Musculoskeletal disorders, including rheumatic conditions, are one of the leading causes of morbidity and disability worldwide. Studies reveal that more than 1/3 of the Americans suffer from arthritis, with osteoarthritis being the most common joint disease in adulthood.
The use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) has been the mainstay treatment for gout problems. However, its long-term use poses bigger health risks, especially for the elderly, such as gastrointestinal ulcers, kidney problems, and stroke. So, some people find natural pain relief in the form of essential oils for arthritis as an alternative to NSAIDs.
Definition of Arthritis
There is no single definition of arthritis, the Arthritis Organization explains. The term arthritis refers to any form of inflammation in the joints. The word has Greek origin, which means ”disease of joints”.
Can Using Essential Oils Help Relieve Arthritis?
Aromatherapy involves the therapeutic use of essential oils by inhaling or applying onto the skin. Essential oils are plant derivatives obtained by using steam or pressure.
They are concentrated and scented solutions that mitigate symptoms of health conditions and support wellbeing.
Numerous literature and clinical evidence prove the therapeutic influence of aromatherapy in treating pain and inflammation.
Research suggests that tactile and olfactory stimulation through aromatherapy results in an instant reduction of pain, improvement of vital signs, and an increase in brain function.
There are over 100 plant extracts that have a therapeutic use. However, eucalyptus, turmeric, ginger, orange, frankincense, myrrh, primrose, green tea, and celery are the most potent essential oils for arthritis.
8 Powerful Essential Oils for Arthritis
The following are the eight (8) medically proven essential oils for arthritis and its symptoms.
1. Eucalyptus Essential Oil
Eucalyptus oil releases distinct healing agents that ease off pain and inflammation in arthritis. It has α-pinene and 1,8-cineole that helps suppress edema, reduce pain, relax muscular activity, and lessen inflammatory responses.
In a randomized trial that involved patients who had total knee replacement (TKR) surgery, people who have inhaled eucalyptus oil for three (3) consecutive days have reduced pain perception and stabilized blood pressure.
You can use eucalyptus essential oils for muscle pain and joint pain by dissolving and putting the oil in gauze or pad and inhaling the solution for at least three (3) days. There are also muscle and joint pain relief gels available in the market that contain eucalyptus as the main ingredient and can be applied topically on the affected area.
2. Turmeric Essential Oil
Turmeric is a well-known dietary supplement and alternative medicine. The extracts of turmeric have beneficial effects on alleviating inflammation associated with arthritis.
They reduce pain, improve swelling, and increase blood flow to the joints. Turmeric has curcuminoids and polysaccharides as primary components. They act as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents, and thus, therapeutic to people with arthritis.
Turmeric essential oils for inflammation are mild and less ‘spicy’ compared to other plant derivatives, and therefore, well-tolerated when applied directly onto the skin.
3. Ginger Essential Oil
A powerful herb with clinically proven benefits, ginger does not come last in terms of alleviating inflammation in arthritic patients. Numerous studies show that the gingerol-containing extracts have an anti-arthritic effect by inhibiting joint swelling and preventing manifestations of joint inflammation. This active ingredient of ginger also soothes sore muscles and joints.
Ginger anti-inflammatory essential oils can be either diluted and applied topically. Its warm and spicy scent supplies maximum relaxation when used as a body oil. Once absorbed, it provides a noticeable instant pain relief, and the effect may last for hours. The ginger essential oil works well with other scents (when combined), particularly with eucalyptus, frankincense, and orange.
4. Orange Essential Oil
Orange is not only a popular citrus fruit, but its peels and concentrates are known to have some favorable effects on treating arthritis symptoms.
Orange contains active ingredients, limonene, and levomenthol. They are responsible for several health benefits including joint pain relief. According to the Journal of Sabzevar University of Medical Sciences, the use of orange extracts has been a complementary method in relieving pain in the past. Besides labor and menstrual pains, orange extracts have a soothing impact on knee pain in osteoarthritis.
