Painful and debilitating, rheumatoid arthritis is a tough disease to manage. Luckily, medicine has evolved enough to find new ways to do it easier. As a complementary therapy, Aromatherapy can help you soothe the pain and discomfort. Find out how the best essential oils for rheumatoid arthritis can help you.
In this post, you’ll be reading more about:
- The way essential oils can help in alleviating joint pain and inflammation caused by RA. RA stands for rheumatoid arthritis
- Best Aromatherapy oils to use for rheumatoid arthritis, with pros and cons. It is very important to know both the pros and cons of your oils before using them. That is especially so when they can interact with other medications.
- How to use these therapeutic oils and a few safety words about them.
- Essential oil recipes for arthritis.
- Facts and details about this inflammatory disease.
- Tips to feel better when an arthritic flare-up occurs.
Best Essential Oils for Rheumatoid Arthritis, How They Help and Recipes
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is one of the many different types of joint disorders. Unfortunately, it is an autoimmune disorder, which means it doesn’t have a cure yet. There are however, means and ways of improving the condition.
What happens is that the body’s own immune system attacks the joints by causing their inflammation. In time, chronic inflammation damages the affected tissue.
This translates into a loss of mobility, stiffness and a lot of pain. If there is a good part about RA, that is its ability to be inactive too.
There are periods when it’ll be active (swollen and painful affected joints). But these periods are usually followed by a calm period when the disorder is inactive. This means no redness, swollen joints or pain. This cycle is often referred to as arthritic flare-ups.
Rheumatoid arthritis can affect anyone, regardless of age. It is not uncommon to be seen in children either. But most often, arthritis affects people between 40 and 60 years old.
Conventional treatment focuses on anti-inflammatory and pain relieving medications. Steroids and cortisone shots are also used for the most severe cases. Doctors also recommend a better rest, exercise and joint protection.
How Can Essential Oils Help Relieve Rheumatoid Arthritis
Essential oils represent all that’s good in the plant material. They are steam distilled and extracted from leaves and flowers, bark, seeds and/or resins.
They are called oils simply because their active molecules are heavier than water. Thus, they float above it and don’t mix together. They’re also called essential because they represent the essence of the plant.
In reality, these aromatic oils don’t leave a greasy film on the skin like carrier oils do. A part of the essence evaporates, while the other gets absorbed into the skin. The chemical composition of an essential oil is very complex and unique.
They contain tens or even hundreds of different tiny active molecules. These molecules can penetrate the skin and reach the blood.
But they can also get into the body through inhalations. The latter allows them to reach the brain and affect the limbic system. Essential oils can also influence the nervous system.
The best essential oils for rheumatoid arthritis must be:
- Analgesic (pain relievers).
All these effects can help soothe the inflammation and swelling of the affected joints. Diminishing the inflammation helps to diminish and even delay the damage to the joints.
The antioxidant property can also help fight free radicals. They can also damage the tissue on a deep level.
Aspirin is among the most common medications used to relieve inflammation and pain. A couple of essential oils are very high in methyl salicylate. Methyl salicylate is a substance similar to aspirin, belonging to the same family.
Other essential oils for arthritis can also mimic the effects of cortisone. Cortisone is a very good anti-inflammatory and analgesic. Someone who chooses cortisone shots may suffer from great pain.
These shots can also damage the nerves and raise the blood sugar level. Cortisone shots can even cause the death of the bone near the site of injection.
Essential oils that mimic cortisone are less powerful than the shots. But they make very effective in topical applications. Cortisone-like essential oils for rheumatoid arthritis are Peppermint and Juniper berry. But we also have Wintergreen, among others.
Also, in people with arthritis, depression and anxiety are very common. Emotional stress can weigh a lot on those who already have difficulty in coping with the disorder.
Luckily, there are a few good studies on Aromatherapy in that regard. They show clear signs that essential oils can help balance emotions. They can lift up the mood and relieve anxiety or depression. All these things can make the life of a person easier.
Most essential oils have anti-inflammatory and pain relieving effects. However, some of them really stand out, which is why I chose just a few to talk about.
Together, they all make a potent synergistic blend. This blend is then able to deal with almost all RA symptoms.
Eucalyptus, Sweet Birch and Ginger are among the best essential oils for rheumatoid arthritis in fingers, toes, etc. Let’s check out their characteristics up close for a better understanding.
1) Eucalyptus Essential Oil
Botanical name: Eucalyptus radiata/globulus.
- Eucalyptus is one of the best essential oils that reduce swelling and pain. It is very high in eucalyptol (1,8 cineole). This active molecule is known to regulate the body’s answer to inflammation. It can also prevent fluid retention (edema) and thus, reduce swelling and pain.
