Essential oils can be beneficial for rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.
Aromatherapy is the term for oils that have been extracted from plants and are used therapeutically for their scents. These oils can be sniffed or massaged into the skin.
Using plant materials this way dates back to ancient Persia, but the modern era is turning it into more of a science. Studies have especially focused on whether aromatherapy can help reduce pain, enhance sleep, and minimize depression — three things that concern many people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Small Studies Show Value in Use of Essential Oils for Pain
A review published in November 2016 in the journal Pain Research and Treatment, which analyzed aromatherapy research on various types of pain, concluded that “aromatherapy can successfully treat pain when combined with conventional treatments,” although the authors note that most of the 42 studies they examined were small.
Japanese researchers studied whether inhaling various essential oils affected stress hormones and other measures of the sympathetic nervous system, compared with inhaling the scent of plain water. Their study, published in the Japanese Journal of Pharmacology, found that women who sniffed the various fragrances did indeed have different reactions, depending on the oil. Pepper oil increased adrenalin, for example, while rose oil decreased it.
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