If you’ve ever suffered a gout attack, you know that it’s one of the most painful experiences you can endure. It almost feels like someone is pushing a wedge between your joint causing severe, shooting pain. Medically speaking, gout has been classified as a type of inflammatory arthritis caused by high levels of uric acid in the blood. The excess uric acid tends to form needle-like crystals in your joints causing severe episodes of pain and inflammation.
While your doctor will prescribe drugs to keep the symptoms of gout at bay, you can also use natural essential oils that can help cure gout. Several plant-based essential oils have potent healing properties. They can reduce inflammation and in some cases even block your pain receptors, hence acting as painkillers or analgesics.
What Triggers Gout
There can be several reasons for gout to occur. The Arthritis Foundation lists the following as the common causes of gout:
- Gender And Age: Statistics show that gout is more common in men than women up until the age of 60. The reason could be that natural estrogen protects women till that age.
- Genes: Gout is genetic. If you members of your family have suffered from gout, there are higher chances that you will get it too.
- Health conditions: The risk of gout is increased when you have heath conditions like diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, and high blood pressure.
- Diet: Foods that have high purine content can affect uric acid levels. Purine-rich foods include red meat, organ meat, and certain fish like sardines, herring, mackerel, and scallops.
- Medications: Diuretics prescribed for high blood pressure and drugs which suppress the immune system can also increase uric acid levels.
- Obesity: Obese people are at a higher risk for gout, and they tend to develop it at a younger age than people of normal weight.
- Bypass surgery: Those who have undergone gastric bypass surgery also have an increased risk.
- Alcohol: Having more than two alcoholic drinks or two beers a day can increase the risk of gout.
- Sodas: The fructose in sweet sodas has recently been shown to increase gout risk.
Essential Oils That Can Help With Gout Relief
A gout attack can be very painful and your first course of action has to be to consult a doctor. While there are drugs that can help reduce the pain, inflammation, and uric acid levels in your blood, you could also supplement your treatment with essential oils. There are several essential oils that have effective anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. This list can help you choose from a list of different essential oils that can provide relief from a gout attack.
1. Frankincense Essential Oil
Frankincense has a long history of being used in traditional ceremonies for its calming aroma. Unlike other essential oils that are derived from herbs, flowers, or fruit, frankincense is extracted from the resin of the boswellia tree. Apart from using it as perfume and incense, for thousands of years, it has been used in Asia and Africa for its therapeutic properties and even finds mention in ayurveda. When researchers tested the effects of boswellic acids extracted from frankincense on artificially induced edemas (inflammation) in rats, they found that it has an anti-inflammatory effect, especially on gout caused sodium urate crystals.1 Frankincense has proved to be helpful in providing relief in other forms of arthritis too. This makes it a potent natural remedy for gout.
2. Rosemary Essential Oil
The common kitchen herb that you use to flavor your stuffed roasts is also a source of relief from gout. Native to the Mediterranean and parts of Asia, rosemary has been used by ancient Greeks and Romans to add flavor to dishes and in wedding ceremonies. Europeans have also used rosemary as a cure for arthritis. Modern researchers found that essential oil of rosemary not only has anti-inflammatory properties but is also an antinociceptive. This means it can block the pain signals received by your brain, thus acting as a natural painkiller.2
3. Basil Essential Oil
Basil has been used in India for thousands of years as a medicinal herb. However, you might be more familiar with its use as a culinary herb used in Italian cuisine. Basil belongs to the mint family, comes in many varieties, and has several health benefits. Gout causes joint inflammation which can lead to a severe burning sensation. Research has shown that basil has anti-inflammatory properties which can help relieve inflammation and swelling.3
4. Thyme Essential Oil
Thyme is an evergreen herb that has been used in cooking for its flavor and as medicine by many ancient cultures including Europe and Egypt. Because of its aroma, the Greeks even used it as incense in their temples. It has several compounds like ursolic and oleanolic acids that exhibit anti-inflammatory properties and flavonoids that act as antioxidants.4 Thyme extracts have also shown to inhibit nitric oxide, a molecule that can cause an increase in inflammation.5
5. Geranium Essential Oil
Geranium is one of the more popular natural essential oils that are widely used to makes soaps, lotions, and perfumes. Because they are highly aromatic, geraniums are used in several cosmetic products. However, they also possess medicinal properties that can be helpful if you’re suffering from gout. The use of geranium in folk medicine prompted a study which found that this fragrant herb also has an anti-inflammatory effect.6 If you’re looking for a gout relief remedy that can also soothe you with its aroma, use geranium essential oil.
6. Ginger Essential Oil
Ginger has been used in traditional Indian and Chinese medicine for centuries. In ayurveda, ginger is used to detox the body as part of the treatment for curing rheumatoid arthritis. Ginger is also commonly used as a culinary ingredient in Indian cuisine for its strong flavor. When researchers prescribed ginger to patients with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, 75% of the patients said they found varying degrees of relief from pain and swelling.7 Ginger has also been known to help with heartburn, indigestion, nausea, diarrhea and motion sickness.
