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Essential Oil for Rheumatoid Arthritis: Do They Help?

Many people who suffer from the numerous incapacitating symptoms of arthritis, including pain, swelling, restricted freedom of movement, and rigidity, are willing to attempt alternative treatments in order to find comfort that goes beyond what their drugs can provide. According to studies, persons with osteoarthritis (OA), the most prevalent form of arthritis, are much more likely than individuals who have any other chronic illness to adopt complementary therapies. Science also demonstrates the advantages of including aromatherapy in your arsenal against arthritis, much like there is evidence to support the use of natural remedies like acupressure and mindfulness in treating arthritic symptoms. According to research, it can have a significant influence on your overall well-being, including how much pain you experience.

Arthritis Foundation: What do we know?

An inflammatory condition called rheumatoid arthritis can lead to excruciating joint pain and inflammation. This issue, also known as rheumatoid arthritis, is typical among the elderly and gets worse in the winter. The symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, which include joint pain, swelling, stiffness, and loss of joint function, can affect any part of the body.

Although there is no known cure for this condition, effective therapy can aid in controlling the discomfort and inflammatory response. Eleven essential oils have been identified below that, when combined with carrier oils like coconut, olive, and amla, may help with this persistent issue. These essential oils are easily available and perfect to use. 

In November 2018 the Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice published a study that showed how oils with analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties could lower arthritic pain when massaged (1).

What essential oils to use?

Eucalyptus essential oil

This oil, which is made from eucalyptus tree leaves, aids in relieving pain, swelling, and irritation. The majority of studies advise either using a few drops of eucalyptus oil in a warm bath or breathing it. According to research, eucalyptus oil relieves joint discomfort. This essential oil is actually used in a lot of well-known over-the-counter lotions and ointments that are used to relieve pain from ailments including osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. With many ailments, eucalyptus oil helps to lessen pain and inflammation. To ease joint and muscular discomfort, gently massage eucalyptus oil on the affected areas.

Frankincense essential oil

The acids in frankincense are anti-inflammatory and analgesic, based on the Arthritis Foundation. They could also lessen inflammatory reactions and stop cartilage degradation. Frankincense can be used topically or inhaled. Frankincense oil, which is produced from the sap or resin of the Boswellia tree, has long been used in traditional medicine to treat a range of conditions, including inflammation and chronic pain. The acids present in frankincense have anti-inflammatory and analgesic qualities, according to the American Arthritis Foundation, which can provide relief for rheumatoid arthritis.

Lavender essential oil

Lavender oil can be used topically, breathed, or added to a warm bath to aid with pain, anxiety, and despair. Essential oils can also be used in aromatherapy. Essential oils that have a relaxing effect, like lavender, usually work best for this. A cotton ball soaked in a few drops of lavender essential oil can be used to directly inhale the fragrance. As required, inhale from a cloth or another absorbing surface after applying a few drops. In fact, research from the Catholic University of Korea in Seoul revealed that arthritis sufferers who inhaled a fragrant mixture made up of lavender, eucalyptus, and rosemary felt less discomfort and had better emotions than those who did not. One of the most common essential oils is lavender essential oil.

Ginger essential oil

The powerful anti-inflammatory properties of this plant are attributed to a compound called gingerol. Essential oils like ginger use natural properties to enhance someone's medical state. In reality, ibuprofen and ginger both had comparable anti-inflammatory effectiveness when researchers evaluated the two. Numerous studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of ginger as a pain reliever. Ninety-five per cent of patients receiving ginger therapy for osteoarthritis of the knee reported less pain after treatment. In a different study, ginger oil massage was contrasted with massage alone and a group receiving standard care for those with persistent knee pain. The three groups' levels of knee discomfort and stiffness after one week were comparable. However, the aromatherapy report indicates less knee discomfort during the four-week follow-up. Ginger oil has anti inflammatory effects which help reduce arthritis symptoms and gives arthritis relief. 

A study published in Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin in the year 2012 proved the efficiency of eugenol (found in ginger oil) in lowering experimental arthritic pain (2).

Tumeric essential oil

Some essential oils are closer to us than we imagine. Turmeric oil is a popular spice and a natural antibacterial and antibiotic. The active components in Turmeric essential oil may well have anti-inflammatory qualities. It is derived from the turmeric plant's roots. The anti-inflammatory benefits of turmeric oil have been shown through research. A 2010 animal experiment evaluated its anti-arthritic properties. In mice with induced arthritis, researchers discovered that therapy with turmeric essential oil was 95 to 100% successful in avoiding joint inflammation. Add 4-5 drops of curcumin essential oil to a carrier oil, such as coconut, jojoba, or olive oil, to make an anti-inflammatory mixture. Apply to the troublesome area. The anti inflammatory activity helps treat rheumatoid arthritis and reduce inflammatory responses. 

