Essential oils are plant extracts that are volatile in nature. Most of the extracts are used for countless health benefits.
Using essential oils in any form to obtain healthful benefits is known as aromatherapy.
Aromatherapy advantageous for arthritis has become increasingly popular. Usage of these essential oils for the management of arthritis symptoms is a resurrection of age-old traditional therapies.
Arthritis patients suffer from joint pain, inflammation, swelling, redness, and stiffness.
Although there is no exact cause for arthritis, being obese, joint injuries, smoking, older age, female gender and genetic makeup can put you at a higher risk of developing arthritis.
Treatment of arthritis involves medication to relieve pain and inflammation. Lifestyle management like alteration of diet and increased exercise is a must.
Complementary therapies can hugely benefit arthritis patients which include aromatherapy.
Before we discuss the beneficial properties of basil oil in arthritis let us take a glance at some of the basic information of this natural supplement.
What is Basil Essential Oil?
Basil is an aromatic culinary herb that is grown in Asia, Africa, and Central and South America. It includes about 200 species of herbs.
‘Sweet basil’ (Ocimum basilicum) and ‘Tulsi’ or ‘Holy basil’ (Ocimum sanctum) are the two main types of basil that are extensively studied by scientists for their health properties.
Bush basil or sweet basil is widely used in the United States and ‘Tulsi’ or ‘holy basil’ is widely used in India. Tulsi is the most important herb in India that is worshipped and has been used in Ayurveda for its numerous health benefits.
Leaves, flowers, and seeds of this herb are subjected to steam distillation to obtain basil essential oil. The oil contains a volatile oil which consists of the main chemical called eugenol.
Basil is mainly used in flavoring dishes like salads and sauces. It is also used to aid digestion and fatigue. Basil oil can be effective in reducing inflammation, fever, and infection. This oil has good anti-pest and antimicrobial activity.
Basil oil can protect your body from harmful environmental chemicals and help in maintaining blood sugar and blood pressure at a normal level.
Benefits of Basil Essential Oil in Arthritis
Benefits of basil essential oil in arthritis are due to its analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. Basil herb was traditionally used to treat arthritis and pain. Modern day research not only supports these properties of basil but also finds it to be beneficial in reducing anxiety, stress and in promoting detoxification which is essential therapeutic goals in arthritis.
1. Basil Oil Can Combat Joint Pain in Arthritis
Pain arising from the joint in arthritis can cause immense distress to patients. This can limit their daily functioning. Diminishing pain forms the main treatment aspect in the management of arthritis.
Basil oil or Tulsi has been used for its effects on pain since the Ayurvedic times. Basil oil which is rich in compounds called monoterpenes is found to consist of analgesic effects that can comfort joint pain.
Basil oil can halt the movement of pain mediators in the body leading to an anti-nociceptive effect (pain-reducing effect) which has been demonstrated by animal studies.
Researchers believe that basil oil acts on the receptors of the brain and altering the pain related chemicals that ultimately lead to a reduced feeling of pain.
What does this mean? Basil essential oil has a history of usage in Ayurveda to reduce pain which is now confirmed through research. This property can be used to reduce the joint pain among arthritis patients.
2. Anti-inflammatory Nature of Basil Oil Benefits Arthritis Patients
Inflammation in arthritis is caused by an overactive immune system in the body. It is the root cause for developing joint pain, swelling, and redness.
Basil oil contains chemicals (eugenol and linolenic acid) that reduce inflammation. This activity is exerted by blocking histamine (a chemical involved in inflammation initiation) in the body.
The level of inflammation reduction of basil oil is, in fact, comparable to the effect of allopathic medicine like ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen.
Research has found the capacity of basil oil in reducing the swelling caused by inflammation through animal studies.
Although human trials are yet to be conducted to prove the magnitude of this benefit, nevertheless basil oil can be a potent natural source to curb inflammation.