7. Wintergreen Essential Oil
While you may not realize it, many foods like chewing gums, mints, and candies that have a minty taste use wintergreen as a flavoring agent. It is also used in dental hygiene products like mouthwash and toothpaste. Tea made with wintergreen leaves has been used in native American folk medicine as a cure for rheumatic symptoms. In 2014, when scientists ran experiments to find what compounds could be responsible for the cure, they found phenolic compounds that had an anti-inflammatory effect.8
8. Chamomile Essential Oil
The word Chamomile refers to a range of different daisy-like plants that belong to the asteraceae family. It has been used as a herb for thousands of years by the ancient Egyptians, Romans, and Greeks to treat a variety of ailments.9 Research on chamomile extracts has shown that it has many flavonoid compounds like Apigenin, quercetin and luteolin that have anti-inflammatory properties.10 Other experiments have also found that chamomile can be a good analgesic, which means it can effectively reduce pain.11 12 This makes chamomile essential oil a great option if you’re looking to find relief from gout.
9. Fennel Essential Oil
Fennel has been used widely to cure digestive, endocrine, reproductive, and respiratory ailments. This is because fennel has several compounds bioactive such as flavonoids, phenolic compounds, fatty acids, and amino acids. Research has shown that these compounds give it pharmacological properties such as antimicrobial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and antinociceptive properties.13 Targeted research done on the anti-inflammatory properties of fennel has also confirmed its ability to reduce inflammation.14
10. Turmeric Essential Oil
There is a reason why everyone is raving about turmeric latte or golden milk. From acne to cancer, turmeric has several medicinal benefits that the world is only now beginning to discover. One of the first mentions of the use of turmeric as medicine is found in the ayurveda. The ancient Indian medical texts recommend the use of turmeric for several conditions such as skin diseases, swelling, anemia, wounds, and ulcers. Experiments conducted to test the curative properties of turmeric have found that it has anti-inflammatory effects which can help in gout relief.15 Another reason to use turmeric essential oil is because of its analgesic effects which has been confirmed by researchers.16
How To Use Essential Oils For Gout
Essential oils are concentrated compounds that are extracted from plants usually through a process of distillation. These compounds are volatile and have to be used carefully. One basic rule of thumb is to dilute them using a carrier oil before application. Some of the carrier oils that you can use include oilve oil, sweet almond oil, jojoba oil, coconut oil, and grapeseed oil. If you are looking to use the above essential oils to gain relief from gout, here are the different ways you can do it.
This is the most simple and easiest way of applying an essential oil. You will need the essential oil of your choice and a bottle of carrier oil. Use a ceramic or glass bowl to mix 4-6 drops of essential oil with 1 tablespoon of carrier oil. Blend the oils well and apply it on the affected joint. Gently massage the oils into your skin. Do this 2-3 times a day. All the oils mentioned in this list can be applied using this technique.
Hot Towel Compress
This technique works well if gout has struck your toe joint. Start by soaking your feet in a basin filled with cold water for about 15 minutes. Pat it dry with a clean towel. Mix 3-6 drops of essential oil with 1 tablespoon of carrier oil and massage it over the affected area. You could choose from basil, fennel, or geranium. Wrap a soaked hot towel over the joint and keep it for 2 minutes. Repeat this 2-3 times daily.
Hot And Cold Footbath
First prepare two basins of water; one with cool water and the other with warm. Blend 2 teaspoons of milk with 10-12 drop of essential oil. Thyme oil works well for this treatment technique. Pour half of this mixture into the cool water basin and the remaining into the warm water. Soak your foot in warm water first for 10 minutes and then in cool water for another 10 minutes. Remove your foot from the water and massage the area gently before patting it dry.
Epsom Salt Bath
You can also turn your bath into a gout treatment routine. This technique may not be as effective as directly treating the affected area but it can have a relaxing effect. Add 6-8 drop of essential oil and a handful of Epsom salt to your bath water. Mix well and soak in the bath water for 30 minutes. This can be done daily for about 2 weeks using geranium or frankincense oils for their pleasant aroma.
Precautions When Using Essential Oils
- If you’re pregnant or under medication, talk to you doctor before using essential oil remedies for gout.
- Essential oils have to used after blending them with a carrier oil so that they do not harm your skin.
- For blending oils, always use a bowl made with non-reactive material like glass or ceramic. Avoid using plastic or metal bowls.
- While many articles and books recommend experimenting with different oil blends, it is advisable to consult with a certified aromatherapist to help find a blend that works best for you.
- If you are trying a new oil, do a patch test first to check for any allergic reactions.
- Always keep essential oils away from from the reach of infants and children.
