Living with Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA)

Essential Oils

I seached the forums and didn’t find any discussions specifically about essential oils, so either I don’t know how to properly use the search function or that’s a taboo subject here. I’ll take the chance and apologize in advance if this has been discussed, debunked, or has a negative opinion here…

Has anyone had experience with oils helping with anything PsA (pain/sleep/brain fog)? If so, what oils (or mixture of) have helped for what symptom? Not looking to this as an alternative to medications, just as a piece of the overall puzzle that might help make this more manageable. I have a distant in-law with PsA and she swears by them, but I wanted to get some other opinions before I sink $$$ into something that might be no more than some high priced potpourri!

Google searches result in little more than marketing pages (maybe that’s my answer there), so I thought I’d throw it out to the experts here ;o)

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Hi Rob,

A couple years back had used some peppermint oil for acute arthritis pain in my thumb joint. I’d rub it on—the aroma was great—it’d feel good for a few minutes, but then the pain would come back.

At first I thought it worked, but for a very short time. I finally came to the conclusion that it probably didn’t really work at all (other than smell good). What I realized was my joint probably felt good from massaging it for that 30 seconds or so, and if I massaged it w/o the oil it had the same effect!

I don’t endorse essential oils—for myself—for the above reason and also because they’re quite spendy.

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I haven’t used essential oils per se, and am probably a bit of a skeptic, but… I did find a great arthritis spray I love - Zen arthritis spray, recently rebranded to Zen herbal liniment.

It helps with the pain for some time (ie an hour or two), I believe because the intense heat it generates distracts the pain receptor / communication system, and I noticed that the smell seemed to be invigorating for me (it has a lot of things in it, including a Japanese peppermint).

It is around $20 dollars for a spray bottle that lasted me about 3 months, though if you used it a fair bit, may only last for around a month.

If nothing else, I reckon it works better and smells nicer than deep heat!

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Many years ago, barefoot, festivals, all that … nobody had arthritis but everyone had a little tin of tiger balm. Gives quite an intense feeling of heat, I wonder if it’s as good as your Zen spray, Jen? (Would probably be quite cheap).


Tiger balm is good - part of the reason I love the zen spray so much is the smell, which I like better than tiger balm (though tiger balm is certainly nicer than deep heat), but importantly, I can get the spray on my spine - which gives me quite a bit of trouble. That ain’t happening with tiger balm when you are by yourself!


I know people who swear by essential oils, but they wind up sounding like they are being paid to be spokespeople.
My only advice is that if you’re thinking of trying them, be careful if you have any pets in the house. Many of the essential oils are toxic to pets.


Smell is such a powerful sense. Which we tend to ignore unless the smell is awful! Certainly smelling things I like calms me. Certain smells evoke childhood for me like eucalyptus (spelling?). Yes I grew up in Ireland but near the Australian embassy residence which had a huge number of these trees. So my walk to school and back was spent cruching their seeds. I only have to smell it now and I just smile. When I suffered asthma attacks inhaling the steam from it in hot water always calmed things down. That helped but of course didn’t cure it. Standing on a beach helps me too just the smell of the sea is invigorating and again childhood based.

I haven’t a clue if essential oils do anything for inflammation and pain, but I certainly know some of them truly help my mood and reset my brain. And I’ve heard tigerbalm can help some and I’m interested in @Jen75’s Zen spray.

If I were you @Rob3, I’d go and visit an aromatherapist just to see how you feel with certain smells. If nothing else one or a combination of them might help relax you, clear some brain fog and/or generally improve mood and all of those things are worthwhile too surely?

My reaction to this disease is always better when my head is in a better place. Some smells really help get my head in a better place so I seek them out when necessary. But that’s all I do.

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I feel obligated to throw this out here…If one does decide to try essential oils, I’d be very cautious if you have psoriasis. I know some of us here are in “the gap” with a PsA diagnosis but no psoriasis, but for those who DO have it, essential oils might irritate one’s already compromised skin.

Many people think essential oils are only an inhalation issue (aggravating asthma, etc), but they can also cause severe contact dermatitis just from being in a room where they are used. In actuality, some of the most common contact allergens are essential oils like tea tree oil and those in the compositae family. It doesn’t matter how they’re processed–they are usually part of the 80+ panel of the North American series used by dermatologists to check for contact allergies. My son is severely allergic to compositae (he reacts upon inhalation and upon skin contact), which rules out a bunch of essential oils.

Just to say I’m not being negative, but I do think caution is needed for anyone who has a compromised skin barrier-- I think psoriasis would count as “compromised.” :slight_smile:


You’re right.

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Lavender has a good reputation for promoting sleep. In the past I’ve tried hanging up a bunch of dried lavender and also dabbing some lavender oil on my pillow (on the underside, not on the side I lay my head on). Trouble is, it makes me think my granny’s in the bedroom and therefore I didn’t persevere. I don’t know about any associated pitfalls, they may well be some.

