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Best Essential Oil For Pain Relief And How To Use

Overview

The concentrated organic plant oils, known as essential oils are useful in mitigating pain and eliminating completely. These essential oils for pain can treat pain in the muscles and joints.

What Is Pain?

Let’s first have a clear understanding of pain. Pain can be anything – a tingle, a feeling of prick, acute sting, burning sensation or the very common symptom of ache. It is a sign given by the nervous system that something somewhere in the body is not right. Pain can be long term or short term, continual or ephemeral, and dull or sharp. In other words pain is our body’s way of telling us that there is something wrong. However, do not misconstrue pain as simply the feeling or sensation one gets when he or she stubs her toe. Pain manifests as headaches, back pain and repetitive stress injuries. The underlying causes of these pains are not evident and yet we are in agony. Most people do not take pain seriously as it subsides eventually. And, some people are averse to using pharmaceutical products. But, why wait and suffer when you can use the natural essential oils for pain relief. Botanists have said that what pharmaceutical can do, essential oils can do more safely.

Pharmaceutical products for pain relief do offer relief from pain, but essential oils go one step further. Essential oils ease the pain, but it also combats the underlying cause of the pain. Essential oils are applied on the muscles for treating muscle soreness; these oils also treat inflammation of the skin and increase the blood circulation to the region. Furthermore, the essential oils have an aroma that relieves stress and anxiety, which calms the body and mind.

Essential oils are useful in pain relief because of its therapeutic benefits. So, what are these benefits that are useful in lowering pain and aches?

Essential Oils are Analgesic

Analgesic means pain reduction. Any medicine, natural or pharmaceutical, which has the ability of reducing or reliving pain, is an analgesic.

Essential Oils are Anti-inflammatory

Inflammation in the body is manifested as redness, swelling, tenderness and/or pain. Anti-inflammatory agents reduce the swelling and pain, thus tackling inflammation.

Essential Oils are Antispasmodic

Antispasmodics are classified as those substances that have the ability to calm muscle spasms and convulsions in the stomach or intestines.

Essential Oils are Anesthetic

Some essential oils act as anesthetic agents that benumb the area that is going through pain. This property helps overcome pain.

Essential Oils For Pain Relief

  • Peppermint Essential Oil For Pain relief

Peppermint essential oil is a popular choice for treating pains and sore muscles. The oil of peppermint has the following properties - analgesic, anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic – useful in treating pain and to reduce inflammation. The main constituent of this oil is menthol which is used in pharmaceutical pain relieving medicines. The effect of peppermint leaves, peppermint oil and menthol in relieving pain and spasms has been shown by Dr. Benjamin Kligler in 2007. (1) The oil of peppermint is also applied to treat neck and shoulder pain, and headaches. It has antispasmodic properties that are useful against irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). A randomized placebo-controlled trial published in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology in July 2014 showed that peppermint oil improved IBS symptoms and lessened abdominal pain.

  • Eucalyptus Essential Oil For Pain

The oil of eucalyptus is widely used for its expectorant properties, but it has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant and analgesic properties, which are useful in treating pain and swellings. A research article (Randomized Clinical Trial) published in 2013 showed that inhaling the aroma of eucalyptus oil decreased pain and blood pressure levels of patients who had total knee replacement surgery. This popular essential oil can be used topically as a pain reliever for muscle aches. 

  • Frankincense Essential Oil Pain Remedy

Frankincense is sometimes referred to as the king of essential oils because of its versatility and potency. The oil when applied on pain points lowers inflammation, reduces swellings, and reduces muscle pain and nerve pain. It does do so because of its anti-inflammatory, analgesic and nervine properties. A study showed that the bioactive natural substances in frankincense have analgesic properties that could be used in treating muscle, stomach, and arthritis pain. The study was published in the Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Medicine in the year 2014. (2) Another study in 2019 also established the anti-inflammatory properties of the oil which could result in wound healing and pain reduction. 

  • Lavender Oil for Pain Remedy

Peer-reviewed studies have found that lavender oil has analgesic or pain relieving and anti-inflammatory properties. The study was published in August 2014. (3) A randomized controlled trial done in September 2013 and published in the International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology concluded that aromatherapy with lavender oil reduced the need for other analgesics. In traditional medicine, inhaling lavender also help relieve physical and mental pain. (4)

  • Rose Essential Oil For Menstrual Pain

The essential oil of rose has been proven to lessen pain during periods. Some women feel distressing pain during their menses. Applying and inhaling rose oil lessens the pain while giving mental comfort. A randomized controlled trial also found that the oil reduces renal colic pain in patients. The research was published in the International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology in April 2013. (5)

  • Pain Relief with Bergamot

Research has found that bergamot essential oil could lower the neuropathic pain caused by nerve diseases. The research was published in Planta Medica in 2015. The oil of bergamot also took care of skin abrasions. Add a few drops with carrier oil and massage into areas affected with skin problems and pain. 

