WD-40 is one of the most recognizable products in the world. It can be used for a huge range of applications, including lubricating, cleaning, and rust prevention.
But does WD-40 really help with arthritis?
WD-40 does not help with arthritis and should be used for any medical purposes. WD-40 is a product that is great for lubricating but shouldn’t be used to help with conditions like gout, arthritis, joint pain, or any other healing purpose.
We’ll go through why WD-40 is no good for medical applications as well as consider where this myth about WD-40 came from and why it continues to be such a common belief about WD-40.
Does WD-40 Help With Arthritis?
WD-40 Company itself rejects any claims that WD-40 has any medical usage. WD-40 has many listed usages around the house and workshops to help with all types of rust prevention, cleaning, and lubrication but arthritis is not one of them.
WD-40 is not harmless and is sold with certain safety warnings. You should not intentionally ingest or apply WD-40 to yourself to fix medical issues. There have never been any studies or trials run with WD-40 that show it to have any medical benefits.
WD-40 is a volatile compound with high flammability per the company’s materials safety sheets. This safety information material clearly states there is likely harm flowing from inhaling or ingestion.
The full list of components making up WD-40 is still a mystery despite being invented in the 1950s.
To meet certain safety requirements and standards, WD-40 Company has disclosed that it contains Aliphatic Hydrocarbon, Petroleum Oil, and LVP Aliphatic Hydrocarbon.
Does WD-40 Work On Human Joints?
There are many other joint-related myths about the medical or healing properties of WD-40. Just as the components of WD-40 mean it has no medical usage for arthritis, that also extends to having any benefit for joints.
One source of this confusion is likely the common advice that fish oil is beneficial for many medical conditions. Fish oil has been shown to be effective for reducing inflammation, promoting healthy skin, increasing bone health, and other applications.
However not all oils are equal, and just because WD-40 contains a certain type of oil does not mean that it will operate similarly to fish oil.
Does WD-40 Work On Gout?
Gout is a certain type of arthritis and WD-40 is unlikely to have any effect on it.
Gout is usually only affecting one joint at a time whereas arthritis can be more widespread. Usually, you’ll notice intense pain, swelling, and reduced movement of the joint.
The causes of gout are thought to be hyperuricemia, a buildup of uric acid in the blood. This is generally from overactive kidneys and can be effectively treated and managed.
Is WD-40 Harmful To Skin?
WD-40 contains hydrocarbons and petroleum distillates which are harmful to the skin if applied in large amounts. The warnings in the safety sheets advise washing your skin with soap and water after coming into contact with WD-40.
The wide availability of WD-40, as well as limited safety requirements needed for handling it, reveals that WD-40 is not extremely toxic to humans. Given the fire hazard, WD-40 is not recommended to be used in confined areas with poor ventilation.
These properties of WD-40 do not show any signs of being medically useful and the warning labels on the product advise against contact with the skin as it is ‘harmful or fatal if swallowed.
Is WD-40 A Placebo?
Despite all the warning labels and even a disavowal from the company, WD-40 still gets suggested for medical usages.
It doesn’t take long to find any number of anecdotal reports of people who swear that WD-40 is the only thing that fixes their joint pain.
However, there is nothing to suggest that WD-40 will help with these conditions, but there are strong signs that WD-40 has a placebo effect.
A placebo effect is where an inactive agent, like a sugar pill, seems to cause a beneficial health outcome. This could be a reflection that some conditions just improve on their own, and so people will associate substances with improvement when this was just chance.
How and why the placebo effect takes place is a mystery but there are some interesting ideas that apply to WD-40.
First of all, WD-40 has a distinctive smell. Thus if you apply WD-40 and then for some unknown reason your condition improves, it’s easy to associate that strong smell with your improvement, particularly subconsciously.
Arthritis and gout tend to go through cycles of flare ups and remissions. This is thought to be linked to internal systems that are for whatever reason not removing excess uric acid from the blood.
This can also mean that an arthritis sufferer’s pain can come and go, and then this can be misattributed to WD-40. Using WD-40 will often result in getting it on your hands and fingers, which is a very commonplace for arthritis to strike.
The link will then be made, rightly or wrongly, that it was the application of the WD-40 that then saw a period of relief from the condition.
The other reason WD-40 has developed this myth is likely just the ubiquity of the product.
- With so many people having access to a WD-40 in their home, and arthritis being such a debilitating pain at times, it’s no surprise that many people try anything to alleviate pain.
One of the other likely reasons for this is confirmation bias. Confirmation bias is a type of cognitive bias that means you tend to remember data and information that confirms your already set beliefs but ignore data points that contradict you.
If this then coincides with a remission, you’ll get a data point of WD-40 helping with joint pain.
However, if you don’t pay attention to your biases, this could mean that you ignore all those times when WD-40 did nothing to help with your joint pain.
Increased blood flow likely helps some conditions, particularly gout. If you are massaging or rubbing WD-40 into your skin, this may help stimulate blood flow to help gout, which is then misattributed to WD-40.