Research has been done on turmeric oil and arthritis, and it is published in the American Chemical Society and American Society of Pharmacognosy. The research has established that the three major curcuminoids were responsible for antiarthritic effect of the oil (3)

Another experiment published in July 2016 in PharmaNutrition also concluded that the anti-inflammatory properties of ginger oil could reduce the symptoms of experimental rheumatoid arthritis (4)

Basil oil

Several substances in basil essential oils have shown promise as medicines. The basil oil contains 1.8-cineole, which has anti-inflammatory properties. Eugenol, linalool, and citronellol are a few of the essential oils in basil that can aid to reduce inflammation in the body. These anti-inflammatory qualities may aid in reducing the likelihood of inflammatory diseases like arthritis. The analgesic properties of basil and many essential oils also help strengthen the immune system, keep blood pressure in check and treat arthritis. Additionally, it is said to improve immunological performance, guard against infection, lessen fluid retention, and regulate irregular periods. Certain oils like basil have proven in many randomized clinical trials that they help reduce arthritic pain, especially through aromatherapy massage. 

The American Journal of Chinese Medicine in 2013 published a study that evaluated the anti-inflammatory activity of Ocimum americanum L. essential oil. Not only did the study determine the anti-inflammatory properties of the oil it also found that the essential oils prevented damage of the knee joint cartilage (5).

Chamomile oil

The advantages of chamomile oil for the skin, body, and hair are numerous. Additionally, it aids in reducing rheumatoid arthritis-related discomfort. Patients with osteoarthritis of the knee reported less need for analgesics after using chamomile oil. Additionally, it may have some positive benefits on the patients' stiffness and physical function. Chemicals in chamomile tea have anti-inflammatory properties. But persistent inflammation is connected to a variety of illnesses, such as haemorrhoids, gastrointestinal discomfort, arthritis, autoimmune diseases, and even melancholy. Chamomile is a common alternative medicine which is known for improving blood circulation, and helping in improvement in joint disease and many arthritis patients recommend it heavily. Along with other essential oils, it is highly beneficial.

Wintergreen Oil

According to experts in a 2014 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, a combination of wintergreen oil and peppermint oil is frequently utilised since it's thought to provide much greater pain relief than either oil alone. The combination oil may enhance each oil's distinct properties, enabling the usage of each at lower levels, which should result in fewer adverse effects. In order to treat aching joints (rheumatism), painful muscles, and lower back discomfort, wintergreen leaf is occasionally directly applied to the skin. To treat muscular discomfort, wintergreen oil is administered topically as a "counterirritant." Counterirritants function by inciting irritation in the deeper tissues, which lessens pain and edoema. Essential oils like wintergreen are commonly available too.

Orange oil

A potent essential oil with antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antidepressant qualities is produced by orange fruit. A 2017 research examined the impact of orange essential oil aromatherapy on individuals who were experiencing pain from limb fractures. Researchers thought orange oil was helpful as a supplemental treatment since those who inhaled it saw a substantial reduction in pain versus those who did not. Orange oil that has been diluted can be used and massaged onto the skin to ease arthritis pain. To induce calmness and ease physical ache, think about using diluted orange oil in your bath. After applying any citrus essential oils externally, protection from the sun is required. Oranges are a highly popular fruit, therefore the discovery that it also comes in oil form comes as no surprise. It emits an energising citrus aroma that awakens the senses.

Lemongrass oil

Another well-liked essential oil with a pleasant aroma is lemongrass. But it is also incredibly beneficial for easing arthritic pain. It is regarded as one of the greatest essential oils for treating rheumatoid arthritis discomfort. Citral, a component of lemongrass essential oil can reduce inflammation while also easing discomfort. A 2017 research on individuals with rheumatoid arthritis found that topical lemongrass oil reduced their discomfort. Within 30 days, pain levels often decreased progressively from 80% to 50%.

Marjoram Oil

The calming and warming qualities of this oil are good for reducing joint and muscular discomfort. It is also widely recognised for its ability to relieve dyspepsia, blood pressure, arthritic pain, and muscular spasms. In many peer-reviewed studies and according to professional medical advice marjoram oil has reduced knee pain. It can also be used as a bath oil due to its anti inflammatory effects. It is also used as a carrier oil. Experimental rheumatoid arthritis has been improved by using this oil. Physical therapy along with other methods have proven useful.

Choosing the Most Effective Aromatherapy Products

Follow these recommendations to ensure you get a high-quality item that is suitable for you:

Try to find pure oils

The only components that should be included on the label are the oils.

Use price as a guide

A minimal amount of essential oils are made from a lot of labour and plant material. One ounce of rose oil, for instance, requires 60,000 rose blooms. Although there is a more essential oil in the lavender plant, it still requires 220 pounds to produce one pound of oil. If the price is really cheap, the oil could have been diluted with artificial additives.

Test a patch

Ask if you may test a little amount of the oil on your skin before buying it to look for a response. Some oils, like lavender's linalool, have significant amounts of chemicals that cause sensitivities. Use essential oils like jojoba oil or coconut oil to dilute other essential oils and reduce skin irritation and help avoid health conditions.


Aromatherapy for arthritis has been backed by significant scientific evidence, and popular essential oils have been brought to the forefront in arthritis treatment. Arthritis essential oils when mixed with a carrier oil for massage or used for inhalation help many people have pain relief. From their anti inflammatory effects to the reduction in arthritis pain, essential oils have proven to be useful time and again. Here are to hoping greater strides in medicine and aromatherapy.

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