Arthritis is a collective term used to describe conditions that affect the joint health adversely.
It included nearly 100 different kinds of diseases namely osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, psoriatic arthritis, lupus, fibromyalgia, etc.
Symptoms of arthritis include pain, swelling, inflammation, stiffness, etc. Treatment for various types of arthritis includes surgery, use of drugs for alleviating pain, inflammation, swelling, etc.
Alternative therapy regimes include the use of herbal medication, essential oil, etc. to avoid side effects associated with conventional modules.
What is Clove Oil?
Clove (Eugenia caryophyllata) is a commonly used herb in cuisines for its aroma and flavor.
The oil obtained from clove buds known as clove oil/eugenol has several beneficial properties, which makes it a widely used essential oil.
It is commonly used for it's analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-septic, stimulatory and anti-microbial properties.
It is used for dental care to relieve tooth pain, sore gums, and mouth ulcers.
It helps treat acne, provides a boost to the immune system, treats indigestion, improves blood circulation, and fights respiratory problems.
It also alleviates earache and headaches. It also helps heal wounds, cuts, etc. Clove oil is also employed for its blood purifying properties.
Benefits of Clove Oil in Arthritis
Clove oil can benefit arthritis patients in several ways. Clove oil exhibits anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-microbial, analgesic, anxiolytic properties and therefore it can be helpful in alleviating inflammation, swelling, pain, discomfort, etc. in the patients with arthritis.
1. Clove oil possesses anti-arthritic properties
Clove oil component eugenol has been found to exhibit anti-arthritic effects in rat models of arthritis.
In a study, it was observed that eugenol could effectively alleviate the symptoms of arthritis. This was found to be due to anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory properties of eugenol.
Eugenol was also effective in reducing the migration of leukocytes to the joints thus reducing inflammation and swelling.
It enhanced the levels of anti-inflammatory cytokines like IL-10 while reducing the levels of inflammatory mediators.
Another study published in Pharmacology also found similar results. Eugenol was capable of reducing inflammation, joint swelling, etc. in the rat models of arthritis and thus proved to be a potent anti-rheumatic agent.
What does this mean? Clove oil is a potent anti-arthritic agent as it has shown to reduce joint swelling, inflammation, etc. thus providing relief from arthritis.
2. Clove oil helps relieve pain
Chronic pain is the most common symptom in patients with arthritis. It is caused by inflammation, swelling, etc. and causes a great deal of discomfort in them by causing immobility.
Alleviation of pain is one of the most important focuses of any treatment regime.
Clove oil has been widely used for relieving pain in dentistry. It has numbing properties and thus alters the perception of pain. It has been used in folk medicine for relieving joint pain, muscle ache, toothache, headaches, etc.
A study showed the analgesic property of clove oil in mice models. Administration of clove oil significantly reduced the pain response in the mice.
This was due to the modification of opioid systems.
Other studies have also proven the anti-nociceptive property of clove oil. Treatment with clove oil was found to reduce writing movement due to pain in mice.
It also improved the reaction latency to pain. Its activity was found to be better than the activity of aspirin.
Clove oil and eugenol are known to exhibit such pain reducing properties due to their ability to alter the calcium and chloride channels in the neurons.
Eugenol also has an inhibitory effect on sensory nerve thus reducing pain perception.
What does this mean? Clove oil is capable of reducing pain (analgesic) and decreasing the perception of pain (anti-nociceptive) by acting on various pathways and systems. This action can be attributed to the presence of eugenol.
3. Clove oil is anti-inflammatory in nature
Inflammation continues to be the major cause and symptom of arthritic conditions. It leads to swelling, pain, and stiffness.
Combating inflammation is essential in order to alleviate other symptoms of arthritis.
Clove oil has been shown to display anti-inflammatory properties. Clove oil and eugenol have been proven to reduce paw edema in mice models of inflammation.
Clove oil’s activity was comparable to indomethacin, which is a commonly used anti-inflammatory drug.
Clove oil inhibits the secretion of prostaglandins and other mediators that can result in inflammation. A study showed that mice treated with eugenol exhibited increased expression of anti-inflammatory cytokines.
Studies have also shown that clove oil reduces the production of pro-inflammatory mediators like tumor necrosis factor-alpha and interleukin-6. It also modulates gene expression in such a manner as to reduce inflammation.
Eugenol significantly reduces the levels of inflammatory cytokines in the body thus ameliorating inflammation. It enhances the expression of enzymes that inhibit oxidative stress, which in turn reduces inflammatory damage.
What does this mean? Inflammation is the major cause of pain, swelling, etc. in the patients of arthritis. Several studies have shown that clove oil and eugenol posses anti-inflammatory properties. Therefore it can help alleviate inflammation and associated symptoms.
4. Clove oil possesses anti-oxidant properties
Oxidative damage is caused by free radicals, reactive oxygen species, etc.
Such oxidative stress is very harmful for the body as it can lead to the progression of several diseases.
In arthritis patients, oxidative stress can result in increased inflammation, pain, etc.
It has also been shown to enhance the cartilage damage and thus make the symptoms of osteoarthritis worse. Tissue damage resulting from oxidative stress increases the chronicity of rheumatoid arthritis.
It is therefore important to protect the body from oxidative stress and damage in order to prevent the worsening and progression of arthritis.
Anti-oxidants can have chondroprotective properties and thus benefit the patients of osteoarthritis.
Clove oil is rich in phytochemicals that exhibit potent antioxidant activity. Clove oil shows such anti-oxidant properties by chelating free radicals and reactive species.
In a study done to analyze the antioxidant activity of eugenol, it was shown that eugenol could reduce lipid peroxidation, protein oxidation and improve the antioxidant status of the cells.
