Top 10 Essential Oils for Arthritis Pain Relief

best essential oils for arthritis

What Are The Best Essential Oils For Arthritis?

While many would leap at the thought of the winter and the cold times, the change is especially dreadful for those living with arthritis. Arthritis is a condition that affects the musculoskeletal system, especially the joint, causing swelling and inflammation.

There are 2 types of Arthritis: Osteoarthritis (degeneration of the joints, cartilage, and bone) and Rheumatoid arthritis (inflammation of the flexible joints due to an autoimmune disease). However, conditions such as gout, lupus, and fibromyalgia have often been referred to Arthritis.

Types of Arthritis

Osteoarthritis, also called degenerative arthritis is a result of the wear and tear of the joints. Old age or having a physically stressed body (due to obesity, over lifting, etc.) is often the causative factors. At every joint of the body where two bones contact, the contacting surfaces are covered with a smooth coating of the cartilage. At this junction is also the arthritic synovial fluid to ease movement and lubricate the joint.

Rheumatoid Arthritis, on the other hand, is an autoimmune disease, which is sometimes genetic. The body’s immune system (the white blood cell) destroys the cartilage, attacks the synovial membrane, and causes inflammation. This leads to degeneration of the cartilage and makes moving painful and difficult.

The use of essential oils for arthritis relief is widely due to their analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. There are also several other properties which all work collectively. They can effectively reduce the inflammation and the resulting pain, however, if the joint structures have been damaged, there is little essential oils can do. Popular essential oils for arthritis pain include the lavender, peppermint, rosemary, marjoram, and eucalyptus. Here is what you need to know, and how to use them.

What Essential Oils for Arthritis Work Best?


Extracted from the flower buds of Lavandula angustifolia, Lavender is very beneficial for its analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. It can contribute to reducing  pain and inflammation of the affected areas. By improving  oxygenation and circulation in the joints, patients can get an almost immediate relief when they apply this oil topically. It is also a great oil for headaches, migraines, sleep disorders and to provide balance to the body.

How to use:

  • You can either use the Lavender oil raw or dilute with a carrier oil. To avoid likely cases of skin irritations, I would suggest you dilute 3-5 drops of the oil in a teaspoonful of carrier oil. Simply massage unto the affected area in a circular motion and continue as necessary.
  • You can also use in a hot bath. Put 5 drops of the oil into your bath water and immerse yourself in it to you get full relief.

Ginger Oil

Ginger is more than just a culinary spice in your kitchen cabinet. It is known to have many excellent therapeutic properties as well. Ginger essential oil is extracted from the unpeeled rhizome of Zingiber officinale. Asides its major element Zingiberene, it has several other potent phytochemicals that give it its analgesic, anti-ulcer and anti-inflammatory properties, making it a great pain reliever for arthritis.

Ginger oil acts on the vanilloid receptors, located on sensory nerve endings. When applied topically, it gives a sort of burning sensation you would feel when you chew on a spicy pepper. This, in fact, lasts only for a few seconds and provides an almost instantaneous relief to the inflammation causing the pain.

How to use:

  • Dilute the ginger oil in your preferred carrier oil and rub evenly on the affected area. You can also use a warm compress to aid quick absorption.
  • You can also blend the oil with lavender or lemongrass oil to enhance its effects.

Peppermint Oil

Apart from being an excellent aid for digestive issues, cooking, and as an ingredient in beauty products,  Peppermint oil can also be used for treating Arthritis and rheumatism pain. Peppermint oil contains I-menthol, giving it its anti-inflammatory properties. It is also a natural pain reliever and this makes it very good for treating inflammations.

How to use:

  • Peppermint oil is very strong and potent and should be diluted (especially for sensitive skins and children) with a carrier oil like coconut or olive oil before usage. For topical application, massage the oil evenly unto the affected joint.
  • You can also mix with other oils and increase its potency.

Eucalyptus Oil

The minty fragrance of the Eucalyptus, eucalyptol, makes it an active ingredient in cough medicines, throat drops, and toothpaste. Gotten from the aromatic leaves of Eucalyptus globulus, a gum tree native to Australia, the Eucalyptus works excellently as a pain reliever for people suffering from osteoarthritis and joint pains.

The Eucalyptus works by opening up the blood vessels, thereby increasing the circulation and assist the body in healing naturally. It also has anti-inflammatory properties.

