Most everyone has dealt with inflammation and the pain that comes with it on one occasion or another. In most cases, inflammation and pain are short lived, but in others, it continues and causes additional health issues. The good news is that you can fight inflammation using essential oils as well as a number of other natural remedies. Before examining these oils and additional remedies, let’s gain a better understanding of inflammation.
What is inflammation?
It most cases, inflammation is a good thing. When your body is injured or invaded by viruses, bacteria and fungi, inflammation is part of the immune response as well as a part of repairing damaged tissue. Without your body’s inflammatory response, wounds and infections would fester and become deadly. When inflammation becomes chronic, it becomes a contributing factor to a number of serious health conditions such as:
• heart disease
• bone health
• lung conditions
Besides being linked to these physiological conditions, inflammation is also linked to psychological ones such as depression, aggressive behavior and anger disorders. Preventing the risk of these conditions makes pursuing the reduction of inflammation a worthwhile objective for overall wellness.
Acute vs. Chronic Inflammation
There are two types of inflammation: acute inflammation and chronic inflammation. How much you understand and how you view each of these types of inflammation is critical for knowing how they should be treated.
Acute Inflammation. As we have already mentioned, some inflammation is actually helpful and is an essential part of your body’s immune system. Fighting off infections from wounds or invading foreign bodies is something that keeps us alive and acute inflammation plays a role in that process over short period of time and then it goes away.
Chronic Inflammation. Often called systemic inflammation, chronic inflammation is long-term and is typically associated with “wear and tear” conditions like osteoarthritis and autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, allergies, asthma, Crohn’s disease, inflammatory bowel disease and lupus. Chronic inflammation is typically caused by a number of environmental factors and poor health habits such as:
• excess alcohol consumption
• poor oral hygiene
• lack of exercise
• poor diet
Though chronic inflammation is often viewed as being bad, it is still your body’s response to a serious problem or group of problems. As such, chronic inflammation provides you with warning signs that things are not right with your health and you need to make some adjustments to your environment and behaviors.
According to Harvard Health, the beginning point for fighting chronic inflammation is not found in the pharmacy, but in the grocery store where you make dietary choices that effect your body’s inflammatory response. Besides an anti-inflammatory diet, you can also help reduce inflammatory symptoms through the use of essential oils.
Treating Inflammation Using Essential Oils
Gaining relief from the symptoms of inflammation, whether acute or chronic, can be achieved through pharmaceutical options, but the side effects and long-term damage which can be realized through their use can be as damaging as the original condition. A better option for treating the symptoms of inflammation comes in the form of essential oils. Let’s take a closer look at how and which essential oils can be used to treat inflammation.
Basic Ways to Use Essential Oils
There are three basic ways of using essential oils. Each method has its potential benefits or potential hazards associated with it. Let’s take a closer look at each method of application.
• Aromatic. Aromatic use of essential oils works because the limbic system can be affected through the olfactory nerve and brings about behavioral as well as physiological responses.
• Topical. Essential oils are also effective when used as topical solutions. Due to their high concentration, essential oils are often diluted through the use of carrier oils like olive oil, coconut oil, jojoba oil or another natural oil.
• Consumption. Consuming essential oils should be avoided in most cases, but certain oils are extracted from foods that we consume, so those particular oils are safe. Your best bet is to use one of the other methods above unless specifically directed to consume it.
With these basic ways to use essential oils in mind, let’s take a look at the various essential oils that can help fight inflammation and the best way to use them to accomplish your objective.
1. Eucalyptus Oil
We’ll start off our list with an oil that is familiar to everyone. Eucalyptus oil is a versatile oil which can treat inflammation in a number of different ways. It can soothe stomach and intestinal issues, help lower blood pressure and calm nerves. It is especially effective at reducing inflammation in the respiratory system.
Best Way to Use: Combine eucalyptus with other anti-inflammatory oils like coconut, olive, jojoba and avocado oils. It can be used aromatically, topically or consumed in teas or elixirs.
2. Helichrysum Oil
It has been well documented that inflammation and pain associated with fibromyalgia, arthritis and other autoimmune diseases can be treated through the use of helichrysum essential oil. This is an excellent oil for reducing forms of inflammation that are associated with allergic reactions as well.
