Are you looking for Essential Oils for arthritis in knees or fingers? I completely understands how that feels. Not that I am currently affected by this joint condition… but my Mom used to have it.
Who Am I & What’s The Story?
Hi there, my name is Jessica Hegarty and I am an Naturopath… I am an Engineer by training and I holds a day job as a Engineer in a Pharmaceutical company. I started out this blog as a mean to pen down my thoughts and experiences on alternative healing.
Not that I don’t think conventional medicine helps or am I against it… but they often comes with side effects. I still turn to the conventional medication, but I tend to rely more on what nature can provide.
Personally, it feels safer consuming/using something that is from nature rather than something that is chemically structured or engineered in the lab. What an irony right…? Especially since I am working in a Pharmaceutical company.
So here is my story…
Not very long ago, my Mom had Arthritis in left knee. It was really painful. She started having stiff knee pain at the back of her knee. Her knee hurts when sitting but not walking. And she started developing pain in her finger joint when pressed. We decided to consult a Doctor. After some blood test and x-rays, she was diagnose with Arthritis around her knees and finger joints. 🙁
Arthritis, is a condition that plagued many… According to the US centre for disease control and prevention, Arthritis is prevalent in the US. Up to 20% of the US population is estimated to be affected by this condition. And according the Doctor, Arthritis can start as early as 30 years old.
I asked the Doctor if it was hereditary… he seems a little unsure back then. But he mentioned that if my Mom has it,it increases my chance of developing it at a younger age. Currently, I don’t have any signs yet, hopefully it’ll stay that way!
My Mom was given Methotrexate as part of her Arthritis treatment…
Like many other patients of Rheumatoid Arthritis, my Mom was given Methotrexate as part of a treatment and management for her Arthritis. Of course… she was given steroids as an option too… but we didn’t like the idea of injecting it into her affected area.
The problem with Methotrexate is that it causes unbearable abdominal pain, stomach upsets and induce tiredness/sleepiness. This was affecting my Mom’s daily lifestyle like doing the household chores, etc. I decided to read up a little more Methotrexate and realized that it was originally developed in the 1940s as a cancer drug.
When I read the word “Cancer Drug“, that did not resonate well with me at all. Imagine how potent this drug can be… The main trigger why my Mom actually stopped the drug is when she had clay-colored stool. We felt that something went really wrong.
We decided to go natural…
After laying off the drugs for a few weeks, her symptoms went away. After that scare, we decided to went all natural and only used natural treatments.We tried everything natural that was made available to us. Cinnamon diet, Willow bark and many others. None of them really cured my Mom’s Arthritis but… one natural treatment did help her with managing the condition. It was to massage a blend of Essential Oil over her affected areas.
The recipe for the blend of Essential Oil was actually shared by our masseuse as she found that concoction effective for her other clients too. The exact recipe will be shared later in this blog post.
After applying and massaging the Essential Oil on the affected areas, my Mom saw noticeable results.Reduced in swelling (although still swollen) and definitely less painful. Even though this isn’t a cure for Arthritis, but it has helped my Mom in dealing with the pain.
She is now able to carry on with her daily life without having to rely so much on others. I remember that there were times where she couldn’t even open a bottle or a jar of jam. She can now walk our dog (at a slower pace of course!) without having to feel so much pain after 1 round in the park.
So What Exactly Is Arthritis?
Arthritis is a joint disease. It is caused by inflammation that causes pain and swelling around joints. For arthritis, it can occur on various types of joints including knee, fingers or hip. There are two main kinds of arthritis, osteoarthritis arthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis arthritis occurs due to wear and tear between joints. This level of degradation causes inflammation and pain. The condition is most prevalent at joint locations where we use most often, knees, hips, spine and hands.
On the other hand, Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a result of autoimmune dysfunction. This dysfunction causes the white blood cells to destroy the cartilage. It is a rare form of arthritis that is not as prevalent as its counterpart. Currently, there are many hypothesis to the cause of RA. However, the exact cause is not known.
