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Many people regularly deal with joint pain and have tried numerous prescriptions, over-the-counter and other treatments including physical therapy but still deal with pain. If this is you, you might want to consider adding essential oils for joint pain. You may be surprised at how effective essential oils for joint pain relief can be.
When dealing with joint pain, you may also be experiencing swelling, stiffness, limited range of motion and even redness on the affected joint.
Research is mounting that essential oils for arthritis and joint pain can be extremely effective in alleviating pain and other related symptoms.
More than 50 million adults and 300,000 children have arthritis, (including me) which is often treated with prescribed and over-the-counter medications and physical therapy. They aren’t, however, the only remedies available.
What Are Essential Oils and How Can They Help Joint Pain?
Essential oils are the scented parts of a plant, usually the bark, leaves, flowers or peel. They are extracted from the plant via cold-pressing, steam distillation or other methods.
Essential oils have a strong scent. But that’s not what helps you feel better. The plant’s chemicals affect your brain and body. They get into your bloodstream when you put the oil on your skin or breathe it in.
Essential oils contain vitamins, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatories that may help ease arthritis pain and swelling.
The reality is that essential oils contain a host of compounds that can have a range of effects on the body. Essential oils directly stimulate the part of the brain that influences emotions, heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration, and even pain and inflammation, but you don’t even necessarily have to smell the oils to reap their rewards.
For instance, when applied topically, rosemary can ease arthritis pain by helping to numb nerves; when inhaled, rosemary oil’s been shown to have a stimulatory effect on beta brainwaves that may explain its ability to make you feel more alert and energized — a plus when dealing with a chronic disease leaves you feeling drained.
Best Essential Oils for Joint Pain and Arthritis
There are dozens of essential oils, all with unique smells, properties, and characteristics. How essential oils help relieve arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis (a condition characterized by chronic inflammation of joint linings) and osteoarthritis (in which cushioning cartilage wears away) depends on the particular oil being considered. Each of these on the list of best essential oils for joint pain and inflammation has different properties which work in different ways to address pain and inflammation.
Some essential oils for arthritis provide anesthetic or numbing effects. Some reduce inflammation. Others interrupt pain-receptors in the brain. And some even work in a combination of ways.
Here, just a few of the best essential oils for joint pain and inflammation and the studies that have proven their effectiveness.
Black Pepper Essential Oil
Because of its warming, anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic properties, black pepper oil works to reduce muscle injuries, tendonitis, and symptoms of arthritis. It simply has to be added to a list of essential oils for joint pain and inflammation.
A 2014 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine assessed the efficacy of aromatic essential oils on neck pain. When patients applied a cream composed of black pepper, marjoram, lavender and peppermint essential oils to the neck daily for a four-week period, the group reported improved pain tolerance and significant improvement of neck pain. In another study, older people rubbed black pepper oil into their achy knees 3 times a day for 3 weeks. They felt better than the group that only took acetaminophen.
Clove Essential Oil
A versatile essential oil that is considered beneficial for inflammation, clove is often used when dealing with pain and inflammation in the mouth, as well as inflammation due to muscle, joint, or arthritis pain, and even infections on the skin. Surprisingly, it tops many lists for the best essential oils for joint pain and inflammation.
Clove’s main chemical constituent is eugenol, which contains potent antioxidant properties. The ability of eugenol to fight free radicals in the body is believed to be directly linked to its effectiveness at fighting inflammation, since oxidative stress and inflammation are associated. Due to its high eugenol content, clove should not be used on sensitive or injured skin, and it shouldn’t be used on or near children under two years old.
Eucalyptus Essential Oil
Another essential oil with potent anti-inflammatory compounds, eucalyptus is considered an effective pain reliever and is frequently used in formulations for headaches as well as muscle and joint pain. It’s also extremely beneficial when dealing with sickness. Additionally, a study conducted in 2010 found that 1,-8 cineole (the main constituent of eucalyptus) reduced the release of cytokines that contribute to inflammation in guinea pigs.
Because eucalyptus oil is believed to boost the immune system, it is also beneficial when dealing with inflammation.
In one study on people with OA who had knee replacement surgery, inhalation of eucalyptus oil for 30 minutes on three consecutive days following surgery was effective in decreasing pain and lowering blood pressure.
