Chronic inflammation and pain can be absolutely debilitating and it’s not uncommon to be a skeptic about using essential oils as a cure-all. Chronic inflammation is your body’s natural immune response to stress and physical irritation. The growing scientific research on essential oils for pain actually promotes their use for anti-inflammation and pain relief. Essential oils have been used for thousands of years and there are many ways to get them into your body including aromatherapy, massage, and even tinctures/capsules. Always consult with your physician before using alternative medicine - pain and inflammation can have many threatening underlying issues. Here are a few of the top essential oils for pain - all backed by science.
1. Rosehip Essential Oil
Rosehip essential oil, according to the Arthritis Research U.K., contains polyphenols (antioxidants) and anthocyanins (dark blue pigments found in certain plants and food). Each of these helps to reduce joint pain as well as inflammation. This is a very effective essential oil for pain management, especially for people who can’t take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID).
2. Lavender Essential Oil
One of the most highly studied essential oils, lavender oil is known for its positive effects on sleep disorders and anxiety. However, it can also help treat headaches, migraines, and minor aches and pains. In fact, a study in 2012 determined that when inhaled, lavender essential oil safely relieved uncomfortable migraine pain for participants. Another study in 2015 found that lavender has both analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. This essential oil does wonders for both physical and mental health.
3. Peppermint Essential Oil
If you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) you know the pain associated with it. In 2011, The New York Times proposed research that suggests using peppermint oil as a method to manage IBS and associated symptoms such as bloating and abdominal pain. Also, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) suggests that peppermint oil may be used topically for tension migraines. This is a very helpful oil if you suffer from muscle aches and pains, migraines, and stomach issues such as IBS.
4. Flaxseed Essential Oil
Overloaded with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, flaxseed oil is already beneficial for your body’s overall health and well-being. In addition, the Arthritis Foundation suggests that people claim ingesting the oil eases symptoms of lupus, Raynaud’s phenomenon, and even rheumatoid arthritis. Omega-3 fatty acids also contain anti-inflammatory properties - stock up on it now to begin easing your pain!
5. Eucalyptus Essential Oil
Suffering from the aches and pains of a head cold? Experiencing body pain in general? Eucalyptus essential oil can fix that! A study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology found that eucalyptus oil contains both anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties. Eucalyptus oil is also found in over-the-counter cold and cough medications!
6. Juniper Berry Essential Oil
Juniper berries are female seed cones produced by juniper species, and they are loaded with health benefits! Though not as highly researched as other oils, Cogent Medicine composed a study and found that juniper berry oil affects many signaling pathways that are related closely to inflammation, cancer biology, immune response, metabolism, and wound healing!
7. Clary Sage Essential Oil
Clary sage is a very popular flowering herb commonly used in cooking, aromatherapy, teas, and in natural medicine. Antioxidants found in clary sage may have anti-inflammatory properties according to study conducted on rats. Another study showed that a mix of clary sage, marjoram, and lavender oil reduced the duration and intensity of uncomfortable and painful periods (dysmenorrhea) in patients.
8. Evening Primrose Oil
For women who experience painful cramping or PMS symptoms, evening primrose oil can be a great way to manage menstrual discomfort. There are many promising studies, such as one article published in the American Family Physician. This article explained that evening primrose oil is commonly used to reduce inflammation, breast pain, and symptoms of menopause and PMS. Despite these studies, more research needs to be composed in order to prove these positive effects.
Why Essential Oils?
As we mentioned earlier, you might be a skeptic when it comes to using essential oils for pain relief. But you can’t knock it until you try it, right? Every essential oil listed above has been broadly studied and many scientists have proven that they may work for pain, sleep disorders, inflammation, headaches, and respiratory issues. These century-old techniques may improve physical and mental health and well-being. Though more research is needed to fully understand how essential oils can treat pain, there usually isn’t any harm in adding them to your pain management agenda. All in all, trying something new may really help you start living a pain free life.
Different Ways to Use These Essential Oils for Pain Relief
First things first, you’ll need a carrier oil if you are applying your essential oils topically. If you apply essential oils directly to your skin without a carrier oil, it may cause inflammation and irritation. The most common carrier oils are coconut, avocado, grapeseed, and jojoba oils. These oils added with a few drops of your favorite essential oil, mixed together make for the perfect aromatherapy massage oil! Generally, you should add about 10 drops of essential oil to the carrier oil. Test a small patch of skin to see how you react to it before applying the oil all over.
If you don’t have a carrier oil or don’t want to put it on your skin, straight inhalation is another amazing way to reap the benefits of essential oils. You can add a few drops to a diffuser and inhale the steam directly. You can also add your favorite essential oil for pain to boiling water and inhale the steam if you don’t have a diffuser.
The last popular option is bathing in it. You can add a few drops of essential oils to a warm bath with a carrier oil and it will seep directly into your pores. If you don’t want an oily bath, try the very popular milk bath - the oils mix with the fat in milk. Not only will the essential oils enter your body through your skin, but the steam rising from the bath water will provide you with some awesome aromatherapy.
A Few Words of Caution
Whether you are an essential oil pro or a newbie, you should always take certain precautions before trying out new essential oils. Remember to always dilute your essential oils in a carrier oil and do a skin patch test to check how your body will react to the essential oil you are trying out. Also, you should talk to your doctor before using essential oils if you are pregnant or nursing, have existing medical conditions, or if you want to use essential oils on kids or older adults. Potential risks of using essential oils include skin irritation, allergic reaction, and inflammation.
Note: We are not medical professionals, nor do we intend to be. Every essential oil in this article has been listed with scientific studies or research to back it up. However, pain and inflammation may have some serious underlying causes that should be checked out by a medical professional, especially if your pain persists for a long time. Consult with your doctor or physician before choosing alternative medicine, as you may have underlying issues causing your pain.
Before using any of the essential oils listed above, do your research or consult with your physician. It’s always important to experiment with essential oils before lathering your whole body with them, as every skin type is different, and each person has a different immune response to new products.
You also want to make sure you buy from reputable sources. There are many companies out there now selling essential oils and they aren’t good products. You always want to make sure that the essential oils you are purchasing are 100% pure and organic. Since the FDA does not regulate essential oils, ingredients may be different depending on the manufacturer. It’s not hard to find ‘essential oils’ that are fake and are created with ingredients that may cause adverse reactions.
Read your reviews if you decide to purchase essential oils online and visit holistic stores. You can also speak with a licensed aromatherapist in order to figure out the best essential oils that will help with your specific pain problems - they will know where to get the best brands and help match one to your needs.
Used for thousands of years, the essence of plants and flowers are becoming widely popular again over the past ten years and it’s normal to see them almost everywhere, even in your local grocery stores and in medicine/vitamin aisles. With research and scientific proof, you can’t go wrong. Try out essential oils for your pain today and start changing your life!