Pain can be a regular, often daily, a problem for people who deal with arthritis. Millions of people in our country and around the world are plagued with arthritis in some form and the hurtful inflammatory conditions associated with it.
Handling the pain of arthritis and helping to prevent flare-ups is a constant battle. Fortunately, making some easy lifestyle changes such as using essential oils can help to ease the stress of day-to-day life.
What Is Arthritis?
When we talk about arthritis, we usually refer to osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. There are approximately 100 different diseases that cause pain in the joints, bones, and surrounding tissues. Here are some important facts concerning arthritis1:
- Osteoarthritis is known as degenerative joint disease (DJD) because it is primarily related to aging.
- Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune condition.
- DJD deposits calcium while RA attacks joints and tissues with painful inflammation.
- RA is inflammatory, whereas, DJD is not.
- Together, both of these diseases affect nearly 1 in 10 adults in the US and far too many children.
- Basic lifestyle choices such as maintaining a regular exercise regiment, dropping extra weight, and eating a plant-based, whole foods diet can significantly help all types of arthritis.
Effective anti-inflammatory strategies such as supplementing with curcumin, eating foods such as green leafy vegetables, giving up sugar and grains, and enjoying the benefits of essential oils are exceptionally helpful when dealing with inflammatory arthritic diseases.
The Failing Medical Approach To Arthritis
The most immediate and pressing need regarding arthritis is pain relief. Struggling against a painful illness can be quite difficult, which is why so many people turn to drugs like NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as aspirin (Bayer, Bufferin, Excedrin), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB), and naproxen (Aleve). Far too many physicians recommend NSAIDs without giving it a second thought. Consequently, most people don’t realize that natural therapies can be very effective when dealing with painful arthritis.
The pain-relief medications commonly given to arthritis patients are completely ineffective at managing the root cause of the disease, plus they are riddled with side effects.
Even the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) admits that “NSAID medicines may increase the chance of a heart attack or stroke that can lead to death!”2 Other complications include:
- Anemia (low red blood cells)
- Asthma attacks
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Kidney failure
- Life-threatening skin reactions
- Life-threatening allergic reactions
- Liver failure
- Stomach bleeding and ulcers
- Stomach pain
- Vomiting and more!
If you could deal with arthritic pain without prescriptions, would you? If your answer is “Yes”, you will find essential oils to be a great therapeutic remedy that you can immediately implement.
Best Pain-Relieving Essential Oils
You can effectively soothe sharp pains related to arthritis and relieve secondary conditions like insomnia with virtually no side effects by using natural therapies such as essential oils! The research is quite clear that aromatherapy is very effective at helping arthritis patients and certain oils stand out amongst the rest.
Special Arthritis Pain Blend
Traditionally, several essential oils have been used for arthritic pain relief. However, we don’t have too many studies to prove this.
One of the most promising studies was published in 2005 by Korean researchers who evaluated how the special blend of eucalyptus, lavender, marjoram, rosemary, and peppermint affected arthritis patients. These oils were blended in proportions of 2:1:2:1:1). The oils were blended with a carrier oil mixture composed of almond (45%), apricot (45%), and jojoba oil (10%) and then diluted to 1.5% (roughly 9 drops of essential oils per ounce of carrier).
The results were outstanding when this blend of oils were topically applied. The researchers stated, “Aromatherapy significantly decreased both the pain score and the depression score of the experimental group compared with the control group”, with no reported side effects!3
Top 5 Essential Oils For Inflammation
We need to remember that for inflammatory arthritic illness, anti-inflammatory oils, herbs, and foods are a welcome addition. More studies have been published regarding the anti-inflammatory effects of essential oils, which is a primary cause of pain in people suffering from arthritis.
These anti-inflammatory oils need to be part of your regular, daily essential oil routine in order to begin addressing the root cause of the disease.
Because there is a connection between inflammation and pain, oils that are anti-inflammatory are often analgesic, as well. Frankincense has this dual role.
The pain relieving ability of aromatherapy massage was tested with patients struggling with cancer. They were treated with an aromatherapy hand massage that included frankincense, and their pain was significantly relieved.4
These pain-relieving essential oils can be used in diffusers, topical body care products, and can be directly inhaled.
While the trial may have been directed toward cancer rather than arthritis, the hands are a common site of pain for people with arthritis, and the analgesic effects can be appreciated by all.
Lavender essential oil is generally used to improve sleep or treat the skin, but it has a wide range of results when considering its therapeutic benefits for arthritis.
As an anti-inflammatory oil, lavender can help to relieve the painful swelling and inflammation from arthritis, but it is also an analgesic that tackles the multiple angles of arthritic pain.5
It may also help to relieve secondary problems of a person in chronic pain. Since lavender can be used for anxiety and depression, its gentle nature makes lavender a reliable choice for most people’s use and application.
To work the anti-inflammatory compounds into the skin and onto joints and other sites of pain, add roman chamomile to topical massage oils. You can also diffuse chamomile which can help a person relax who is anxious or depressed.
As a whole herb, chamomile is renowned for its healing, soothing, and calming effects. The essential oil isolates some of these abilities, especially as an anti-inflammatory substance. Roman chamomile essential oil is regularly used for its calming, soothing, and anti-inflammatory effects.6
Topical preparations of yarrow can help to enhance anti-inflammatory and pain relieving combinations. Making the most of the synergistic reactions – oils working together to make each other more effective – creates special blends that help to relieve pain and inflammation for your specific arthritis conditions.
Yarrow is a calming and healing herb, and its essential oil also carries anti-inflammatory components that can be beneficial for arthritic ailments. Yarrow essential oil is used in many anti-inflammatory preparations and is a part of the Ayurvedic tradition.
Wintergreen oil – known as “liquid aspirin” – is another traditional analgesic that has helped countless arthritis patients. It is particularly effective – when used with peppermint – in reducing inflammation. A 2014 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine states:
“The predominant natural ingredient in wintergreen oil is methyl salicylate which is a compound closely related to acetylsalicylic acid or aspirin. When applied to the skin – including tissues at the site of pain – wintergreen oil has analgesic properties. A combination of wintergreen oil and peppermint oil is commonly used because it is believed to give far better pain relief than either wintergreen oil or peppermint oil alone. In addition, the combination of the two oils may potentiate the individual effects of each oil, thus enabling the use of lower doses of each, which – as a consequence – is likely to produce fewer side effects.”7
Arthritis Vs. Fibromyalgia
Knowing what kind of inflammatory joint disease you have is important when choosing treatment options. For example, if you have osteoarthritis, your body is most likely depositing calcium around your joints, probably a specific joint; and has gotten worse with age.
On the other hand, you may have fibromyalgia (FM), which is not inflammatory by nature, and primarily affects women. Thankfully, clinical research has been tested how specific essential oils can help people suffering from fibromyalgia to have great results. Each active ingredient has been evaluated for pain relief and may be the solution that you’re looking for!
In 2013, the Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine Journal published a study that found blending certain essential oils had “significant effects on improving the symptoms of FM compared to a conventional drug or placebo:”8
- Aloe vera oil
- Camphor oil
- Eucalyptus oil
- Lemon oil
- Orange oil
- Peppermint oil
- Rosemary oil
It is important to recognize that the specific approach that works for an inflammatory arthritic illness might not be the same as non-inflammatory arthritis.
The key is to take some of the oils discussed in this article and try to discover the different blends that respond well to your body’s chemistry.
Note: Always remember to dilute these essential oils with a carrier oil, try to have fun with the process, and listen to your intuition. Your body is the best doctor you can ever have, so pay attention to what it’s telling you!