There is growing awareness amongst the public and in medical circles about the use of turmeric oil as an anti-inflammatory.
Studies continue to be published that highlight its potential in this area, suggesting that practitioners of Ayurvedic medicine were way ahead of the curve.
We decided to take a closer look at the subject to discuss its health possibilities and to highlight how you can use turmeric essential oil for pain relief and inflammation.
Turmeric oil benefits
So, what turmeric oil benefits can you enjoy? Not only can it work as an anti-inflammatory, but it could help you in a variety of different ways.
1. Use turmeric oil for pain and inflammation relief
Research indicates that inflammation is one of the main contributing factors to major diseases such as arthritis, strokes, heart disorders and cancer. Curcumin – the main active ingredient in turmeric – has been shown to block the molecule NF-kB, which activates genes in cells that cause inflammation, which could make it as effective as some anti-inflammatory drugs. Research is ongoing in this area, so the results are still not fully conclusive.
2. Combat dandruff and promote hair health
Ketoconazole shampoo is available by prescription and over the counter and is used to treat fungal infections that affect the scalp, such as dandruff. One study compared its effectiveness against turmeric oil diluted with coconut oil and found it produced more or less the same results, helping to reduce symptoms such as scales, itching and hair loss caused by the Pityrosporum ovale fungus.
3. It can help to reduce the appearance of acne
One article written in 2013 suggested that when combined with lauric acid, the antibacterial properties of turmeric oil could prove effective at combating certain types of bacteria – including Propionibacterium acnes. However, to date, no wide-scale clinical trials have been carried out to test this theory.
4. Apply it to the skin to calm sunburn
A study published in 2011 found that when turmeric essential oil was used in cosmetic skin creams, it could offer some protection against the harmful effects of the sun. It concluded that the "photoprotective properties” of the oil helped to hydrate the skin and to control sebum production. You can try this by mixing 250ml of aloe vera gel with 30 drops of turmeric oil and applying it to the affected area of skin to cool and soothe.
5. Turmeric oil may be able to reduce joint and arthritis issues
According to an animal study published in 2010, turmeric oil was able to modestly reduce inflammation in the joints of its animal subjects. Turmeric oil has been used in Indian Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine for centuries to treat arthritis, in the belief that its active components are able to block inflammatory enzymes and cytokines, reducing pain and stiffness symptoms.
How to use turmeric as an anti-inflammatory
There are lots of uses for turmeric oil, including helping to reduce inflammation. Try some of these turmeric essential oil pain relief recipe ideas to see what works best for you:
- Massaging it into your skin: Dilute 5 drops of turmeric oil with 10ml of your preferred carrier oil and slowly massage into the skin. Many people believe that this is a good way of restoring the skin’s elasticity and firmness, whilst also supporting the body’s natural recovery process.
- Inhaling it directly from the bottle: Another way to intake turmeric oil benefits is to breathe it in directly from the bottle. Alternatively, add a couple of drops to a tissue of handkerchief and inhale. This method can give you an energy boost and offer some comfort and strength for mind and body.
- Applying it topically: Mix 2-3 drops of turmeric essential oil with your preferred carrier oil and use it as a face mask before washing it off (do not leave it on for too long as turmeric can stain). Turmeric oil can also help to heal cracked heels. Once a week, soften the skin by soaking your feet in warm water for 10-15 minutes. Dry your feet and then rub 2-3 drops of diluted turmeric oil into your heels.
- Adding it to a nice warm bath: Another way to enjoy the benefits of turmeric oil is to add it to a warm bath. Add 4-6 drops of the diluted oil to a bath filled with warm water and relax for at least 10 minutes to allow the health properties to get to work.
What are the risks of using turmeric oil?
Whilst using turmeric oil for health benefits can be helpful for most people, it may not be suitable for others, as the studies cited below suggest (which were based on the consumption of turmeric).
For example, research has found that turmeric is high in oxalate, which is able to bind with calcium and could lead to the formation of kidney stones.
Another study found that it could slow the ability of your blood to clot, which in some cases could worsen bleeding issues.
Certain doses of turmeric can cause the gallbladder to contract, heightening the symptoms, according to a study published in 2002.
Additional studies have also concluded that it could interfere with the absorption of iron, and it may cause dangerously low blood sugar levels.
If you are using turmeric oil for the first time, it is a good idea to conduct a patch test. This involves diluting a small amount with a carrier oil and applying it to the inside elbow area. Cover with a plaster for 24 hours, and if you experience any itchiness, inflammation or redness, wash the oil off your skin with warm water and discontinue use.
Using turmeric oil for pain relief and to ease inflammation is something humans have been doing for thousands of years, and with good reason. Various studies point towards the many health benefits it can offer, from easing arthritis symptoms and calming acne to soothing sunburn and reducing inflammation. If you are pregnant or unsure about some of the possible adverse effects highlighted in some studies, speak with your doctor to discuss your concerns. And if you feel comfortable using turmeric oil, always follow the proper dilution instructions before applying to your skin.