- It can also soothe heat sensations caused by inflammation and decrease redness.
- One study tested the effects of Eucalyptus oil after a total knee replacement. The study showed that after inhaling Eucalyptus for 30 minutes, pain was decreased. Heart rate, thus blood pressure was also decreased.
- People with asthma, allergies and seizures should seek medical counsel before use.
- The oil should be used in no more than 20% concentration in all blends.
Why I like it:
Eucalyptus is great at relieving arthritis pain and swelling. It can also improve the circulation, thus work faster. Plus, this oil is also a very good antiviral and protects from viral infections. It can also relieve muscle and digestive cramps.
2) Sweet Birch Essential Oil
Botanical name: Betula lenta/ B. pendula.
- If you’re still wondering what essential oils are good for rheumatoid arthritis, Birch is it. It is made up almost entirely of methyl salicylate. This substance is part of the aspirin family and acts just like it. This means that Sweet Birch oil is a very strong anti-inflammatory and analgesic.
- What essential oils are good for reducing swelling? You guessed it, Sweet Birch can do that too. It has good anti-inflammatory effects.
- It can also soothe muscle cramps. They usually happen in the muscles around the affected joints.
- This oil can also protect the nerves and tissue from cancerous cells. That is possible because of the acids (betulin and betulinic) it contains.
- Sweet Birch is very potent and high doses have been found to be very toxic to humans. A teaspoon of methyl salicylate is enough to kill an adult. That’s why you have to use very small amounts. Robert Tisserand recommends using only 2.5% of it in your blends.
- Ask your doctor for counsel before using Sweet Birch oil for rheumatoid arthritis. He will help you establish a good ratio and period of time for its use.
- If you suffer from asthma or seizures too, it is mandatory to talk to a doctor first.
- Avoid its use if you take medications for blood thinning or suffer from heart conditions.
Why I like it:
Sweet Birch has a pungent camphoraceous scent with minty notes. This smell makes its use very pleasant. Birch is one of the best essential oils for arthritis and nerve pain. It can also improve digestion and fatigue.
3) Ginger Essential Oil
Botanical name: Zingiber officinale.
- Ginger is a very well-versed essential oil. It can reduce inflammation and pain and it’s a good essential oil for osteoarthritis. One study used Ginger extract on knee pain caused by osteoarthritis. The results were very encouraging.
- Thus, Ginger can be used as a good essential oil for arthritis in fingers too. Painful finger joints are a sign of an incipient arthritis form.
- The oil has significant anti-inflammatory properties.
- It can also protect from fungal or bacterial infections.
- Ginger essential oil also has good antioxidant effects. This adds to a better protection of your joints.
- Research shows that Ginger extract may cause mild digestive problems. However, the ingestion of Ginger essential oil should not be done without proper medical counsel. Topical application though, should improve digestive problems.
- Avoid using Ginger essential oil for joint pain and inflammation before surgery.
- Avoid using it if you’re also taking anticoagulant medications.
Why I like it:
Ginger is among the best essential oils for rheumatoid arthritis. But at the same time, it can also boost your libido. On top of that all, Ginger can also stimulate hair growth. You can use Ginger essential oil as an effective mild remedy for knee pain and swelling.
What other essential oils are good for joint pain and swelling?
- Virginian Cedarwood.
- Juniper Berry.
- Wintergreen (same as Birch!).
- Lemon Eucalyptus.
- Bay Laurel.
- Ylang Ylang.
- Mountain Savory.
- Rosemary ( camphor).
- Cayenne Pepper.
These oils are great to reduce swelling, redness and pain. But other oils are a lot better at improving your sleep quality and life in general. They can act on the nervous and limbic systems to induce a good mood.
Here are the best essential oils for rheumatoid arthritis that can improve mood and life quality:
- Neroli (Orange Blossom).
- Sweet Orange.
- Roman Chamomile.
Precautions for Using Essential Oils for Arthritis
It comes without saying that an autoimmune disease like RA needs a lot of care. For any essential oil you want to use, you must first check with your doctor. The immune system is not working properly, because it attacks its own good cells.
Generally, essential oils can help relieve pain, inflammation and swelling in joints. But some of them can also stimulate the production of white blood cells, which are a big part of the immune system. A doctor should know better what this effect can mean for you.
If the doctor doesn’t know too much about essential oils, give him the list of chemical constituents. These constituents will help him understand what you’ll be using. That will lead to better and more personalized tips and precautions.