Orange essential oils are available as a body oil or body scrub. The oil can also be used as an air freshener by adding ten (10) drops to a diffuser.
5. Frankincense and Myrrh
Frankincense and myrrh are not only very common in festive events and religious and cultural ceremonies. They have been part of Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years – and until the present time. The utilization of frankincense and myrrh as one mixture provides stronger pain relief and joint inflammation inhibitors.
Frankincense is a resin made from the Boswellia tree. It is hailed as the ‘King of Oils’ because of its many-sided applications, particularly in thwarting aging. Frankincense has a spicy and woody smell, that when inhaled, can relieve pain and anxiety. Thus, it proves that the resin is a man’s remedy for arthritis.
On the other hand, myrrh derives from a thorny genus tree called Commiphora, which has a lot of surprising health benefits too. During ancient times, myrrh is so precious and treasured because of its powerful healing benefits, making it more valuable than a piece of gold!
The health benefits of frankincense and myrrh have well resonated since time immemorial, and in today’s modern times, more of their health benefits are being recognized and studied. Frankincense reduces pain, helps shrink a tumor, and improves swelling.
On the other hand, myrrh has an analgesic effect comparable to morphine! Using frankincense and myrrh together have a synergistic effect as an essential oil for inflammation, pain reduction, and improved circulation.
6. Evening Primrose Essential Oil
Evening Primrose is a flowering plant that belongs to the Onagraceae family. It is commonly sold in the form of a capsule to induce labor and cure skin problems. Evening Primrose is also a popular anti-inflammatory herbal medicine that corrects symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
The Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases postulates that Evening Primrose essential oil is as effective as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) in managing symptoms of arthritis. Yet, the effect may be very slow.
Evening Primrose is rich in polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acids that help slow down the inflammatory activity in arthritis. Its extracts do not only address joint pain and inflammation, but Evening Primrose is a great essential oil for muscle pain too.
To use the Evening primrose essential oil for muscle pain, apply a few drops of the oil onto the affected area twice daily until the desired effect is achieved.
7. Green Tea Essential Oil
Green tea is widely recognized as part of complementary and alternative medicine in Australia for more than 100 years. It has been used as an anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and anti-septic remedy for many health conditions.
Being one of the essential oils for inflammation, green tea reduces swelling, relieves pain, and brings down temperature in nearby tissues.
Green tea contains high levels of epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) and polyphenols, which are powerful antioxidants that block the production of molecules responsible for joint damage in arthritis. EGCG and polyphenols work by inhibiting inflammation and slowing down cartilage damage.
Green tea essential oil can be used in diffusers or as a diluted massage oil.
8. Celery Seed Essential Oil
Another powerful essential oil that can help relieve arthritis is Celery seed. Known as a food item since the 17th century, celery seeds have been used to treat several health disorders, including arthritis.
Celery seeds do not come from the ‘conventional’ celery we find in the market. It comes from the seeds of wild celery, which is mostly domesticated from India.
One of the popular essential oils for back pain and muscle pain, Indian celery seed extracts act as an inhibitor of inflammation. It has an anti-inflammatory property that has a similar mechanism to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) but without the nasty side effects.
It is also a muscular tonic. Celery seeds essential oil ameliorates joint discomfort and stiffness, prevents degeneration of joints, and helps improve functionality.
Celery seed extracts are available as a topical homeopathic solution. It is an excellent Ayurvedic massage oil for relieving swelling and pain associated with gout.
Lingering on arthritis pain is an unpleasant experience. The symptoms do not only wreak havoc on the physiological function, but they also have a negative influence on the mind and relationships.
The use of essential oils for arthritis in controlled amounts is safe and effective in treating pain and inflammation. However, mild irritation at the site of use may occur.
Not only inhaling essential oils for pain can be curative and restorative, but the sense of touch also has added benefits on the whole and contributes to patient satisfaction. Certainly, aromatherapy provides a safer and natural route for joint pain relief.