Symptoms Of Arthritis
- Knee hurts when sitting but not walking.
- Stiff knee pain in back of knee.
- Knee feels tight when bending.
- Pain in finger joint when pressed.
- Swollen knuckle / index finger joint.
Arthritis affects joints which forms an essential component of our welfare. When left untreated, joints could become stiff at first, causing our mobility to be hindered. If further unattended to, the pain caused by the inflammation would worsen.
Severe wear and tear of the joint would occur, causing disability. Protecting joints from arthritis can therefore reduce immobility and pain, hence increasing our well-being, productivity and independence.
Essential Oils For Arthritis In Knees & Fingers
Essential Oil is a natural type of product extracted from the oil of natural herbs, flowers, fruits and other components of the plant. Throughout history, Essential Oil has been used in various ancient civilizations, such as the Greeks and Chinese, to counter pain caused by arthritis.
Essential Oil contains a high amount of minerals and nutrients such as vitamins. These ingredients give the Essential Oils almost the universal properties of being antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and analgesic.
Such properties help to reduce joint pain which is mainly caused by inflammation. When applied to the skin, Essential Oils and their minerals are absorbed into the skin instantly and could be channelled to the plasma.
Hence, the direct topical application of essential oil to the skin serves as a direct method to channel the oil to the affected place.
Here, we will explore the top 5 types of Essential Oils for Arthritis in knees:
Ginger Essential Oil
Ginger Essential Oil contains chemicals with analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties on the affected area. It is proven to be a great pain reliever and being able to alleviate pain caused by arthritis.
The Arthritis Foundation reports a study from the University of Miami concluded that Ginger essential oil is a form of anti-inflammatory agent. Their research has also indicated that it aids in pain relief up to 40%.
When applied to the skin, ginger Essential Oil would give off a warming sensation. This slight warming process also forms the basis of improving blood circulation around applied area and hence, alleviate swelling and inflammation which led to arthritis.
Turmeric Essential Oil
Turmeric Oil contains an active ingredient known as curcumin. Curcumin is a great form of anti-inflammatory. Turmeric is highly effective at helping people manage rheumatoid arthritis.
A study in Japan reveals that turmeric essential oil reacts with interleukin which is the cause of inflammation during RA. This level of reaction helps to reduce the level of inflammatory drastically.
Frankincense Essential Oil
Frankincense Oil is an inhibitor that inhibits the activity of molecules causing inflammation associated with conditions like arthritis.The essential oil is also helpful in preventing the breakdown of the cartilage tissue. This makes frankincense oil a great anti-inflammatory solution that offers great alleviation for pain caused by arthritis.
Myrrh Essential Oil
Like the rest of its Essential Oil counterparts, Myrrh Oil also possess anti-inflammatory properties. It has excellent property in supressing inflammation. Such property allows myrrh essential oil a great medication to treat arthritis.
Orange Essential Oil
Orange Essential Oil contains citrus which is a great anti-oxidant. Being an anti-oxidant, it can suppress pain and is hence a great medication that can be used to combat arthritis.
How Does It Work?
Essential Oils can be used to combat rheumatoid arthritis pain and osteoarthritis in several ways. The methods ranges from cooking to diluted beverages to topical application on the affected area. Essential Oils can also be effective when several different types are combined together to form a mixture of pain relief solution.
Certain essential oils have more analgesic properties, which allows the essential oil to work as great pain relievers. The others are more anti-inflammatory and can be used to suppress inflammation caused by osteoarthritis. By combining these solutions, they can together work to achieve both of their desired properties.
The solution will help you to reduce inflammation and hence, this helps to alleviate pain. Frankincense and Myrrh are two Essential Oils can be mixed together and serve as a great relief to treat rheumatoid arthritis joint pain and inflammation. Mixing Orange and Ginger Oils together is also proven to treat pain caused by stiffness.
