Bursitis is the inflammation of the bursa in a joint. Think painful shoulder, tennis elbow, housemaid’s knee! A bursa is a sac lying between two structures, such as between skin and bone, between bone and tendons, etc. Anything that irritates a bursa such as a calcium deposit, a blow on the side of the hip, the improper grip on a tennis racket or the improper use of a screwdriver may produce bursitis. Housemaid’s knee is due to constant kneeling and bruising over a long period of time, which irritates the bursa just below the kneecap. The most common area is the bursa about the shoulder. In most cases a calcium deposit is seen in one of the tendons that elevates the arm when putting on a coat or reaching in a back pocket or combing the hair. The calcium may remain in the tendon, producing pain off and on, for a long time. However, in the majority of cases it will soften and rupture into the bursa to produce an acutely painful shoulder. After the inflammation recedes, mobility remains limited because of pain and contracted muscles. Mild exercise, range of motion and massage are very effective for restoring mobility.
As rest, ice and pain medication are traditionally the first things recommended to help alleviate bursitis, utilizing our wonderful essential oils in a cold compress followed by an aromatic cream or ointment can be an excellent way to address this often very painful condition.
Aromatic Methods of Application for Bursitis
Cold Compress: To 500 ml of very cold, even icy water, add about 6 drops of essential oil blend and swish around in the water. Wipe cloth over the surface of the water, wring out any excess and then apply to the affected area. Leave the compress in place until it warms to body heat, then repeat. The cold compress can be repeated several times a day to help reduce the heat and inflammation in the joint.
Ointment, cream, lotion or gel: Add 18 – 20 drops of your essential oil synergy to 30 ml (1 oz) of your preferred base and and then gently applied to the affect area. This can be done two to three times a day.
Baths: Add 6 drops of your synergy to your bath and take time to soak in the tub. 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.
When choosing essential oils for your blend consider oils that are anti-inflammatory, analgesic, calming, soothing, diuretic and anti-spasmodic. When creating the blend I personally also like to look at what is going on for the person at an emotional level and incorporate an oil that will work for that as well. It might mean adding an oil that has nothing to do with alleviating the pain or inflammation in the joint. However my personal experience has shown be that when one includes oils to address the emotional component of the condition it makes all the difference. It also means that each blend ends up being unique for that individual and addresses their condition on many different levels. Another plus is that, if they like the blend and it makes them feel good, they are more likely to use it on a regular basis.
Some essential oils to consider for bursitis:
Cajeput (Melaleuca cajuputii) – has mild analgesic, anti-rheumatic, antispasmodic, antiseptic and carminative properties and is helpful for muscular aches and pains.
Chamomile, Roman (Chamaemelum nobile) – with its soothing, analgesic, anti-inflammatory properties is helpful in easing inflammed joints.
Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus) – has analgesic and diuretic properties and is helpful for muscle aches & pains.
Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis) – has anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic properties and helpful for rheumatism, arthritis and gout pain.
Juniper (Juniperus communis) – has analgesic and antispasmodic properties. It is also a diuretic and useful in clearing fluid retention.
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) -has analgesic, anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic properties. Helpful for muscle spasms as well as muscular aches and pains and joint pains.
Peppermint (Mentha piperita) – has anesthetic, analgesic, antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory. It is also cooling so helpful for bringing down the inflammation and heat in the joint.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) – has analgesic, antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory properties, useful for muscular aches and pains and tendonitis.
Vetiver (Vetivera zizanoides) – its soothing analgesic properties are helpful for muscular tension and joint pain and stiffness.
As always consider any possible contra-indications to any of the oils in your proposed blend before deciding on your final synergy.
Some Possible Blends for Bursitis
Blend 1: 4 parts Lavender, 1 part Peppermint
Blend 2: 1 part Hyssop, 1 part Juniper Berry, 2 parts Roman Chamomile
Blend 3: 1 part Juniper Berry, 2 parts Roman Chamomile, 3 parts Cypress
Blend 4: 1 part Rosemary, 1 part Pine, 1 part Marjoram or Clove
Beverley Hawkins, Aromatherapy 201 Course 1999 revised 2000…2013 Blend 1 – Chrissy Wildwood, Aromatherapy Blend 2 – Rosemary Caddy, The Essential Blending Guide Blend 3 – Valeria Ann Worwood, The Fragrant Pharmacy Blend 4 – Julia Lawless, The Complete Illustrated Guide to Aromatherapy