Essential oils are chemicals present in plants which provide them with the natural odour and flavour.
They are obtained from plants by applying steam or pressure.
Essential oils are collected from roots, leaves, seeds, and fruits of the plants.
This contains a concentrated mixture of chemicals along with an active ingredient which has specific properties or actions.
Essential oils are 50-70 times more potent than the herbs as it contains all the essence of the plant. The process of distillation makes the essential oils more concentrated.
Essential oils are in use for the past 6000 years for their hygienic and therapeutic properties.
It can be used for both physical healings and for its emotional benefits.
Essential oils are most commonly used in perfumes, food flavourings and aromatherapy.
Apart from this, they have other beneficial effects in a variety of diseases like hypertension, heart diseases, infectious diseases, anxiety, arthritis, headaches etc.
Essential oils are all not of the same quality and purity. Essential oils meant for use in diseases must be of therapeutic grade.
Diluted essential oils can be used topically, by steam inhalation, orally and by diffusing. It forms one of the safe and effective ways of pain reduction in arthritis.
Below we discuss the essential oils which can benefit in different types of arthritis.
List of Essential Oils that Benefit in Arthritis
Essential oils can benefit from arthritis in several ways. The components of essentials oils have been identified to have anti-inflammatory benefits which can help in arthritis symptoms. Their soothing impact while used in aromatherapy can also help in improving the mood of arthritis patients.
Note: All dosages given are indicative and may not be suitable for all. You should consult an expert before going ahead.
1. Ginger Oil
Ginger oil exerts anti-inflammatory properties and effectively reduces knee pain in arthritis. About 250mg – 1gram can be used three to four times a day orally.
Using it orally may interfere with drugs like warfarin and therefore, physician advice must be sought. It can be used topically by gently massaging it on the skin or joints.
2. Basil Oil
Basil oil contains ‘Myristicin’ an active ingredient that has been proven to possess anti-inflammatory properties. It also has analgesic and immunomodulatory effects.
Dilute basil oil with coconut oil or jojoba oil and then apply topically to the joints and massaged gently for its analgesic properties.
3. Chamomile Essential Oil
Chamomile has antioxidant properties along with the anti-inflammatory action.
It is also effective in reducing arthritis pain when applied on to skin or joints. Chamomile tea can be prepared to be taken internally.
Diluted oil can be used for topical application.
4. Eucalyptus Oil
Eucalyptus oil can help improve the immune system and contains anti-inflammatory potential. It must not be taken orally.
It is readily available for topical use which can be applied onto the skin for arthritis pain relief.
It can also be combined with other essential oils before using. Concentrated oil must be diluted before application.
5. Bergamot Oil
Bergamot is proven to have anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. It can cause photosensitivity which can be avoided by using high-quality psoralen free bergamot oil.
Dilute bergamot oil can be applied topically to the pain areas. It can also be inhaled by adding a drop of concentrated oil to a diffuser and inhaling the aroma.
6. Orange Oil
Orange oil has excellent antioxidant properties which can benefit arthritis patients.
It can be used topically by mixing with carrier oils or by blending with other oils like ginger oil or it can be taken internally or inhaled via steam or diffuser.
Avoid direct sun exposure after application for 72 hours. Keep away from the fire as it is potentially flammable.
7. Rosemary Oil
Rosemary oil can reduce pain and stiffness in arthritis.
It can be used topically by diluting. It can also be used by blending it with other oils like lavender oil or marjoram oil for more effective results.
8. Clove Oil
Clove oil can be great for arthritis as it has anti-inflammatory, analgesic and antioxidant properties. Clove oil should be diluted with other carrier oils and massaged over the areas of pain.
It should never be used without dilution as it is a potent oil and it may irritate the skin.
9. Helichrysum Oil
Helichrysum oil has pain relieving properties.
It is one of the most expensive and effective essential oils for pain relief. It can be applied topically to the skin after dilution with carrier oils like coconut or jojoba oil .
10. Turmeric Essential Oil
The anti-arthritic properties of turmeric have been well known, a study has shown that turmeric oil also imparts such properties.
It can reduce joint swelling to a significant extent. 5000mg of turmeric oil per day orally can show anti-inflammatory properties.
11. Lavender Oil
Lavender Oil with anti-inflammatory properties is safe to be used without dilution as it is a mild essential oil. It can be taken orally or inhaled or simply applied to the skin.
It is safe to be used in children after dilution.
For dilution 15-30 drops of oil must be mixed with 1 ounce of carrier oil (vegetable oils like almond oil, sesame oil etc.)
12. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil contains anti-inflammatory, analgesic and antioxidant properties which can benefit in arthritis. It can be applied on to the joints directly without any dilution.
Coconut oil use is also recommended in the diet of arthritis patients. It is better to use coconut oil in foods than other cooking oils.
13. Peppermint Oil
Peppermint oil has been known to relieve muscle aches and pain. It can be mixed with coconut oil and applied on painful joints. Avoid contact with eyes, mucous membranes and wounds or burns.
It should not be used in infants younger than 18 months of age. It must be kept away from the fire as it is flammable.
14. Cinnamon Oil
Cinnamon oil contains ‘Cinnamaldehyde’ active ingredient which is responsible for its anti-inflammatory effects. It can be applied topically or inhaled using a diffuser.
Oil must be diluted before inhalation or topical use otherwise it may irritate the nasal passages and skin.
15. Lemon Oil
Lemon can be taken orally or topically. Lemon oil when applied topically can be photosensitive therefore one must avoid direct sunlight at least for 3-4 days after application.
Lemon oil is mild essential oil and it need not be diluted before use.
16. Lemongrass Oil
Lemongrass oil helps in the regeneration of bones and ligaments. It can be used orally after dilution with carrier oils. It can also be applied topically to the skin after dilution.
17. Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil contains anti-inflammatory properties. It can be used topically after diluting on to the skin to relieve painful joints.
It can also be mixed with other essential oils for a more potent action. Or place a drop of oil in the diffuser and let it diffuse.
18. Rose Oil
Rose Essential oil has a relaxing and anti-inflammatory action. It also helps leave your skin fragrant after use.
It can be directly applied to the skin and massaged.
19. Apricot Oil
Apricot Oil also contains some anti-inflammatory action.
It can be used as a carrier oil for other essential oils like lavender, wintergreen, myrrh, etc., for good pain relieving effects.
20. Myrrh Oil
Myrrh has powerful antioxidant, analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. These properties make it a great essential oil for arthritis.
It can be diluted with olive oil or jojoba oil and applied to the painful joints for pain and stiffness relief.
21. Marjoram Oil
Marjoram oil can reduce arthritis pain as well as nerve pain. It can be blend with other oils like lavender, pepper, and rosemary essential oils and applied onto the joints for best results.
22. Wintergreen Oil
Wintergreen oil is another excellent oil for arthritis as it reduces pain, inflammation and nerve pain. It can be applied to the skin after dilution for soothing and pain relieving action.
It can also be combined with Idaho Balsam Fir or marjoram, lavender, and peppermint essential oil for improved results.
23. Frankincense Essential Oil
Frankincense oil is known to have anti-inflammatory properties in arthritis.
Usage: Diluted oil can be applied topically to the skin and massaged.
24. Cayenne Pepper Essential Oil
Cayenne Pepper Oil reduces pain and inflammation. The active ingredient called ‘capsaicin’ is responsible for this action.
It can be applied to the skin after dilution only otherwise it may result in irritation and burning. It can be used at a concentration of 0.025%.
25. Black Pepper Essential Oil
Black Pepper oil can be used for its analgesic action. It must be diluted before it is used on the skin. It can be mixed with other essential oils like rosemary, marjoram, and lavender.
26. Spruce Oil
Spruce oil is anti-inflammatory and has positive effects on arthritis symptoms. It can be applied on to the skin after diluting with carrier oils.
It can also be blend with other essential oils like Idaho balsam fir or wintergreen oil.
27. Fennel Oil
Fennel oil can reduce pain, swelling and inflammation in arthritis. It can be directly applied to the skin or it can be blend with essential oils like cypress and tangerine.
It must be avoided in epilepsy patients.
28. Copaiba Oil
Copaiba has anti-inflammatory as well as antioxidant properties. It can be applied to the skin after dilution with olive oil or jojoba oil.
29. Vetiver Oil
Vetiver oil is known to reduce pain and muscle aches.
It has counter-irritant properties that can further benefit from arthritis. It can be applied on to the skin and rubbed gently for pain relief.
It can also be mixed with betel pepper oil or other carrier oils.
30. Juniper Oil
Juniper oil can also benefit in arthritis.
It can be applied topically by mixing it with oils like lemon, lavender, and wintergreen.
31. Sandalwood Oil
Sandalwood oil is known for its calming and relaxing properties but, it also has immune boosting capacity.
Sandalwood essential oil can be applied on to the skin directly or added to a diffuser.
It can also be inhaled by adding a drop or two into hot water and inhaling the steam.
32. Clary Sage Oil
Clary sage oil has antioxidant, stress relieving and calming effects. It can be used topically after dilution.
