Essential Oils for Arthritis
Arthritis is an incredibly painful inflammation of the joint itself. Inflammation is normally part of your body's healing process and part of your body’s defense against viruses and bacteria, but inflammation can also be a reaction to injuries.
In people with arthritis, inflammation often occurs for no obvious reason. This is referred to as an autoimmune condition and means that the immune system is literally attacking your joints, so instead of helping to repair the body, the inflammation actually causes damage to the affected joint and causes pain and stiffness. When this inflammation occurs, chemicals from the body are released into the blood or affected tissues. This release of chemicals is supposed to increase the blood flow to the area of injury or infection, but with arthritis, there is no injury or infection, and this process of inflammation may allow some of the chemicals to leak fluid into the tissues, resulting in swelling, and stimulating nerves and causing pain. Increased blood flow and release of these chemicals attract white blood cells to the sites of inflammation. The increased number of cells and inflammatory substances within the joint can cause irritation, wearing down of cartilage, and swelling of the joint lining. Arthritis inflammation may also affect the tendons and ligaments surrounding the joint.
There are more than 100 different types of arthritis, with different causes and treatment methods. Two of the most common types are osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Inflammatory types of arthritis like these, often affect several joints. Rheumatoid arthritis, which is a common example, is a systemic illness that mainly affects the joints.
Some, but not all types of arthritis, are the result of this misdirected inflammation. Arthritis is a general term that describes inflammation in joints.
The most common form of arthritis called osteoarthritis (also known as degenerative arthritis) is a bit of a misnomer. It is not believed that inflammation plays a major role in osteoarthritis. Other painful conditions of the joints and musculoskeletal system that are not associated with inflammation include fibromyalgia, muscular low back pain, and muscular neck pain.
EFFECTS OF ARTHRITIS
- Joint swelling
- Joint pain
- Joint stiffness
- Loss of joint function
- Inflammation may also be associated with general "flu"-like symptoms including:
- Fatigue/loss of energy
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle stiffness
NATURAL RELIEF FROM ARTHRITIS
There are some incredible benefits of using Essential Oils for those that want help with arthritis, inflammation and pain. In conventional medicine, the treatment of arthritis is limited to the temporary management of symptoms in most cases. Anti-inflammatory analgesics are often prescribed to reduce the pain and swelling, which helps increase the range of motion to some extent. In severe cases, corticosteroids may be given to bring down inflammation by suppressing the immune system. All these treatments have serious side effects, especially when used long term. That’s where natural remedies come in.
We know that the active ingredient in aspirin, one of the most common anti-inflammatory analgesic drugs in use, was originally derived from the bark of the willow tree. There are several other herbs with similar properties that can be used to treat arthritic conditions.
Essential oils are the purest essences of these therapeutic herbs. They can often bring about great relief without precipitating undesirable side effects because they contain several other components that work in tandem, modulating one another’s effects.
The following essential oils have been found to be effective in treating arthritis on their own and in combination.
Peppermint may be more popular as candy flavoring, but it has excellent anti-inflammatory properties along with an anaesthetic effect that helps in relieving the pain and swelling associated with arthritic conditions, rheumatoid arthritis in particular.
Mix 5-10 drops of peppermint oil with 2 Tbsp warmed doTERRA fractionated coconut oil to make a ready-to-use salve. It can be mixed with other oils in this selection to get a more potent anti-arthritic formulation. Use as often as needed for relief of pain.
Ginger is better known as a culinary spice, but it has wide-ranging therapeutic uses too. The excellent anti-inflammatory effect of ginger oil is useful in treating a variety of inflammatory conditions, including arthritis.
Massage ginger oil diluted in a carrier oil into the affected area and use a warm compress to enhance absorption. Try mixing it with lavender or lemongrass for extra pain relief.
Lavender oil, extracted from the flower buds of Lavandula angustifolia, is well known for its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. People with rheumatoid arthritis often report a drastic improvement in their symptoms when lavender oil is applied topically.
3-5 drops of this sweet-smelling, mild oil can be used by most without dilution for instant pain relief, but diluting in a teaspoon of carrier oil is recommended. Lavender improves blood circulation in the area and reduces inflammation. Lavender has a soothing effect on the mind too, which can help relieve the frustration associated with severe arthritis.
Frankincense oil is made from the dried resin of some trees in the Boswellia genus, native to Africa and the Middle East. Frankincense had been used in many religious ceremonies for its purported capacity to enhance spiritual experiences.
Laboratory experiments have shown that frankincense may halt the progress of rheumatoid arthritis by inhibiting the production of certain inflammatory substances, thus preventing the damage they cause to the cartilages. The monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes in the oil are responsible for this healing effect.
Myrrh is obtained from the resinous deposits of Commiphora molmol, a thorny bush native to Egypt and Jordan. Myrrh, along with frankincense, used to be a common item of incense in many ancient religious traditions and had been used medicinally for various conditions.
The anti-inflammatory effect of Myrrh has been extensively studied and is found to be equivalent to the NSAIDS used for treating arthritis. Myrrh oil mixed with doTERRA fractionated coconut oil can be applied to the affected joints. It reduces swelling in the limbs by lowering the levels of inflammatory substances.
This sweet-smelling, citrusy oil is steam-distilled from the leaves and stems of Cymbopogon citratus grass. In the Ayurvedic therapy for arthritis, the steam from lemongrass boiling in water is directed towards the affected joints. The warmth from the steam facilitates the absorption of the oil deep into the tissues. This provides long-lasting pain relief. Lemongrass oil is astringent and diuretic, drawing out excess fluid from the tissues and driving it out of the body.
Unlike many essential oils that produce an anti-inflammatory and analgesic effect from salicylates, lemongrass oil has a different set of active agents such as Citronella, Myrcene, Limonene, Citral, Geraniol, and Neroli. It is a bonus for people who are allergic to aspirin and those taking blood-thinning drugs.
The essential oil blend Deep Blue is perfect for a soothing feeling and an inflammation alleviation. Wintergreen, Camphor, Peppermint, Ylang Ylang, Helichrysum, Blue Tansy, Blue Chamomile, and Osmanthus work together to soothe and cool, and eliminate pain. To alleviate pain, rub Deep Blue proprietary blend on your fingers, wrists, shoulders, and neck. A few drops of Deep Blue Soothing Blend diluted in doTERRA Fractionated Coconut Oil can be part of a cooling and comforting feeling.