- Always test your oils for allergic reactions before widespread use. Mix one drop each of essential oil and carrier oil. Massage this mixture on the inside of your forearm. If nothing happens in a few hours, you’re good to use it.
- Don’t use essential oils for rheumatoid arthritis on children and elderly. Not without a doctor’s advice.
- Avoid their use if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. The oil molecules are very tiny and can travel through the placenta or milk.
- Talk to the doctor if you have heart problems or take anything for blood pressure.
How to Use Essential Oils for Arthritis Pain
When it comes to pain and inflammation, essential oils work better when combined. Sure, one single essence can also relieve arthritis symptoms. But 2 – 5 essences can make an even more potent blend.
Topically, Aromatherapy oils are too strong to be used as they are.
They can burn, irritate or sensitize the skin. So, they need to be diluted with carrier oils. The latter are full of fatty acids that nourish and moisturize the skin.
Carriers also help the oils disperse and spread on wide skin areas. This means the power of an aromatic essence will be decreased. The absorption rate of the oil through skin is 5 – 10%.
Mix 6 – 12 drops of essential oils for arthritis with an Oz (30 ml) of carrier oil. Apply on the affected joints and the tissue around them. Massage very gently, without pressing.
Keep the area warm for a few minutes. That’ll ease and speed up the absorption of the oils.
Some of the best anti-inflammatory carrier oils are Tamanu and Black Seed. But CBD Hemp and Olive oils are also good.
Air diffusions are also useful in arthritis management.
The oil molecules are highly volatile. They evaporate into the air and get inhaled almost immediately. The absorption rate this ways is 50 – 70% of the oil. Thus, Aromatherapy becomes a very efficient way to deal with pain, depression, etc.
If you’re using an electronic essential oil diffuser, add a moderate amount of drops. The right amount depends on the space you’re diffusing the oils into. Check out this article to find out how to diffuse aromatic oils in large rooms.
The diffusion should not last longer than 30 minutes. If you want to repeat, leave a window of at least 2 hours between sessions. Research shows that 60+ minutes of inhaling can elevate blood pressure. It can also induce anxiety and stress.
Once the device is turned off, the oils will continue to diffuse for a little while longer. Also, avoid sleeping with the diffuser on and keep the room well ventilated. Air saturation can cause headaches, nausea, etc.
Inhaling Aromatherapy oils for rheumatoid arthritis can:
- Relieve pain and inflammation.
- Decrease your levels of stress.
- Elevate your mood.
- Induce a relaxing state of mind (low blood pressure, no tension in the muscles, etc.).
- Improve anxiety feelings and depression.
Essential Oil Recipes for Rheumatoid Arthritis
It’s time to use those essential oils for joint pain and inflammation practically. I will give you a few arthritis recipes to try whenever it’s active.
Unfortunately there is no cure for RA yet, but inflammation can be healed with essential oils. Or at least, it’ll be decreased a lot until you feel much better.
Soothing Rheumatoid Arthritis Aroma Recipe
- Sweet Birch essential oil: 1 drop
- Eucalyptus essential oil: 4 drops
- Ginger essential oil: 7 drops
- Tamanu oil: 1 Oz (30ml)
Give the blend a good shake before each use. Massage 3 – 5 drops on the painful joint and keep at it for at least a minute. Repeat 3 times a day for a week. Take a break from this blend and try a different one, or go to the doctor if the symptoms get worse.
Concentrated Essential Oil Recipe for Arthritis
- Wintergreen essential oil: 1 drop
- Ylang Ylang essential oil: 3 drops
- Bay Laurel essential oil: 4 drops
- Eucalyptus essential oil: 4 drops
- CBD Hemp oil: 1 Oz (30 ml)
Use 6 to 8 drops of this blend on the painful joint and massage gently for a minute. Repeat 3 times a day.
Essential Oil Recipe for Arthritis in Fingers
- Ginger essential oil: 4 drops
- Black Pepper essential oil: 4 drops
- Virginian Cedarwood essential oil: 4 drops
- Olive oil: 1 Oz (30ml)
Apply a few drop on the knuckles and the other finger joints and massage gently for a few minutes. Repeat 3 – 6 times a day for up to 14 continuous days.
Essential Oil Recipe for Osteoarthritis
- Virginian Cedarwood essential oil: 3 drops
- Frankincense essential oil: 3 drops
- Turmeric essential oil: 3 drops
- Juniper berry essential oil: 3 drops
- Carrier oil: 1 Oz (30ml)
Use as recommended in the above mentioned recipes.