Essential Oils are natural form of medication that can be used to alleviate pain. In addition, use any Essential Oils sparingly, especially when applied topically. High concentration of Essential Oil could instead cause irritation and harmful effect on the skin. Thus it is always advisable to use a carrier oil to dilute the potency of the Essential Oil while enjoying it’s benefits.
What Is A Carrier Oil ?
Carrier Oils are usually overlooked because unlike Essential Oil, they don’t carry any form of therapeutic effects. However, they play an indispensable role for topical applications of Essential Oils. These Carrier oil are naturally derived from plant sources and have a neutral smell. They are not as volatile as the Essential Oil, thus making them an excellent medium for Essential Oil dilution and application. When you dilute an essential oil with a carrier oil, you can also control its concentration before applying.
Common Types of Carrier Oil
The Grapeseed Oil has a very light and thin consistency which makes it suitable as a carrier oil for massages. It leaves a thin glossy film over the skin allowing the skin to absorb andextract the nutrients from the Essential Oils which are embedded and mixed in the Carrier Oil.
The Grapeseed Oil is also high in Linoleic Acid. Linoleic Acid is a polyunsaturated fatty acid and is part of the Omega 6 fatty acids. According to researches, Linoleic Acid helps to maintain healthy cell membranes and establish and control cellular metabolism. This makes it extremely beneficial for those who are also suffering from external skin condition.
The downside of this Carrier Oil is that it has a relatively short shelf life. Thus, making it only suitable for those who are willing to use it at least 3 times a week.
The Almond Oil has a nice, sweet and nutty smelling aroma. It has a medium consistency due to it’s higher viscosity and is able to be absorb into your skin relatively quickly, leaving behind only a slight hint of oil over your skin. It is also rich in Vitamin E and Oleic Acid.
Vitamin E block free radicals from damaging the skin cells. This plays a large part in the aging process of our skin. If we are able to fight off the free radicals, then we can significantly reduce wrinkles and keep our skin youthful-looking for a longer period of time.
Oleic acid is a monosaturated omega 9 fatty acid, which is usually derived from many different types of animal and vegetable sources. The Oleic Acid present in the Almond Oil has antioxidant properties which helps to neutralize the damage from the harmful free radicals and reduces oxidative effects on our skin. As it is also rich in anti-inflammatory compounds, it also prevents inflammatory diseases.
The Almond Oil is one of my favorite Carrier Oil which I always use.However, the downside is that it isn’t suitable for everyone. For those who has nut allergies, should consider other type of Carrier Oil.
Hemp Seed Oil
The Hemp Seed Oil is a soft and non-greasy oil that is in light green in color. It has a slight nutty aroma that relaxes your mind and lift your spirits… it is one of the most nourishing Carrier Oil currently available.
It is rich in vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids such as Omega-6 and Omega-3 which help to keep our skin soft and supple. If your skin is dry or if you have skin conditions such as eczema, this Carrier Oil is recommended.
It’s Omega-6 and Omega-3 are in the recommended 3:1 proportion thus making it an excellent oil which supports healthy skin and hair. It also has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and can be used for healing infections, treating Arthritis,acne and other skin conditions.
Fractionated Coconut Oil
If you’re familiar with Coconut Oil, it is usually a solid at room temperature. Hence, you’ll need to get the Fractionated Coconut Oil if you’re intending to massage the Essential Oil onto your skin. Fractionated Coconut Oil contains Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT) which are a “fraction” of Virgin Coconut Oil. They are made via a heating process that isolates the MCT from the other fatty acids.
Fractionated Coconut Oil are in a liquid state regardless of temperature. Even though they have been heat treated, they are still able to retain the same moisturizing ability as the Virgin Coconut Oil. The fractionating process actually helps to refine, deodorize the Coconut oil.
The Fractionated Coconut Oil absorbs very quickly into our skin, thus making it an ideal Carrier Oil for making an Essential Oil blend. It has a long shelf life thus making it ideal for you if you don’t intend to religiously massage Essential Oil on your skin.
