Inflammation is the body’s response to illness or injury and is actually a sign that the body is doing its job. This response is a part of our body’s defense system and can be caused by a number of things. Injuries, poor health, diet, lack of exercise, illness, disease, a sedentary lifestyle, lack of quality sleep, and more can all be contributing factors. Additionally, inflammation can be present in different parts of the body. It can occur inside the body, affecting areas such as muscles, joints, tendons, and organs, or it can occur outside the body on the skin.
Chronic and acute inflammation
When dealing with inflammation, it’s beneficial to determine if the inflammation is chronic or acute. Chronic inflammation is usually caused by illness or disease and may go unnoticed for a period of time. Acute inflammation is usually associated with pain and swelling and is normally due to some sort of injury or reaction the body is experiencing.
Factors to consider
There are many factors to consider when dealing with inflammation, but a great place to start would be examining your lifestyle. Diet, exercise, supplements, adequate fluid intake, reducing stress, and getting quality sleep are all things that can help reduce inflammation. However, there are also many essential oils that can be beneficial when dealing with inflammation.
Try these essential oils for inflammation
Depending on the specific oil, there are a number of ways that essential oils can be used with inflammatory conditions. Some may be best to diffuse, others may be used in a massage oil for inflamed muscles or joints, while still others may be used topically to soothe inflamed skin. That’s the beauty of essential oils—their versatility. Below I’ve listed 8 of the best essential oils for inflammation.
As a food, ginger is known as an immune booster, so it’s no surprise that this essential oil is also anti-inflammatory.1 In fact, a study conducted in 2013 concluded that ginger contains significant antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds that reduced both acute and chronic inflammation when tested on mice.2
Ginger’s main constituent is zingiberene, which is responsible for its anti-inflammatory properties. Additionally, ginger is a warming oil that is considered beneficial in stimulating circulation. It is often used in formulations to help reduce muscle and joint pain, but it can also be diffused when inflammation is due to illness.
Thyme has an extended history of use as a culinary herb, but it also has a lengthy history as a medicinal herb as well. It contains many potent therapeutic properties that are beneficial when dealing with numerous types of illness and pain.
Not surprisingly, thyme also contains many potent compounds that make it especially useful when dealing with a variety of health issues, including inflammation. In fact, a study conducted in 2009 found that one of the components of thyme oil was effective in suppressing a specific enzyme that plays a role in the inflammatory response.3 Furthermore, of the 6 oils tested, thyme was the most effective at suppressing this enzyme.
Another essential oil with potent anti-inflammatory compounds, eucalyptus is considered an effective pain reliever and is frequently used in formulations for headaches as well as muscle and joint pain. It’s also extremely beneficial when dealing with sickness. Additionally, a study conducted in 2010 found that 1,-8 cineole (the main constituent of eucalyptus) reduced the release of cytokines that contribute to inflammation in guinea pigs.4
Because eucalyptus oil is believed to boost the immune system, it is also beneficial when dealing with inflammation. It is generally considered effective when used in topical applications and via inhalation. However, due to the 1,-8 cineole content, eucalyptus should not be used around children under 10 years old.
4. Roman chamomile
Probably most commonly known for its frequent use when dealing with digestive problems or stress and anxiety, chamomile also happens to be one of the best essential oils for inflammation.5 It is particularly beneficial for inflammatory skin conditions and is believed to be useful for most skin issues in general.
Even though it is a potent anti-inflammatory, chamomile is considered safe to use on most individuals—even children. It contains compounds that are naturally gentle and calming, so it’s no wonder that it is considered so beneficial for skin inflammation!
Helichrysum is a fascinating essential oil. It’s one of the more expensive essential oils and is prized by many for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Research conducted in 2002 found that the potent antioxidant properties of helichrysum played a significant part in the oil’s anti-inflammatory effects.6
Helichrysum can be beneficial for numerous skin problems and is frequently used in skin-care products formulated for mature or problem skin. Additionally, it’s regarded as useful when dealing with inflammation caused by muscle and joint pain and is often an ingredient in pain-relief formulations.
Turmeric has become increasingly popular in recent years, and for good reason. As a close relative of ginger, turmeric contains many vitamins and minerals and is considered to be an effective anti-inflammatory.7 This essential oil also contains potent anti-inflammatory compounds and is commonly used when dealing with pain and inflammation due to rheumatism, arthritis, and muscle and/or joint problems.
Furthermore, a study published in 2012 found that turmerone—the main component of turmeric essential oil—had anti-neuroinflammatory effects, which suggests that it could potentially be a promising treatment for neurodegenerative disorders.8
Some sources claim that lavender is technically not an anti-inflammatory essential oil, while others claim that it is anti-inflammatory. However, whether or not the oil is considered anti-inflammatory doesn’t really matter. It’s still one of the best essential oils for inflammation due to its effectiveness when dealing with inflammatory conditions.9
Lavender has the ability to promote healing, as well as help keep infection at bay and is commonly used for any sort of skin problem including acne, irritation, wounds, burns, bites, and more. It is believed to be skin-regenerating and a mild pain reliever.10 Additionally, it contains calmative and balancing properties and because of this, it is especially useful when dealing with skin inflammation.
