Many people have a very difficult time managing their arthritis pain. Perhaps they take NSAID drugs such as ibuprofen or naproxen. Although these medicines can help temporarily with pain relief, they also can have significant side effects. Other people search for alternative approaches such as foods with anti-inflammatory properties. Sometimes sufferers try herbs such as boswellia or turmeric.
Essential Oils for Arthritis Pain:
Q. I have osteoarthritis in my knee. By accident, I found that applying a product with essential oils of lavender, mint, chamomile, rosemary, eucalyptus and birch bark really eases the pain. It goes by the name Two Old Goats.
What Does the Science Say?
A. Thanks for sharing your discovery. There’s not much research in this area, but spearmint oil seems to help ease arthritis pain (Mahboubi, Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, Feb. 2017).
Lavender oil massage of painful joints appears useful as well (Nasiri et al, Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, Nov. 2016).
In addition, rosemary oil also helps to ease arthritis pain. Research in rats suggests that it works by influencing serotonin and opioid receptors (Martinez et al, Planta Medica, April 2009).
A relatively recent study of chamomile oil showed that some of its components block cyclooxygenase (COX). This is the same enzyme that diclofenac and other NSAIDs inhibit (Ortiz et al, Biomedicine and Pharmacotherapy, March 2016). Unlike diclofenac, chamomile extract does not appear to damage the digestive tract. In fact, a trial of topical chamomile oil demonstrated that this product reduced arthritis pain in knees better than diclofenac did (Shoara et al, Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, Aug. 2015).
On the other hand, we haven’t seen any studies of eucalyptus oil to ease sore joints. Despite this, Vicks VapoRub, which contains eucalyptol as well as menthol and other essential oils, has long been used to alleviate muscle pain.
Those who would like to know more about managing their joint pain may find our online Guide to Alternatives for Arthritis useful. Those who purchase a link to access this online resource will find a wealth of information about medications and nondrug approaches. The Guide is too long to print.