If you have arthritis, know that you’re not alone. About 54.4 million American adults over the age of 18 have this condition.1 It is characterized by joint inflammation, which can cause a lot of pain and swelling. This chronic disease also becomes more prevalent with age.
Dealing with it is a lifelong job because performing everyday activities becomes tricky. Sure, you can always take pain medications. But many of these have side effects and risks. For a more natural remedy, check out these 6 essential oils for inflammation.
If you’re considering natural ingredients, you can’t go wrong with ginger. So it’s no surprise that ginger in the essential oil form has amazing anti-inflammatory properties. A study in PharmaNutrition showed that ginger has terpenes, which are plant compounds with estrogen-like effects. This means that they behave like hormones even though they’re not produced by the endocrine system.
Thanks to this mechanism, terpenes prevent chronic inflammation in the joints. But even the scent of ginger provides relief, making its essential oil one of the best for inflammation.2
You might be surprised to learn that basil isn’t just for cooking. As an essential oil, basil can provide relief from pain due to arthritis inflammation. It has been shown to reduce swelling, even if it’s from a chronic condition.3
Because basil has an earthy aroma, it works well with rejuvenating oils. Bergamot, ginger, and lemon are lovely choices.
Jujube, or the Chinese date, is known for its powerful antioxidant properties. But when the seeds are used to make an essential oil, jujube can also relieve skin inflammation and pain. This can make you feel better when there is discomfort.4
The cooling effect of peppermint oil feels amazing on inflamed joints. It might be just what you need in your homemade arthritis rub. As always, be sure to dilute the oil to prevent skin irritation.
If you prefer aromatherapy, peppermint essential oil can still be a game changer. It has been proven to reduce pain and relieve depression in arthritis patients, especially when combined with oils like lavender and rosemary.5
Like basil, nutmeg oil is usually associated with delicious food. But its warm and spicy scent can actually help joint inflammation and pain, too. This essential oil has an analgesic effect, meaning that it relieves pain when applied on the skin. It can even ease common complaints of arthritis like heat and swelling.6
Rosemary is another fragrant herb that’s commonly used in cooking. The essential oil of this plant also happens to have stellar anti-inflammatory benefits. When applied on the skin, rosemary relieves arthritis pain and inflammation. It essentially revitalizes limbs that feel numb, giving you a great pick-me-up!7
How To Use
Now that you know which essential oils are anti-inflammatory, it’s time to make your own arthritis rub. Simply dilute 5 to 10 drops of essential oils in 1 tablespoon of a carrier oil. Ideal options are olive, almond, avocado, and grapeseed oil.
Diluting essential oils is extremely important. They’re made at high concentrations, so you’ll want to avoid the risk of skin irritation. Carrier oils will make sure that they’re safe for skin contact.
To apply, simply rub the blend onto the affected joints.
If you prefer aromatherapy, add the oils to a diffuser or warmer. You can also give the bottle a quick sniff.
Before slathering an oil on your body, do a patch test first. You’ll want to check if you are allergic to a particular oil. If you are, stop using it immediately.
Women who are pregnant and breastfeeding should avoid using oils on the skin. They might harm your baby, so check with your doctor first.
Many essential oils are phototoxic. This means that they cause irritation after sun exposure. Your best bet is to apply these oils at night, right before bedtime.
Using essential oils for inflammation is just one part of arthritis management. You’ll want to focus on a well-rounded, anti-inflammatory diet. Regular exercise and stretching will also keep pain at bay.
|↑1||National Statistics. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.|
|↑2||Funk, Janet L., Jennifer B. Frye, Janice N. Oyarzo, Jianling Chen, Huaping Zhang, and Barbara N. Timmermann. “Anti-inflammatory effects of the essential oils of ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe) in experimental rheumatoid arthritis.” PharmaNutrition 4, no. 3 (2016): 123-131.|
|↑3||Rodrigues, Lindaiane Bezerra, Anita Oliveira Brito Pereira Bezerra Martins, Francisco Rafael Alves Santana Cesário, Fyama Ferreira e Castro, Thaís Rodrigues de Albuquerque, Maria Neyze Martins Fernandes, Bruno Anderson Fernandes da Silva et al. “Anti-inflammatory and antiedematogenic activity of the Ocimum basilicum essential oil and its main compound estragole: In vivo mouse models.” Chemico-Biological Interactions 257 (2016): 14-25.|
|↑4||Al-Reza, Sharif M., Jung In Yoon, Hyo Jung Kim, Jong-Sang Kim, and Sun Chul Kang. “Anti-inflammatory activity of seed essential oil from Zizyphus jujuba.” Food and chemical toxicology 48, no. 2 (2010): 639-643.|
|↑5||Kim, Myung Ja, Eun Sook Nam, and Seun In Paik. “The effects of aromatherapy on pain, depression, and life satisfaction of arthritis patients.” Taehan Kanho Hakhoe Chi 35, no. 1 (2005): 186-194.|
|↑6||Zhang, Wei Kevin, Shan-Shan Tao, Ting-Ting Li, Yu-Sang Li, Xiao-Jun Li, He-Bin Tang, Ren-Huai Cong, Fang-Li Ma, and Chu-Jun Wan. “Nutmeg oil alleviates chronic inflammatory pain through inhibition of COX-2 expression and substance P release in vivo.” Food & nutrition research 60 (2016).|
|↑7||Begum, Asia, Subarda Sandhya, Kombath Ravindran Vinod, Swapna Reddy, and David Banji. “An in-depth review on the medicinal flora Rosmarinus officinalis (Lamiaceae).” Acta Scientiarum Polonorum Technologia Alimentaria 12, no. 1 (2013): 61-74.|