The researchers believe the reduced pain may be due to eucalyptus oil’s anti-inflammatory properties and its ability to increase serotonin, a brain chemical that seems to stop pain.
However, due to the 1,-8 cineole content, eucalyptus should not be used around children under 10 years old.
Ginger Essential Oil
As a food, ginger is known as an immune booster, so it makes sense that this essential oil is good for joint join and inflammation. In fact, a study conducted in 2013 concluded that ginger contains significant antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds that reduced both acute and chronic inflammation when tested on mice.
Ginger’s main constituent is zingiberene, which is responsible for its anti-inflammatory properties. Additionally, ginger is a warming oil that is considered beneficial in stimulating circulation. It is often used in formulations to help reduce muscle and joint pain.
A group of people with ongoing knee problems reported less pain and stiffness a month after a massage with ginger oil. The group that only got a massage did not. They also showed better physical function overall.
In addition, Ginger essential moil contains a chemical constituent called gingerol which possesses potent anti-inflammatory effects. In fact, when researchers compared ginger with ibuprofen they both showed similar anti-inflammatory activity. This makes sense, since both block COX-2, the enzyme that produces chemicals that promote inflammation and pain.
Helichrysum Essential Oil
Helichrysum is a fascinating essential oil and one of my absolute favorites on my list of best essential oils for joint pain and inflammation. It’s one of the more expensive essential oils and is prized by many for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Research conducted in 2002 found that the potent antioxidant properties of helichrysum played a significant part in the oil’s anti-inflammatory effects.
Additionally, it’s regarded as useful when dealing with inflammation caused by muscle and joint pain and is often an ingredient in pain-relief formulations.
It is a main ingredient in Young Living’s Deep Relief Roll-On along with Peppermint, Wintergreen, and Dorado Azul. We use this in our home, daily.
Lavender Essential Oil
Some sources claim that Lavender essential oil is technically not an anti-inflammatory, while others claim that it is anti-inflammatory. However, whether it is or isn’t is insignificant. It’s still one of the best essential oils for inflammation due to its effectiveness when dealing with inflammatory conditions.
Lavender essential oil seems to help directly with chronic joint pain. In a study of 90 patients with OA of the knee, the pain severity of the group that was given massage with lavender essential oil was immediately and significantly improved compared to the placebo groups.
Lemongrass Essential Oil
A small group of people with rheumatoid arthritis felt a little less pain after using lemongrass oil for 30 days. Experts think the plant chemical citral may be anti-inflammatory.
Orange Essential Oil
You might not think of Orange essential oils as being one of the top essential oils for joint pain, but an emergency room study conducted applied pads containing drops of orange oil were placed on the collars of people admitted to the emergency room with broken bones; the pads were replaced every hour. Researchers found that people exposed to the orange oil reported less pain than those who didn’t receive the oil.
While this study didn’t look at arthritis, per se, it stands to reason that orange oil—which has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties—may help with the pain associated with joint disease.
Peppermint Essential Oil
Commonly used for the pain associated with headaches, the power of peppermint is due to it containing 44% menthol, which produces a sensation of hot or cold that can temporarily override your ability to feel your joint pain. The effectiveness of this essential oil for joint pain cannot be overlooked.
Thyme Essential Oil
Thyme has a long history of use as a cooking herb, but it also has a lengthy history as a medicinal herb as well. It contains many potent therapeutic properties that are beneficial when dealing with numerous types of illness and pain.
Not surprisingly, thyme also contains many potent compounds that make it especially useful when dealing with a variety of health issues, including inflammation. In fact, a study conducted in 2009 found that one of the components of thyme oil was effective in suppressing a specific enzyme that plays a role in the inflammatory response and thus, effective for joint pain.
Turmeric Essential Oil
Turmeric has become increasingly popular in recent years, and for good reason as it has been proven to be effective for a number of issues. A close relative of ginger, turmeric contains many vitamins and minerals and is considered to be an effective anti-inflammatory. This essential oil also contains potent anti-inflammatory compounds and is commonly used when dealing with pain and inflammation due to rheumatism, arthritis, and muscle and/or joint problems.
Furthermore, a study published in 2012 found that turmerone—the main component of turmeric essential oil—had anti-neuroinflammatory effects, which suggests that it could potentially be a promising treatment for neurodegenerative disorders, as well.
