12 Useful Essential Oils for Arthritis & How to Use Them

Arthritis is not just one disease.

In fact, it comes in more than a hundred types, the most common of which is a degenerative bone disease called osteoarthritis [1].

Other common forms are rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and gout [2].

In the United States, over 52 million adults have this condition, while in the United Kingdom, about 10 million are affected [1, 3].

It is said to be caused by accumulation of uric acid crystals, an underlying disease such as lupus or psoriasis, or infections [4]

This chronic medical condition, which is characterized by inflammation of one or more joints, causes severe pain, inflammation and discomfort [4].

If you suffer from this condition, it can make it difficult for you to move the affected area. It can also adversely impact your productivity and performance.

For these reasons, you must be able to manage your condition properly.

While it’s okay to rely on commonly prescribed anti-inflammatory drugs and pain killers, you would also want to try home remedies that don’t only work but also have fewer side effects.

Below, you’ll find a list of simple but highly effective essential oils for arthritis that can be used for its different types.

1. Ginger

Ginger has always been considered as an excellent herbal remedy for all sorts of ailments, thanks to its analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties.

In Chinese and Indian traditional medicines, it was promoted as a natural treatment for arthritis [1].

The folkloric use of ginger as an anti-arthritic has been the subject of numerous scientific investigations in western societies [1].

A 1994 study confirms ginger’s ability to suppress joint swelling in animal studies.

Ginger oil was administered to rats with severe arthritis, and after 26 days, it dramatically suppressed inflammation in both the paw and joints [2].

In a separate clinical trial involving 56 human patients with arthritis and muscular pain, it was revealed that those who used ginger experienced significant relief in pain, inflammation and discomfort [3].

There were no reports of adverse effects even after long term use of up to 2.5 years [3].

Ginger does its magic by inhibiting the biosynthesis of leukotriene and prostaglandin [3].

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 teaspoon of ginger
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 teaspoon of honey
  • 3 drops of ginger oil
  • 1 teaspoon of castor oil

Recommended Directions:

  • Grate ginger and put in a cup.
  • Boil water in a pot.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Pour boiled water over the grated ginger.
  • Cover and let it steep for 15 minutes.
  • Strain the tea.
  • Add the honey.
  • Drink the tea twice or thrice a day until condition improves.
  • Combine castor oil and ginger oil.
  • Pour oil on a warm towel.
  • Apply on affected joint.
  • Repeat remedy several times a day.

RELATED: 10 Health Benefits of Ginger Oil That You Should Know About

2. Turmeric

Turmeric’s main active compound curcumin is a famous anti-inflammatory agent, which is why people with various kinds of arthritis can benefit from using this oil.

In a Japanese study that evaluated the role of an inflammatory cytokine responsible for rheumatoid arthritis, it was found that curcumin can reduce swelling by inhibiting the activities of this cytokine [4].

A 2010 study shows that the use of turmeric in animal subjects reduced joint swelling from 90 to 100 percent [5].

American researchers explain that three of its major curcuminoids were responsible for toning down joint inflammation [6].

There’s enough scientific evidence to prove turmeric oil’s efficacy as an alternative treatment for arthritic disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis [7].

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder
  • 1 cup of hot water
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon juice
  • 5 drops of turmeric oil
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil

Recommended Directions:

  • Stir in turmeric powder in a cup of hot water.
  • Add lemon juice.
  • Drink this once a day for several weeks, until you feel better.
  • Be sure not to drink turmeric tea on an empty stomach.
  • Massage painful joint with a mixture of olive oil and turmeric oil.
  • Wait for 10 minutes before rinsing mixture off.
  • Repeat this procedure once a day for one to two weeks.

3. Myrrh

Myrrh is an oleo-gum-resin that’s extracted from the Commiphora stem. The essential oil extracted from this contains biologic active compounds such as sesquiterpene hydrocarbons [8].

It’s also a strong anti-inflammatory agent that’s often used for relieving arthritic pain and swelling.

Its analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties have been validated in a 2011 study that can be found in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology [9].

Other bodies of research point out that it works synergistically with frankincense oil in treating inflammatory diseases such as arthritis [10, 11].

What You’ll Need:

  • 3 drops of myrrh oil
  • 2 drops of frankincense oil
  • 1 teaspoon of coconut oil
  • 1 cup of hot water

Recommended Directions:

  • Soak towel in hot water.
  • Wring to squeeze out excess water.
  • Combine myrrh oil, frankincense oil, and coconut oil.
  • Pour oil mixture on warm towel.
  • Wrap affected joint with towel when it’s not too hot.
  • Leave it on for 15 minutes.
  • Use this remedy twice a day until inflammation subsides.

