Heal and Soothe Your Arthritis Pain Naturally…..
There are many things that can cause us to feel pain. You may have overdid it with your exercise workout, hiking, your favorite sport activity, you slipped and fell on the ice,…or it could be inflammation.
Today I want to look at how to heal and soothe your pain from the inflammation of arthritis.
I have a special interest in arthritis as I personally experience the inflammation pain in my hand, neck and tailbone.
Arthritis is a common condition that causes pain and inflammation in a joint.
- In the Canada about 4 million Canadians – a number expected to rise to about 6.3 million people by 2026 have arthritis;
- In the UK more than 10 million people have arthritis or other, similar conditions that effect the joints, and
- In the US, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 52.5 million adults have this painful condition – that’s more that one in five U.S. adults (1)
And if you are wondering Yes, arthritis affects people of all ages, including children and adults. An estimated 294,000 children under the age of 18 have some form of arthritis. This is about one in every 250 children in the U.S.
AND sadly – some types of arthritis can be fatal. According to Statistics Canada, about two per 100,000 people die each year due to arthritis.
Myth or Truth?
There are over 100 forms of the disease, even infants can develop it, and in some cases it can be fatal. Truth
“Arthritis” is an umbrella term affecting joints, tissues, or even the whole body. It can effect people of all ages! It is not just an old person’s disease.
It’s just part of the aging process. Myth
By age 80 more than 50% of all women and about 40% of men develop some form of arthritis. It can effect any age group – even infancy. In Canada – one in 1000 children and teenagers under the age of 16 have been diagnosed with arthritis – approximately 200,000 Canadians between the ages of 25-40 also have the condition.
Arthritis is only in your joints. Myth
Arthritis can be in your muscles, tendons, connective tissue or bones. You can get bursa (a fluid-filled sac that forms around your joints). There are other conditions like gout or lupus.
Arthritis affects your mental health. Truth
It may effect your emotions. Arthritis can lead to you having feelings of depression, anger. You may have disrupted sleep, get unexplained weight loss or gain, or you may feel tired, weak or fatigue – and lastly there is the psychological stress of living with this constant, chronic pain.
Osteoarthritis is the most common form or arthritis. Truth
Typically, the hands, feet, knees and hips are where deterioration of cartilage often occurs.
Arthritis can be cured. Myth
Unfortunately there is no cure for arthritis. Bacterial, viral or fungus infections causing inflammation can be treated. It is possible for some forms or arthritis to go remission.
I am all for following a natural approach to controlling and eliminating the pain and inflammation of arthritis. For those who you who are interested in the natural approach to soothing your inflammation I have a few suggestions.
I do want to express that most experts warm there is ‘no clinically proven “single food, supplement or miracle diet that can cure arthritis”.
Please note I am not a physician and the following are my thoughts and experiences when dealing with arthritis and inflammation and are not meant for diagnosis or treatment. Please contact your doctor for all your medical needs.
That being said the Arthritis Society, does recommend a healthy, balanced diet of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, etc. Foods for helping treat arthritis include:
Omega-3 foods: Wild-caught fish, Other sources include grass-fed beef, flax seeds, chia seeds and walnuts.
Colorful fruits and veggies (leafy greens, cruciferous veggies, berries, melon, papaya, avocado and pineapple) or vitamin supplements: vitamin C, vitamin A, fiber, magnesium, potassium, and digestive enzymes
Onions, garlic, asparagus and cabbage.
Fiber: high-fiber foods include vegetables, fruit, ancient grains, soaked legumes/beans and nuts and seeds – flax seeds, chia seeds and walnuts.
Bone broth: natural source of collagen, that may help rebuild connective tissue helping to lower your inflammation, arthritis or joint pain.
FOODS TO AVOID
hydrogenated oils (soybean oil, cottonseed oil, canola oil)
refined conventional grains like gluten, flour products and wheat products
nightshade vegetables like potatoes, eggplant and tomatoes(if you have an autoimmune disease)
When your arthritis is acting up, you probably do not feel much like exercising. However, research suggests that being active can help reduce inflammation and prevent or control your pain.
Regular exercise can:
help you improve your range of movement and keep your joints moving
help increase muscle strength
help reduce the stiffness you feel when you try to move
help increase your energy level
It is important to talk to your physician about the right type or exercise for your condition and the intensity to prevent your arthritis from getting worse.
The Mayo clinic has some exercise suggestion that you can talk to your doctor about. These include range of motion, strength training, aerobic – low-impact aerobic exercises such as walking, bicycling, swimming and using an elliptical machine.
Tips to protect your joints when exercising
Start slowly if you haven’t been active for a while.
Stick to low impact – walking, biking or swimming
Apply heat — warm towels, hot packs or a shower — applied about 20 minutes before exercising helps ease pain
Remember to go slowly.
Ice afterwards if needed after activity
Be careful not to overdo
Tips for joint care
When you have arthritis, in order to prevent further damage you should try to look after your joints by trying to reduce the stress. It is especially important when you carry, move or lift items.
To help protect your joints:
Try to use your larger and stronger joints – for example, use your shoulder instead of your hand when opening heavy doors.
