Joint pain, inflammation, joint stiffness, and redness are the classic symptoms of all types of arthritis.
Although there is no apparent cause for this disease, being obese, smoking, female gender, and genetic history can influence the development of this disease.
There is no cure for this ailment but, it can be managed well to improve the quality of life of the patient.
Apart from medications, injections, and surgeries, arthritis should also be managed with diet control, exercise, physical therapy, complementary and alternative therapies.
Aromatherapy is a safe and effective herbal medicine which can have a variety of benefits.
The main principle of this therapy is the use of concentrated plant extracts called as essential oils by oral, topical or inhalation routes.
Safety and efficacy of essential oil vary from one disease to another and with different types of essential oil.
Before we discuss the benefits of rosemary oil in arthritis let us know more about this oil, its origin, and traditional usage.
What is Rosemary Essential Oil?
Rosemary is a perennial herb obtained from a shrub that is scientifically known as Rosmarinus officinalis. This herb originated from Mediterranean Region.
It has now been cultivated in all continents and commonly used as a condiment.
Rosemary herb has been widely used in cooking, flavoring, and perfumery.
Its extracts have health benefits for which it has been used in traditional folk medicine.
Rosemary essential oil is obtained by steam distillation of fresh flowering tops from the herb. This extract is an aromatic, volatile liquid that is rich in chemical constituents called ‘cineole’, ‘pinene’, ‘camphor’ and many others.
Rosemary essential oil has been found to be useful in bronchial asthma, joint and muscle aches, heart diseases, ulcers, liver diseases, diabetes, infections, and cancer.
It is also known to stimulate hair growth, boost immunity, and provide antioxidant benefits.
Benefits of Rosemary Essential Oil in Arthritis
Rosemary essential oil benefits in arthritis in several ways thanks to it's analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anxiolytic, antioxidant, and weight reducing effects. Extensive research on the properties of rosemary oil confirms the pain relieving, inflammation reducing and anti-oxidant benefits which are of much importance in arthritis. In addition to this, it can help in curbing obesity and relieving stress among arthritis sufferers.
1. It Relieves Joint Pain in Arthritis
The main symptom of arthritis is pain and most therapeutic strategies target pain relief. Rosemary essential oil has been used traditionally to reduce pain related to the muscle and joints.
This effect is now stated by various scientific data.
A clinical trial conducted in 105 patients revealed the pain reducing effects of rosemary essential oil when applied topically.
In another trial, applying rosemary oil to the painful joints relieved pain 30 subjects.
Cineole’ is the chemical constituent present in rosemary oil that imparts analgesic activity to this oil.
Research also demonstrates that rosemary oil enhances the effect of topical diclofenac (pain relief medicine).
Inhalation of rosemary oil for pain alleviation has shown only slight benefits.
Animal studies have demonstrated the therapeutic potential of rosemary oil in the reduction of pain which has successfully led to human trials.
What does this mean? Rosemary essential oil is an excellent analgesic that can reduce joint pain arthritis. It also improves the effectiveness of other pain lowering drugs.
2. It Has Anti-inflammatory Action Which Can Benefit Arthritis
Inflammation in arthritis can cause bone destruction and is the imperative that inflammation is brought to a halt to manage arthritis better.
A component called ‘carnosol' and ‘carnosic acid' present in rosemary essential oil acts on various parts of the inflammatory pathways which reduces inflammation.
A clinical trial that included 54 arthritis patients who were using oral rosemary extract showed a significant decrease of inflammatory markers in their body.
Anti-inflammatory effect of rosemary oil has been demonstrated via numerous animal studies and studies in isolated cells too.
It also shows the topical application of rosemary oil can reduce inflammation.
Rosemary essential oil can also help in potentiating the anti-inflammatory effects of other agents like diclofenac by increasing their absorption through the skin.
What does this mean? Rosemary essential oil has compounds that contain anti-inflammatory properties that can soothe the inflamed joints in arthritis.
3. Rosemary Oil Provides Antioxidant Benefits in Arthritis
Normal body processes produce some toxic by-products (called free radicals or reactive oxygen species) that can damage the cells.
Antioxidants are substances that counteract this damage to the cells.
In arthritis, there is an increase in the concentration of these toxins that can damage the cells. It can be prevented by using antioxidants.
Rosemary essential oil is a powerful antioxidant as it is rich in vitamin E.
