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Essential Oils for Arthritis

By Jodi Cohen

Inflammation of the joints, that surround the joint and other connective tissue – commonly known as Arthritis  — can present with pain, swelling, tenderness and/or rigidity and stiffness.

Research is exploring the anti-arthritic potential of essential oils to provide relief from arthritis symptoms.  For example, the anti-inflammatory, analgesic antioxidant, antibacterial and antifungal properties of essential oils may help to alleviate pain, reduce inflammation, and enhance circulation and lymphatic drainage to help reduce or alleviate arthritis symptoms.

For example, research on the Analgesic-like activity of essential oils constituents found that “Essential Oils and their chemical components may be useful in the treatment of arthritis-related pain. Various monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes, and other essential oil constituents – including monoterpenes and  sesquiterpenes – have been investigated for their potential antinociceptive activity and have demonstrated interesting analgesic-like activity.

More specifically, research on Essential Oils and Bioactive Components against Arthritis: A Novel Perspective on Their Therapeutic Potential touted the “beneficial effects of Essential Oils and their phytochemical constituents on arthritic conditions”, including decreasing the severity of arthritis symptoms and suppressing the biochemical mediators of inflammation.

The research specifically touted the benefit of topical application, noting that “essential oils and their components are rapidly absorbed through the skin and are detectable in plasma after topical application, topical dermal delivery of essential oils represents an effective method to directly provide a natural, anti-inflammatory agent to the site of inflammation.”


Symptoms of Arthritis

The symptoms of arthritis can vary in severity and may fluctuate over time depending on the specific type of arthritis, but some common symptoms include:

  • Joint pain: Persistent pain or aching in the joints. Pain may be dull, sharp, or throbbing and can worsen with movement or activity.
  • Joint stiffness: Arthritis can cause stiffness in the affected joints, making movement difficult.
  • Joint swelling: Inflammation in the joints can lead to swelling, resulting in joint enlargement, tenderness, and a feeling of warmth or redness around the affected area.
  • Joint redness and warmth: Some types of arthritis can cause the affected joints to become red, warm to the touch, and inflamed.
  • Limited range of motion: Arthritis can reduce the range of motion in the affected joints, making it challenging to perform regular activities, such as bending, gripping, or walking.
  • Fatigue: It is common to experience fatigue along with arthritis, as pain, inflammation, and disrupted sleep patterns may contribute to fatigue.
  • Morning stiffness: Arthritis symptoms, particularly stiffness, can be most severe in the morning or after a period of inactivity, commonly known as morning stiffness.
  • Muscle weakness: Arthritis can lead to muscle weakness around the affected joints due to decreased use or inflammation affecting the nearby muscles.

Essential Oils for Arthritis

Several essential oils contain medicinal constituents, such as menthol, carvone, and limonene, that have demonstrated analgesic effects in animal models and been recognized for their beneficial effects on the relief of symptoms of arthritis.

For example, Research on Essential Oils and Bioactive Components against Arthritis: A Novel Perspective on Their Therapeutic Potential found that essential oils derived from ginger contain chemicals with analgesic and anti-inflammatory constituents that have been shown to help lessen pain associated with arthritis. It provides this relief by acting on certain inflammatory processes at a cellular level, like vanilloid receptors – located on sensory nerve endings – which affect your pain pathways directly and immediately, helping to relieve pain and inflammation.

In fact research sited by The Arthritis Foundation touted ginger as “a substitute to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. The study compared the effects of a highly concentrated ginger extract to placebo in 247 patients with osteoarthritis of the knee. The ginger reduced pain and stiffness in knee joints by 40 percent over the placebo. “Arthritic rats treated with ointment containing Essential Oils developed less severe clinical arthritis compared to the controls, and this activity was attributable to EO and not the carrier oil. The levels of TNF-α and IL-1β, and the activity of MMPs in SF and SIC-lysate were significantly (p<0.05) reduced in EO-treated arthritic rats compared to the controls.

