Arthritis Arthritis is an inflammatory condition of the joints often accompanied by pain and changes of bone structure. There are many kinds of arthritis but the most common are rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and gouty arthritis.

Rheumatoid Arthritis
This is a chronic disease that can affect any and every joint in the body. The cause remains unknown, although many authorities now believe it is an auto-immune disease. Characteristically, many of the small joints are affected in a symmetrical pattern; for example, the hands and feet may be inflamed to the same degree on both sides. Stiffness is often worse in the mornings, but eases during the day. If the disease becomes chronic, tissues of the eyes, skin, heart, nerves and lungs may be affected. The primary objectives in the management of rheumatoid arthritis would be the reduction of inflammation and pain, the preservation of function and the prevention of deformity. A holistic approach should involve dietary advice, stress reduction, weight control and management of old injuries. Exercise is an important physical therapy, however this should be undertaken when the person is least stiff, in the least pain and is least tired. Alternating hot and cold compresses are useful for their muscle relaxant and analgesic effects. Detoxifying essential oils such as juniper, cypress, fennel and lemon can help the body eliminate toxins. They should be used in massage oils and baths. Remember that essential oils do not dissolve in water so add an equal number of drops of emulsifier, or if you don’t have an emulsifier add an equal number of drops of liquid soap to disperse the essential oil droplets through the water.  Analgesic and anti-inflammatory oils such as German chamomile, clove bud, eucalyptus, ginger, sweet marjoram and rosemary can be used in baths, local massage and compresses on the affected joints. Circulation can be stimulated by the warming oils such as black pepper, ginger and marjoram. Remember to consider any contraindications when choosing your oils. Aromatic ointments may also be used. An ointment or cream can be made up using your selection of essential oils and applied two to three times a day.

A degenerative joint disease it is usually mild. Often considered a part of the aging process (after fifty-five), it is hastened by overweight or brought on by an injury. It affects mostly the weight-bearing joints in the knees and hips, although it can also occur in the neck and spine. It is a more frequent disease than rheumatoid arthritis, affecting men and women equally; however menopausal women are most vulnerable. There is no cure for osteoarthritis, but medication, exercise and massage help to relieve pain and maintain mobility. Surgery is sometimes indicated to remove spurs or replace affected joints. The aromatherapy principles are similar to those for rheumatoid arthritis, however more emphasis can be placed on the essential oils with analgesic and warming properties. Oils such as black pepper, ginger, lavender, sweet marjoram, rosemary and thyme can be considered. Remember to consider any contraindications before making up the blends.

Gouty arthritis
Also referred to as gout it usually affects the feet, especially the metatarsophalangeal joint of the large toe. High levels of uric acid in the blood produce uric acid crystals that deposit in the joint of the large toe resulting in pain and inflammation and making walking difficult. Massage is often not appropriate for the treatment of gout because of its inflammatory nature. Foot baths and compresses may be better ways to address this. Oils to consider would be rosemary, pine or juniper berry. Ointments or creams could also be made up.

Arthritis Blends

Rheumatoid Osteoarthritis Gouty Detoxifying
1 drop of Black Pepper 1 drop of Black Pepper 1 drop of Rosemary 2 drops of Cypress
1 drop of Clove 3 drops of Lavender 2 drops of Pine 1 drop of Juniper
1 drop of Ginger 2 drops of Rosemary 2 drops of Juniper Berry 3 drops of Lemon

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