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.
Using essential oils for arthritis safely
Once you have selected and purchased your oils, it is important to test them out before use. Because essential oils on their own can cause skin irritation, placing a drop of diluted oil in a patch on your skin and waiting 24 hours to see if you’re sensitive to that oil is important.
To dilute oils, combine twelve drops of essential oil with two tablespoons of cold-pressed carrier oil (almond oil, coconut oil, and olive oil all work well). Mix before applying to skin. If, after 24 hours, the skin underneath your test patch is clear, you’re good to go. If not, it could be a reaction to the oil, or you may not need as much.
Finally, make sure you follow all directions for use of essential oils for arthritis pain.
Essential oils can be used topically, inhaled, and, with medical supervision, orally. You may think that because they are natural there is no way to overdo it, but consider this: opioids are derived from natural substances in the poppy, a beautiful flower grown in abundance all over the world. Take care of yourself and follow treatment instructions as written.
What essential oils are good for arthritis?
Essential oils for rheumatoid arthritis and for all other types of arthritis can be divided into three main categories under which many different varieties fall:
- Mental relief
- Physical relief
- Emotional relief
Used together, these 11 essential oils for arthritis can offer powerful relief from pain, anxiety, and fatigue that often accompany this condition. The best essential oils for arthritis include:
- Clary sage
- Helichrysum oil
- Black Pepper
Other great essential oils for arthritis pain relief include juniper, wintergreen, sandalwood, and clove. Citrus oils like lemon, orange, and grapefruit can also be used to help improve focus, clarity, and mental acuity. You may see these in some of the recipes below.
1. Clary sage
The best oils for mental relief help you experience better concentration, focus, and clarity.
Clary sage is one of those essential oils that could easily be a part of everyone’s first aid kit. In addition to relieving depression and lowering blood pressure, clary sage is very supportive for women’s health issues and everyone’s digestive challenges.
Rosemary’s benefits could place it firmly in any of the three categories.
Offering better mental clarity and improved retention of information, rosemary is also anti-inflammatory and antibiotic.
Frankincense is a miracle oil that was purportedly worth more than gold in biblical times. These days, its benefits as an essential oil for arthritis is just as valuable.
Frankincense offers improved focus and concentration while decreasing irritability and hyperactivity.
4. Helichrysum oil
Helichrysum oil is the miracle oil you have never heard of.
From its benefits as a natural antibiotic to its powerful pain-relieving properties, this essential oil for arthritis also increases circulation and reduces inflammation in the joints.
Peppermint’s cooling properties can help soothe inflamed joints and is especially good when combined with a carrier oil and rubbed directly onto the skin.
You can also use this oil in the bath when your entire body is aching. It not only relieves pain, but also helps with fatigue and difficulty concentrating.
Noticing a trend?
All of the essential oils for arthritis pain relief focus on improving circulation and reducing inflammation, and eucalyptus is one of the best. Eucalyptus can be diffused, rubbed into joints, or taken in the bath. Chest congestion? Hang a fresh stem of eucalyptus in the hot shower and feel your lungs open up!
7. Black pepper
Rubbing grains of black pepper on your knee might not seem like a great idea, but pressing pepper berries into essential oil and using that extract certainly is!
Black pepper is warming and anti-inflammatory, one of the greatest essential oils for rheumatoid arthritis. Always be careful when using this powerful oil and talk to your doctor about the best way to use it first.
If you need essentials oils for rheumatoid arthritis that may someday completely replace your NSAIDs, ginger might be one of them. A study by the University of Miami found that rubbing ginger extract on the knee joint reduced pain and inflammation by as much as 40%.
Ginger essential oil is warming in the same way that capsaicin, the spice in spicy peppers, is. Rubbed directly onto the affected area, the sensation of warmth will fade, but the effects can last.
Emotional relief should not be underestimated in the treatment of a chronic pain condition like arthritis. And when it comes to emotional relief, lavender is one of the best.
Lavender is arguably the most well-known of the essential oils, scenting everything from baby lotion to sleep masks. This powerful essential oil is great for:
- Soothing anxiety
- Promoting restful sleep
- Offering gentle relaxation
A key ingredient in many teas that promote sleep, chamomile oil works in much the same way that lavender does to calm the mind and relax the body.
Some people even like to make their nighttime bath a tea cup of sorts, adding dried chamomile flowers to the water to steep. Skip the messy cleanup and use chamomile oil instead, or add it to a diffuser in your bedroom for sweet dreams.
Remember our expensive example? Turns out, rose oil is worth its weight in roses.
This luxurious essential oil is as good for the outside of your body as it is for the inside. Rose oil fights depression and improves mood, but it also soothes irritated skin, fights inflammation, and may offer a boost to the libido.
Where can I find essential oil recipes for arthritis?
Good sources for essential oils include reputable brands in stores or online and local friends who are selling essential oils for arthritis pain through a company like Young Living or dōTERRA. It is important to seek out a reputable source, so do your research!
You may want to purchase an essential oil diffuser for aromatherapy. An essential oil roller is another helpful option if you want to take your oils on the go without worrying about different bottles rattling around.
Keep in mind that you don’t need to buy every oil all at once, and you don’t need to spring for fancy blends. Making your own blends at home is quick, easy, and ultimately costs less when you do it yourself.
Whether you are looking for essential oil blends for your diffuser, something for the bath, or a blend to apply directly to sore joints, many of our favorite essential oils for arthritis can easily be put together for the relief of many different symptoms at once.
What about CBD oil for arthritis?
Many people immediately turn away when any mention of cannabidiol (CBD) oil comes up as a potential treatment for many conditions. And with some good reason. Although legal medically and recreationally in 29 states, CBD oil is not approved by the U.S Food and Drug Administration for treatment of any medical condition.
CBD is extracted from marijuana and hemp plants. Even though it does not create a “high” like the more familiar THC extract might, both oils remain illegal in the eyes of the federal government.
Another reason people shy away from CBD is due to the lack of research on its effects. Because marijuana is illegal, there are few scientifically valid studies of its proper dosing, treatment success, and side effects. Most evidence is anecdotal, and results can vary.
But there is a reason CBD oil for rheumatoid arthritis keeps coming up as a potential treatment. In 2016, a study of transdermal CBD oil as a treatment for inflammation and arthritis in rats yielded positive results with few, if any, negative side effects (e.g., no noticeable change in higher brain function). Although the researchers are quick to suggest that more human studies are needed, initial results are promising and warrant further investigation.
The best option to learn more about this controversial treatment is to talk with your doctor about the potential benefits and side effects, as well as the process for getting a medical marijuana card if the use of CBD oil is legal in your state.
What are my other arthritis treatment options?
Because arthritis symptoms can vary greatly, the best combinations of treatments are personalized to the patient. You and your doctor will work together to find which combination of diet, exercise, over-the-counter medications (e.g., NSAIDs), prescription medications, and alternative medicines (e.g., essential oils, acupuncture, and biofeedback) work best for you.
If you are experiencing arthritis pain and want to know more about using essential oils, talk to your doctor about your options. Click the button below to find a pain specialist in your area.
Suffering from other pain conditions? Check out our related posts:
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