Essential oils are taken from different components of plants, including the roots, stem, leaves, flowers, or fruits. They’re used for healing and aromatherapy.
Essential oils can help treat chronic pain conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA). This form of arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that causes your body’s immune system to attack your joints. It causes inflammation in the joint tissue, pain, and swelling. If left untreated, rheumatoid arthritis can cause irreversible cartilage and joint damage.
If you have rheumatoid arthritis, your doctor may have prescribed drugs to reduce inflammation and relieve pain. A safe complementary or alternative treatment for your pain is essential oils.
Before using topically you must dilute essential oils with carrier oils such as:
Essential oils are most commonly used in an infuser and inhaled.
1. Eucalyptus oil
Eucalyptus oil has a number of anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. This oil may also help to improve circulation.
In a 2013 study, researchers evaluated the effects of eucalyptus aromatherapy on pain management following a total knee replacement. The study concluded that inhaling eucalyptus oil can significantly lower inflammation, pain, and blood pressure following this procedure.
If you have rheumatoid arthritis, you can topically apply this diluted oil or gel to the affected area to reduce inflammation and relieve pain.
2. Ginger oil
Ginger is a common healing agent used for its anti-inflammatory properties and pain-relieving effects. A 2001 study evaluated the analgesic effects of ginger on joint and knee pain in osteoarthritis patients.
More than half of the participants in the study had reduced knee pain using the ginger extract versus those using the placebo. They also used less drugs over time to treat their joint pain.
To use ginger oil for pain, you can apply a few drops topically on the affected area. For an added boost, use a hot compress after massaging the area with oil. It’s important to note that it’s possible to be allergic to ginger applied topically, so you should always do a test patch on a small area first.
3. Turmeric oil
Turmeric is an herb and a healing agent. Turmeric contains curcumin, an active anti-inflammatory compound. As an essential oil, turmeric can be used to reduce inflammation, stimulate blood circulation, and improve digestion.
To treat rheumatoid arthritis, you can apply turmeric oil topically to the affected area, or infuse the essential oil into the air. Turmeric is a spice well known for healing that can be added during cooking.
4. Frankincense oil
Frankincense is the dried sap from trees in the Boswellia genus. It has been used for centuries as incense. It’s also known for its antiseptic, regenerative, and anti-inflammatory properties. A 2010 study confirmed frankincense as a potential treatment for reducing inflammatory symptoms, specifically from osteoarthritis.
To treat rheumatoid arthritis, apply diluted frankincense oil topically on the affected area.
5. Orange oil
The orange fruit produces a powerful essential oil with antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and antidepressant properties.
A 2017 study evaluated the effect of aromatherapy with orange essential oil on patients with pain from fractured limbs. Participants inhaling orange oil significantly decreased pain compared to those who did not, and researchers believed it was beneficial as a complementary treatment.
You can apply and massage diluted orange oil to your skin to reduce arthritic pain. Consider adding diluted orange oil to your bath to create a calming effect and reduce body pain. If you’re using any citrus essential oils topically, you must avoid sunlight afterward.
Essential oils can be an effective treatment for chronic pain conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. However, you shouldn’t ignore traditional treatment methods. Essential oils should be used alongside your medication at the advisement of your doctor.
Essential oils should never be taken orally unless recommended by a certified aromatherapist. It’s important to remember that essential oils aren’t monitored by the FDA and there might be issues with quality and purity. Use caution when choosing a quality brand.
Using raw essential oils on your skin can also cause irritation and potentially harmful side effects. Before using any oils, test the diluted oil on a small area of your skin, like the inside of your wrist. Discuss any new treatment with your doctor before use.