Arthritis is a major cause of disability, especially in older people, all over the world. It is characterized by the deterioration of joint health due to several different reasons.
100 different kinds of arthritis are known to exist and affect millions of people around the world.
The common signs and symptoms of arthritis are pain, swelling, stiffness, immobility, etc. These usually result from inflammation and chronic persistent joint pain.
All types of arthritis affect the joints such as the joints of hand, feet, elbow, etc.
Common types of arthritis include osteoarthritis, gout, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, Lupus, etc.
What is Lavender Essential Oil?
Lavender oil is obtained from certain species of the lavender plant by the process of steam distillation.
The common species used to make lavender essential oil include Lavandula angustifolia, Lavandula latifolia, etc. Lavender is a powerful medicinal herb.
Lavender oil has many therapeutic and cosmetic applications and it is widely used in many products.
Lavender oil is rich in many phytochemicals such as linalyl acetate, linalool, lavandulol, 1,8-cineole, lavandulyl acetate, camphor, etc.
The major components of whole lavender oil that is commonly used in aromatherapy include linalool (35%) and linalyl acetate (51%).
Lavender oil has been employed since time immemorial by the Greeks and Romans to treat many health issues.
Lavender oil is helpful in cases like headaches, loss of appetite, nervousness, acne, insomnia, cold, flu, fevers, anxiety, depressive symptoms, etc.
It is also useful in relieving pain of joints and muscles, fighting bacterial and fungal infections and treat psoriasis, eczema, etc.
Lavender essential can also be employed for alleviating symptoms of arthritis owing to its analgesic and anxiolytic properties among others.
Benefits of Lavender Essential Oil in Arthritis
Lavender essential oil can benefit in arthritis in several ways. Lavender oil possesses significant analgesic, anti-oxidant, analgesic, anti-nociceptive, anti-inflammatory, sedative properties which can help alleviate pain, swelling, inflammation, etc. It can also help mitigate the anxiety, insomnia and stress associated with the diseases due to its anxiolytic properties.
1. Lavender oil provides relief in cases of osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis is characterized by the degradation of the cartilage, which in turn causes pain, swelling, and immobility.
Knee osteoarthritis is the most common type of osteoarthritis.
Lavender oil has been shown to provide substantial relief from pain in the patients of osteoarthritis. Many studies have studied the use of aromatherapy in mitigating pain.
A random controlled trial conducted to analyze the effect of aromatherapy massage with lavender oil on pain in patients of knee osteoarthritis concluded that lavender essential oil could effectively reduce pain.
The trial included 90 patients with knee osteoarthritis and they were given aromatherapy massage with lavender oil.
It was observed that the pain severity went down after 1 week of intervention in the control group thus highlighting the positive effect of lavender oil.
Extension of the above study also showed that intervention with lavender oil aromatherapy could effectively help improve the activities of daily living (ADL) in the patients of knee osteoarthritis.
The study concluded that massage with lavender oil could help reduce the incidences of activities of daily living (ADL) disability in these patients.
The improvement in ADL can be attributed to the effect of lavender oil on pain, inflammation, etc.
Lavender oil components like linalyl acetate and linalool can reduce muscle tension and spasm as well.
Thus the study showed that lavender oil massages could allow patients to mitigate disability and carry out their basic daily self-care with more ease.
The massages in these studies were conducted by the patients themselves and thus needed no assistance from any external sources ensuring self-sufficiency.
What does this mean? Massage with lavender oil can help reduce pain and decrease activities of daily living (ADL) disability in the patients suffering from knee osteoarthritis. This makes aromatherapy massage highly desirable because it can potentially improve the overall quality of life.
2. Lavender oil relieves pain via analgesic and anti-nociceptive properties
Acute and chronic pain is the most common symptom of all kinds of arthritis. The pain usually results from swelling, inflammation, etc. in the patients.
Alleviating pain is, therefore, one of the most important aims of any treatment regime.
Aromatherapy massages have been known to provide relief against several kinds of pain.
Massages are enjoyed by the people and it gives them an overall feeling of rejuvenation and satisfaction.
