients are available. Overpriced goods can be authentic in cases with abundant pure materials instead of diluted synthetic mixes. Do a patch test before finalizing the products; you never know which ingredients can cause a reaction.
Finally, remember to test out the essential oils according to your well-being. Some might work, while others have no effects. Know the interactions to avoid, and find the right one for you.
Click here to read more about arthritis causes and symptoms.
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