If you are one of the 54 million people in the U.S. suffering from arthritis pain, you know how much that pain can impact your everyday life. There are over 100 different kinds arthritis, and they can all make life miserable. If you are considering supplementing or replacing any of your pain medications with essential oils for arthritis, here are some important things you need to consider.

Why would people use essential oils for arthritis?

The most common forms of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Osteoarthritis is considered a “wear and tear” condition where the cushioning cartilage in the joints wears down over time and causes painful rubbing and inflammation. Rheumatoid arthritis can occur at any age and is classified as an autoimmune disorder that results in painful, and yes, more inflammation.

Simple tasks like brushing your teeth or walking down the stairs to get the paper can be painful. For some, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories don’t provide relief and stronger medications are undesirable. Sometimes patients can no longer tolerate the side effects or oral medications. In these cases, it makes good sense to investigate other options for pain management.

The basics of using essential oils for arthritis

The most important first step in considering using essential oils for arthritis pain is to talk with your doctor.

As with any treatment option, essential oils can have reactions with other medications. Your doctor will be able to work with you to navigate any potential drug interactions. Think of essential oils as the complementary medicine that they are, working with your doctors, not replacing them.

Next, think safety first.

As with every medical treatment, the quality of essential oils for arthritis matters. Because essential oils are unregulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, it pays to take the time to find a quality oil. When shopping for essential oils, keep these tips in mind.

Tip 1: Look for the plant’s Latin name

There can be several different species of the plant you are looking for, so make sure you are getting the species you need. For example, there are 47 different kinds of lavender. If you are shopping for lavender essential oils, verify that the Latin name of the lavender you want is correct.

Tip 2: Identify any additives

If you are planning on using your own carrier oil or a diffuser (more on that in a bit), then you want to look for labels that say “100% essential oil.” Without that, the oil may have been mixed with artificial flavors, colors, or oils and will not be as effective.

Tip 3: Mind your money

We always want value in our products, but if an essential oil is really cheap, it’s probably no good. Quality oils take a lot of herbs or flowers to produce (e.g., 250 pounds of rose blossoms to produce two tablespoons of rose oil), and that costs more.

Tip 4: Check its organic status

Organic oils are preferable as the plants from which they come are not adulterated or modified.

Tip 5: Let your nose guide you

Does the oil smell the way you think it should? If you are looking to smell lavender, but it’s instead sharp or funky, then the oil may be rancid or expired.