  • Juniper Berry Essential Oil Pain Remedy

Muscle and joint pain issues can be treated or lessened with the essential oil of juniper berry or juniper oil. This oil is used to mitigate the pain in the muscle and joints due to fibromyalgia and arthritis. The oil of juniper is one of good the essential oils for sore muscles treatment. It relieves muscle inflammation and joint pain; help reduce soreness and stiffness and offers relaxation.

  • Wintergreen Essential Oil For Pain Management

Wintergreen essential oil has methyl salicylate which has a cooling and soothing effect on the skin. A study published in April 2014 in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine concluded that the analgesic properties of wintergreen oil were useful in treating back pain issues. (6)

  • Rosemary Oil For Pain

Rosemary essential oil is yet another essential oil known for its versatility. A study published in January 2015 on lab mice found that rosemary was useful in the management of pain and worked better with other analgesic medicines. (7) The oil is also used as an ingredient in over-the-counter ointments.

  • Chamomile Essential Oil For Treating Pain

Chamomile is a gentle oil suitable for everyone. A randomized controlled clinical trial of 2015 found that after using Chamomile oil, patients with knee osteoarthritis complained less of pain. Furthermore the use of the oil improved physical function and reduced stiffness.

  • Treat Menstrual Pain with Clary sage Essential Oil

 The Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology Research in March 2012 published a report that showed that massage therapy with Clary sage provided relief from dysmenorrhea (severe and frequent menstrual cramps) and lowered the duration of menstrual pain. 

  • Ginger Oil Pain Remedy

Ginger essential oil extract may not be as popular in lowering pain as the other oils in this category but it is effective. It has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. The Journal of Essential Oil Bearing Plants in 2018 published the therapeutic benefits of ginger oil, and analgesic and pain relieving properties was one of it. Dilute your essential oil with sandalwood oil; mix with a carrier oil and apply to reduce muscle tension.

  • Clove oil For Pain Therapy

Clove has always been used in managing pain. Don’t believe us? Think of toothaches. Clove has been the go to herb in managing tooth pain. A randomized controlled trial published in the Journal of Dentistry in 2006 showed that clove oil has anesthetic properties that could replace certain anesthetic drugs from the market. (8)

  • Other Essential Oils for Pain Relief

Some of the other essential oils that can be applied on pain points are as follows: -

How To Use Essential Oils For Pain Relief

Essential oils are safe for use, especially if the ‘how to use’ instructions are followed. However, some people may have predisposition to using certain essential oils and its compounds. In such cases, consult a doctor before using these aromatic plant oils.

Essential oils are concentrated oils and hence potent. If it is applied directly to the skin it may cause irritation and redness. In other words, the boon of the oil will become its bane. Hence, to protect the skin, the essential oils must be diluted with carrier oils. The carrier oils carry the essential oils on the skin. These are nothing but plant oils, which help the skin to absorb the nutrients of the oils. Carrier oils have its own properties and ingredients, but they do not interfere with the working of essential oils. Some of the popular carrier oils that are used to dilute essential oils are as follows: -

  • Coconut oil
  • Fractionated coconut oil
  • Jojoba oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Almond oil
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Castor oil
  • Sunflower oil etc.

NAHA (or the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy) recommendation for aromatherapists is to keep the dilution rate of essential oils to 2.5% for adults. These rates may vary; generally, the dilution rate is kept between 2 to 5 %. The skin type and the essential oils used are also taken into consideration. Initially the dilution rate is kept at a minimum, that is, around 1%. As a general rule, two tablespoons of carrier oils are used for 3 drops of essential oils. (9)

Before using essential oils, perform a skin patch test. Take a drop of the diluted oil and apply on the forearms or thighs. Let it stay there for an hour or overnight. If the oil causes rashes or redness on the skin, it means that it is allergic to the skin. So, do not use that particular oil.

How to Use

Carry a Roll-on Bottle

Roll-ons are not just for lip glosses anymore, it can be used to store on-the-move essential oils as well. These bottles can be carried anywhere and do not create a mess. The essential oil roll-ons for pain are available at Gya Labs. However, anyone interested in formulating new blends of oils can do so. New and empty roll-on bottles are available for purchase. To mix the oil into the roll-on, follow these steps:

  • Assuming a medium sized roll-on, add 15 drops of any essential oil or oils into the bottle using a dropper.
  • Fill out the remaining part of the bottle with carrier oil of choice.
  • Seal the cap of the roll-on bottle.
  • Shake well before use.
  • Roll the bottle on the pain points.

