If you suffer from some form of pain and discomfort, you’re certainly not alone. Tens of millions of Americans suffer from pain on a daily basis. More specifically, the American Chiropractic Association reports that over half of all workers acknowledge having symptoms of back pain – and it’s among the most common reasons people miss work.
Sufferers of chronic pain may reach for stronger medications, and those of us who are highly anxious may choose sleeping pills just to wind down. However, these types of drugs are not innocuous, and often come with dangerous side effects that accumulate the more we take them. Luckily, nature has a solution.
There are many essential oils for pain relief, and people who use them seem to heal more quickly than others. Some essential oils have analgesic properties, which means that they have shown to relieve or reduce pain, as well as anti-spasmodic, anti-inflammatory and anti-rheumatic properties. Here are 10 essential oils for pain relief.
Essential Oils for Pain Relief
Lavender oil is traditionally used to treat headaches, tension, insomnia, muscle strain and various cramps. It is also one of the gentlest essential oils on the skin.
One study found that lavender essential oil used as part of an acupressure treatment helped reduce lower back pain by 39 percent. Walking speed and spine flexion in the back pain sufferers were also improved by this treatment.
Lavender oil also aids the digestive system, therefore relieving many types of stomach discomfort.
2. Clary Sage
Clary sage can be very useful for relieving cramping, muscle aches and muscle spasms. It is quite effective when used with chamomile for menstrual cramps. Inhaling Clary Sage has been proven to have the ability to soothe nervous tension, lighten mood, and create a sense of euphoria.
However, only small amounts should be used. You should never use clary sage with alcohol or on a night before you are planning to have a glass of wine or cocktails, since it can be dangerous and leads to increased effects from the intake of alcoholic drink.
Wintergreen oil has anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antispasmodic properties, and therefore is often effective against headaches, muscle pain, and stiff joints. It contains natural methyl salicylate, the main ingredient in aspirin. It was commonly used by Native Americans as a general pain tonic.
Note: Wintergreen is one of the strongest essential oils and should never be consumed. It is also unsafe for children and those with a history of epilepsy.
Eucalyptus essential oil has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. It’s recommended for nerve pain, sprains, strains and muscular pains and aches. You can use it as a lotion or cream massaged into areas that are painful or as a bath oil or salt in the bath.
In addition, it works well when combined with other types of essential oils like lavender. However, it should be used carefully since it can be toxic when used in large amounts.
Sandalwood essential oil is often used to treat muscle spasms, lymph node congestion and sciatica. It is effective in relieving skin irritations such as poison ivy and insect bites due to its anti-inflammatory nature.
This oil is very refreshing to the skin, smells rich and earthy, and promotes deeper sleep and calm, and meditative states of mind.
Juniper essential oil has anti-rheumatic and anti-spasmodic properties. When applied in a lotion or cream, it helps with reducing muscle spasms and joint and muscle pains and aches that are associated with fibromyalgia, arthritis and other similar ailments.
With regular use, juniper essential oil can be helpful as well for nerve pain.
Ginger is commonly used in Ayurvedic medicine. It has been shown to inhibit the synthesis of eicosanoids, which are chemical signalers involved in the sensation of pain.
A study found that 75 percent of the patients with rheumatoid and osteoarthritis benefited from treatment with ginger oil, experiencing lessened swelling and pain. None experienced adverse side effects, even when treatment was continued for longer than two years.
Another study was conducted among elderly people with chronic knee pain. It was found that four weeks of massage with a combination of ginger and orange essential oils helped decrease the intensity of pain and stiffness level, and improved physical function compared to another group who received massage with just olive oil.
Peppermint oil has a high menthol content that produces a cooling and refreshing sensation. Amongst its many uses, menthol is known to help relax and ease headaches.
Peppermint essential oil is also good for muscle and joint pain, and nerve pain.
Frankincense essential oil has anti-inflammatory properties and also acts as a mild sedative. It’s also used to alleviate stress and relieve pain.
It’s a power house against inflammation. It is an excellent oil to regenerate tissue. It can be really helpful for arthritis pain as well.
Marjoram essential oil is excellent in treating stiffness, muscle spasms, migraines, and arthritis pain. It also effectively relaxes involuntary muscle groups, including the heart, diaphragm and colon. As a result, it can be used to help with asthma, bronchitis and constipation, along with supporting heart health.
Marjoram is also used to aid sufferers of emotional trauma and distress.
How to Use Essential Oils for Pain Relief
In general essential oils can be used in the following ways, although always research or do a small test to ensure you don’t have a reaction to the particular oil you want to use. Everyone’s body works differently, and since essential oils are natural un-standardized substances, they can have different effects on different people.
While you can use any of these oils on their own, it is also beneficial to blend up to three oils together. Don’t apply essential oils directly on the skin, but dilute it first with a carrier oil such as olive oil or sweet almond oil.
Note: Some essential oils are not suitable for pregnant women or people with certain medical conditions. Be sure to talk with your doctor before you try essential oils to understand how to use them appropriately.
For Arthritis and Rheumatism
Put a few drops of essential oil in a hot bath (you can also add 2-3 cups of Epsom salt to enhance the effect). It’s a good idea to mix the essential oil drops in a small amount of carrier oil first and then add to the bath. This is also a wonderful treatment for digestive discomfort, muscle pain and joint stiffness.
Blend 4-6 drops of essential oil with one tablespoon of a carrier oil (olive oil) and apply a small amount of the mixture to the temples and massage gently. Be sure to stay away from the eyes.
Headache can also be relieved by smelling the oil: sprinkle a few drops of the oil onto a cloth or tissue, or use an aromatherapy diffuser or vaporizer.
For Muscle Pain
Use about 10 drops of essential oil per one ounce of carrier oil and massage this oil blend into any body part where your muscles are sore.
Hot or Cold Compress
Depending on the type of pain, you can use a hot or cold compress. A headache, for example, might benefit from a cold compress. Simply wrap an ice pack in a towel, which has been soaked with cold water and wrung out. Apply five to 10 drops of essential oils to this pack and apply to the forehead or neck. Similarly, a hot compress can be used for pain such as swollen joints or injured muscles. These compresses can be used for 15 to 20 minutes at a time.
To make hot compress take about a pint of hot water, as warm as you can comfortably tolerate, and add about 4 drops of your selected essential oil to it. Then place a small towel on top of the water and let it soak it up. Next squeeze the excess water and place it over the painful area. A cold compress is made exactly the same as the hot compress, but ice or refrigerated water is used instead of the hot water, and the compress is replaced when it has heated up to body temperature.
Warning: It doesn’t hurt to try out these healthy alternatives for pain relief. However, if you suffer from chronic pain that can’t be contained with natural options, consult your physician.