A gout attack can last from one to two weeks and can cause severe bouts of pain. Apart from taking medication, it’s also important to eat the right food and make lifestyle changes so that you can avoid a second attack. Regular blood tests to check uric acid levels can also help you avert the risk of gout. While essential oils cannot guarantee a complete cure, they can definitely help you find relief and take you on the road to faster recovery.
|↑1||Singh, G. B., Surjeet Singh, and Sarang Bani. “Anti-inflammatory actions of boswellic acids.” Phytomedicine 3, no. 1 (1996): 81-85.|
|↑2||Takaki, I., L. E. Bersani-Amado, A. Vendruscolo, S. M. Sartoretto, S. P. Diniz, C. A. Bersani-Amado, and R. K. N. Cuman. “Anti-inflammatory and antinociceptive effects of Rosmarinus officinalis L. essential oil in experimental animal models.” Journal of Medicinal food 11, no. 4 (2008): 741-746.|
|↑3||Yamada, Alciléia Nunes, Renata Grespan, Áureo Tatsumi Yamada, Expedito Leite Silva, Saulo Euclides Silva-Filho, Marcio José Damião, Márcia Machado de Oliveira Dalalio, Ciomar Aparecida Bersani-Amado, and Roberto Kenji Nakamura Cuman. “Anti-inflammatory activity of Ocimum americanum L. essential oil in experimental model of zymosan-induced arthritis.” The American journal of Chinese medicine 41, no. 04 (2013): 913-926.|
|↑4||Ismaili, H., L. Milella, S. Fkih-Tetouani, A. Ilidrissi, A. Camporese, S. Sosa, G. Altinier, R. Della Loggia, and R. Aquino. “In vivo topical anti-inflammatory and in vitro antioxidant activities of two extracts of Thymus satureioides leaves.” Journal of ethnopharmacology 91, no. 1 (2004): 31-36.|
|↑5||Vigo, E., A. Cepeda, R. Perez‐Fernandez, and O. Gualillo. “In‐vitro anti‐inflammatory effect of Eucalyptus globulus and Thymus vulgaris: nitric oxide inhibition in J774A. 1 murine macrophages.” Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology 56, no. 2 (2004): 257-263.|
|↑6||Küpeli, Esra, I. Irem Tatli, Zeliha S. Akdemir, and Erdem Yesilada. “Estimation of antinociceptive and anti-inflammatory activity on Geranium pratense subsp. finitimum and its phenolic compounds.” Journal of ethnopharmacology 114, no. 2 (2007): 234-240.|
|↑7||Srivastava, K. C., and T. Mustafa. “Ginger (Zingiber officinale) in rheumatism and musculoskeletal disorders.” Medical hypotheses 39, no. 4 (1992): 342-348.|
|↑8||Michel, Piotr, Anna Dobrowolska, Agnieszka Kicel, Aleksandra Owczarek, Agnieszka Bazylko, Sebastian Granica, Jakub P. Piwowarski, and Monika A. Olszewska. “Polyphenolic profile, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity of eastern teaberry (Gaultheria procumbens L.) leaf extracts.” Molecules 19, no. 12 (2014): 20498-20520.|
|↑9||Overview. German chamomile. University of Maryland Medical Center.|
|↑10||Ghavimi, Hamed, Ali Shayanfar, Sanaz Hamedeyazdan, Afshin Shiva, and Afagh Garjani. “Chamomile: An ancient pain remedy and a modern gout relief-A hypothesis.” African Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology 6, no. 8 (2012): 508-511.|
|↑11||Hussain, Saad Abdulrahman, Intesar Tariq Numan, and Maha Noori Hamad. “Comparative study of the analgesic activity of two Iraqi medicinal plants, Ruta graveolens and Matricaria chamomilla extracts.” Journal of Intercultural Ethnopharmacology 1, no. 2 (2012): 79-83.|
|↑12||Heidari, M. R., A. Asadipour, and M. Ghayour. “Evaluation of analgesic and ulcerogenic effect of methanolic extract of matricaria chamomilla L.” (2002): 15-23.|
|↑13||Badgujar, Shamkant B., Vainav V. Patel, and Atmaram H. Bandivdekar. “Foeniculum vulgare Mill: a review of its botany, phytochemistry, pharmacology, contemporary application, and toxicology.” BioMed research international 2014 (2014).|
|↑14||Choi, Eun-Mi, and Jae-Kwan Hwang. “Antiinflammatory, analgesic and antioxidant activities of the fruit of Foeniculum vulgare.” Fitoterapia 75, no. 6 (2004): 557-565.|
|↑15||Chainani-Wu, Nita. “Safety and anti-inflammatory activity of curcumin: a component of tumeric (Curcuma longa).” The Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine 9, no. 1 (2003): 161-168.|
|↑16||Neha, S., G. D. Ranvir, and C. R. Jangade. “Analgesic and antipyretic activities of Curcuma longa rhizome extracts in Wister Rats.” Veterinary world 2, no. 8 (2009): 304-306.|