What does this mean? Basil essential oil contains chemical moieties that can reduce inflammation in the body. This effect can be utilized to minimize the joint inflammation.
3. Antioxidant Capacity of Basil Oil can Promote Detoxification of the Body
Toxins in the body form through normal body processes and via external intake. These chemicals generate ‘free radicals’, which are toxic to the cells leading to oxidative stress within the body. Antioxidants are substances that fight these toxins and bring about detoxification.
Basil oil can help in fighting toxic chemicals in the body. It has good antioxidant properties that can fight the toxins in the body and expel them.
The antioxidant property of basil oil enables it to be used in arthritis which is a condition that leads to extreme oxidative stress.
Basil oil works by increasing the antioxidant enzymes (glutathione) and help in reducing the free radicals that otherwise cause harm to the cells and tissues.
Basil essential oil is proven to reduce some of the toxic effects of drugs such as acetaminophen and naproxen.
What does this mean? Basil oil is an amazing detoxifying agent that reduces oxidative stress in arthritis patients. It can also prevent and reduce the damages caused by pain-killer medications.
4. Basil Oil Can Make You Stress and Anxiety Free
Arthritis can be a stressful condition that causes substantial pain limiting one from moving easily. This can lead to stress, anxiety, and depression too.
Studies show a higher percentage of anxiety and depression among arthritis patients than normal people. Management of arthritis must essentially include stress and anxiety regulation.
There is a piece of mounting evidence to show that basil extract can reduce stress and anxiety. This effect makes this oil an excellent choice to be used in arthritis.
The effect of basil extract in reducing stress was significant when compared with patients not receiving basil extract.
Basil extract is found to be safe and well-tolerated in patients without any adverse effects.
Another clinical study involving 35 patients demonstrated the anxiety and stress reduction power of basil extract.
Numerous research studies on animals confirm the benefits of basil in reducing stress, anxiety, and depression.
Moreover, basil’s effect of reducing depression was like that of an anti-depressant drug (diazepam).
What does this mean? Scientific data proves the power of basil in reducing the stress and anxiety, therefore, it can be used by arthritis patients who are experiencing stress and depression symptoms.
How to Use Basil Essential Oil - Dosage
Basil oil can be applied topically to mitigate joint pain. Mix 2-3 drops of basil oil with a teaspoon of carrier oil (coconut or almond) and gently massage this mixture on the joints.
Basil oil is great to be used in cooking. You could add a few drops to your sauce or add it to your pasta toward the end. Essential oils are concentrated liquids, therefore, use only a few drops.
Basil extract capsules are also available which can reduce anxiety and stress. Take 500mg tablets twice daily. Do not take the capsules without advice from your physician.
Basil oil is generally regarded as safe by the FDA and it can be used for internal consumption by adding it to food and sauce. You must take care as to use only cooking approved oils in your dishes.
Hypertensive patients and epileptic patients must refrain from using basil essential oil. Do not use this oil unless advised by your physician.
Do not use basil oil if you are pregnant or breastfeeding unless advised by your doctor.
Before you apply the oil on the skin make sure you perform a skin test.
To perform a skin test place 2-3 drops of diluted basil oil on a small patch of your skin (preferably forearm skin). If no reaction occurs after one day then the oil is safe to be used.
Basil is an edible herb family that has a vast types herb species. Two main types of this herb are widely used and studied that is sweet basil and holy basil.
Basil can be one of the natural solutions to arthritis symptoms as it has been proven to be effective in pain reduction. It also has the potential to reduce inflammation in arthritis.
Basil oil is a powerful antioxidant that expels toxins from the body and aids in detoxification. Mental stress, anxiety, and depression in arthritis can also be solved by the usage of basil oil.
Using basil to reduce pain, inflammation, and stress in arthritis can be the best and side-effect free alternative therapy.
Basil oil is an effective, safe and potent natural supplement for arthritis patients that can be used topically or orally.