Try to use a rubber or padded material to help loosen a lid
Try to use several joints when carrying shopping bags to distribute the weight evenly – use both hands or sling a bag over your shoulder or use a backpack
What about Meditation or Mindfulness?
Researchers agree – meditation can help with a host of health problems. “Relaxing and quieting your mind by focusing on your breathing can reduce stress – even the stress that comes with arthritis flares,” says David E. Yocum, MD, director of the Arizona Arthritis Center in Tucson.
There are some studies that showed that meditation helped lower heart rates and improve immune function. It is also noted that meditation, when used with traditional medicine, appeared to help patients experiencing pain from inflammation or arthritis
Yoga breathing. Start and end your day with a few minutes of focused breathing. Sit, get comfortable inhale for four seconds and then exhale for six seconds. Repeat for as long as you want.
Walking meditation. While walking focus on placing one foot in front of the other…focus on your body’s movements. Check out MBSR
Mindful meditation. Focus on being in the moment. Click here to read my article on mindfulness tips. It’s a good idea to have at least one lesson to learn how to do this – check out MBSR, says Dr. Cohen.
Transcendental meditation. According to D. Edwards Smith, MD, a rheumatologist and president of the Maharishi College of Vedic Medicine in Fairfield, Iowa, found that people with arthritis who learn to use transcendental meditation are likely to have milder arthritic symptoms and have less flare-ups.
You might also consider Acupuncture
According to an article by Stephanie Watson on Arthritis.org.“Studies haven’t confirmed acupuncture helps arthritis, but it still may be worth trying… Research offers limited, but promising, evidence that acupuncture can help with arthritis symptoms.”
According to Tim Rhudy, an acupuncturist from Delmar, New York, acupuncture releases tension in muscles and stimulates the release of pain-fighting endorphins.
Essential Oils for Inflammation or for use with Arthritis
Using essential oils instead of or in addition to meds has several benefits. (Again always check with your physician before using essential oils). Not only do essential oils get absorbed deeply into your skin to relieve your pain and inflammation, but the aroma therapeutic effects can also help to reduce stress.
Essential oils are natural plant products. Some of them have antioxidant, antibacterial, anti fungal or anti-inflammatory properties.
How do essential oils work?
Essential oils are rapidly absorbed. They can be applied topically, diffused or sprayed in the air.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine reported that a study that used the topical application of essential oils in an ointment decreased the symptoms of arthritis. (2)
What are some essential oils for Healing and Soothing Arthritis?
Myrrh oil also has anti-inflammatory properties, and it’s often used with frankincense to treat arthritis. A study done in Scientific Reports showed that frankincense and myrrh are effective in treatment of inflammation. (6)
One of my favorite go to oils… is thought to have analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. It’s another oil that warms and sooths joints and muscle aches.
This essential oil is thought to have anti-spasmodic and analgesic properties. It has been suggested to be used for muscle and joint pain.
Ginger essential oil is known for its analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. It is believed to help lessen pain associated with arthritis.
Ginger has a slight warming effect that only lasts a few seconds.
The Arthritis Foundation reported on a study from the University of Miami that showed that ginger extract had similar effects on arthritis as an anti-inflammatory drug (NSAIDs). The ginger reduced pain and stiffness in knee joints by 40 percent over a placebo. (3)
The most active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin. It is thought to be helpful in relieving inflammation as it has anti-inflammatory properties.
Frankincense oil is thought to inhibit inflammatory molecules associated with conditions like arthritis. It has been suggested that it is useful in preventing the breakdown of the cartilage. (5)
Although Lavender is usually associated with sleep, anxiety and depression. It also believed to help relieve swelling and inflammation.
This is related to ragweed and is thought to have anti-inflammatory benefits. Be sure to do a skin test before applying topically as it is known to be an oil that some people react to.
The main ingredient in wintergreen is methyl salicylate. It is similar to acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin). It has a warming effect and is often used with peppermint.
There are actually two oils referred to as marjoram – sweet marjoram (Origanum majorana) and Spanish marjoram (Thymus mastichina). It’s sweet marjoram essential oil that is often added to other oils to help with aches and pains.
Often Vetiver is added to other oils that help with arthritis and is thought to help with aches and pains.
Here are some but by all means not all the essential oils you can use for arthritis.
As much as I love using essential oils I urge you to:
1. Exercise caution and do your research before using essential oils on the skin, even if you dilute them.
2. The risk of photo sensitivity varies depending on how the oil was distilled, essential oils generally considered photosensitive are:
- grapefruit, and
3. Do not put these oils in your bath without doing a skin test as they have been known TO STING AND IRRITATE sensitive parts of your body. Do not add essential oils directly to the water as water and oil DO NOT MIX.
(Mixing 5-20 drops (1-4% dilution) of essential oil into 1 tablespoon of a carrier oil like grape seed, jojoba or sweet almond. Again, please remember that the essential oil won’t actually dissolve into the bath water but, will float on the top of the water. When you are in the bath you can actually rub those drops into your skin because the essential oils have been diluted into the carrier oil you used. Just be careful because the surface of your tub can get slippery!)