Best Way to Use: Helichrysum oil is highly concentrated and should not be used topically without being diluted in a carrier oil like coconut or olive oil. It can be used aromatically in mists or diffusers as well, but should NOT be consumed.
3. Clove Oil
Clove oil has been widely used in the dental profession due to its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. Besides its obvious oral benefits, clove oil is also excellent for alleviating digestive issues like indigestion, bloating cramping, hemorrhoids, constipation and IBS, which are all inflammation related conditions.
Best Way to Use: Use clove oil to create organic toothpastes and mouthwashes. You can add it into teas or your meals as well. Clove oil can be used topically, but might need to be diluted for those with sensitive skin.
4. Thyme Oil
A compound in thyme essential oil known as thymol, has been found to be quite effective at reducing inflammation of all types. What thymol does is reduce the production of a key inflammatory enzyme which is present along with proteins and other hormones in inflammation. Thus, thyme oil can both prevent and treat inflammation.
Best Way to Use: Soaking in a warm tub for 20 to 30 minutes with 5 to 10 drops of thyme oil can do wonders for inflammation. Thyme oil is often used in small amounts in steam inhalation for respiratory issues. Adding thyme or a drop or two of thyme oil to your favorite recipes can also introduce its powerful healing into your body.
5. German Chamomile Oil
Chamomile is well known for promoting relaxation, but it is also effective against inflammation. German chamomile oil has proven efficacy in helping to reduce inflammatory skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis. In addition, it can be used to help relax muscle pain and inflammation.
Best Way to Use: German chamomile can be used topically mixed with a carrier oil for treating skin conditions. It can also be used either aromatically or put a few drops in hot water to make quick chamomile tea.
6. Bergamot Oil
Though not everyone is familiar with bergamot oil, they are familiar with its odor and flavor which is found in Earl Grey tea. Inflammatory conditions are often a result of anxiety and oxidative stress. Bergamot essential oil helps to soothe both mind and body to lower the risk of these inflammatory causes.
Best Way to Use: Bergamot can be added to hot water to make tea, but it is most often used aromatically.
7. Patchouli Oil
The pleasant, rustic aroma of patchouli essential oil is well known to most of the world. It contains both analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties similar to eucalyptus. It has clinical studies to back up its effectiveness in the treatment of edema.
Best Way to Use: Patchouli oil mixed with jojoba or another essential oil is often used topically on the site of inflammation, such as joints. A drop or two on the neck and temples can also help soothe inflammatory headaches.
8. Rose Oil
The emotional and cognitive effects of rose oil are well documented and its effectiveness is also well known for soothing aching muscles. Rose oil works at promoting circulation to inflamed areas, which helps to bring fresh blood into the area and flush out inflammation. It is also effective at reducing respiratory inflammation.
Best Way to Use: Rose oil is most often used aromatically in a diffuser or in bath water. It can be used topically when added to a carrier oil and massaged into the affected area.
9. Spruce Oil
The pleasant, woodsy smell of spruce is one which has calming effects, but much more too. Congestion and sinus infections often see significant improvement whenever spruce essential oil is used. Spruce helps to relieve respiratory inflammation, but can also work for relieving inflammation and pain in aching muscles and joints.
Best Way to Use: Spruce oil is often mixed with avocado oil, which has its own anti-inflammatory properties, for topical application. It absorbs well and is quite effective in that manner, but can also be used aromatically.
10. Peppermint Oil
Everybody knows the refreshing scent and flavor of peppermint. This essential oil is known to be an immune system stimulant with both anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. Peppermint can be used to calm digestive issues related to inflammation as well as respiratory inflammation. It is often used orally to freshen breath, but also helps with oral inflammatory issues too. If those weren’t enough, peppermint can also be applied topically to joints and other sources of inflammation.
Best Way to Use: Peppermint oil can be added to natural toothpastes and mouthwashes. It can be diffused through water, mist or air. Mixed with coconut oil or another carrier oil, it can be applied topically to joints and muscles as well.
11. Lavender Oil
The essential oil which shows up on every list is lavender, because it combines the compounds linalool, linalyl acetate, terpinen-4-ol, and camphor, which contribute to its potency. The potency of lavender, especially spike lavender, is known to reduce respiratory infection, but it is also effective at relieving topical inflammation as well.
