The 11 Best Essential Oils for Inflammation and How to Use Them
Most have encountered essential oils in one form or another, whether in a nice-smelling candle or a luxurious spa treatment. However, the power of essential oils goes beyond scent. It was used as a treatment to combat health conditions dating back 5,000 years.
Unfortunately, its uses declined with the advent of modern medicine, as did the perception of their effectiveness – until recently, that is. Essential oils are experiencing a renaissance as their healing powers have been "rediscovered" and have become hugely popular in the natural health field.
Historically, essential oils were used for treating conditions such as digestive disorders, sore muscles and joint pain, skin conditions, headaches, and inflammation. The natural properties of essential oils are especially potent at reducing inflammation.
While inflammation may seem like a relatively mundane condition, recent studies have shown that it can lead to a litany of serious health problems, such as heart disease, Alzheimer's, and even cancer.
This article will discuss the harmful health risks of inflammation, the role essential oils can play in managing inflammation, and the best essential oils for fighting inflammation.
What Is Inflammation?
Inflammation occurs naturally when your immune system responds to a real or perceived injury or infection. Once inflamed, your body will deliver an army of white blood cells to the area to heal it.
If the injury or infection is real then inflammation is a vital part of the healing process. However, if inflammation occurs because your immune system perceives that there's a condition when there isn't, it can be the source of numerous health problems.
There are two types of inflammation, acute and chronic. Acute inflammation only lasts for a short period until the healing process is finished. It's commonly caused by physical injuries and infections. Symptoms of acute inflammation are usually mild and include pain, swelling, tenderness, and heat.
In comparison, chronic inflammation is a much more serious condition and can last weeks, years, or a lifetime. It occurs when your body continues to send inflammatory signals even when they're not required. This leads to an endless cycle of constant tissue damage and repair and long-term inflammation.
If left untreated, chronic inflammation can have detrimental health effects and cause chronic pain. Studies have linked chronic arthritis to insulin resistance which can cause type-2 diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and strokes. It's also been associated with neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's and genetic mutations that can lead to cancerous tumors.
The Role of Essential Oils in Managing Inflammation
The intrinsic properties of essential oils make them the ideal remedy for fighting inflammation. Many contain anti-inflammatory compounds and antioxidant properties that modulate inflamed pathways and kill free radicals that reduce inflammation.
In addition to being an effective holistic alternative to drugs for combatting inflammation, studies have shown that essential oils and other holistic approaches offer other health benefits. These include a reduction in stress, anxiety, and pain, relief for headaches and nausea, and improved sleep and mood.
Top 11 Anti-Inflammatory Essential Oils
Ginger has been used for medicinal reasons in many cultures and periods throughout history. In ancient India and China, ginger was used to produce a tonic to reduce inflammation and improve digestive ailments. It was then exported around the world and was highly valued for its medicinal qualities.
A recent study in which patients received a daily dosage of ginger showed an increase in the expression of FOXP3 genes. These genes help regulate the immune system and decrease pro-inflammatory genes. Daily ginger consumption can also lead to a dramatic reduction in C-reactive proteins and interleukin, which is key to fighting the symptoms of arthritis.
Due to its delicious taste, ginger can easily be incorporated into your diet to reap its anti-inflammatory and digestive benefits. However, you can get your daily ginger intake up by using ginger-based massage oils or via inhalation.
A 2016 study showed eucalyptus contains gallic acid, a powerful anti-inflammatory agent and the decongestant properties of Eucalyptus have been known for a long time. The mucolytic action it creates is extremely effective for breaking down mucus, providing relief from congestion, and helping with respiratory conditions.
The cineole found in eucalyptus oil has analgesic properties, and when combined with its anti-inflammatory effects, it is a great oil for pain relief, especially muscle pain. The drawback of the cineole is that it can cause distress for children, especially infants and toddlers. So, don't apply eucalyptus oil directly to the face of a child under the age of 10.