Many studies have proven the potent anti-oxidant property of eugenol.
The anti-oxidant activity can be attributed to the presence of high phenolic and tannin content in the clove essential oil. Pretreatment with clove oil was shown to reduce oxidative stress caused by oxidative agents in mice brain.
What does this mean? Clove oil can help reduce oxidative stress and damage by removing free radicals and reactive oxygen species from body thus it can help decrease inflammation and prevent progression of arthritis caused by such oxidative damage.
5. Clove oil allows mental relaxation
Chronic pain and immobility can often result in stress, anxiety, and depressive symptoms in the patients of arthritis especially the patients of rheumatoid arthritis.
These depressive symptoms and stress deteriorates the overall quality of life. In order to improve the quality of life, it is essential to ensure the patients feel mentally relaxed.
Like most essential oils, clove oil is also known to provide mental relaxation, possess anxiolytic properties, and can help alleviate depressive symptoms by rejuvenating the mind and reducing pain.
Studies done in animal models of depression, it was seen that the administration of clove oil was capable of decreasing depression and improving locomotor function in a manner similar to psychostimulants.
The aroma associated with clove oil and relaxing massage using clove oil can help the patients feel relaxed and less stressed.
It also eliminates fatigue and mental and physical exhaustion.
It has also been found to be useful in alleviating insomnia and allowing better sleep, which is beneficial for patients suffering from lack of sleep.
Clove oil prevents oxidative damage to the brain and thus helps reinforce memory and learning abilities.
Studies have shown that eugenol, which is a major component of clove oil, possesses anxiety-relieving properties. It also reduces stress and alleviates depressive symptoms. Many other flavonoids found in clove oil have also been proven to relax the mind.
What does this mean? Clove oil can help provide relief from anxiety, stress and depressive symptoms associated with chronic pain and discomfort in arthritis patients.
6. Clove oil can provide protection against infections
Infectious arthritis is characterized by an infection in the joints caused mainly by agents like bacteria, virus, and fungi.
The symptoms include swelling, chills, fever, pain, etc.
The infection can either directly enter through the joints or travel to the joints from other parts of the body.
Most of the infectious arthritis cases are caused by bacteria. The most common bacterial agent is Staphylococcus aureus. Treating infectious arthritis can be tricky because of the microbes’ resistance to antibiotics.
Clove oil is a potent anti-microbial agent with significant anti-septic properties. It is widely used to treat gum diseases and other infections. It has been found to effectively fight several strains of bacteria and fungi.
Clove oil has also been shown to inhibit Staphylococcus aureus. It is effective against antibiotic-resistant strains of Staphylococcus aureus as well. Therefore it can help fight infectious arthritis caused by such strains.
Infectious arthritis caused by fungi is very difficult to treat and requires months of medication and sometimes surgery.
Clove oil is effective in inhibiting the growth of fungal strains as well.
Clove oil also inhibits the growth of viruses such as the herpes virus. The active component called eugeniin was found to be capable of blocking essential enzymes in the viruses thus preventing their growth.
What does this mean? Clove oil is a great anti-microbial agent and therefore it could prove to be helpful in preventing and fighting infectious arthritis. This is a good option for the patients as treatment of infectious arthritis is often tricky.
Usage and Dosage
Clove oil is applied topically to alleviate pain.
It is also available as skin creams, massage gels, etc. for topical use. It is also included as aromatherapy by adding few drops to a simple diffuser along with carrier oil.
Clove oil can also be added to bath and body can be soaked in it to relieve pain. Some people like putting a few drops on their pillows to allow its inhalation while sleeping.
Steam inhalation of clove oil or sniffing it from a cotton ball can provide relief against the pain as well.
Pain relieving balm can be created by mixing clove oil with coconut oil and beeswax along with peppermint oil.
Clove oil blends can also be created using peppermint, lemon, sage essential oils and massages into the skin to ease joint and muscle pain. 20-30 drops can be mixed with few ml of carrier oil like jojoba oil, olive oil, etc.
Dilution can be done by following the instructions given on the bottle as well as based on the suggestion from the doctor.
Oral consumption is safe at concentrations below 1500 mg/kg. It is suggested by WHO that daily consumption quantity should not exceed 2.5 mg/kg of weight in humans. It is easily absorbed through the oral route.
Clove oil application can cause numbing of the skin. It can also cause a burning sensation in some people. It can leave the skin dry and sore if applied without dilution.
Without appropriate dilution, there is a risk of skin rash and burn. Oral use can lead to abdominal pain, burning throat, diarrhea, vomiting, etc.
If applied to eyes, it can result in blindness. Application near genitals can cause serious complications. Excess clove oil can leave the teeth and gums severely damages.
Patients on blood thinning medications should be cautious before ingestion of clove oil as it can interfere with blood clotting.
It also shows interaction with anticoagulants and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like aspirin.
Some people might get allergic reactions, which included dizziness, rash, itching hives, etc. and in such cases, the user should be immediately stopped.
Consumption of high doses can prove to be detrimental and lead to organ damage, blood disorders, nausea, vomiting, seizures, etc.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women should not use clove oil, as its effects are unknown. Proper instructions on the packaging and from the health care provider should be followed to ensure maximum benefits and no side effects.
Clove oil is a great option for supplementing the treatment of arthritis. It has been shown to exhibit anti-arthritic properties due to its ability to alleviate common symptoms including inflammation, pain, swelling, etc.
It is easily available and easy to use. It can be topically applied in most cases to relieve pain. It can also be added to bath and diffusers to allow inhalation.
Oil massage blends can be created for more profound effect. It can be incorporated in the patients’ lifestyle without much hassle and expenses.
Clove oil can prove to be a great addition to the lifestyle of arthritis patients as it carries several benefits and it is easy to use.