Essential oils for arthritis

Arthritis essential oils are concentrated oils with anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties that are extracted from plants, fruits, herbs, trees, and flowers. Plant parts (leaves, flowers, bark, etc.) are steamed or pressed to produce oil. By some estimates, it may take several pounds of plant to produce just one bottle of essential oil .

More than 50 million adults and 300,000 children have arthritis, which is often treated with medication and physical therapy. And while these treatments are considered the gold standard when it comes to reducing pain and swelling associated with arthritis, they are not the only weapons available.

Essential oils contain vitamins, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatories that can help relieve arthritis pain and swelling, though they don't necessarily prevent the disease from progressing .

Ellen Lindner / Verivell

Types of essential oils for arthritis

There are dozens of essential oils with unique aroma, properties and characteristics. The way essential oils help relieve arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis (a condition characterized by chronic inflammation of the lining of the joints) and osteoarthritis (in which the shock-absorbing cartilage wears down) varies.

Some essential oils have pain relieving properties for arthritis. Some relieve inflammation. Some disrupt pain receptors in the brain. And some work differently. These are just a few of the essential oils used for arthritis and the science behind them.

Eucalyptus oil

A study that looked at people who had knee replacement surgery (a common surgery for people with knee osteoarthritis) found that those who inhaled eucalyptus oil for 30 minutes within three days after surgery reported less pain than in the control group.

Researchers believe that pain relief may be due to eucalyptus oil's anti-inflammatory properties and its ability to raise levels of serotonin, a brain chemical that appears to mitigate pain .

Ginger oil

Ginger has been used for centuries for its anti-inflammatory properties. People in one study who rubbed ginger oil on arthritic knees twice a week said they had less pain and improved knee movement than those who did not use the oil .


Osteoarthritis patients with knee pain who used an ointment containing 5% curcumin (which comes from turmeric) twice a day for six weeks reported significantly less pain than those who used the petroleum jelly product. Curcumin blocks cytokines (proteins secreted by cells) and enzymes that can cause inflammation .

Copaiba Oil Blend

Subjects with arthritis of the hand were divided into two groups. One group received a hand massage with copaiba oil (derived from copaiba trees native to Brazil) combined with a product containing wintergreen, camphor and peppermint, among others. Another group received coconut oil massages.

Both groups received massages twice a day for five days. At the end of the study, the copaiba group took less time to complete tasks with their hands, had increased finger strength, and reported a 50% reduction in pain .

Orange oil

Compresses containing drops of orange oil were placed on the necks of people admitted to the emergency department with broken bones; the pads were changed every hour. The researchers found that people exposed to orange oil reported less pain than those who were not exposed to the oil .

Although this study did not look at arthritis per se, it is clear that orange oil, which has anti-inflammatory properties, can help with pain associated with joint disease .

Lavender Oil Blend

Subjects with rheumatoid arthritis massaged their knees with coconut oil containing 5% lavender, juniper, and kananga oils (kananga trees are native to India) three times a week for six weeks and reported less pain and fatigue than those who did not receive it … treatment .

Using essential oils

Most of the essential oils used for arthritis and joint diseases are rubbed into the skin around the affected joint. In some cases, they are inhaled (this is called aromatherapy ). When using essential oils, look for 100% pure oils with no added ingredients (like alcohol) and choose those made in dark bottles, as light can spoil the oil .

Massage with essential oils

Follow these steps:

  1. Choose a carrier oil like coconut, avocado, almond, or jojoba oil.
  2. Mix a few drops (usually 10-20) with about 30g of carrier oil. Do not apply essential oils directly to your skin. Undiluted, they can be irritating.
  3. Massage into the skin.

Aromatherapy with essential oils

Enjoy aromatherapy in many ways:

  • Mix a few drops of essential oil with about a tablespoon of vegetable oil or milk and add it to your bath.
  • Apply a couple of drops of essential oil on a cotton swab and place it in a plastic bag. Take out the puff and sniff periodically throughout the day.
  • Add 30-45 drops of essential oil to a spray bottle filled with 3 ounces of water. Spray your home, office or even your sheets.

Use essential oils with care in public

Essential oils sprayed or sprayed in the air can affect everyone who breathes that air and can sometimes have unintended consequences. While the smell of peppermint oil can be stimulating, it can excite very young children and can be a problem for people with heart palpitations. Some people with asthma report more serious breathing problems when they use certain oils in the diffuser .

Side effects

Side effects can vary depending on how and how often you use the oils, what oils you use, and to what extent you use them. Side effects can include:

  • Skin irritation : This can happen especially when the oil stays on the skin for a long time. Some oils, including bergamot, lemongrass, and oregano, are among the most bothersome. Signs of an allergic reaction to the oil include an itchy red skin rash or hives (red, itchy bumps on the skin) .
  • Sun sensitivity : This is especially noticeable when the oil is used before sun exposure.
  • Hormonal problems : Long-term use of lavender and tea tree oil has been linked to breast growth in boys who have not yet reached puberty .

Talk to your doctor before using essential oils for arthritis. Inform your doctor of any current medications or supplements to avoid interactions with essential oils.

Verywell word

Arthritis pain can affect every aspect of your life . This can limit your mobility and reduce your quality of life. Using essential oils to treat arthritis can be a helpful addition to standard medical therapy. Your healthcare provider can advise what, how, and when to use essential oils for arthritis, or refer you to a comprehensive healthcare professional for help.

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