It's also toxic to pets, particularly cats and dogs. Therefore, you should always keep your eucalyptus oil in a secure cabinet out of reach of kids and pets.
Lavender essential oils are ultra-versatile and are known to have anxiolytic, anti-inflammatory, antinociceptive, antioxidant, and antimicrobial effects.
In addition to its broad range of physical health benefits, lavender oil is also known for improving psychological and emotional well-being. Inhaling lavender oil impacts the limbic system of the brain, which is responsible for regulating emotions which gives it mental therapeutic properties.
Lavender oil is effective in reducing stress and anxiety, which can exacerbate inflammation. You can use an aroma diffuser to spread it throughout a room and reap its relaxing benefits or apply it topically for skin care.
Peppermint oil contains menthol, which has cooling properties that have been proven to reduce muscle and joint pain. Peppermint oil is also commonly used to treat digestive issues such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and for headache relief.
Caution must be used when dealing with peppermint oil because if it's ingested in large quantities, it's toxic. Due to its high menthol content, you should avoid applying it to your skin in high concentrations, especially around the eyes, to avoid skin irritation or eye damage.
Frankincense is derived from the Boswellia tree, and its effectiveness in treating chronic inflammation has long been known. Research suggests that frankincense prevents the release of leukotrienes that cause inflammation. Furthermore, studies indicate that the terpenes and boswellic acid found in frankincense are powerful anti-inflammatories, perfect for treating chronic inflammation.
Less inflammation results in reduced joint pain and can be beneficial for those suffering from arthritis. It also stimulates the production of collagen to promote healthy skin. Combining frankincense with other essential oils can enhance their effects. For example, if you're experiencing intense joint pain, combining frankincense with ginger will increase its pain relief effects.
Tumeric is rich in curcumin, which is a known and proven powerful anti-inflammatory. A 2007 study showed that it inhibits cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), lipoxygenase (LOX), and inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS).
Tumerics' natural ability to block inflammatory enzymes makes it a powerful anti-inflammatory and reduced inflammation can provide pain relief, especially in joints. Additionally, Turmeric can be applied topically to treat skin conditions such as acne, dermatitis, and scabies.
The active ingredient in clove oil is eugenol. It's a natural anesthetic that has strong pain-relieving properties and is commonly used in dental care due to its efficacy in mitigating tooth pain.
Eugenol is a potent compound and should always be diluted when being applied topically to avoid irritation and from being absorbed into the bloodstream through the skin.
Clove oil is also naturally warm and can be used in blends to treat conditions that require heat application.
Thyme oil contains thymol and carvacrol phenolic compounds that have strong antimicrobial and antibacterial properties, protecting against bacteria and fungi. It's these same compounds that give thyme oil its anti-inflammatory properties by inhibiting the production of inflammatory mediators like cytokines.
Thyme oil's natural antimicrobial and antibacterial properties help support the immune system. It can also help expel mucus from the respiratory system, providing better overall respiratory health.
Given the potency of thyme oil, dilution is essential. You should also conduct a test on a small area after diluting to ensure the ratio is correct and safe.
9. Roman Chamomile
Roman chamomile oil contains apigenin, a mild sedative that provides calming and soothing properties, both for the skin and the nervous system. Its sedative qualities make it the ideal oil for relaxing and getting a good night's sleep.
Roman chamomile can be used to treat skin conditions such as eczema, dermatitis, and sunburn. Furthermore, it's gentle and can be used on anyone, including children and people with sensitive skin.
Basil is a well-known staple in most kitchens and is known for its distinctive flavor. However, a concentration of basil oil contains eugenol, which is a proven anti-inflammatory. It also possesses antimicrobial properties for fighting off fungal and bacterial infections.
This essential oil also contains analgesic properties, providing relief from muscle pain when combined with its anti-inflammatory effects. It has a potent and invigorating aroma that, when used in an oil diffuser, is great for aromatherapy.