Anti-Inflammatory™ for Arthritis

Anti-Inflammatory™ was formulated with essential oils containing anti-inflammatory and analgesic that may help reduce inflammation and encourage regeneration of damaged or stressed connective tissues including joint tissue impacted by arthritis.

The following essential oils that are included in the Anti-Inflammatory™ blend may help support the anti-inflammation mechanisms of the brain and body to alleviate pain reduce inflammation and encourage regeneration of inflamed tissue impacted by arthritis.



Ginger essential oil prevents chronic joint inflammation, helps bring heat, and stimulates circulation, which may help lessen pain and inflammation associated with arthritis. Research found that Ginger may suppress inflammation. The beneficial effects of ginger polyphenols have been extensively reported in research such as “Assessing the Effects of Ginger Extract on Polyphenol Profiles”.  The anti-inflammatory effects of ginger are often attributed to secondary metabolites, like essential oils and gingerols. Research has found that ginger essential oils can be joint protective in an experimental arthritis model.

An additional study of 140 participants found topically applied ginger essential oil “significantly reduced low back pain and disability”.  Similarly, a  2005 study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food found that Ginger essential oil significantly reduced joint inflammation.  Research indicates that the pain-relieving effects of ginger are likely to be related to the inhibitory effect of 6-shogaol on the release of substance P which is associated with normal immune responses to bodily stress and pain perception.

A study in Complementary Therapies in Medicine showed that people with moderate to severe knee pain reported less pain and stiffness after they were massaged with a ginger-and-orange oil than an unscented one.

An in vitro study reported that ginger essential oil exerted anti-inflammatory effects by inhibiting lipoxygenase enzymes as well as quercetin. Lipoxygenase enzymes are involved in the development of breast, prostate, and colorectal cancers when overexpressed. The research discovered that ginger oil reduces inflammation by preventing the migration of excess leukocytes from the blood to tissues. Leukocytes travel to the site of damaged tissue to encourage tissue repair; however, when they migrate excessively to the area it causes an abnormal inflammatory response. Animal research demonstrates that ginger essential oil prevents chronic joint inflammation in a model of rheumatoid arthritis, but does not affect acute joint swelling.



The limonene present in grapefruit helps to reduce inflammation and regulate the production of inflammatory cytokines.  The antiarthritic potential of Limonene was verified  https://www.ajol.info/index.php/tjpr/article/view/194492 in vivo in collagen-induced arthritic rats. The treatment with EO caused the reduction of paw swelling and serum inflammatory factor levels.

Limonene may also help ease muscle fatigue and stiffness and increase circulation.

Grapefruit also contains high levels of bioactive flavonoids – a category of plant compounds present in Citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, bergamot and grapefruits (Study).

Flavonoids demonstrate anti-inflammatory, anticarcinogenic, lipid-lowering, and antioxidant activities according to research published in Oxid Med Cell Longev. titled “Bioactive Flavonoids, Antioxidant Behavior, and Cytoprotective Effects of Dried Grapefruit Peels”.  The research notes “data suggest that grapefruit peel has considerable potential as a source of natural bioactive flavonoids with outstanding antioxidant activity which can be used as agents in several therapeutic strategies.” Flavonoids were observed in the oil glands of citrus peels ( Essential oil are found mainly in the oil glands).

Citrus oils also contain strong anti-inflammatory properties that may help fight pain. A 2009 study published in the European Journal of Medical Research investigated the antioxidant potential of various citrus essential oils for arthritis treatment.



Frankincense oil has long been heralded for its anti-inflammatory, immune-boosting, and pain-relieving properties that may help alleviate joint inflammation and discomfort when used topically. Research shows Frankincense, and its anti-inflammatory constituent alpha-pinene, significantly inhibit inflammation and enhance immune supporting properties. The chemical constituent borneol possesses anesthetic and anti-spasmodic properties.