A versatile essential oil that is considered beneficial for inflammation, clove is often used when dealing with pain and inflammation in the mouth, as well as inflammation due to muscle, joint, or arthritis pain, and even infections on the skin.
Clove’s main constituent is eugenol, which contains potent antioxidant properties. The ability of eugenol to fight free radicals in the body is believed to be directly linked to its effectiveness at fighting inflammation, since oxidative stress and inflammation are associated.11 Due to its high eugenol content, clove should not be used on sensitive or injured skin, and it shouldn’t be used on or around children two years old or younger.12
2 Essential oil blends for inflammation
Below, I’ve created two essential oil blends for inflammation. One is formulated for muscle and joint inflammation, while the other is formulated for skin inflammation. Feel free to substitute different anti-inflammatory essential oils if you desire.
Inflamed joint and muscle blend
- 3 drops lavender essential oil
- 4 drops sweet orange essential oil
- 6 drops ginger essential oil
- 1 Tbs. jojoba oil (or other desired carrier oil)
*Combine the above ingredients and massage into sore muscles and/or joints.
Inflamed skin blend
- 2 drops helichrysum essential oil
- 3 drops chamomile essential oil
- 5 drops lavender essential oil
- 1 Tbs. jojoba oil (or other desired carrier oil)
Combine the above ingredients and gently apply to inflamed and/or irritated skin.
Add anti-inflammatory essential oils to your wellness routine
There are a variety of ways that essential oils can be used when dealing with inflammation. Diffusion, massage, and topical applications are all great methods of utilizing their anti-inflammatory properties. And with a ZYTO bioscan that includes the Wellness Report, you can actually see which essential oils and other products the body responded to most strongly in the inflammation category, as well as many other wellness areas.
While they shouldn’t be considered a cure-all, essential oils can be a great addition to your natural wellness routine, especially when dealing with inflammation. They can easily complement other treatments or remedies, and with very little effort, anybody can experience the therapeutic properties of essential oils.
About Nicole Stine
Nicole Stine is a certified herbalist who has numerous aromatherapy and natural health certifications. She is passionate about using herbs and essential oils safely and thoroughly enjoys researching and writing about natural health, as well as creating her own formulations.
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2. Jeena, K., V.B. Liju, & R. Kuttan. “Antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antinociceptive activities of essential oil from ginger.” Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology 57, no. 1 (2013): 51–62.
3. Hotta, M., R. Nakata, et al. “Carvacrol, a component of thyme oil, activates PPARα and γ and suppresses COX-2 expression.” Journal of Lipid Research 1, no. 1 (March 2009): 132–39.
4. Bastos, V.P.D., A.S. Gomes, et al. “Inhaled 1,8-Cineole Reduces Inflammatory Parameters in Airways of Ovalbumin-Challenged Guinea Pigs.” Basic & Clinical Pharmacology & Toxicology 108, no. 1 (2010): 34–39.
5. Srivastava, J.K., E. Shankar, & S. Gupta. “Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with bright future.”Molecular Medicine Reports 3, no. 6 (2010): 895-901.
6. Sala, A., M. Recio, et al. “Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of Helichrysum italicum.” Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology 54, no. 3 (2002): 365–71.
7. Okuda-Hanafusa, C., R. Uchio, et al. “Turmeronol A and turmeronol B from Curcuma longa prevent inflammatory mediator production by lipopolysaccharide-stimulated RAW264.7 macrophages, partially via reduced NF-ΚB signaling.” Food & Function 10, no. 9 (2019): 5779-5788.
8. Park, S.Y., M.L. Jin, et al. “Anti-inflammatory effects of aromatic-turmerone through blocking of NF-ΚB, JNK, and p38 MAPK signaling pathways in amyloid β-stimulated microglia.” International Immunopharmacology 14, no. 1 (2012): 13–20.
9. Tisserand, Robert. The Art of Natural Remedies (Saffron Walden: C.W. Daniel, 2001).
10. Silva, G.L., C. Luft, et al. “Antioxidant, analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects of lavender essential oil.” Anais Da Academia Brasileira De Ciências 87, no. 2 suppl (April 2015): 1397–1408.
11. Barboza, J.N., C.M.B Filho, et al. “An Overview on the Anti-Inflammatory Potential and Antioxidant Profile of Eugenol.” Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity 2018 (2018): 1–9.
12. Tisserand, Robert, Rodney Young, & Elisabeth M. Williamson. Essential Oil Safety: A Guide for Health Care Professionals. (Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier, 2014).