A basil oil-infused aromatherapy experience can provide a tranquil, focused, and uplifting environment that can improve mental awareness.
The primary active ingredient in wintergreen oil is methyl salicylate which is similar to aspirin. This gives it powerful pain-relieving abilities that are effective for a range of pain-related from muscle to joint pain.
Methyl salicylate is toxic in high doses and should never be ingested. Its active ingredient makes it hyper-effective for massage blends to relieve muscle and joint pain. A common massage mixture ratio is 1 ounce of carrier oil, such as coconut oil or almond oil, with five to 10 drops of wintergreen oil.
Historical and Cultural Use of Essential Oils for Inflammation
Throughout history, different cultures have utilized essential oils to treat inflammation. The method and types of oils used depend on the availability of ingredients and cultural factors. For example, India is a land rich in the ingredients used in essential oils. For thousands of years, its culture has embraced turmeric, ginger, and frankincense to treat inflammation.
Another notable example is in the Far East. China is synonymous with holistic medicine and has used turmeric and peppermint for generations to treat inflammation.
Comparison With Conventional Inflammation Treatments
Holistic medical treatments are derived from natural sources, which means they have far fewer side effects than conventional anti-inflammatory medication. Furthermore, they can do more than just treat inflammation. For example, lavender oil will not only reduce inflammation but provide relaxation and antimicrobial effects.
Essential oils can also be combined to produce an essential oil blend that will provide multiple benefits rather than just having anti-inflammatory effects. This makes essential oils more versatile and safer than conventional inflammation treatments.
How to Choose the Right Essential Oil
Choosing the right essential oil for your specific ailment is vital for getting optimal results. You should consider factors like:
- Purity – The purity of your essential oil will determine its effectiveness. So, always purchase your oils from trusted sources to ensure purity.
- Origin – Essential oils are derived from natural sources from specific regions. Choosing oils that contain ingredients from their native place of origin will ensure higher-quality oils.
- Extraction method – Some extraction methods use harmful solvents or chemicals. Check to make sure that yours didn't to avoid any contaminants ruining your essential oil experience.
- Individual needs – Essential oils are holistic medicine, but they're still medicine, so you should always ensure the oils you're using are suited to your specific needs.
It's always best to consult with a professional with the expertise to make sure that you are using the right essential oil in the right way.
Ways to Use Essential Oils for Inflammation
There are many methods for using essential oils for inflammation:
- Topical – Topical application involves applying the essential oil directly on your skin.
- Diffusion – Diffusion involves putting the essential oil into a diffuser which will disperse it into the air.
- Inhalation – Inhalation involves breathing in the essential oil. It can be done in a range of ways, such as direct inhalation, steam inhalation, and nasal sticks.
Dilution with carrier oils is crucial for safety when using essential oils, given their potent nature, and each carrier oil has its unique characteristics that are best suited to certain essential oils.
For example, Jojoba oil is a great all-purpose carrier oil with a mild scent, perfect when you don't want to lose the aroma of your essential oil of choice. Almond oil helps with absorption, great for topical applications, and olive oil aids with dry skin and other skin conditions.
Some common blends include:
- Soothing bath blend – Eucalyptus and lavender essential oils mixed with coconut carrier oil.
- Relaxing massage blend – Lavender and Roman chamomile essential oils mixed with almond oil carrier oil.
Guidelines for Safe Use of Essential Oils
Essential oils have far fewer side effects than their conventional treatments, but "fewer" doesn't necessarily equate to "none." Potential side effects include vomiting, necrosis, mucous membranes, and skin irritation.
Dilution ratios depend on a host of factors, such as the type of oil, purpose, and the health of the person. You should always speak to a professional about specific dilution ratios, but here are some general guidelines.
- Adult body application – Two to five drops of essential oil per 5 milliliter of carrier oil.