Essential Oil Recipe for Knee Pain and Swelling
- Eucalyptus essential oil: 4 drops
- Peppermint essential oil: 4 drops
- Ginger essential oil: 7 drops
- Tamanu oil: 1 Oz (30 ml)
Apply a moderate amount of this blend onto the painful knee and the surrounding tissue. Massage gently for a few minutes to warm up the skin. Maintain it warm so the oils can reach the affected tissue faster.
Anti-Inflammatory and Soothing Diffuser Recipe for Arthritis
- Petitgrain essential oil: 20 drops
- Sweet Orange essential oil: 20 drops
- Rose essential oil: 10 drops
- Roman Chamomile essential oil: 10 drops
Mix all these oils together in an empty glass bottle. Use the right amount of drops for the space you’ll be diffusing into. This recipe can help you relax, feel more grounded and rebalance your emotions.
Facts and Details about Arthritis (Types, Causes, Symptoms) and Tips to Feel Better
Normally, the immune system is programed to attack foreign damaging bodies. With rheumatoid arthritis (RA), the immune system attacks the good tissue. Though it is located in the joints, arthritis can also cause inflammation in other organs, like the lungs or eyes.
Chronic inflammation, left untreated for a long time, will destroy the tissue. That is why there’s an acute need of anti-inflammatories for arthritis flare-ups.
RA is a disease that’s often referred to as rheumatism. It is in fact a classic rheumatic disease that reacts to wet environments and high humidity.
I was telling you about the active and inactive phases of RA. They depend on the degree of inflammation and how advanced the disease is. You’ll know it is active when the joints become inflamed (red, swollen and painful).
The disease can become inactive with treatment or on its own. This inactivity can last from a few weeks to a few years.
Rheumatic symptoms only occur while the disease is active. They can be:
- Joint pain and stiffness.
- Muscle aches.
- General discomfort.
- No energy.
- No appetite.
- Tender to touch joints.
There is a lining that surrounds each joint, which is called synovium. It is this lining that gets attacked by the immune system and gets inflamed. In this case, it will start producing a thick synovial fluid.
This fluid is also known as joint fluid. When it’s thick, it’s because of the inflammation. This thick, inflamed synovial fluid can damage the joint instead of keeping it lubricated.
If you wake up in the morning and feel your wrists and fingers stiff and aching, these could be early signs of RA. You should visit a doctor for some X-rays and blood tests to rule out this possibility. Early treatments though, have been found most effective in managing RA.
The cause of rheumatoid arthritis can be anything:
- Genes. Most people have inherited the disease.
- Gender. Apparently, women are more prone to RA than men.
- Environment (pollution, smoking, asbestos and silica exposure, etc.)
Rheumatoid arthritis can also lead to complications like osteoarthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is different from osteoarthritis. The latter is due to the wear and tear over the years.
RA can destroy the protective cartilage and erode the joints faster. A person can have one without the other, though eventually, RA will lead to osteoarthritis.
Other complications are infections, eyes and mouth dryness and carpal tunnel syndrome. RA can also cause heart and lung problems, and in some cases, cancer of the lymph system (lymphoma).
Don’t forget about the best essential oils for rheumatoid arthritis. They can help you manage pain and swelling, and also your emotions.
Tips to Improve Arthritis Symptoms
Here are a few helpful tips to improve arthritis and feel better:
- Keep in touch with your doctor. It’s important to have all your tests done regularly and seek his or her counsel every time you have a doubt. It’s also recommended to tell him about the essential oils you want to use for arthritis management.
- Take your medications as prescribed. Just make sure they don’t interact with the essential oils though.
- Strengthen your joint muscles gently, with certain exercises. Seek the help of a professional physician for this to happen as safely as possible. When your joints are very inflamed and tender, avoid exercising.
- Apply hot compresses; they relieve pain. If you add a drop or two of essential oils to reduce swelling, the joint will also regain some of its mobility.
- Inhale essential oils daily to relax and regulate your heart rhythm and breathing.
- Rest every time it gets harder to move or do something. Small power naps could help restore the power in your muscles.
Now you know what essential oils are good for joint pain. Whether they’re Eucalyptus, Ginger or Sweet Birch, they can help relieve pain and swelling. They’re all great anti-inflammatory essential oils, which is all that counts.
Inflammation is the main cause for joint pain and erosion. If it’s cared for properly, anyone with arthritis can lead a good life.
The use of the best essential oils for rheumatoid arthritis can make it all easier. They can also help you cope and deal better with the symptoms and emotions that come along.
Have you ever had problems with your joints and tried Aromatherapy as remedy? How did you feel afterward?