4 Holiday Spices for Joint Pain and Arthritis

The holiday season wouldn’t be the same without the scent of gingerbread baking in the oven, a dash of nutmeg in your favorite egg or eggless nog, peppermint from candy canes and other delightful scents wafting through the air. The aromas of the holidays certainly add to the pleasure of the season, but can also reduce the joint pain suffered by arthritics. Here are several of my favorite holiday spices to use for joint pain and arthritis:

Cloves (Eugenia carophyllata): Few aromas call to mind the holiday season as much as cloves. While it may be added to baked goods, lattes and aromatherapy burners in homes across the continent, clove essential oil can be a helpful remedy for joint pain. That’s because cloves contain a compound called eugenol which is known for its anti-pain properties.

Clove oil is effective for most types of pain including: rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, as well as gout and fibromyalgia (which is technically a type of arthritis). Since pure essential oil of cloves is quite concentrated and therefore highly potent, you’ll need to dilute it in a carrier oil like apricot kernel or sweet almond oil prior to use. One drop of clove oil per teaspoon of carrier oil makes an excellent natural and effective joint liniment. Avoid use if you have extremely sensitive skin.

Ginger (Zingiber officinalis): As an essential oil applied topically to joints, ginger stimulates circulation and helps to ease stiffness while also alleviating joint pain. As a bonus, it also helps to ease the muscle pain involved in fibromyalgia. Use no more than two drops of ginger essential oil in a teaspoon of carrier oil. Avoid use if you have extremely sensitive skin.

Alternatively, you can grate a couple of inches of fresh ginger root into a quart of water and bring it to a boil on the stove. Once it reaches boiling point, cover with a lid and reduce heat to a simmer. Let simmer for 45 minutes. Strain and drink three cups daily to help reduce joint pain or arthritis.

Nutmeg (Mystirica fragrans): Who doesn’t love the scent of nutmeg, which is also known as the classic flavor behind the popular beverage at this time of year—eggnog. Whether or not you love eggnog (I prefer coconut or almond eggless-nogs with a dash of real maple syrup and freshly-ground nutmeg) you can use nutmeg to reduce joint pain.

In the medical journal Food and Nutrition Research, scientists found that nutmeg helped to alleviate joint pain and swelling in animals. Enjoy nutmeg on your favorite latte, added to almond or coconut milk as a delicious eggnog alternative, mulled with cinnamon and apple cider, or in your favorite sugar cookie or spice cookie recipe. Nutmeg extract, or nutmeg tincture as it is also known, is also available in many health food stores. Use as directed on the package. Be sure to consult your physician prior to use. While there is some information on the internet that nutmeg is toxic, it’s fine in small to moderate use; however, it contains alkaloids that can be toxic in high doses—a dose that is much higher than typical use.

Peppermint (Mentha piperita): Not just for candy canes and candy can lattes, peppermint is a well-established natural analgesic that can reduce pain and inflammation. A single drop of pure peppermint essential oil produces an intense cooling sensation when applied to joints. Because peppermint essential oil, which is not the same as peppermint extract used in baking, is so potent, be sure to wash your hands immediately and avoid eye contact after use.

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Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM is the president of PureFood BC, an international best-selling and 20-time published book author whose works include: Arthritis-Proof Your Life: Secrets to Pain-Free Living Without Drugs (Humanix, 2016).


Christine J
Christine J8 months ago

Good way to combine holiday treats with health. I only wish they would stop testing these things on animals; it's pointless and unethical. There are no shortage of human subjects with joint pain who would be willing to test these spices.

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hillabout a year ago


Jeff S
Jeff Sabout a year ago


Gino C
Past Member about a year ago

Good to know. Thanks.

bob P
bob Petermannabout a year ago

Thank you

Valerie A
Valerie Aabout a year ago


Fran away F
Fran SiteIssues Fabout a year ago


Karen G
Karen Geeabout a year ago


Elizabeth O
Elizabeth Oabout a year ago

Thanks for the article.

Christina Klein
Christina Kleinabout a year ago