***** As much as I love essential oils there are a few that DO NOT BELONG IN THE TUB! Oils that can irritate the skin or mucus membranes INCLUDE: peppermint, cinnamon, clove, black pepper, bay, basil, lemongrass, oregano, thyme, and nutmeg.
4. I DO NOT recommend that you ingest essential oils. Many essential oils are considered “GRAS” or Generally Recognized as Safe for food and cosmetic use. However, I do not believe there are enough studies to show that essential oils are safe to ingest. BE SMART – Always do your research first!
5. Oils Considered NOT Safe During Pregnancy: Aniseed, Angelica, Basil, Black pepper, Camphor, Cinnamon, Chamomile, Clary Sage (often used during labor by midwives safely), clove, fennel, fir, ginger, horseradish (should not be used by anyone), Jasmine, Juniper, Marjoram, Mustard, Mugwart (should not be used by anyone), Myrrh, Nutmeg, Oregano, Peppermint, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme, Wintergreen.
I suggest checking with a doctor or midwife before taking an essential oils during pregnancy. Peppermint essential oil may decrease milk supply while nursing, and as such, I avoid it topically while nursing.
OKAY, now that we got all the cautions taken care of….Let’s look at How to use your essential oils…
There are several ways you can use essential oils for arthritis.
It is important to note if you are applying essential oils topically (to your skin) always dilute the essential oil with a carrier oil first. Essential oils are extremely potent, and direct application may cause irritation.
I like to use one of the following carrier oils include:
A general rule of thumb is to use one ounce of carrier oil for every 12 drops of essential oil.
You should also do a skin test:
- test the diluted essential oil mixture on a small area of skin. Then wait 24 hours. If you do not get a reaction, the oils should be okay to use.
My preferred method of using essential oils is as follows:
****Try diluting a few drops of the essential oil with 1 teaspoon of jojoba or almond oil, and then massage it into wherever you have arthritic pain. Be careful to avoid the eyes.
******Try diffusing to help relieve pain and inflammation and these oils may also provide an added bonus and improve your sleep.
Things to known about Essential Oils:
More is not better; Use small amounts of essential oils
Don’t ingest essential oils.
Don’t store in plastic bottles
Don’t use on babies, children or if you are pregnant.
Look for 100 percent pure oil without additives like alcohol.
Look oils in dark bottles as light can break down the oils
“Therapeutic grade” doesn’t have any clinical significance, it’s a marketing phrase.
*********Most essential oils have few side effects or risks when used as directed, but some can cause harm. Undiluted essential oils can provoke skin problems, and citrus essential oils can increase sun sensitivity.
Here are a few items that you may find useful for your arthritic pain.
Compression gloves….Some of my friends swear by them. Watch for my review this week on the best compression glove for arthritis. Amazon has several that you can check out here. 94 people gave this compression glove 4 out 5 star ratings.
Sign up for my email / newsletter and be kept up to date on my latest articles and review.
My final thoughts:
You can’t do anything to prevent arthritis or inflammation. Myth
Although there’s a lot we don’t known about arthritis, and there are some things out of our control like genetics and risk factors (age, sex or heredity), You can choose to live a healthy lifestyle, watch the foods that you eat, exercise and try to maintain a healthy weight.
You can avoid repetitive motion by taking breaks at while working and taking appropriate precautions— like using an ergonomic desk and chair option or set your computer up to prevent neck strain which all work to help prevent pain and inflammation
A final note you have all heard the message that cracking your joints will cause arthritis — Guess what – that’s a myth too!
So even though there isn’t a cure for arthritis …. There are many things that you can do to ensure that you can heal and soothe your arthritis pain!
Recipe: Turmeric Tea
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon ghee or butter
- 1 tablespoon raw honey
- 1 teaspoon turmeric (powder or grated turmeric root)
- Put coconut milk and water into the saucepan and warm for about 2 minutes.
- Add ghee or butter, honey and turmeric powder for about 2 minutes more.
- Continuously stir and then pour into glasses.
Here is a natural lotion for arthritis you might like to try –
Recipe: Homemade Frankincense and Myrrh Lotion
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- 1/4 cup bees wax
- 1/4 cup shea butter
- 2 tbsp vitamin E
- 20 drops frankincense essential oil
- 20 drops myrrh essential oil
- BPA free plastic lotion dispenser bottles
- Put olive oil, coconut oil, beeswax and shea butter in glass bowl then place that bowl in sauce pan with water.
- Heat stove to medium and mix ingredients together.
- Once mixed put in refrigerator for an hour until solid.
- With a regular mixer or hand mixer beat the mixture until it is whipped and fluffy. Then add essential oils and vitamin E and mix.
- Fill container and store in cool place.
I hope you found my article helpful. I would be honored if you were to share my article with your family and friends or on Facebook.
Quote: “Courage isn’t always a roar; sometimes it’s a quiet voice at the end of the day saying I’ll try again tomorrow.“— Amanda Thurow
Affirmation: “I Am Healing, I Can Heal and I Will Heal.”
Until next time,
Additional sources: About.com, Lupus Canada, Statistics Canada.