Is Olive Oil Good For Arthritis? (3 Benefits + 3 Downsides)

Is Olive Oil Good For Arthritis? (3 Benefits + 3 Downsides)

Olive oil can help many health problems – including diabetes and heart issues. But what about joint pain?

Is Olive oil good for arthritis? Can it make a potent remedy for this condition? Or can it replace classic drugs?

I tried to analyze several aspects about Olive oil:

  1. Its compounds
  2. What benefits it could have
  3. What downsides it could have
  4. Whether it’s a potent joint remedy or not

So can it really help arthritis? Let’s take a closer look at this remedy.


#1. What’s Inside Olive Oil

Now – just like any herb, it contains thousands of different compounds.

But I will only analyze the ones related to arthritis – because there are only 4:

  1. Oleocanthol
  2. Omega 3 Fatty Acids
  3. Enzymes
  4. Hydroxytyrosol

Now let’s take a quick look at each:

1. Oleocanthol – it’s a specific compound for Olives and their oil. Here’s how it helps:

  • prevents the production of inflammatory molecules
  • decreases both chronic and acute swelling
  • works similarly to Ibuprofen

For this reason, oleocanthol seems to be useful especially in inflammatory arthritis (like RA).

2. Omega 3 Fatty Acids – their benefits are widely known by everyone, for sure:

You can mostly find them in fish and krill oil – but Olive oil also contains a decent quantity.

3. Enzymes – a study from 2005 showed that the enzymes from Olive oil are pretty similar to the ones from Ibuprofen.

That even though Olive oil has a totally different structure.

4. Hydroxytyrosol – this substance belongs to the same class as oleocanthol:

  • reduces tissue swelling (in animals)
  • decreases general inflammation

Conclusion: Olive oil contains 2 types of compounds:

  • unique substances – Oleocanthol + Hydroxytyrosol
  • famous anti-inflammatory – Omega 3 Fatty Acids

So judging after its composition, it really seems like a potent remedy for arthritis.


Benefit #1 – Fights Inflammation

Basically – you can tell that after its compounds. 

Probably the biggest benefit of Olive oil is that it can decrease the swelling.

But here’s an interesting fact – it works in several ways:

  1. Decreases the level of inflammatory molecules.
  2. Reduces the enzymes causing inflammation.
  3. Prevent further inflammation.

Now – Olive oil doesn’t work best for joint pain or arthritis. It actually decreases general inflammation.

That’s why it’s not a real arthritis remedy – as turmeric is, for example. 

But if you have swollen joints, it can surely help – even a bit.

Is Olive Oil Good For Arthritis? (3 Benefits + 3 Downsides)


Benefit #2 – Antioxidant

Just like it reduces inflammation, Olive oil can also fight free radicals.

So what exactly means that it’s an antioxidant? Here’s how it can help:

  1. Decreases oxidative stress
  2. Prevents the damage caused by free radicals
  3. Delays skin and joint aging
  4. Protects against joint damage

Now – don’t imagine that Olive oil alone will keep you young forever. That’s surely a big lie.

But having a diet rich in Olive oil and other antioxidants can surely help (on the long term).

That’s why the Mediterranean diet is considered one of the best for arthritis:

  • promotes healthy eating
  • most foods contain a large number of antioxidants

For this reason – Olive oil is one of the top oils in terms of antioxidants.


Benefit #3 – Pain Killer

Remember that Olive oil has a similar effect to Ibuprofen?

Well, it’s not all about inflammation. It seems that virgin Olive oil also has analgesic proprieties:

  • there were several studies conducted on it
  • most had positive results

So how exactly does Olive oil reduce the pain? Here’s the thing:

  1. Blocks painful sensations.
  2. So the brain doesn’t perceive them that easily.

Now – don’t imagine that a few drops of Olive oil will make you immune to pain. That will never happen.

But if you consume it on the long term, you may notice that your pain is slowly decreasing.

Obviously – that depends from person to person. Plus, you won’t see any change very fast.

But Olive oil surely has some pain relieving proprieties. After all, it’s not me saying that – it’s studies.

Is Olive Oil Good For Arthritis? (3 Benefits + 3 Downsides)


Downside #1 – Not Good For Osteoarthritis

Now – here’s the thing. 

Olive oil will surely not harm your OA, on the contrary. But the thing is – it’s not as effective as for rheumatoid arthritis.

