The winter season is a welcome change for many, especially with the holidays ringing in the colder months. However, for many the change in weather can be painful — especially for those who suffer from arthritis. The good news is there are essentials oils for arthritis that can soothe this common affliction.
Just how common is arthritis? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that a whopping 52.5 million adults in the U.S. alone are afflicted with this painful condition. That breaks down to more than one in five U.S. adults (22.7 percent of the population) who have some sort of doctor-diagnosed form of arthritis. (1)
With so many people dealing with arthritic pain, any type of natural arthritis treatment is welcomed if it means arthritis pain relief. Luckily, there are five essential oils for arthritis suffers that can not only help relieve pain, but also help improve mood and overall health at the same time.
The Facts on Arthritis
Arthritis is a joint disease that causes swelling and pain in and around the joints. It’s usually classified as either osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis occurs when cartilage between joints wears down, causing inflammation and pain and generally occurs in the joints we most frequently use, such as knees, hips, spine and hands. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is caused by an autoimmune dysfunction where the white blood cells destroy the cartilage. Research suggests that RA may be related to food allergies, bacterial infections, stress or excess acid in the body, but the exact cause of RA is not yet known.
Although the word arthritis actually means joint inflammation, it’s rather widely used in the public health world to describe more than 100 rheumatic diseases and conditions that affect joints, the tissues that surround the joint and other connective tissue. The pattern, severity and location of symptoms can vary — however, typically, rheumatic conditions are characterized by pain and stiffness in and around one or more joints. The symptoms can develop gradually or suddenly, and certain rheumatic conditions can involve the immune system as well as various internal organs of the body. (2)
The CDC reports that 52.5 millions adults are told by a doctor that they have some form of arthritis, whether it’s rheumatoid arthritis, gout, lupus or fibromyalgia. To be more specific, in 2010–2012, 49.7 percent of adults 65 years or older reported doctor-diagnosed arthritis. By 2030, an estimated 67 million Americans ages 18 years or older are projected to have doctor-diagnosed arthritis.
On top of that, an estimated 294,000 children under age 18 have some form of arthritis or rheumatic condition. This represents approximately one in every 250 children in the U.S. It’s no surprise, with these astounding numbers, that arthritis sufferers are in need of remedies that they can feel good about using. Thankfully, the following essential oils for arthritis can help. (3)
Top 5 Essential Oils for Arthritis
Essential oils are natural plant products, most of which possess antioxidant, antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties. Essential oils from ginger, orange and black cumin seeds have been shown to hold promise for the relief of symptoms of arthritis.
How do essential oils work? Essential oils and their components are rapidly absorbed through the skin and are detectable in plasma after topical application. Therefore, topical dermal delivery of essential oils represents an effective method to directly provide a natural, anti-inflammatory agent to the site of inflammation.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine shares this report and notes a study that used topical application of an ointment containing essential oils that decreased the severity of arthritis. Furthermore, this suppression of arthritis involved changes in the disease-related immunological and biochemical mediators of inflammation. (4)
Here are the five most beneficial essential oils for arthritis:
Ginger essential oil is an amazing healing agent that contains chemicals with analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects on the body. It’s been shown to help lessen pain associated with arthritis, making it a great pain reliever. It provides this relief by acting on vanilloid receptors, which are located on sensory nerve endings.
Ginger has that slight burning sensation similar to the initial intense burning feel you get when you consume spicy pepper. While it typically only lasts a few seconds, researchers discovered that it affects the pain pathways directly and rather rapidly in most cases, relieving the inflammation, which in itself causes pain.
The Arthritis Foundation reports a study from the University of Miami that concluded that ginger extract could be a substitute to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). The study compared the effects of a highly concentrated ginger extract to placebo in 247 patients with osteoarthritis of the knee. The ginger reduced pain and stiffness in knee joints by 40 percent over the placebo. That is a big difference and one worth noting! (5)
Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles showed that ginger affects certain inflammatory processes at a cellular level. Ginger has anti-inflammatory, anti-ulcer and antioxidant activities, as well as a small amount of analgesic properties, making it a great option for arthritis sufferers. (6)
A recent study out of Japan evaluated its relationship with interleukin (IL)-6, the inflammatory cytokine known to be involved in the RA process, and discovered that curcumin significantly reduced inflammation. This evidence suggests that regular turmeric use could be a powerful way to combat the development of RA! (7)
Try this turmeric tea recipe to help soothe arthritic pain and inflammation.
Frankincense oil can inhibit the production of key inflammatory molecules associated with conditions like arthritis and can be useful in helping to prevent the breakdown of the cartilage tissue. This has been shown to significantly reduce levels of inflammation, making it a natural treatment option for pain-related conditions that affect the muscles, joints and tendons. (8)
Myrrh oil also had anti-inflammatory properties, and it’s often used in tandem to treat arthritis. A study published in Scientific Reports showed that frankincense and myrrh are highly effective in treatment of inflammatory diseases, especially when combined.
The study revealed that frankincense and myrrh, especially when used together, help suppress inflammation and the intensity of joint inflammation. Results showed that the individual extract of frankincense or myrrh and combined extracts used to treat groups showed significant differences when compared with the arthritis control group. (9)
Citrus scents make you feel more awake, and the strong anti-inflammatory properties of orange oil have been researched in regard to their effects for helping fight pain. A 2009 study published in the European Journal of Medical Research investigated the antioxidant potential of various essential oils, reporting that orange was the most highly effective of those studied, which in turn makes it a great essential oil for arthritis treatment. (10)
Try diluting a few drops of the orange essential oil with 1 teaspoon of avocado or almond oil, and then rub it onto the back of your hand or wherever you have arthritic pain.
How to Use Essential Oils for Arthritis
There are several ways you can use essential oils for arthritis.
To help relieve pain and inflammation while improving your sleep, put a diffuser by your bed and diffuse essential oils while you sleep. You can also rub topically, when blended with a carrier oil, directly onto the area where you feel the pain. Be careful to avoid the eyes.
You can also try my Homemade Frankincense and Myrrh Lotion, which, in my opinion, does wonders to help soothe pain.
Risks of Essential Oils for Arthritis
Use any essential oils sparingly, whether internally or topically. High levels might cause reactions and sensitivity, so be sure to do a skin patch check before using on a regular basis. You also want to use caution if you take blood pressure medications or have an existing heart condition. Always talk to your doctor before beginning any new treatment.
It’s important to make sure that any essential oils you choose are 100 percent pure. If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, check with your doctor first. While most oils are safe for children, please do proper research and review with your physician.
Essential Oils for Arthritis Takeaways
- 52.5 million adults in the U.S. alone are afflicted with arthritis. That breaks down to over one in five U.S. adults (22.7 percent).
- Osteoarthritis occurs when cartilage between joints wears down causing inflammation and pain and generally occurs in the joints we most frequently use.
- Rheumatoid arthritis is caused by an autoimmune dysfunction where the white blood cells destroy the cartilage.
- Arthritis is widely used in the public health world to describe more than 100 rheumatic diseases and conditions that affect joints.
- By 2030, an estimated 67 million Americans ages 18 years or older are projected to have doctor-diagnosed arthritis.
- The top essential oils for arthritis are ginger, turmeric, frankincense, myrrh and orange.