It should not be used by hypertensive and epileptic patients.
33. Balsam Fir, Idaho
It can be pain relieving and anti-inflammatory arthritis. It can be used topically after diluting.
It can be combined with wintergreen, spruce and frankincense essential oils.
34. Primrose Oil
Primrose oil has some mild anti-inflammatory action and it can be taken orally at 6g per day.
It can be blended with other oils to potentiate its action.
35. Olive Oil
Olive oil could reduce pain in arthritis. It is proven to be beneficial in a clinical study.
The dose of these essential oils is 6g per day taken orally. It can also be used as a carrier oil for other essential oils.
36. Nutmeg Oil
Nutmeg can be used in arthritis to reduce pain and swelling. It can also be used for its muscle relaxing and fatigue reducing properties.
It should be applied on to the skin after dilution.
It can also be used via diffuser and steam inhalation.
37. Pine Oil
It can be used in arthritis to massage the stressed muscles and joints. It must be diluted before use.
The activity of pine oil can be enhanced by combining it with eucalyptus oil.
It must be kept away from the fire as it is potentially flammable.
38. Oregano Oil
Oregano oil can also be used for arthritis. It must be diluted with vegetable oils before taking it internally as it is a potent oil.
Avoid contact with eyes and mucous membranes as it may cause irritation.
39. Blackcurrant Seed Oil
Blackcurrant seed oil contains gamma linoleic acid which can benefit in arthritis in the long term. The exact dose of this depends on the patient condition.
Therefore, one must consult a physician for the exact dose.
Avoid gamma linoleic acid more than 3000mg per day.
40. Borage Oil
Borage oil also contains GLA and it could show some benefit in arthritis. Do not exceed 3000mg of GLA per day.
Precautions to be taken While Using Essential Oils
Essential oils are usually available in concentrated forms. These concentrated oils might require dilution.
The exact procedure of dilution should be followed as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
Ways to use Essential Oils
General ways to use essential oils is described as follows:
Topical Use: Essential oils must be mixed with other vegetable oils and after dilution, it must be applied to the skin and gently massaged
Diffusing: Essential oil should first be diluted and then 2-3 drops must be placed on the diffuser and allowed to diffuse while sleeping
Oral use or Ingestion: All the essential oils cannot be ingested. The ones which can be ingested must be diluted by mixing one drop of oil with 1 teaspoon of olive oil or coconut oil
Steam Inhalation: A drop or 2 of diluted essential oil must be added to hot water and the stem must be inhaled. Make sure that the oil is diluted otherwise it may irritate or burn the nasal passages
Dilution is required prior to topical application as well as oral intake of potent essential oils like clove, cinnamon etc. This avoids skin and mucous membrane irritations. Dilution of oils can be done using vegetable oils like coconut oil, olive oil or jojoba oil.
A physician consultation must be obtained before orally ingesting any essential oil to avoid any untoward effects.
Natural therapies are not always free from side effects. Some oils are contraindicated in some diseases.
Caution is advised in epileptic patients prior to using clove, nutmeg, fennel, basil, wintergreen, rosemary, peppermint, and sage essential oils as it may increase the chances of developing seizures.
Inhalation therapies are not advised for asthmatic patients and it may trigger asthma attacks. People with hypertension must avoid sage and rosemary oils.
Essential oils may rarely cause skin allergies. Therefore, the diluted oil must be first tested on the inside area of the upper arm for 30 minutes before application on to the other parts of the body.
Sometimes irritation may develop when the essential oil is in contact with the skin. In such a case was the oil away with coconut oil or olive oil and do not wash with water as it is not water soluble.
Essential oils must not be applied around the eyes as may cause stinging. Avoid contact with eyes which may lead to irritation. Essential oils should not be used in pregnancy with physician’s advice.
Essential oils must be tightly closed and stored away from light and direct sunlight. Keep out of reach from children.
Essential oils have remarkable benefits in reducing arthritis symptoms.
A variety of essential oils are available that are proven to be effective in arthritis-like ginger, clove, cinnamon, lemon, wintergreen, marjoram, turmeric, peppermint, etc.
Essential oils can be used orally, topically, by steam inhalation and by diffusing the oils in a diffuser.
Correct procedures must be followed for safe and effective use of these oils. Physician advice must be sought prior to ingesting any of the oils.
Most of the essential oils must be diluted in the right manner to avoid skin irritation. A blend of essential oils is the best therapy in case of arthritis.
Essential oils not only relieve symptoms of arthritis but is also provides relaxing and anti-stress effects.
If used in the right manner essential oils can greatly reduce the need for painkillers and can be excellent against arthritis.