Use Essential Oils for Massage

Essential oils have always been used as a massage oil. The oil can be used for self massage; but, it is always better to ask someone else to massage. The diluted oil is applied on the pain points and massage to get the blood flowing and allowing the ingredients to get absorbed into the skin. Massaging for muscle soreness also helps identify knots, thus releasing muscle tensions. It case of chronic pain, massages by aromatherapists can be booked.

Essential Oil Bath For Pain

Do you have a tub? If yes, then you are in for a treat. However, those who do not have a tub need not be dejected, because essential oils work fine with bath water. Hot baths with essential oils are a treat, especially if the body is in pain. First, the essential oil needs to be dissolved. Take the recommended dosage of that particular essential oil. Here you can either mix the oil with carrier oil; however, Epsom salt and even milk can be used to mix the essential oil with water. It is better to use tepid water for bathing with essential oil as the steamy aroma also acts as aromatherapy. There are some people who have the habit of bating in cold water; essential oils in cold water also get absorbed into the skin. Soaking oneself in a hot tub will relax aching muscles and feet. Generally 10 to 15 drops of essential oils are added to the bath water. The water is mixed well before use.

Essential Oils For Hot and Cold Compresses

Alternating hot and cold compresses are an old way of treating body aches and swellings (cold for swelling and hot for pain relief). Adding essential oils in the water will enhance the effect of hot and cold compresses and relax muscles. So how to do hot and cold compresses with essential oils?

  • Take two bowls; one filled with cold water and the other filled with warm water.
  • Add 5 to 10 drops of two different essential oils in the bowls (same oil can also be added, but different oils are more fun).
  • Take a dry towel and dip it in either of the bowl, wring out excess water and apply on the affected part of the body.
  • Leave it there for a few minutes till the towel gets normal.
  • Now dip it in the other bowl and repeat the process.

Inhalation of Essential Oils

Essential oils are normally inhaled as a part of aromatherapy. But, do they help in subduing physical pain? Pain, especially long term pain is often associated with mental agony. Inhaling the aroma of essential oils calms the mind, relaxes it and eliminates anxiety induced by the pain. Having an aroma diffuser would help. The oil can be added to steam and it can be inhaled as well. This method is especially useful when the body pain is due to flu. The aromatic steam opens the respiratory tract quickly.

How To Choose Essential Oils for Pain Relief

Since there are no governing bodies regulating essential oils, the onus is with the consumers to buy genuine essential oils from reputed vendors. So, one must learn to read the labels and know about the seller and manufacturer. Here are a few things to look for when buying essential oils: -

  • The botanical name or Latin name of the essential oil printed on the label.
  • The specifics of the sources’ region.
  • The purity stamp of the oil. Usually it must be 100% organic.
  • The list of ingredients. Make sure no synthetic products are added.
  • Check the price tag. Pure essential oils are expensive than duplicates in the market.
  • Perform an oil patch test on white paper after buying the product.

Safety and Precautions While Using Essential Oils

Essential oils are great for self-care routines. However, we should also take care and follow caution when using them to keep ourselves and loved ones safe from its side effects. Generally essential oils are safe, but a few guidelines must be followed to avoid any adverse effects. Also, the oils are different, made up of different compounds. Some people may be allergic to certain compounds while others may be allergic to others. Concentrated oil must be bought after careful deliberation. Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind.

  1. Read the label and instructions to make sure you’re using the oil correctly.
  2. While buying essential oils be wary of the terms fragrance oil, perfume oil and natural identical oil.
  3. The term pure essential oil can be widely seen on the bottles. These maybe made from substandard sources.
  4. Ensure that you are not allergic to any ingredients or compounds in the oil or else the oils may irritate the skin.
  5. It is important to dilute the oil before topical use as the raw oil is highly concentrated.
  6. Make sure to dilute the essential oil in a carrier oil for safe application.
  7. Do not add too much of the oil in the diffuser.
  8. Do not ingest essential oils.
  9. Avoid using essential oils of sensitive areas like the eyes and nose.
  10. Don’t apply it on broken skin either unless it’s mentioned on the bottle or label.
  11. Keep it out of reach of kids and fur kids.
  12. Do not diffuse the oil near kids and pets. Consult a doctor before doing so.
  13. Some oils may make you sensitive to sun damage, so be sure to load up on SPF.
  14. Check the label to see if the oil is photo-toxic.
  15. This oil may not be suitable for pregnant or breastfeeding women.
  16. The oil may cause embryotoxicity; consult a doctor before use.
  17. Always do a small patch test before topical application.
  18. If aromatherapy is performed directly from the bottle, make sure that the oil does not touch the skin.
  19. The common unwanted effects caused by essential oils up on topical application are rashes, redness and swelling.
  20. If you show signs of irritation, stop use and consult a health professional.
  21. Some essential oils cannot be used by people with kidney problems, whereas some essential oils cannot be used by those with blood disorders. It is always advisable to consult a doctor about your essential oil needs and predisposition for diseases.
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