Essential Oils for Inflammation: Do They Work? (2024)

Essential Oils for Inflammation: Do They Work? (1)Share on Pinterest

Understanding inflammation

You can’t escape essential oils these days, but can you actually use them? People who use essential oils claim that they are helpful for everything from relaxation and sleeping to reducing inflammation in the body.

Inflammation occurs in the body when the immune system is activated. Inflammation can have many different causes, such as from an infection or even a reaction to a food allergy. The body senses that something is wrong, so it sends blood cells to that area to help heal what’s wrong and kill off any “invaders.”

However, not all inflammation is good. Your body can’t necessarily tell whether something is wrong or if you’re just stressed because of a big work project. Either way, it will produce inflammation to try to help in any way it can. Over time, this may tire out your immune system or cause problems in other parts of your body.

Antioxidants can reduce the harmful effects of inflammation in the body. This may be why you hear a lot about the importance of eating antioxidant-rich food to keep you healthy. Some researchers have also looked at whether essential oils can be used as antioxidants to help reduce inflammation. Although research is limited, there’s some evidence to suggest that essential oils help.

A 2010 study found that the following essential oils had anti-inflammatory properties:

  • thyme
  • clove
  • rose
  • eucalyptus
  • fennel
  • bergamot

Researchers found that these oils reduced the expression of the inflammatory COX-2 enzyme by at least 25 percent. Thyme essential oil had the most effects, reducing COX-2 levels by nearly 75 percent.

The National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy also lists many oils that may reduce inflammation, including:

  • roman chamomile
  • ginger
  • helichrysum
  • patchouli

Because inflammation affects the whole body, essential oils can be used in a few different ways to treat it:

Diffusion: You can buy an essential oil diffuser online or even at stores such as Wal-Mart or CVS. A diffuser will allow essential oil particles to disperse directly into the air. Inhaling the scent may help you relax. If your inflammation is stress-related, this may be beneficial.

Massage: You can apply diluted essential oil directly to the affected area to help reduce swelling and pain.

By mouth: Although rare, there are some types of essential oils that are meant to be gargled. Researchers in a 2011 review found that using an essential oil mouthwash was helpful in reducing gum inflammation caused by gingivitis. Be sure to consult your doctor before trying this method. Essential oils aren’t meant to be swallowed.

If you plan to use essential oils topically, there are a few things that you should keep in mind. You should never apply undiluted essential oil to the skin. Be sure to add 1 ounce of carrier oil, such as coconut or jojoba, to every dozen drops of essential oil.

Before application, do a skin patch test. This is generally done on the inside of the arm. It will allow you to determine whether your skin is going to react poorly. If you don’t experience any irritation or inflammation within 24 hours, it should be safe to use.

Using an essential oil to ease inflammation isn’t a first-line treatment. If you have inflammation in your body, it means that somewhere, something in your body is crying out for help.

In order to really treat the inflammation in your body, you have to go to the source. Consult your doctor so they can help you figure out what’s wrong. You don’t want to “mask” the inflammation with essential oils without first fixing the underlying medical issue.

In some cases, if you’re sensitive to a certain essential oil or have an allergic reaction, you may make your inflammation worse. Use caution if you have asthma or another respiratory condition.

If you’re pregnant or breast-feeding, you should exercise caution when using essential oils of any kind.

If you’re experiencing unusual or persistent inflammation, consult your doctor. They can work with you to determine the cause and figure out how to best ease any discomfort that you may be experiencing.

In the meantime, you can try using essential oils or more traditional remedies for inflammation. These include taking an anti-inflammatory medication, such as ibuprofen, or using heat or cold therapy to relieve discomfort.

Keep reading: Best natural remedies for psoriatic arthritis »

Essential Oils for Inflammation: Do They Work? (2024)


Do essential oils work for inflammation? ›

Essential oils have been used for thousands of years to treat symptoms of inflammation. This is your body's normal immune reaction. It protects your body from threats such as wounds and germs. While essential oils may provide some results, they can also carry the risk of adverse effects.

What is the strongest anti-inflammatory essential oil? ›

Thyme essential oil had the most effects, reducing COX-2 levels by nearly 75 percent . The National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy also lists many oils that may reduce inflammation, including: roman chamomile. ginger.

Have essential oils been proven to work? ›

Although people claim essential oils are natural remedies for a number of ailments, there's not enough research to determine their effectiveness in human health.

