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Ask an Aromatherapist: Can Essential Oils Help with Gout?

Now first things first. When people ask me such questions I must point out that we can't claim essential oils can treat, prevent, or cure disease. Since essential oils are not regulated by the FDA any benefits we might claim is followed by “These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.”

Second aside from medical treatment, diet seems to be an important factor in gouty joint aches. Removing offending foods from the diet helps many. Some people find benefit from drinking tart cherry juice several times a day. Tart cherry juice contains one of the richest sources of anthocyanins 1 and 2, which help block pro-inflammatory COX-1 and COX-2. And there are studies that link tart cherry consumption to lower levels of uric acid in the body which is a good thing for gout suffers. Excess uric acid can form hard crystals which as you can imagine cause the pain of gout. Tart cherry juice is also reported to be beneficial in reducing inflammation and useful in sports and exercise recovery. (excuse me while I put tart cherry juice on the shopping list).

In addition to considering diet, the use of essential oils topically may be beneficial in soothing aches. Research on essential oils and their aromatic components reveal that many essential oil components have analgesic, anti-inflammatory properties, and soothing effects. That could be beneficial to someone who experiences severe joint aches. But which oils should one choose?

Since essential oils are very versatile before heading out to supplement your oil collection you might try some basic soothing, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory oils such as lavender (Lavendula angustafolia), rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis ct camphor), and peppermint (Mentha x piperita) diluted at 3-5% (that means using 15-18 drops to 25-30 drops per ounce of carrier oil). So a recipe might look like 5-10 drops of each peppermint, rosemary, and lavender in an ounce or jojoba or coconut oil. This could be gently dripped onto sore areas or if tolerated gently rubbed into the joint.

Other beneficial lesser know analgesics I like include black pepper (Piper nigrum) clove bud (Eugenia Caryophyllata), and balsam copaiaba (Copaifera officinalis). Clove bud must be diluted well, as it can irritate skin but is a powerful analgesic. Wintergreen (Gaultheria fragmentissima wall) is also an excellent analgesic but are used for only a short time for acute concerns* see safety warning below*. German (Matricaria recutita) or Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) would also be excellent choices as would spike lavender (Lavandula latifolia). I also like juniper berry (Juniperus communis) when dealing with sore joints.

Black pepper combines well with peppermint and lemon and Balsam copiaba would be a welcome addition to that blend. Again adding 15-30 drops per ounce of carrier. But as mentioned above simply using lavender and peppermint can be beneficial. Or you can visit an aromatherapist to explore some of the other oil options.

Additionally if the person is on medication one should consult an aromatherapist or the book "Essential OIl Safety" to consider possible essential oil and drug contraindications.

So yes essential oils may be beneficial in soothing the ache of gouty joints given their analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. But dietary factors also seem to be important. Here are a few links to interesting website concerning gout:

Web MD:

Tart cherry Juice and gout:

Natural treatments for gout:

* This is an oil to be used with caution and experience in small amounts and for short periods of time on a small area of the body. According to Robert Tisserand it is contraindicated if taking anticoagulant medication, having major surgy, hemophila and all other bleeding disorders. Should not be used if pregnant, breastfeeding and not to be used with children due to possible risk of developing Reye's syndrome. Do not use if there is a salicylate sensitivity or ADD/ADHD. Not to be used orally if a history of Gastroesophageal reflux diease (GERD). Numerous cases of salicylate poisoning have been reported. Maximum dermal use level: 2.4% - Only use on intact skin. (unbroken skin)

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