RELATED: 11 Amazing Health Benefits of Myrrh Oil (Backed by Scientific Evidence)

4. Frankincense

For centuries, frankincense has been an important part of religious and traditional ceremonies. It has also been relied upon as treatment for countless ailments [12].

In the modern times, extensive research has been done to establish its clinical efficacy and pharmacological effects [12].

One of its practical uses is for the treatment of inflammatory disorders such as arthritis.

According to a 2010 study, frankincense oil can suppress production of inflammatory molecules that trigger arthritis, and at the same time, help prevent damage in the cartilage tissue [13].

In another study, it was shown that out of the 30 patients suffering from knee osteoarthritis, those who received frankincense oil treatment felt better compared to those who did not [14].

They reported reduced knee pain, better knee flexion, and longer walking distance [14].

The anti-inflammatory mechanisms of frankincense oil can be attributed to the presence of boswellic acids [15].

What You’ll Need:

  • 20 drops of frankincense oil
  • 20 drops of lavender oil
  • Warm bath water

Recommended Directions:

  • Add the two oils to your bath water.
  • Soak in the bath tub for 30 minutes.
  • Gently massage painful area with water infused with oils.
  • Do this once a day for two to three weeks.

RELATED: 12 Health Benefits and Uses of Frankincense Oil to Know About

5. Orange

Apart from making you feel more alert, orange oil is also said to have anti-inflammatory properties that can help people combat arthritis.

This was proven in a 2009 study featured in the European Journal of Medical Research [16].

It indicated that orange oil has the ability to reduce the release of inflammatory cytokines and inhibit the production of reactive oxygen species [16].

In Hong Kong, half of the 59 senior citizens with knee pain were given six sessions of massage for three weeks using orange and ginger oils while the other half was given a placebo [17].

Significant improvement was observed in the group who were given orange and ginger oil massage [17].

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 teaspoon of avocado oil
  • 3 drops of orange oil
  • 5 drops of orange oil

Recommended Directions:

  • Combine avocado oil and three drops of orange oil.
  • Pour mixture into a glass jar.
  • Shake to blend well.
  • Pour a small amount on your palm, and massage it into the affected area gently.
  • Diffuse the remaining orange oil in a diffuser to calm down the senses.
  • Follow this technique once a day for one to two weeks.

6. Peppermint

Some people who suffer from chronic pain rely on peppermint oil for immediate relief. They use this oil to massage painful areas of the body, or to relieve headache.

This is no surprise, as it is a popular folk remedy with proven analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties [18].

In fact, this oil has been included as key ingredient in patented topical formulations designed to relieve arthritis, rheumatism and other similar conditions [18].

Its main component menthol contributes to its anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic effects [19].

Menthol is also a natural analgesic, which when applied topically leaves a cooling sensation that alleviates pain sensation [20].

It does so by stimulating the cold receptors and inhibiting currents in the neuronal membranes [20].

What You’ll Need:

  • 3 drops of peppermint oil
  • 1 teaspoon of coconut oil

Recommended Directions:

  • Mix peppermint and coconut oil.
  • Massage oil mixture onto the affected joint.
  • Wrap painful area with a warm towel.
  • Keep it on for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Use this remedy as necessary.

RELATED: 12 Uses and Health Benefits of Peppermint Oil

7. Rosemary

Rosemary oil is much loved not only for its enticing scent but also for its wide range of pharmacological properties, which includes being an anti-inflammatory agent [21].

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists rosemary oil as one of the effective topical solutions for arthritis that can relieve pain, delay progression of disease, and make patients feel better.

In one clinical trial, meanwhile, rosemary extract was one of the key ingredients in a formulation designed to treat patients with arthritis and fibromyalgia [22].

Findings report that the intake of this formulation three times a day for four weeks resulted in 40 to 50 percent decrease in arthritic pain [22].

Because there were no side effects observed, it is deemed as a safe and effective treatment for various kinds of arthritic conditions [22].

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 teaspoon of sweet almond oil
  • 3 drops of rosemary oil

Recommended Directions:

  • Blend these two oils in a glass jar with a lid.
  • Shake well.
  • Apply a small amount on your back, knee or any painful joint.
  • Massage gently.
  • Use this technique twice a day for up to one week.

RELATED: 13 Health Benefits and Uses of Rosemary Oil (Backed by Evidence)

8. Marjoram

Marjoram is a culinary herb that is used all over the world as a flavoring for various dishes and beverages. Its oil extract has been proven in scientific research to possess several pharmacological benefits [23].

One of these is as an anti-inflammatory [23].

A 2009 study conducted by a team of researchers from the Czech Republic explains how this works [24].