Here’s what I mean:

  1. It works best at decreasing inflammation.
  2. It’s not effective for rebuilding cartilages.
  3. There’s little inflammation in OA.
  4. Instead, there’s a lot of cartilage damage – that’s causing the pain.

So basically – Olive oil isn’t effective for any kind of arthritis. 

If it’s an inflammatory form (like rheumatoid or psoriatic arthritis), it will surely help.

But if it’s osteoarthritisit’s not going to do a lot.

As I said, you can surely use Olive oil even if you have OA. Just don’t expect too much from it (other than general health benefits).


Downside #2 – Weak For Stiffness

That’s something essential – if you ask me:

  • Olive oil can help inflammation on the long term
  • But it’s not very effective for stiffness

Why? Because stiffness is mostly related to joint lubrication. 

And as far as I know: 

  • Olive oil doesn’t increase the production of joint fluid
  • So it doesn’t really improve lubrication

For this reason, if you have serious joint stiffness – it’s probably not going to help a lot.

And that’s available for both morning and sitting stiffness.

It might decrease your pain on the long term, but I doubt it’s going to improve your stiffness as well.


Downside #3 – Pretty Weak Overall

Now – Olive oil sounds like the perfect remedy for arthritis.

But truth is – it’s a herbal remedy, so it’s pretty weak (compared to classic medication):

  1. Doesn’t work for everyone
  2. Needs several months for any small improvement

So basically – don’t expect to consume Olive oil for a week and feel better. That’s surely not going to happen.

In fact, you may even consume it for one year and still feel no change:

  • you’re actually eating it, not taking it as pills
  • it’s a totally different thing

Besides – as a lone substance, Olive oil isn’t as strong as Turmeric or Boswellia.

So it doesn’t have such a powerful anti-inflammatory effect.

That’s why I personally see it as a pretty weak remedy for arthritis. I don’t advise you to use it alone, because you will probably see no effect any soon.

Is Olive Oil Good For Arthritis? (3 Benefits + 3 Downsides)


#2. How To Choose Olive Oil

Let’s say you decided to add Olive oil to your diet.

Now the question is – what brand should you choose? Is there a special type of oil that works better?

Here’s what I advise you:

  1. You can choose any brand you want.
  2. Just make sure the oil is either virgin or extra virgin.
  3. Also check out where it was produced.

I personally would choose the oil produced in a Mediterranean country – like Greece, Italy, Turkey. 

That’s where Olives grow naturally. So they’re supposed to be the healthiest species.

But that’s not something essential. 

The most important part is to choose a virgin/extra virgin form. This kind of oil wasn’t processed  – so it’s 100% natural.


#3. How To Consume It

My personal recommendation is to avoid the supplements:

  • they’re not very powerful 
  • they have more benefits for general health (rather than for arthritis)

Basically – an Olive oil supplement isn’t going to help you with a certain thing. 

And I personally don’t recommend general health supplement. You can actually get the same benefits from foods alone – instead of taking pills.

So instead of supplements, the best way is to use it as a food:

  1. Replace the sunflower or any other oil you’re using. 
  2. Use it for both cooking and baking.
  3. Add it in your salads and dressing.

Besides, Olive oil is actually tastier than other oils I tried. 

So there are minor chances that you don’t like it.

Is Olive Oil Good For Arthritis? (3 Benefits + 3 Downsides)


My Verdict – Is Olive Oil Good For Arthritis?

Short answer: On paper – yes. But in reality, it’s not an amazing remedy:

  • doesn’t work for everyone
  • needs several months to start working (depending on the case)
  • it’s more of a general health remedy

Now – Olive oil surely has some real benefits for arthritis:

  1. Fights inflammation
  2. Decreases oxidative stress
  3. Improves the pain

However – it lacks one major thing: strength. It has a pretty weak effect overall, despite having great compounds. 

So in terms of effect – it’s far from the best herbs for arthritis (Turmeric and Boswellia).

If you decide to use it for cooking, it might help a bit on the long term.

But you shouldn’t count on it too much – because as I said, it’s not very strong.

However, since it’s so cheap and easy to find – you’re not losing anything if you add it to your diet.

Just don’t expect any miracles from it, because they won’t happen.

Heather Pharm.D.

Heather Tracy Foley is a Pharmacy graduate, Blogger and Author with a vast experience in health sciences. She has a particular interest in joint pain and rheumatology and spent several years studying health problems. You can find her on Pinterest or via email.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *