Useful Essential Oils
Which essential oils are effective in treating arthritis?
Over the years, the following essential oils traditionally have been used for arthritis:
- Cypress – Dilute up to 2-4% in any carrier oil (10-20 drops per tablespoon) and massage into affected areas.
- German Chamomile – Dilute up to 3% in jojoba or hazelnut oil (3% is approximately 15 drops essential oil to a tablespoon of jojoba or hazelnut oil) and massage into affected areas.
About the Condition
What is arthritis?
Arthritis comes from the Greek words for joint inflammation.
There are over many types of arthritis. The most common is osteoarthritis which is a degenerative joint disease. This generally occurs as a result of trauma to the joint, when a joint becomes infected, or due to old age. Inflammation isn't so much a part of it. Some of the other forms of arthritis are psoriatic arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. It sometimes occurs as part of autoimmune diseases. When it is caused purely by infection, it is called septic arthritis.
Many experience pain in association with the condition. It can result in stiffness or an inability to use the joint. In some cases it is considered the primary disease. In other cases, like psoriatic arthritis, it is considered the secondary disease.
What causes arthritis?
Arthritis is caused by inflammation, but what causes inflammation? Inflammation is the process by which the body protects itself from infection by producing white blood cells and immune proteins. But in many types of arthritis the inflammation is caused by the body thinking it is being attacked when it isn't. These are called autoimmune diseases. They can even lead to the body damaging its own tissues.
What are conventional medical treatments for arthritis?
There is no cure for arthritis. The types of treatment depend on the type of arthritis. They include physical therapy, exercising more (often with weights), orthopedic bracing and medications. In some severe cases surgery may be required to replace eroded joints. For inflammatory types of arthritis, medications are mainly prescribed to help reduce the inflammation in the joint, as this is often responsible for the pain. Decreasing inflammation also helps slow damage to the joint damage.
There are a variety of medications that are prescribed. They include analgesics (if there is pain but no inflammation), anti-inflammatory pain reliever drugs, corticosteroids, chemotherapy drugs, biologic therapy, disease modifying treatments, or narcotic pain relievers. As with all medications there can be nasty side effects.
Sometimes it can be helpful to lose weight in order to reduce the stress on weight-bearing joints.
What are alternative treatments for arthritis?
Some find acupuncture helps relieve the pain. There is some evidence that glucosamine sulfate is beneficial, but glucosamine hydrochloride is not. Research seems to show that chondroitin sulfate slows arthritis progression, but it doesn't seem help with the symptoms of the disease.
Some have found capsaicin cream can relieve their osteoarthritis pain. Others find purification regimes (e.g. with castor oil) help reduce their arthritis. Some find that chiropractic treatments can help with the muscle spasms that sometimes accompany the disease.
Of course, essential oils traditionally have also been used for arthritis. For more information, see the Useful Essential Oils tab.