One in five U.S. adults suffer from arthritis, a term used to describe inflammation of the joints. Arthritis, which can be caused by a variety of widely differing health conditions, is the number one cause of disability in the United States.
Because there is no cure for arthritis, the condition is typically treated with over-the-counter or prescription painkillers and anti-inflammatories (underlying health conditions, such as autoimmune disorders, may have their own treatments). But as with all pharmaceuticals, these drugs can carry side effects or even serious risks, particularly if used long term.
But, there is a natural alternative. If you suffer from stiff, inflamed or painful joints, try the following essential oil treatments, and see if they are able to offer you relief. (Also, stay informed about natural remedies at Remedies.news)
Which oils to use
Many essential oils have overlapping effects, so you can either choose the oil that you best like the smell of (or that is least expensive or easiest to find), or you can combine multiple oils to boost their effectiveness, or both.
Eucalyptus oil is a natural topical analgesic, which is why it is included as an ingredient in many medicated chest and muscle rubs. Part of its painkilling power may come from its effect of dilating blood vessels and increasing circulation — which also promotes the body’s natural healing processes.
Peppermint oil contains menthol, another common ingredient in medicated chest and muscle rubs. Menthol and other peppermint oil components are anti-inflammatories, thus helping bring down the pain and swelling associated with arthritis.
Rosemary oil combines many of the properties of eucalyptus and peppermint oils. It is an analgesic, anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic that also helps improve circulation.
Birch oil is also anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic. It also contains the painkillers methyl salicylate and salicylic acid, chemicals closely related to aspirin. Like most essential oils, birch is also a potent antiseptic.
The final oil on the list is not a painkiller or anti-inflammatory, and is better known for its effects on mood: lavender. But like eucalyptus and rosemary oil, lavender oil helps increase circulation, which leads to improved healing and reduced pain. Lavender’s ability to promote calm, relaxation and sleep also help mobilize your body’s natural healing abilities.
How to use essential oils for arthritis
With only a very few exceptions, essential oils should never be applied directly to the skin. Instead, they should be mixed with a “carrier oil” such as jojoba, sesame, olive or sweet almond. These can be food-grade oils from your grocery store, or cosmetics-grade oils purchased from a natural health or grocery store.
One of the best essential oil treatments for arthritis is a full-body bath soak. This consists of taking a few drops of essential oils, mixing them into a small amount of carrier oil, then pouring the entire mixture into a bathtub full of hot water. If you want, you can also add 2 to 3 cups of Epsom salts for added effectiveness.
If you want a more focused treatment on a particular part of your body, you can simply use your essential oil-carrier oil blend (about 10 drops essential oil per ounce of carrier oil) as a massage oil, and apply it directly to the troublesome spot. Or you can mix 4 drops of essential oil directly into a pint of either hot or icy water, to use for a hot or cold compress. Soak up the water-oil blend with a small towel, then apply the compress to the painful area for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the compress has reached body temperature.
Heat is recommended by most health professionals for maximum promotion of blood flow and the body’s natural healing processes. Cold, however, can provide more short-term relief by temporarily reducing pain and swelling. To get the benefits of both, you can alternate between hot and cold compresses.
Because essential oils are biologically active, it is possible for them to interact negatively with certain pharmaceutical drugs. If you are taking any arthritis medication, consult with a qualified health professional before mixing pharmaceutical and essential oil therapies.
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