Rosehip Seed Oil
Rosehip are basically the tiny, reddish-brown fruit that remains on a Rose bush after the Roses have bloomed and lost their petals. The Rosehip Oil are usually used in medicinal and cosmetic application. It is considered to be a “dry” Carrier oil due to it;s thin consistency, which allows it to be easily absorbed into the skin without leaving any oil residue on your skin surface.
The Rosehip Seed Oil also has a skin brightening properties that helps restore our skin’s color to it’s natural state. It whitens and lightens any dark blemishes. It is also effective in reducing the appearance of scars and heals wounds and inflammations.
Recipe: Essential Oils For Arthritis In Knees & Fingers
My masseuse was kind enough to share her recipe with me. She mentioned that it is much cheaper to DIY your own blend of massage oil for Arthritic conditions rather than getting those blend off the shelves. So this is what you’ll need:
- A Cup for mixing.
- Carrier Oil of your choice (100ml).
- Ginger Oil: 1 Drop
- Tumeric Oil: 1 Drop
- Frankincense Oil: 1 Drop
- Myrrh Oil: 1 Drop
- Orange Oil: 3 Drops
Mix all of the following in a cup and massage it directly on your joints which are affected by Arthritis. Personally, I use Almond Carrier Oil but it really depends on your own preference. Noticed that this concoction requires 3 drops of Orange Essential Oil…? I clarified with my masseuse, and she mentioned it was mainly to make the blend smell sweeter and aromatic.
How To Apply The Essential Oil Blend Onto Our Joints?
Massaging at areas around the joints allows more blood and oxygen to get into the joint. This makes your your Arthritic condition healing itself a lot easier. Massaging at the joint will definitely help your joints to relax and take the pressure off those nerves that are causing you pain.
Although this is not a cure, it helps to reduce the pain and prevent your condition from getting worse. Application and massaging yourself using the Essential Oil requires some skill and technique. It is easy to learn as long as you understand the different techniques and where the pressure points are located at.
Techniques Involved For Massaging
- Large and vigorous strokes helps you warm up and prepare the muscles.
- Small and precise strokes helps you to target specific areas of discomfort.
- Small strokes also include holding pressure points, rubbing back and forth across a small area, or deeper strokes along the length of a muscle.
Applying On Your Knee Joints
- Sit down on a chair as knee massages are usually done while seated.
- Begin by dripping droplets of the Essential Oil concoction over your knee (both the front and the back of your knee).
- Warm-up. Yes, massaging is like an exercise. It requires a warm-up to prepare your joints and bones. Use large, strokes across your knee before starting the massage. (Basically areas slightly above and below the knee cap) Applying heat using a warm towel before your massage will also help relax your muscles.
- Identify the painful points on your knee. Use smaller strokes around those areas. Move your fingers back and forth around that area.
- Listen to your body. If it is too painful, ease up on the pressure. A good massage should not be hurting too much.
Applying On Your Finger Joints
- Before you begin, apply some Essential Oil concoction thoroughly on your palm and fingers.
- Pinch your fingers near the joint connecting to the palm with generous pressure (not so much that it hurts).
- Hold each pinch for at least 5 seconds before moving to the next one. Don’t forget your thumb.
- Wrap one hand around the other and place your thumb on your other palm. Position it such that your thumb is pressing on the dark blue spot denoted in the picture above. Use small and long strokes with your thumb to massage the palm of your hand. Begin massaging from the center of your palm and work your way outwards. Start with gentle pressure and increase as you move on further in your massage.
- Next, proceed to massage in similar fashion on the fleshier part of your palm. The positions are denoted as brown and orange on the picture above.
After a few weeks of application, you should be able to feel less pain around your joints. Regular massaging with these Essential Oil will definitely help you with the pain management. If its able to help my Mom with her condition, it will definitely work for you too! 🙂 Let me know in the comments if you have similar experience too!