Arthritis is a painful and troublesome condition which is to be managed not only with medication but also with physical therapy, exercise, diet, massage, acupuncture etc.
Pain and joint stiffness is a hurdle in all arthritis patients’ lives.
It reduces their physical functioning which limits their day-to-day activities causing distress and disheartening.
The use of adjuvant therapies to soothe the ailing joints in arthritis is well-known and suggested a remedy.
There have been numerous approaches for the same, one of which being the use of essential oil.
Essential oils are obtained from plants which are used for a variety of reasons including arthritis. Peppermint oil is one of them which is known to be used for digestive, respiratory problems and pain too.
Before we discuss peppermint oil benefits for arthritis let us go through a brief description of this oil to understand its properties better.
What is Peppermint Oil?
Peppermint is a hybrid herb that is obtained by crossing two herbs (i.e. water mint and spearmint).
It grows throughout the world.
Peppermint Oil is obtained from the crushed leaves of the peppermint herb.
It contains nearly 40 distinct chemicals of which menthol is the main constituent.
Peppermint oil has been used as a digestive aid from ancient times.
In modern days the use has been extrapolated to other health benefits like cold, headache, muscle aches and other problems.
It has been widely studied for its benefits in inflammatory disease of the bowels and it's proven to reduce the symptoms in short term use.
Benefits of Peppermint Oil for Arthritis
Benefits oil peppermint oil in arthritis could be from its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Research studies in animals and few human studies have proven these effects. Pain relief is the main effect of peppermint oil which can be achieved by topical application. Peppermint oil can also benefit in case of depression arising from arthritis. However, more studies on arthritis patients are needed to prove these claims.
1. Peppermint Oil has Pain Relieving Properties
The main symptom of arthritis is pain and joint stiffness. It can be reduced with the help of medical and some non-medical therapies like diet, exercise or aromatherapy etc.
Peppermint oil has been proven to have pain-relieving effects upon application onto the skin by causing a tingling sensation.
Menthol is one of the main ingredients in almost all the topical pain relief balms and it improves drug entry through the skin.
Aromatherapy with a mixture of peppermint oil and other essential oil has been proven to reduce pain in arthritis patients.
Research also shows that a mixture of essential oil that includes peppermint is beneficial for pain reduction.
Animal studies have shown that peppermint oil interferes with the pain pathway in the body which ultimately reduces the pain giving an analgesic effect.
However, there is a shortage of studies on the use of peppermint oil alone for pain in arthritis.
What does this mean? Peppermint oil can reduce pain when it is applied onto the skin. This effect is mainly due to menthol content in it which interferes with the pain pathway in the body.
2. Peppermint Oil Usage Can Reduce Oxidative Stress
Antioxidants prevent damage to the cells by free radicals (toxic chemicals that harm the cells) which cause oxidative stress.
Antioxidants are known to be reduced in arthritis patients which can add on to oxidative stress.
Studies of the chemical composition of peppermint oil suggest that its components have strong antioxidant activities.
Animal studies have demonstrated the antioxidant properties of peppermint oil.
It is also found to have a potent free radical scavenging activity compared to other essential oils.
Peppermint oil has been proven to reduce damage to the kidney and liver caused by oxidative stress in an animal study.
The antioxidant property of peppermint oil makes it an excellent choice for use in arthritis to reduce oxidative stress. Although, it must be noted that studies in humans with arthritis is still lacking.
What does this mean? Peppermint oil is proven to have antioxidant properties which could reduce oxidative stress in arthritis. Solid evidence for benefit in arthritis patients is scarce.
3. Peppermint Oil Has Anti-Depressant Effects
Various aspects of arthritis can affect the mood and can also cause depression. Essential oils have proven to be excellent in reducing depression and improving mood.
Peppermint can also be used to instantly energize the mind and improving the mood.
Peppermint oil blend has been demonstrated to reduce depression and stress in arthritis patients.
In a study that included 4 patients, it was reported that peppermint oil application onto the skin was effective in treating the tension headache. Its effects were comparable to that of the drug acetaminophen .
What does this mean? Peppermint oil is an essential oil that has been proven to reduce stress and improve mood which can abate depression.
4. Peppermint Oil Can Reduce Inflammation
Peppermint oil has been proven to reduce inflammation in other disease conditions by reducing the inflammation causing chemicals.
This effect may be utilized to reduce inflammation in arthritis patients as well.
Various studies on animals have proven the anti-inflammatory effect of peppermint oil in different disease conditions.
This effect can only be confirmed with studies on a large number of arthritis patients who are lacking for now.
What does this mean? Peppermint oil can be helpful in reducing inflammation in arthritis but, trials in arthritis patients have not been done.
How to Apply or take Peppermint Oil
The oral dosing of peppermint oil is 0.2 to 0.4 millilitres three times a day which is a study dose for Inflammatory bowel disease patients .
Peppermint candies could also be taken for instant energizing of the mind and improving the mood.
For the topical application of peppermint oil take 2-3 drops of oil and gently massage onto the skin or joints.
Peppermint oil is usually highly concentrated therefore it must be diluted before application on to the skin or follow the manufacturer guidelines.
Taking peppermint oil in recommended doses is found to be generally safe to be taken internally.
The side effect can be heartburn and allergic reactions.
Side effects of topical application of peppermint can be skin rash and irritation. Always check the preparation on a small area of skin before application. If rash or irritation develop to avoid the use of the oil.
High doses of peppermint can be toxic causing damage to the kidneys. It should not be consumed by people with gall stones or gall bladder inflammation.
If you are on other regular medication, it is advised to consult your physician before taking peppermint as it can interact with some medication like anti-depressant (E.g. Amitriptyline) and cholesterol-lowering medication like statins.
Peppermint oil is an essential oil that was mainly used for better digestion from olden times. It has been found to carry other properties which can benefit arthritis.
Peppermint oil has anti-inflammatory properties which can reduce inflammatory chemicals and inflammation in arthritis. Its antioxidant properties can reduce oxidative stress in arthritis.
Peppermint oil helps to relieve pain which is proven by some studies.
It is an excellent antidepressant which can be used to improve mood in arthritis patients.
The safety profile of peppermint is found to be good but large doses can be toxic. It can interact with other medication therefore, caution is advised.
Considering this present data, it can be said peppermint oil might benefit in arthritis as its properties are encouraging.
These effects have been well demonstrated by animal studies but, lack of data from research in arthritis patients limits us from arriving at a strong conclusion.