It contains constituents called pinene and cineole which are also known for their excellent antioxidant effects.
It is proven to remove free radicals and prevent cell damage within the body.
One trial in 22 healthy subjects demonstrated that inhalation of rosemary oil reduced the free radical activity and provided antioxidant benefits.
Rosemary oil also acts by activating the defense mechanism of the body and protecting it against toxins.
The antioxidant property of rosemary oil is proven by animal studies.
It is also found to have higher antioxidant activity when compared to other essential oils.
What does this mean? Rosemary essential oil is a potent antioxidant which can help in removal of toxins in arthritis patients. It also acts by improving the body's defense mechanisms.
4. It Reduces Stress and Anxiety in Arthritis Patients
Arthritis can be disabling and limit daily life activities.
This can lead to stress and anxiety and sometimes depression too.
Aromatherapy or essential oil inhalation allows the oil to directly act on the center of the brain that is responsible for the anxiety and helps in reducing the anxiety or stress level.
Rosemary essential oil has been used as one of the anti-anxiety oils in aromatherapy trials with positive effects on the mind.
One trial in 73 subjects showed anxiety-reducing effects of rosemary essential oil in stressful situations.
Cortisol is a stress hormone which is reduced significantly in the patients using rosemary essential oil by inhalation.
This property can be the basis for claiming rosemary oil to be anxiolytic. Nevertheless, more research studies are required to fortify this benefit in arthritis patients.
What does this mean? Rosemary essential oil has been proven by some trial to possess anti-anxiety effects that could prevent depression among arthritis afflicted individuals.
5. Rosemary Oil Can Reduce Body Weight in Arthritis
Obesity is a common problem in arthritis patients and it also increases the chances of developing arthritis.
Therefore, weight loss is a requisite in both managing and preventing arthritis.
Rosemary essential oil was evaluated to identify properties that can prevent the accumulation of fat cells in the body, which can be beneficial in reducing body weight in arthritis patients.
‘Carnosic acid’ is the main compound in rosemary oil that exerts this effect which prevents the adipocytes (fat cells) collection. ‘Rosmarinic acid’ is yet another compound that aids in reducing fat tissue formation.
It acts by interfering with numerous processes involved in weight gain.
Rosemary oil has also proven its effect of limiting weight gain in animal studies too.
A study of rosemary oil on human fat cells also confirmed this effect.
What does this mean? Losing weight is an important step in arthritis management. Rosemary essential oil can aid in reducing weight or limiting weight gain in arthritis.
How to Use Rosemary Essential Oil - Dosage
Rosemary essential oil can be used topically or by inhalation.
It is also regarded as safe for oral intake.
Since the exact dose of rosemary essential oil for arthritis is not ascertained, it is best to obtain physician or pharmacist advice on oral dosing.
For alleviation of pain, it can be applied to the skin after diluting the oil with carrier oils like almond or vegetable oil.
Apply the diluted oil to the joints and massage for 20 minutes twice daily to reduce joint pain.
To relieve stress and anxiety add the diluted rosemary essential oil to a humidifier and inhale the aroma.
Make sure the dilution is as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
Rosemary essential oil is regarded as safe for oral use by the FDA.
However, one needs to take some cation before using this oil.
Rosemary oil could have the potential to interact with other drugs as demonstrated by a study.
Consumption of higher doses of rosemary essential oil can cause liver damage.
Do not use rosemary essential oil in patients with liver damage or other medical condition without advice from the physician.
Before applying the essential oil to the skin perform a patch test by applying the oil to a small part of your forearm.
If no reaction ensues within a day then the oil is safe to be used on the skin.
Rosemary essential oil is an extract from the flowering tops of a shrub which has numerous health benefits.
Arthritis patients can also benefit from the aromatherapy of this oil as it is an excellent choice for pain and inflammation reduction.
Just like all other essential oils, rosemary oil also has antioxidant benefits that can help in detoxification and prevention of further damage of the bones in arthritis.
Rosemary essential oil can also relieve stress and anxiety. It can be useful in reducing weight by preventing fat cell accumulation in the body.
Scientific data on the weight reduction and anti-anxiety are limited for now and future studies can further validate these effects.
Rosemary essential oil is a safe and effective herbal medicine that can be used orally, topically and via inhalation to provide invaluable benefits to arthritis patients.