Combining Essential Oils for Joint Pain
Often, blending essential oils are found to be more effective than using one oil alone. For example, one of the most promising studies on the use of essential oils to treat rheumatoid arthritis was published in 2005 by Korean researchers who evaluated a specific blend containing eucalyptus, lavender, marjoram, rosemary, and peppermint essential oils in proportions of 2:1:2:1:1 on 40 patients. “Aromatherapy significantly decreased both the pain score and the depression score of the experimental group compared with the control group,” reported the researchers. They also reported that this therapy produced no side effects.
Below are some great combinations of essential oils for inflammation and joint pain.
Copaiba Essential Oil Blend
Study subjects with arthritis in their hands were divided into two groups. One group received a hand massage with copaiba oil combined with wintergreen, camphor, and peppermint. The other group was massaged with coconut oil.
Both groups were massaged twice a day for five days. At the end of the study, the copaiba group took less time to perform tasks with their hands, had increased finger strength, and reported a 50% reduction in pain.
Frankincense and Myrrh Essential Oils
When used together, these oils eased joint inflammation in rats with arthritis.
Lavender Essential Oil Blend
Patients with rheumatoid arthritis who had their knees massaged with coconut oil (containing 5% lavender, juniper, and Cananga oils) three times a week for six weeks reported less pain and fatigue than those who didn’t get the treatment.
Wintergreen and Peppermint Essential Oils
A combination of wintergreen oil and peppermint oil is commonly used because it’s believed to give far better pain relief than either oil alone, note researchers in a 2014 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. The combination oil may synergistically enhance the individual effects of each oil, allowing the use of lower doses of each, which is likely to produce fewer side effects.
Essential Oil Blends for Pain and Inflammation
Here are several essential oil blend recipes for joint pain and inflammation that may help you realize improvement when used.
- 3 drops Lavender essential oil
- 4 drops Orange essential oil
- 6 drops Ginger essential oil
- 1 Tbs. Jojoba oil (or another desired carrier oil)
Combine and pour into roller bottle to roll on achy or painful joints.
Arthritis Pain-Reducing Ointment
- 14 drops Eucalyptus essential oil
- 14 drops Marjoram essential oil
- 7 drops Lavender essential oil
- 7 drops Peppermint essential oil
- 7 drops Rosemary essential oil
- 2 ounces Almond oil
- 1 tablespoon Jojoba oil
Recipe from The Healing Power of Essential Oils by Eric Zielinski, D.C.
If you aren’t a DIYer, my husband and I love the Deep relief Roll-On and CBD Muscle Rub (with a blend of pain and inflammation-reducing essential oils added to the product). They literally include the absolute best essential oils for joint pain and inflammation.
How to Use Essential Oils for Joint Pain and Inflammation
- Mix several drops of an essential oil with a tablespoon or so of vegetable oil or milk and add it to your bath.
- Add desired essential oils (4-8 drops) into bath and add one to two cups of Epsom salts.
- Place a couple of drops of essential oil on a cotton puff and place in a plastic bag. Take out the puff and smell periodically throughout the day.
- Add 7-10 drops of essential oils to a diffuser. (Oils do not need to be applied topically to achieve benefit).
Massaging Essential Oils for Inflammation and Joint Pain
1. Choose a carrier oil such as coconut, avocado, almond, or jojoba oil.
2. Mix several drops (10-20, typically) in an ounce or so of the carrier oil.
3. Massage onto skin
Tips for Choosing the Best Essential Oils
Use these tips to be sure you’re getting a quality product that’s right for you:
Look for pure oils. The oils should be the only ingredients listed on the label. I choose to use Young Living Essential Oils due their high purity and Seed to Seal Commitment.
Let cost be your guide. It takes a great deal of work and plant material to produce a tiny amount of essential oil. For example, 60,000 rose blossoms are required to produce one ounce of rose oil. The essential oil in the lavender plant is more abundant, but it still takes 220 pounds to yield one pound of oil. If the price is really low, you may be getting an oil that’s diluted with synthetic ingredients.
You may enjoy this video by the school I am attending, Aromahead Institute, about the best esssential oils for joint pain and inflammation.
If you suffer from joint pain and try one of these essential oils for joint pain, I’d love to hear how they worked for you!