It has been shown to reduce neuropathic pain and improve the quality of life.
Regular use of painkillers can be harmful and thus use of lavender essential oil can provide a natural remedy as lavender oil has been shown to exhibit strong analgesic and anti-nociceptive properties.
Studies have shown that foot massages using lavender oil are capable of reducing pain, lowering blood pressure, etc.
Lavender aromatherapy can reduce the dependence of patients on opioids for pain relief as well.
Manual acupressure sessions with lavender oil have been shown to reduce neck pain and lower back pain in more than 90 patients.
Inhalation of lavender oil is capable of reducing migraine pains and headaches thus highlighting its analgesic properties.
Studies have shown that lavender oil also possesses anti-nociceptive properties. It alters the perception of pain and thus provides relief to the patients.
It also reduces inflammation, which in turn decreases inflammation-based pain, which is important because the pain in arthritis is brought on by inflammation.
Linalool, an active component of lavender oil has been shown to exhibit anti-nociception in models of pain.
This can be attributed to the activation of systems in the brain associated with pain relief.
Regular massages with lavender oil mixed with other essential oils can thus help reduce joint pain, muscle ache and provide relaxation.
What does this mean? Lavender oil massages and inhalation can effectively reduce pain by analgesic and anti-nociceptive mechanisms, which is helpful for the patients of arthritis as pain is a major issue in their lives.
3. Lavender oil relieves anxiety, depressive symptoms, and insomnia
Chronic pain, immobility, and inflammation associated with arthritis can several times lead to deterioration of the quality of life in patients with arthritis.
Association between pain and depression has been established by many studies.
It has also been shown that patients with arthritis suffer from depressive symptoms, anxiety, and insomnia, which in turn interferes with their daily life.
Therefore alleviation of depressive symptoms, anxiety, etc. becomes important in order to ensure the overall well being of the patients.
Lavender oil aromatherapy has been widely associated with improvement in mood and potent anxiolytic properties.
It has been used for the treatment of anxiety disorders and insomnia.
Clinical trial studies have shown that ingestion of lavender oil preparation can effectively ameliorate anxiety disorder and also reduce restlessness and agitation.
Inhalation of lavender essential oil has also been shown to provide relief from depressive thoughts and thus use of lavender oil as an adjuvant therapy along with anti-depressants is suggested for better and improved results.
Inhalation of lavender oil is also associated with a more positive mood and less subjective stress.
Lavender oil has a very positive effect on the mood of the users. It also improves attention and memory, which is an added benefit for elderly patients suffering from age-related dementia.
Lavender oil is useful for treating insomnia and significantly improves sleep quality.
This, in turn, improves the quality of life, as a good sleep pattern is necessary to ensure smooth bodily functions and allow the body to heal.
Lavender aromatherapy has been shown to improve daytime wakefulness and allow wholesome to sleep at night.
What does this mean? Lavender oil ingestion and aromatherapy are instrumental in alleviating depressive symptoms, anxiety disorders and insomnia. This, in turn, improves the quality of life in patients of arthritis who suffer from these collateral issues.
4. Lavender oil possesses anti-inflammatory properties
Amelioration of inflammation continues to be very important in arthritis treatment, as inflammation tends to give rise to many other symptoms including pain, swelling, etc.
Lavender essential oil exhibits anti-inflammatory properties owing to its unique phytochemical constituents.
Studies have analyzed the anti-inflammatory effect of lavender oil in models of inflammation and reported positive results.
In a study on inflammatory rat models, it was found that lavender oil effectively inhibits inflammation.
It can be attributed to the inhibition of COX enzymes, which are responsible for causing inflammation, by the lavender essential oil.
Major components of lavender essential oils namely linalool and linalyl acetate have been shown to possess significant anti-inflammatory activity.
The study has shown that linalyl acetate could inhibit edema and other symptoms of inflammation in rat models.
Linalool producing species are considered to be anti-inflammatory in nature.
Studies have concluded that lavender essential oil can be effectively used for the treatment of inflammatory and painful conditions.
