Gout treatment mainly focuses on controlling your uric acid levels, typically with diet low in purines and sometimes medications (if necessary). But during the flare-up of the disease, you need something to help relieve pain and shorten duration of the flare-up. Along with your prescription medications, home remedies such as lemongrass essential oil might help too.
Gout and lemongrass oil (what study says)
As the name suggests, lemongrass essential oil is extracted from lemongrass — a grassy, tropical plant used in traditional medicine, mostly from the leaves and stalks of the plant. With its fresh and powerful, pleasant citrusy scent – we easily find it in aromatherapy and personal care products.
Also, it has potent substances to provide a variety of health benefits. Does it work effectively for gout remedies?
Unfortunately, it seems there are very few scientific researches that observe the efficacy of lemongrass essential oil to help treat and relieve gout symptoms. But if you’re not allergic to this essential oil, it’d be worth a try. Here are a few reasons of why it’s probably good for some people with gout.
It might help lower uric acid levels
Gouty arthritis does have to do with the amount of uric acid, a chemical that forms when the body breaks down purines. High uric acid levels can build up and form needle-like crystals somewhere in the body, mostly in the joint of the big toe. This causes inflammation, swelling, and pain.
Purines are actually a natural compound found in your body, so are uric acids. They are also found in foods. The problem occurs when your body has purines and uric acids higher than normal (if you get used to diet high in purines, for example — or probably if the mechanism of your body to remove excess uric acids doesn’t work as well).
Here lemongrass essential oil plays a role. Along with diet low in purines, it might help keep uric acid levels off. Even with an appropriate dose, it might also have a role to effectively lower uric acid levels — one study suggests . Oil extracted from the stalks might be the most potential way to carry more anti-gout effects, if compared to oil extracted from the leaves of the lemongrass plant.
One of easy ways to get anti-gout effects is probably with brewing a cup of lemongrass tea. The essential oil of lemongrass will release with the heat from the steam.
Its anti-inflammatory properties
Needle-like crystals from uric acid accumulation will cause inflammation and swelling. Along with controlling uric acid levels, you may need additional medications to help improve the inflammation. Lemongrass essential oil has several anti-inflammatory properties.
Although the anti-inflammatory contents in lemongrass are not fully understood, some natural health gurus believe that it might help treat chronic inflammation. One study on mice, the oral use of lemongrass essential oil showed anti-inflammatory effects. Even when topically applied on the skin, the oil was also helpful to ease swelling of mice with ear edema .
Some potent compounds found in lemongrass that act as potent anti-inflammatory agents include limonene and citral. Limonene is also an anti-bacterial.
Remember, the study had been done on animals. Never take the oil internally since it is not known yet whether it’s safe for oral use on humans. If you do believe that you would acquire the benefits most from oral use, do it only with the supervision of a health professional.
Even though there is limited evidence on the effectiveness of lemongrass essential for gouty arthritis, there are still plenty of other good reasons to use it.
- To help ease stress and anxiety. Arthritis pain could be more painful when you’re stressed a lot. A study in 2015, aromatherapy-message with this oil might have an effect to lower diastolic blood pressure .
- To help relieve pain of rheumatoid arthritis. When topically applied on the painful joint of rheumatoid arthritis, the oil might help decrease the pain – though this could vary from person to person.
- A few studies suggest that it may also lower cholesterol, ease migraine & headache, and have antioxidant properties.
What to remember?
Currently, there is no standard treatment guideline of lemongrass essential oil to treat any condition. As mentioned earlier, most studies on this oil have not been done on humans, but on animals. So it’s unknown whether the same procedures (including doses) would carry the same effects on humans. More studies are required, particularly on humans, before we can use it as a mainstream medication.
It’s also important to make sure you use a pure product of lemongrass essential oil to get the health benefits most. Unfortunately, the FDA doesn’t regulate essential oils. So it’d be better to only buy from credible manufactures you trust.
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The plant-form of lemongrass is safe for most people, commonly used in food and beverages. But the story could be slightly different for its essential oil, highly-concentrated form. In higher concentrated amounts, the oil might cause negative reaction for some people.
Possible side effects include allergic reaction, skin irritation, drowsiness, and dizziness. To keep safe, always dilute the essential oil in carrier oil before applying on the treatment area. Remember, the oil is absorbed into the skin. It could be toxic if too much absorbed, too much used or if you apply it without carrier oil.
Also, do a patch test first to see whether it’s OK for your skin. And keep it away from sensitive areas such as the eyes or any mucous membranes.
For more guidance, see a doctor before administering lemongrass essential oil for your gout. This is particularly true if you also have certain conditions such as being pregnant /breastfeeding, liver disease, respiratory condition, or diabetes. Don’t use it to replace your regular gout treatment, unless under your doctor’s supervision.
- How to prevent gout attacks, Harvard Medical School (2013).
- Bioactivity analysis of lemongrass, International Food Research Journal (2012).
- Cymbopogon citratus as anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal, The National Institute of Health (2014).
- Lemongrass and Sweet Almond Massage Oil, published on ResearchGate (2015).