Lots of people who are seeking arthritis pain relief are looking for something beyond medication to help. While arthritis pain medication can be very helpful, you may also be able to relieve some of your pain through your diet. Interestingly, a number of oils may be able to reduce inflammation and arthritis symptoms.
1. Walnut Oil
If you’re looking for oils that can give you arthritis pain relief, walnut oil may be a good option. First, people with rheumatoid arthritis should seek out heart-healthy oils, as they're often at a greater risk of heart disease. Because walnuts are high in omega-3 fatty acids, they can help to increase heart health. According to Sheila West, a nutrition scientist from Pennsylvania State University, "a daily diet including walnuts or walnut oil lowered resting blood pressure" and can help to lower stress on the heart.
Also, West says that the omega 3s in the walnuts may be able to directly help with joint pain: "early studies suggest that joint damage would be dampened by plant-based omega 3s, but this hasn’t been tested in humans." You can also try adding flax seed or flax oil to your diet. In one study, people who began consuming walnuts and flax oil decreased their levels of C-reactive protein, which is used to measure the levels of inflammation in arthritis patients.
2. Fish Oil
Like the previously mentioned heart-healthy oils, fish oil is high in omega 3s. However, unlike flax oil or walnut oil, fish oil contains unique omega-3s that cannot be gained from plant sources. Fish oil contains both DHA and EPA, which have been shown to reduce inflammation, blood pressure and triglcyceride levels. Additionally, studies have shown that fish oil can decrease joint pain and stiffness in people suffering from arthritis.
Also, a study published in the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research found that patients who took cod liver oil took less of the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug diclofenac sodium. Because taking fish oil helped to decrease pain, it decreased the need for arthritis medication.
But while there can be benefits from supplementing with fish oil capsules, there's also increasing evidence that the best way to get your fish oil may be from fish itself. Dr. Linda Van Horn from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine says that "there’s no question that eating fish provides tremendous value in reducing risk for cardiovascular disease, but the use of a supplement . . . really needs to be handled carefully." The American Heart Association recommends eating fish (and particularly fatty fish, which can probably provide the most arthritis pain relief) twice a week.
3. Olive Oil
Like walnut oil, olive oil belongs on the list of heart-healthy oils because it contains monounsaturated fatty acids which can help to lower your cholesterol. Plus, it has been found to contain oleocanthal, a compound which has some effects similar to those of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen. Because of this, olive oil may be able to directly lower inflammation and give arthritis pain relief.
Extra-virgin olive oil tends to have the most helpful properties, and Paul Breslin of the Monell Chemical Senses Center says that stronger flavored oils with a "throaty bite" are most likely to have the highest levels of oleocanthal. According to Breslin, 50 milliliters of this sort of oil are the anti-inflammatory equivalent of 200 milligrams of ibuprofen. It’s possible that if you substitute other fats in your diet with olive oil, you may have less need for arthritis pain medication.
4. Essential Oils
Beyond dietary oils, essential oils may be able to help with arthritis pain. A study published in Phytotherapy Research found that topical application of essential oils helped to reduce the severity of arthritis in rats.
Essential oils are collected from plants, and a number of them may be able to help people suffering from arthritis. A study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology in 2003 found that eucalyptus oil seems to possess analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. Similarly, echinacea, thyme, oregano, sweet basil and myrtle have all been found to have inflammation-fighting effects and may thus be good essential oils for arthritis pain.
However, when using essential oils, one should be careful. Essential oils are not always pure, and if they have pesticides or artificial additives, there can be negative effects. Furthermore, just like with medicines, essential oils can have side-effects. In a study from the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, injections of essential oil of turmeric helped to reduce joint swelling, but "caused significant morbidity and mortality." If you're going to use essential oils for arthritis pain, make sure you do your research about which oils you should use, what source you should get them from, and how you can safely apply them.
- If olive oil is high in fat, why is it considered healthy?
- Treating Arthritis with Fish Oil and Omega-3
- Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acids
- The Concomitant Consumption of Cod Liver Oil
- anti-inflammatory effects of essential oils
- Anti-inflammatory activity of Ocimum americanum L
- Essential oil of Myrtus communis inhibits inflammation
- Anti-inflammatory effects of essential oil
- Effects of a Combination of Thyme and Oregano Essential Oils
- Topical dermal application of essential oils
- Anti-arthritic effects and toxicity of the essential oils