Best Way to Use: Lavender is most often used aromatically in water, mist or air applications. Mixed with spruce oil and peppermint oil, it helps to create a powerful treatment for respiratory issues related to inflammation.
12. Frankincense Oil
One more essential oil that has both analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties is frankincense oil. Besides being effective at reducing respiratory inflammation, frankincense oil is known to help promote relaxation and reduce stress, which is a contributor to chronic inflammation. Studies show that frankincense oil blocks the COX-2 enzyme to reduce inflammation as well as pain.
Best Way to Use: Frankincense oil is most often used aromatically in water, mist or air diffusion methods. Frankincense can be combined with carrier oil to use topically on joints and muscles as well.
Additional Natural Remedies for Treating Inflammation
Though essential oils are effective at helping to treat the symptoms of both acute and chronic inflammation, they are not the only answer to inflammation reduction. Here are a few other natural remedies to consider in your battle against inflammation:
• Bromelain. This powerful enzyme is found in pineapples. When we eat, most enzymes are broken down in the digestive tract, but bromelain is absorbed into our bodies. Within the bloodstream this enzyme can significantly reduce chronic inflammation. Though consuming pineapples and drinking freshly extracted pineapple juice, it is most abundant in the husk and core of pineapples. To get the highest concentration of bromelain, you will need to make juice using the husks and core of the pineapple as well.
• Turmeric. Turmeric is a root very closely related to ginger. Turmeric is most often used in the making of curry, but it can be gotten in root form or in the form of dried, ground powder. Found in turmeric is a compound known as curcumin. Curcumin is highly effective at reducing inflammation associated with the digestive tract similar to its cousin, ginger. Turmeric is so potent that it rivals ibuprofen in the treatment of arthritis and other inflammatory condition, but it doesn’t come with the long-term damage associated with ibuprofen.
• Cold Water Fish. Included in every anti-inflammatory diet is the recommendation to consume cold water fish several times per week. Cold water fish include: wild caught salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardines and herring among others. The reason those fish are beneficial in fighting inflammation is related to their high omega-3 fatty acids content. Omega-3 fatty acids are well known as weapons in the battle against inflammatory conditions which affect heart disease. Omega-3 fatty acids can also be gotten through fish oil supplements, especially krill oil.
• Avocados. We discussed avocado oil as being an effective carrier oil to use with spruce oil earlier, but avocados go well beyond their oil when it comes to fighting inflammation. The phytosterols, polyhydroxolated fatty alcohols, carotenoid antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids in avocados are all compounds which help in the reduction of inflammation. So, reach for that guacamole dip or enjoy a fresh avocado as a snack or side dish.
• Cruciferous Vegetables. Similar to avocados, cruciferous vegetables include the compound sulforaphane in varying amounts. Sulforaphane is associated with blocking the enzymes linked to joint deterioration and the subsequent chronic inflammation related to that condition. In addition, sulforaphane helps to prevent or reverse damage to blood vessel linings which cause an inflammatory response that is present with diabetes, hypertension and arteriosclerosis. Included on the list of cruciferous vegetables are broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, spinach, kale and other green leafy vegetables.
These natural remedies for treating inflammation are a part of a much larger commitment to preventing and reversing its effects through diet. In addition to these dietary additions, there are some environmental and habitual factors to consider such as:
• stop smoking
• reduce alcohol consumption
• engage in a regular exercise routine
• find ways to reduce stress
• make use of natural products for cleaning
• maintain an environment that is clear of toxins
A commitment to changing or managing these habitual and environmental factors is an essential element in combating chronic inflammation.
Wrapping Things Up
Though acute inflammation is a natural and necessary response of your body’s immune system, when your body is suffering from chronic inflammation you put yourself at risk for a whole new set of serious health conditions. Reduce inflammation by making changes to your habits and environment, but make use of essential oils and other natural methods to deal with the symptoms until you are inflammation free. We would love to hear from you concerning your questions, comments or success stories, so please include them in the section below.
Other Posts You Might Enjoy:
Essential Oils For Tennis Elbow (Tendonitis Natural Remedies)
11 Essential Oils for High Blood Pressure (Hypertension Remedies)
Essential Oils For Tennis Elbow (Tendonitis Natural Remedies)