How to use:

  • Before usage, perform a skin patch test, as the eucalyptus oil has been said to cause skin irritation in some people.
  • Dilute the oil with a carrier oil and rub over swollen and aching joints to get quick relief.

Marjoram Oil

The use of Marjoram in the treatment of Arthritis is not far-fetched. The marjoram oil has been associated with the treatment of bruises, muscle spasm, and sprains. It provides a soothing and relaxing effect and helps to relieve stress and pain. When rubbed on the affected area, it relaxes the muscles and relieves the joint pain.

How to use:

  • Do not apply the oil on the broken or damaged skin as it may cause severe skin irritations.
  • Apply topically by rubbing the Marjoram directly on the affected area.

Rosemary Oil

Gotten from the leaves of Rosmarinus officinalis, it has as its primary component the rosmarinic acid. Rosemary oil is a natural painkiller and aid with Arthritis because of its analgesic properties and anti-inflammatory properties. It particularly helps to promote proper circulation around the joint areas. From research, the rosemary oil was found to inhibit further degradation of the joint cartilage due to rheumatoid arthritis.

How to use:

  • You can dilute the oil with a carrier oil (such as olive, jojoba or coconut oil) and massage the mixture over the affected area.
  • You can also use the oil with a diffuser.

Myrrh Oil

Myrrh has an ancient history of being used alongside the frankincense in many religious traditions and for medicinal purposes. It is gotten from the resins of Commiphora molmol, native to Egypt and Jordan. Myrrh oil has anti-inflammatory properties that aids in suppressing inflammations and its intensity. It will reduce the swelling by reducing leukotaxine levels (produced when tissues are injured), which causes inflammation. It also helps to soothe and relax the body to enhance healing processes.

How to use:

  • Preferably, I would suggest you use the myrrh oil with frankincense, as this will help produce a combined and more potent effect on Arthritis. You can mix with olive oil and massage the blend onto the affected area.

Frankincense Oil

Like Myrrh oil,  Frankincense helps to lower the rate of inflammation by preventing the production of inflammatory substances, thus preventing the degradation of the cartilage tissues. It is used in many religious ceremonies because of its supposed ability to enhance spiritual experiences.

How to use:

  • Rubbing the frankincense oil on the affected area can help provide relief to muscle aches.

Cayenne Pepper Oil

Cayenne Pepper oil has a particularly pungent smell and is extracted from the fiery cayenne chilies. It has capsaicin as its primary active component and inhibits the production of the inflammatory substance called substance P, a neurotransmitter peptide. It also has analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties.

How to use:

  • You can either use raw or mix a few drops of coconut oil and massage over the affected area 2-3 times a day. It is possible that you experience a burning sensation at first, but that usually subsides after subsequent applications.
  • In cases of skin irritation, discontinue use and visit a medical expert.

Birch Oil

Birch oil has many health benefits, including being an effective treatment for Arthritis. It has anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, anti-spasmodic, astringent, and diuretic properties. Also contained in it is the salicylic acid and methyl salicylate that helps reduce joint, muscle and body pains. It is one of the best essential oils for rheumatoid arthritis.

How to use:

  • The birch oil is very potent and toxic, that raw usage may cause skin irritation. Mix the oil in a suitable carrier oil and rub evenly on the affected area.
  • You can also mix this oil with other essential oils to enhance its effects.

Final note

Usually, combining essential oils into a blend increases its potency and provides faster relief. Essential oils are concentrated and should be diluted with carrier oils if you want to use them topically. They should also be used sparingly and unless otherwise stated, should never be used internally. Only buy therapeutic grade essential oils to get optimal benefits. I would also suggest that you use the essential oil with a diffuser over the night to help your body achieve calmness and give you an overall feeling of wellbeing.

 Feel free to try any one of the listed oils and allow nature to take its healing cause. I hope you enjoyed reading this piece. Have any questions? Please use the comment section below.

About the author

    Sally Wong

    Sally Wong is a manual therapist for about 15 years now and also a massage specialist. She is actively taking care of her body to stay healthy and in shape by doing Yoga and Tai Chi. She has a lot of knowledge and interest in Essential Oils because of her Oriental background. She learnt many things from her Grandmother. Originally from a small village in South China, now she lives in Vancouver, Canada.

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