According to these experts, carvacrol in marjoram oil inhibited the production of enzymes that trigger the body’s inflammatory response [24].

Moreover, this oil also great for calming and relaxing the senses, which is an added bonus.

As you know, arthritis can cause great stress, and you can certainly take advantage of marjoram’s relaxation effects to make yourself feel better.

What You’ll Need:

  • 20 drops of marjoram
  • Warm bath water

Recommended Directions:

  • Add marjoram oil to your bath water.
  • Swish bath water with fingers to infuse oil thoroughly.
  • Sit in the bath for half an hour.
  • You can also massage your painful joints while in the bath.
  • Do this once a day until your condition improves.

9. Lavender

The functional role of lavender in inflammatory conditions such as arthritis has been well-established in scientific literature.

Linalyl acetate and linalool are two components that can be found in lavender that have been found to have anti-inflammatory actions [25].

This has been confirmed in a 2002 clinical trial, in which these compounds successfully reduced edema in animal subjects [25].

Since lavender oil is also a potent analgesic and antinociceptive, this means that it can immediately provide pain relief [26].

It is also believed that lavender oil helps arthritic patients by stimulating blood circulation, and promoting healthy oxygen flow to the joints and muscles.

On top of these, lavender can help soothe and calm the senses, toning down stress levels caused by arthritic pain.

What You’ll Need:

  • 5 drops of lavender oil

Recommended Directions:

  • Boil towel in water in a pot.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Let it cool a little until it’s not too hot to scald your skin.
  • Pour lavender oil on towel.
  • Wrap towel around painful joints.
  • Leave it on for 30 minutes.
  • Remove towel.
  • Use this remedy twice a day for one to two weeks.

RELATED: 11 Health Benefits of Lavender Oil That You Should Know

10. Cayenne

This may come as a surprise for some, but cayenne pepper oil is actually an excellent pain reliever.

Yes, it gives a burning sensation when topically applied but you’ll get used to it after a while.

Research has shown that capsaicin in cayenne pepper oil can efficiently ameliorate pain and inflammation in patients with arthritis [27, 28].

A group of scientists from Cleveland, Ohio evaluated the effect of cayenne on inflammation, and reported that 80 percent of the arthritic patients who were given topical capsaicin had great reduction in pain after two weeks [28].

However, there are some of those who could not tolerate the transient burning sensation felt on the skin, and stopped using the treatment [28].

What You’ll Need:

  • 3 drops of cayenne oil
  • 1 teaspoon of jojoba oil

Recommended Directions:

  • Combine cayenne oil and jojoba oil.
  • Pour mixture in a glass jar with lid.
  • Blend by shaking the jar.
  • Pour a small amount on a cotton ball.
  • Apply mixture on your affected joint.
  • It may cause a bit of stinging pain but it will only last for a few seconds.
  • Let it sit for 10 minutes before rinsing with warm water.
  • Repeat procedure once a day until arthritis is gone.

11. Sandalwood

Many arthritic patients have found comfort in using sandalwood oil to relieve muscular spasms.

It is believed that this oil has the ability to numb and sedate the nervous system to alleviate the pain that emanates in the nerves.

There may be truth to this claim.

A 2009 experiment shows that sandalwood oil indeed has analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties that can help those who are suffering from arthritis [29].

This is mostly due to the active compounds in sandalwood such as santalol and tannic acid, among others [29].

What You’ll Need:

  • 2 drops of sandalwood oil
  • 1 teaspoon of almond oil

Recommended Directions:

  • Put the two oils in a bowl.
  • Mix well.
  • Transfer to a glass jar.
  • Pour a few drops on your palm.
  • Gently massage sore joint with oil mixture.
  • Do this for 15 minutes.
  • Repeat remedy everyday until arthritis subsides.

12. Yarrow

Yarrow is a perennial plant originating from Europe that’s best known for its anti-inflammatory properties [30].

Since the time it was discovered as a medicinal plant, its oil extract has been used for many types of inflammation-related ailments, including arthritis [30].

Scientists explain that yarrow oil has the ability to suppress inflammatory processes in the body using its active compounds [30].

One of its anti-inflammatory agents is called chamazulene [31].

What You’ll Need:

  • 2 drops of yarrow oil
  • 1 teaspoon of jojoba oil

Recommended Directions:

  • Pour the two oils in a bowl.
  • Transfer to a glass jar.
  • Blend by shaking the jar.
  • Apply a few drops of the mixture on the affected joint.
  • Massage gently for 10 minutes.
  • Repeat procedure twice a day until pain is gone.

Arthritis can negatively affect your life. It can make it difficult for you to walk, move, work, and perform simple tasks.

Make yourself feel better with the help of these proven home remedies.