I’ve also used tea tree oil to help prevent mould forming on the stone walls of an airless bathroom. It actually worked much better than the fierce (lots of warnings on bottle) proprietary product.

I realise that some things with pretty names may actually be more harmful than the products that show a skull and crossbones on the label. But I don’t like blitzing my house with bleach and antiseptic sprays and whatnot so I go for vinegar and baking soda mainly. They do the job and things do smell just clean afterwards (vinegar doesn’t linger), as opposed to the harsher odour of many cleaning products. As with the mould, I would use essential oils very carefully for various purposes, but probably not directly onto my body.

I do get a lot of pleasure from things that smell nice: good coffee, some plants and so on - shame about my other half but hey - so it’s possible that actual aromatherapy would make me feel good for a short while. That would be the limit of my expectations though. I think anything that makes you feel a bit better is worth a shot, with caution. And clearly you are appropriately cautious and realistic.


My problem with essential oils is that they are extremely toxic. BTW Tiger balm is great stuff I still carry tin. I use it for arthritis now not to cover up the smell of [pot like I may have done in the 60’s


Yay, it’s all coming out now!


In the past I’ve used olive oil infused with rosemary to help soothe my scalp psoriasis when the skin is broken and I can’t take the sting of anything stronger. I can’t remember where I found out about it though. I keep a bottle of it in the cupboard for any small breakthrough P patches now my scalp is under better control.


I know we are on alternatives and essential oils, but whilst talking about scalp psoriasis, I thought I’d mention it’s a little known fact that studies in the last few years have shown that dandruff is almost always caused or exacerbated by a mild fungal infection.

The treatment is a shampoo containing an anti-fungal, ketoconozole (I use Nizoral). My scalp “psoriasis” basically stopped, and is entirely controlled by this, just using it once a day for a week initially, then occasionally (like once a month) when symptoms start to arise again (ie at the start when my scalp gets itchy).

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Continuing your off-topic thought

I find that having shampoos with ketoconozole, pyrithium zinc and sallicylic acid (that’s three shampoos, not one) and rotating through them keeps my scalp P and dandruff in check 99.9% of the time. Head and shoulders + nizoral + selsun blue + T-gel (for the really bad times). Quite the display in the shower!

And on the topic, I am in agreement with all of you who express caution with essential oils. My P will flare up for all number of reasons and my skin has become incredibly sensitive–even baby lotion can make it sting. So I’m very wary of using even the most “natural” of products.


Just plain sensitive all round seems to apply. To me anyway. I get sinusitis a lot. Went to open a window to relieve the resulting headache & nausea last night, got up close & personal with some second-hand curtains I’d just hung that looked really clean. Got a nose full of gawd knows what - very strong chemical smell - & sinus headache hit the roof. This is the kind of thing I’d associate more with fibro, but there’s no way I have that. I never used to react to stuff like I do now. Not for the first time - I blame PsA!


I have many essential oils and I believe there is a place for them, but for when you need “the big guns” they just aren’t effective in my opinion. It doesn’t help that if I put the oils on my skin I break out! I diffuse a lot and have some other household uses for my oils, but not for the PsA stuff.

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Do your research on how to use the essential oils. For example, not supposed to put directly on skin! Crucial for me as I have pustular psoriasis. I read and did, the essentials I wanted to use based on my research, missed with distilled water and a a carrier oil, Almond is what I chose. This I can apply directly on my skin. In fact, since I can’t get my docs to refill my topical cream in a timely manner, I used the oils mixture and mostly almond oil, to soothe my leisons. Was the only thing that didn’t sting and burn! But that’s me, just be careful. I use on open postules, just my carrier oil. But when a psoriasis outbreak is starting, I can use lavendar, lemongrass and peppermint, mixed with distilled water and carrier oil. I spray on. Mind that essential oils are drops to several ounces of water and carrier oil. It does not cure anything, just relieves discomfort of psoriasis for me, but prescription med is way better! I use dovonex, and it works for me.

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Hi all, Just a little bit of my ‘essential oil’ journey. I have a book about the healing power of essential. oils which has a list of oils for imflammation and I bought several of them. It lists the anti-inflammatory components to look for. I made up an oil with 3 of them plus a carrier and I rub this gently on the burning skin and I get a few hours relief. Is it only in my mind? I ask myself this and I don’t know but relief without drugs etc. is relief in my book. Has anyone else tried this and what has your experience been?

There’s not a lot of evidence for essential oils. I was thinking that the impact your getting may even be just from massaging it in. Essential oils are something to be careful with though. They can cause skin damage and be potentially harmful to those with sensitive lungs, etc.