What is the most anti-inflammatory oil? ›

As you can see some oils are anti-inflammatory, while others are pro-inflammatory. To follow an anti-inflammatory diet, stick with olive, avocado, coconut, flax and walnut oils.

What is the strongest natural anti-inflammatory? ›

  1. Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids , which are abundant in fatty fish such as salmon or tuna, are among the most potent anti-inflammatory supplements. ...
  2. Curcumin. ...
  3. S-adenosylmethionine. ...
  4. Zinc. ...
  5. Green tea. ...
  6. Frankincense. ...
  7. Capsaicin. ...
  8. Cat's claw.

What essential oil has anti-inflammatory activity? ›

EOs obtained from Mediterranean aromatic herbs are anti-inflammatory agents. Coriander, geranium and wormwood EOs inhibit NF-κB and caspase-1 activation. Linalool and β-citronellol explain the anti-inflammatory properties of the EOs. α-Thujone together with camphor mimic the anti-inflammatory activity of wormwood EO.

What is the most powerful essential oil? ›

Frankincense Essential Oil (Boswellia carterii) is one of the most powerful and deeply spiritual essential oils available.

How to use frankincense for inflammation? ›

Helps Relieve Inflammation and Pain

To improve circulation and lower symptoms of joint pain or muscle pain related to conditions like arthritis, digestive disorders and asthma, try massaging frankincense oil to the painful area or diffusing it in your home.

What essential oil is like ibuprofen? ›

chamomilla essential oils are even better than commercial anti-inflammatory medicine (ibuprofen), via markedly down-regulating the expression of inflammatory cytokines, like cyclooxygenase 2 (COX-2), tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), interleukin-6 (IL-6) and nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) in vivo.

What do doctors say about essential oils? ›

Be cautious about broad health claims about essential oils. Scientific research on the efficacy and safety of essential oils for specific health conditions is limited and more evidence is needed. Some research even shows adverse health outcomes from essential oil use.

How long does it take for essential oils to work? ›

Applying Essential Oils Topically

Applying a diluted essential oil blend directly onto the skin can work as fast as two to three minutes after application. This will give the compounds in oils enough time to reach the bloodstream and travel through to the nervous system and other areas that require remedy.

Do essential oils work immediately? ›

The power of essential oils can reach every cell in your body in just a few minutes! The process is based on the scientific fact that essential oils reach the brain in a few seconds, reach the bloodstream in two minutes, and affect every cell in your body for several minutes!

What essential oils act like steroids? ›

Essential oils or their metabolites, like lavender oil and tea tree oil, have been reported to act as potential EDCs and contribute towards sex steroid imbalance in cases of prepubertal gynecomastia in boys and premature thelarche in girls due to the exposure to lavender-based fragrances.

How to reduce inflammation in the body fast? ›

Healthy eating tips to help reduce inflammation
  1. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. ...
  2. Choose high-fiber carbohydrates. ...
  3. Eat more fiber. ...
  4. Choose plant-based and leaner animal protein sources. ...
  5. Be conscious of your fat sources. ...
  6. Reduce the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio in the diet. ...
  7. Reduce your sugar intake. ...
  8. Limit or avoid alcohol.
Nov 16, 2023

What is the strongest essential oil for arthritis? ›

Below are six of the best essential oils for RA symptoms, alongside scientific evidence supporting their effectiveness.
  1. Eucalyptus. Eucalyptus contains several compounds that may help to reduce inflammation, swelling, and pain. ...
  2. Frankincense. ...
  3. Lavender. ...
  4. Ginger. ...
  5. Turmeric essential oil. ...
  6. Basil.
Jun 20, 2022

What essential oils are good for arthritis and inflammation? ›

Holy basil (tulsi) is said to work as an anti-arthritic. Studies have been done on many oils -- including, notably, turmeric, lavender, and ginger -- to gauge how well they ease inflammation and the pain of arthritis. But many believe more research is needed.

What is a natural anti-inflammatory? ›

Anti-inflammatory foods

green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, kale, and collards. nuts like almonds and walnuts. fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines. fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and oranges.

Does frankincense work on inflammation? ›

Frankincense, along with myrrh, has been prescribed in traditional Chinese medicine and administered for treatment of blood stagnation and inflammation diseases in addition to pain relief and swelling.

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