- Children and infant body application – One to two drops of essential oil per 5 milliliters of carrier oil.
- Face or sensitive area application – One to two drops of essential oil per 5 milliliters of carrier oil, and always avoid the eyes.
Skin patch tests are critical to test the reaction of the individual to the essential oil mixture. Apply a small amount of the diluted mixture to the person and wait to see if any negative reactions occur. This will ensure the safety of the person using the oil.
Case Studies and Personal Success Stories
James: "I had no idea that essential oils could help with my joint pain so much. It's a miracle!"
Rebecca: "Works like a charm. I just wish I found them sooner!"
Kimberley: "I've been dealing with chronic inflammation most of my life, and essential oils have worked wonders for me. I can finally get through the day without pain or drugs."
Essential Oils and Diet for Managing Inflammation
Combining your essential oils with a diet that is tailored to reduce inflammation is the best way to manage inflammation. Doctors recommend blending your essential oil routine with foods such as leafy green vegetables, fruits, nuts, fatty fish, and olive oil to get the best results.
Research and Development in Essential Oils for Inflammation
Research is critical for the development of essential oils for inflammation. Ongoing scientific research provides a better understanding of their anti-inflammatory properties and improved application techniques.
In the future, conducting disease-specific research is vital for targeting what ailments essential oils can address. Also, studies on animals and in the lab will lead to safer products and can be carried through to clinical trials.
Finally, safety and toxicology studies are crucial moving forward to ensure that no harm comes to you when you're using essential oils.
Environmental and Sustainability Considerations
Sustainability and eco-friendly practices have never been more important. So, when it comes to sourcing your essential oils there are some considerations to bear in mind if you want to reduce their ecological impact. These include:
- Sustainable cultivation and replanting of plant species used in essential oils.
- Cultivation practices that don't use harmful pesticides or herbicides.
- Water-efficient irrigation systems to limit water use.
- Energy-efficient extraction and processing methods to reduce emissions.
- Sustainable packaging to reduce unrecyclable waste.
Interactive Section: Reader Questions and Expert Answers
Question from Tim – What's the best essential oil for my Rheumatoid arthritis?
Expert Answer – Lavender oil contains active substances that have beneficial effects on the body, including anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and cell-regenerating effects. This makes it ideal for fighting the symptoms of RA.
Question from Nancy – What are the best aromatherapy oils for inflammation?
Expert Answer – Euyculutyptus oil has a relaxing aroma, and its decongestion properties will leave you feeling rejuvenated and breathing easy.
Embrace Natural Remedies With Natural Patch
Unlike many pharmaceutical drugs that often come with a barrage of side effects, natural remedies are derived from natural sources, offering a gentler approach to healing. The body tends to respond positively to substances it recognizes and essential oils will help get rid of your inflammation woes faster and safer.
Natural Patch has a range of all-natural alternatives so that you can deal with any problem that arises in a safe, ethical, and eco-friendly way. Whether it be bug bite patches, allergy relief stickers, or the best oil to repel mosquitoes and stop bites itching in seconds, Natural Patch products are the ultimate holistic solutions for your needs.
What essential oil is best for inflammation?
All the essential oils on the list have strong anti-inflammatory properties. The best oil for you will depend on your specific needs and current health situation.
What is the strongest natural anti-inflammatory?
The strongest natural anti-inflammatory is a combination of the right essential oils for you and a diet that is rich in anti-inflammatory foods.
What is the fastest way to get rid of inflammation in the body?
The fastest way to eradicate body inflammation from your life is to eat an anti-inflammatory diet, manage stress levels, stay hydrated, engage in regular exercise, manage your weight, use essential oils, and get the proper amount of sleep.
What essential oils are good for inflammation of the skin?
Inflammation of the skin is noticeable and can cause some real irritation, tenderness, and pain. The best essential oils to get rid of your skin inflammation fast are – lavender, Roman chamomile, frankincense, peppermint, and eucalyptus.