Arthritis and Essential Oils

By Linda Blanton (ACP Level 1 Graduate)

Arthritis is a very painful health issue and is very common.  According to the Mayo Clinic, it is the Number one cause of disability in the United States and nearly 40 million Americans have some form of arthritis. (Mayo Clinic on Arthritis, Second Edition)

Arthritis means “inflammation of a joint.”  There are many forms of arthritis (over 100 per Wikipedia), but the most common are Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis.  In osteoarthritis, the inflammation happens when the articular cartilage on the ends of the bones become worn or damaged (usually found in a one weightbearing joint).   Rheumatoid Arthritis happens when the joint lining becomes inflamed as part of a disease process that affects the entire body. (f).  Both types signify an inability to eliminate toxic waste efficiently.

 

Arthritis Can Be Caused by Different Factors

One is physical trauma.  I have arthritis in my neck and have been told that this is most likely from the car accidents I was involved in years ago.  I had whiplash in both accidents and didn’t follow the doctors physical therapy plan which could have helped prevent the arthritis.

Other causes include aging, diet, lack of exercise, being overweight and genetic factors (Mayo Clinic)

 

Many people suffer greatly from arthritis, but there are essential oils that can help. Some of the most commonly used for arthritis are:

  • Peppermint Mentha x piperita has anti inflammatory properties as well as stimulating the lymph system.
  • Rosemary Rosemarinus officinalis is great for improving circulation and relieving pain.
  • Lavender Lavendula angustifolia is a great oil for arthritis As a treatment for arthritis, it can help reduce soreness and inflammation around painful areas. It works by increasing oxygenation and circulation to the joints.
  • Marjoram (Origanum marjorana) is a very calming oil and is traditionally used for bruises, sprains, muscle spasm and stiff joint, which makes it a great oil for relieving arthritis pain. (The Fusion Model website)
  • Eucalyptus Eucalyptus Globulus is a natural pain reliever and is also a great immune stimulant.
  • Helichrysum Helichrysum Italicum is a great oil for inflammation and is a great base note for a therapeutic blend.

 

One way to apply the oils is to make a massage blend with a 2% dilution using a carrier oil such as fractionated coconut oil, and massage into the area gently twice a day.

A cold compress can also help with a few drops of oils added.  Julia Lawless, author of The Complete Illustrated Guide to Aromatherapy recommends Lavender Lavendula angustfolia  and Chamomile Chamaemelum nobile  or Yarrow  Achillea millefolium Oil.

She also recommends a detoxifying treatment for all types of arthritis by adding 3 drops Fennel Foeniculum vulgare dulce, Carrot Daucua carota or celery seed Apium graveolens and Juniper berry Juniperus osteosperma oil (up to 10 drops of any of the oils mentioned) to bath water, together with two handfuls of Epsom salt and one of rock salt.  She advised to repeat daily for two weeks. She cautions to keep the joint(s) moving after treatment to avoid congestion and to never massage directly over a swollen joint. (The Complete Illustrated Guide to Aromatherapy)

The Rheumatoid Arthritis Support Network website also recommends essential oils to treat arthritis pain and inflammation.   A few suggestions include mixing Orange Citrus sinens and Ginger Zingiber offiniale oils together to reduce pain levels and ease stiff joints.  Another suggestion is to mix Frankincense and Myrrh oils to reduce inflammation and relieve pain.

Doctor’s Health Press, another website recommends these oils for arthritis pain:

Peppermint Mentha piperata, Eucalyptus Eucalyptus globulus, Ginger Zingiber offinale, Lavender Lavandula angustifolia, Cayenne Pepper, Rosemary Rosmarinus officinalis, Frankincense Boswelia carteri, Myrrh Commiphora myrrha (combine with olive oil for best results), Lemongrass Cymbopogon flexuosus (safe for those allergic to aspirin and those on blood thinners) and Birch Oil Betula alleghaniensis (with caution to not use if on blood thinning medication).

The combination of Frankincense and Myrrh is also suggested for pain and inflammation.  Also, combining Ginger and Orange provides relief to stiffness in joints and helps reduce pain.  It is recommended to combine oils with coconut, jojoba or sweet almond oil.  If an ointment paste is desired, melted beeswax can be added.  It was also recommended discussing with doctor prior to using the oils.

I made a blend using Dead Sea Salts since they have been reported to be therapeutic for rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. It contains Magnesium, Sodium, Calcium, Potassium and Chloride and Bromide.  I also used Sweet Almond Oil since it has anti-inflammatory properties.  I added the follow oils to 2 ounces of the salts:

Sandalwood Santalum album 2 drops
Marjoram Origanum majorana 4 drops
Rosemary Rosemarinus officinalis 7 drops

I added the Sweet Almond Oil (about a tablespoon) to blend and moisten the salts.  I used it as a salt scrub and found it to be very beneficial in helping with pain and inflammation in my neck, which has arthritis.  I also found it to be stimulating to the circulation and detoxifying.  This blend can also be used as a bath soak.

In conclusion, there are many oils, blends and methods that can make living with arthritis easier and without side effects from prescription drugs.  Depending on the severity of the pain and inflammation, one oil such as marjoram can be beneficial, or a blend of several oils used for massage or bath, or combinations.

 

References

  • Mayo Clinic on Arthritis, Second Edition (2002) Conquering The Pain and Leading and Active Life, pg 1-10, Gene Hunder MD, Editor in Chief
  • AAOS Ortho Info (orthoinfo.aaos.org )
  • The Complete Illustrated Guide to Aromatherapy, A Practical Approach To The Use Of Essential Oils for Health and Well-Being by Julia Lawless 1997
  • rheumadoidarthritis.org/living-with-ra/diet/essential-oils
  • Doctorshealthpress.com
  • Wikipedia