Boswellic acid, another active component of frankincense essential oil, has been highly correlated with anti-inflammatory and pain relieving properties.  Boswellic acids might also help to preserve and maintain healthy joint tissue through its effects on matrix metalloproteinase-3 (MMP-3).

A study published in the journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine examined the effects of Frankincense essential oil on symptoms and inflammatory markers in patients with rheumatoid arthritis found that Frankincense essential oil treatment resulted in a significant reduction in disease activity and inflammation markers.

Frankincense essential oil may inhibit the production of key inflammatory molecules associated with conditions like arthritis and can be useful in helping to prevent the breakdown of the cartilage tissue. This has been shown to significantly reduce levels of inflammation and reduce arthritis-related muscle, joint and tendon pain.


Ylang Ylang

Research has shown that active compounds in ylang ylang oil include several types of flavonoids that can help improve blood flow, lower inflammation and support a healthy circulatory system.

Ylang ylang is rich in the constituent Linalool which is known for its anti-inflammatory properties.  Research indicates that linalool “play a major role in the anti-inflammatory activity displayed by the essential oils containing them, and provide further evidence suggesting that linalool and linalyl acetate-producing species are potentially anti-inflammatory agents.”

Ylang ylang is also known as a harmonizer, meaning it is an adaptive and supportive, especially when added to a blend.


Dill Seed

Dill is known to significantly reduce inflammation, possibly because of its antioxidant flavonoids. Medieval knights would place dill seeds on open wounds to speed up healing. Research has confirmed the anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects of dill’s key constituents, d-carvone and d-limonene, noting that dill essential oil causes a significant decrease in inflammation and pain. Dill is also a well-known herb used as an anti-spasmodic. It is considered a tonic for organs like your stomach, liver, kidney, and bladder. Dill is also effective in strengthening and calming the brain.

Dill Seed is also rich in the anti-inflammatory constituents D- limonene and  the terpene carvone, both of which possess antiarthritic potential.

Terpenes, in particular have been found in the study Terpenes as possible drugs for the mitigation of arthritic symptoms to modulate the levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines TNF-α, IL-1β, and IL-6.



Traditional Chinese medicine used Tarragon for its antispasmodic, antiviral and antibacterial properties. Tarragon essential oil supports brain health, acting as an antioxidant and an analgesic (for pain relief). It also supports healthy heart function and circulation, and can help reduce physical weakness caused by bad circulation. Supports muscle aches, spasms, and rheumatism and helps restore proper muscular function and ease muscular convulsions.

Research has found that Tarragon oil inhibits acetylcholinesterase (AChE) activity, which may make it beneficial for neurodegenerative diseases. Inhibition of AChE prevents the break-down of acetylcholine, which is essential for memory and thinking. People with neurodegenerative diseases make less acetylcholine, and the diseases often break it down at a faster rate, leading to acetylcholine deficits.

Tarragon oil also has been shown to relieve pain both centrally and peripherally using mechanisms other than interacting with opioid receptors.

Apply Anti-Inflammatory™ to areas of the body that are where inflammation is experienced or suspected, including the base of the skull or bottom of the feet. Anti-Inflammatory™ is designed to reduce inflammation, re-balance the brain, and encourage regeneration of damaged or stressed cells and tissues that have been chronically inflamed or acutely inflamed.


Parasympathetic® for Inflammation

Parasympathetic® essential oil blend is also a powerful support for inflammatory conditions like Arthritis. Parasympathetic® is comprised of clove oil, which is high in the healing constituent Eugenol, and Lime.  Research found eugenol to be high in antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and analgesic activities that may help support Arthritis.  Eugenol has been demonstrated to inhibit mononuclear cell infiltration and to decrease the cytokine (TNF-α, IFN-γ, and TGF-β) levels within the ankle joints.


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About The Author

Jodi Cohen

Jodi Sternoff Cohen is the founder of Vibrant Blue Oils. An author, speaker, nutritional therapist, and a leading international authority on essential oils, Jodi has helped over 50,000 individuals support their health with essential oils.