How to Treat Osteoarthritis & Rheumatoid Arthritis?

What is Arthritis?

Arthritis is an inflammation of joint. According to Zimmerman (2016), “arthritis is an over surplus of acids and waste material in the body. A faulty diet fills the system with uric acid and poisons which the liver, kidneys, and bladder are not able to throw off.”

Based on psychology factors, Louise Hay mentioned that arthritis is a disease that comes from a constant pattern of self criticism and criticism of other people.

The two most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Osteoarthritis (OA) Vs. Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

The following table 1 showed the brief summarize of the difference between Osteoarthritis (OA) and Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) which I have compiled through difference studies.

The main differences are OA is a degenerative joint disease which is characterized by “wear and tear” and breakdown of the articular cartilage. RA is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the synovium that lines joints.

Table 1: Brief Summarize of the Difference between Osteoarthritis (OA) and Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)

What it is? A degenerative joint disease, loss of cartilage An autoimmune disease
Age of onset Usually old age Any age
Causes Unclear, but associate with genetic factors, obesity, repetitive use, and prior injury to a joint. Unknown, it is thought that a combination of genetic and environmental factors, such as smoking, contribute to the development of this disease.
Joint symmetry Asymmetrical Symmetrical
Joints commonly affected Knees, hips, and the small joints in the hands. Small joints of the hands and feet.
Inflammation Mild inflammation Much more inflammation of surrounding soft tissues
Pain Management Paracetamol, Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

Conventional Treatment of OA and RA

In medical view point, both diseases are incurable.

The conventional medical treatment approach for OA and RA focus on pain management and symptomatic relief; non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are common medication used to suppress the symptoms by providing short term symptomatic relief.

But the side effect is they accelerate the progression of OA and studies showed that it inhibits the synthesis of collagen matrix.

Besides, the risk involved for long term medication of NSAIDs related to gastrointestinal bleeding and increase risk of cardiovascular disease. Finally, the drugs also pose the risk of renal toxicity, high doses usage increases the risk for renal failure.

If an OA or RA patient fails NSAIDs therapy, intra-articular corticosteroid injections and  surgery to repair or replace damaged joints may another options.

Aromatherapy for OA and RA

The treatment of aromatherapy for OA and RA focus on anti-inflammation (reduce inflammation) and analgesics (reduce pain) effects.

Essential oils recommended for OA and RA conditions include:

  1. Black Pepper (Piper nigrum) contains Beta-caryophyllene which has anti-inflammation effects. Black Pepper has shown to be an effective anti-inflammatory agent especially in conditions rheumatoid arthritis. Buckle recommended if the patient prefer heat to relieve the pain, add a drop of an black pepper essential oil to bring heat to the affected area. If not, peppermint can be used for the patient who prefer cold to relieve the pain.
  2. Frankincense (Boswellia serrata) is anti-inflammatory, anti-arthritic and it has been reported that to have strong analgesic effect on rats. It has been used for centuries for arthritic conditions as well. The boswellic acids components also demonstrated anti-arthritic effects including inhibit inflammation, improved blood supply to joint tissues and glycosaminoglycan (GAGs) synthesis.
  3. Ginger (Zingiber officialinalis) contains antioxidants and exerts anti-inflammation effects by inhibiting the synthesis of prostaglandins, thromboxanes and leukotrienes.


BattagliaS. (2002) The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy (second edition). Brisbane: The International Centre of Holistic Aromatherapy

Buckle, J., (2003), Clinical Aromatherapy: Essential Oils in Practice, 2nd Edition, Elsevier Science.

Dewing, K. A, Setter, S. M. & Slusher, B. A. (2012). Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis 2012: Pathophysiology, Diagnosis, and Treatment, Retrieved from

Pizzorno, J. E & Murray, M. T. (2013). Textbook of Natural Medicine. 4th Ed, Elsevier.

Thomas, N. S. What is the difference between osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis? Arthris and Rheumatism Associates, Retrieved from

Zimmerman, A. (2016). Natural Cures and Remedies. BookRix

Osborn, C. E, Barlas, P, Baxter, G. D, & Barlow, J. H. (2001). Aromatherapy: A Ssurvey of current practice in the management of rheumatic disease symptoms. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 9, 2, 62-67.

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