What does this mean? Components of lavender essential oil are capable of eliciting anti-inflammatory effects and thus use of lavender oil can prove to be helpful in alleviating inflammation.
5. Lavender oil exhibits anti-oxidant properties
Oxidative stress can prove to be very harmful for patients of arthritis, as it has been shown that reactive species and free radicals can worsen arthritis by enhancing cartilage degradation and contributing to the deterioration of joint health.
Oxidative damage can also trigger an inflammatory response, which further worsens arthritis symptoms.
Lavender essential oil possesses anti-oxidant properties, which can decrease the oxidative stress brought on by reactive species.
It has been shown to have free radical scavenging property and thus removes those from the body. Linalool also reduces oxidative stress and prevents lipid peroxidation.
What does this mean? Lavender essential oil and its components are capable of reducing oxidative stress and damage due to their free radical scavenging properties, which in turn could help prevent worsening of arthritis caused by oxidative stress.
6. Lavender aromatherapy can help patients of psoriasis
Psoriasis is a disease set off by the attack of the immune system and often results in a condition called psoriatic arthritis characterized by joint inflammation and pain.
The lavender essential oil has been found to be effective in providing comfort to patients of psoriasis.
Lavender essential oil is capable of alleviating inflammation and providing stress relief both of which are key in psoriatic conditions.
The lavender essential oil also provides dermatological relief, which is essential in cases of psoriasis as it is a skin disease.
What does this mean? Lavender essential oil aromatherapy can be helpful in providing relief against psoriasis due to its anti-inflammatory and stress-reducing properties.
Usage and Dosage
Lavender oil can be taken orally and applied topically as well. It is used via aromatherapy, which involves inhalation of lavender oil after it has been appropriately diluted.
It is also applied topically through massages and dripping oil treatment.
It can be added to warm water and foot and hands can be soaked in it. Towels can be soaked in the mixture of water and lavender oil and then compressed on the forehead, aching joints, etc.
Few drops of lavender oil can be added to a diffuser and the aroma can be inhaled. It can also be sprayed on the pillow covers to allow better sleep.
Lavender oil is also added to bathing water to reap its benefits. Lavender is safe for undiluted application but dilution proves to be cost effective. Lotions and soaps infused with lavender oil are also available for direct use.
The dosage depends largely on the condition of the individual. It also depends on whether the consumption of lavender oil suits the user or not.
Consultation with a health care provider can help with dosage information and mitigate any possible side effects.
Lavender oil, like most essential oil, is safe to a great extent and carries little to no side effects if used properly.
Before application in a larger area, a patch test should be conducted, as there might be allergies.
It can irritate the skin in certain people leading to rashes. Appropriate dilution of the oil is also necessary before its use.
Some people might experience nausea, vomiting, dizziness, headache, etc. after inhaling lavender oil if they are allergic to it. It can prove to be poisonous if taken orally in incorrect dosage.
It should never be ingested without consultation with a doctor and only applied topically or inhaled through diffuser or steam.
Ingestion of large amounts of lavender oil can result in stomach pain, vomiting, blurred vision, dizziness, swelling, difficulty in breathing, etc.
In young boys, the use of lavender oil can interfere with the normal hormonal function and lead to side effects such as gynecomastia.
Lavender oil shows interaction with drugs that affect the central nervous system such as sedatives. It also causes drowsiness and therefore its use before driving and other extensive work is not suggested.
Since lavender oil has sedative property, it might be unsuitable for some pregnant women. It should be completely avoided during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy and during breastfeeding.
Lavender essential oil is one of the most famous and commonly used essential owing to its several beneficial properties. It is easily available in most supermarkets and is moderately priced.
Lavender essential has been widely employed in aromatherapy for a long time because of its versatility and benefits. Lavender oil and its components are easily absorbed into the bloodstream.
Complementary therapy using a lavender essential oil is not only cheap and easy but also offers self-sufficiency, as this does not need help from health care practitioners.
Appropriate use of lavender essential oil can prove to be helpful for the arthritis patients as it can alleviate several symptoms of arthritis.