I’m often asked which essential oils and herbs are helpful for chronic pain. Though there is not one certain essential oil or herb that can help in one particular area. Always keep in mind, what works for one may not work for you. This is where the individual approach comes into play. You know your body better than anyone!
Your body will tell you when something is wrong, all you have to do is listen. That means, when it hurts to do that, then stop doing it! Remember RICE: Rest, ice, compression, and elevation can help reduce the swelling and pain and help you heal faster.
I have found when dealing with my chronic pain (nerve, joint and muscle), using essential oils (inhalation and application) have helped me tremendously with my pain management. I also changed my diet (gluten free) and removed “Wheat” which reduce my arthritic pain (oh my aching knees). I also listen to my body, once I reached a level of pain that was uncomfortable, I stopped doing what I was and gave that area a break. Easier said than done sometimes, but I do try. I have created a few products (listed below) that have helped me and others with pain when applied to the area.
A little history on Aromatherapy and how it can help.
Aromatherapy is often misunderstood and undervalued holistic therapy in the United States. I've often encountered individuals that thought aromatherapy was just a nice smelling air/room freshener. I've come to realize it’s so much more than that.
Marguerite Maury deserves special attention as her work with essential oils led to the creation of holistic aromatherapy practice as we know it today. Marguerite pioneered the dermal application of essential oils and the recognition of essential oils to the skin has been attributed to the seminal work she did entitled "The Secret of Life and Youth", published in France in 1961.
Maury states "Massage of the conjunctive, neuro-muscular or soft tissue pave the way admirable for the penetration of the odoriferous substances (essential oils), and the resultant rejuvenation” (P. 158). Maury observed that essential oils applied to the skin not only had a physiological effect but also a corresponding psychological effect. From these observations and applications, modern holistic aromatherapy was born. Based on Maury’s contributions to the practice of aromatherapy, we can then define aromatherapy more comprehensively:
Aromatherapy is the holistic therapeutic application of genuine essential oils for enhancing the
The physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health of the individual.
Chronic pain affects an estimated 90 million Americans. Its causes can stem from any number of medical conditions or as a result of an injury. Some people suffer even when no specific physical cause can be found. Traditional pain medications often serve the symptoms, but with serious side effects on the long-term basis, during which chronic pain tends to persist and is usually associated with a degenerative or chronic pathological process such as arthritis. However, sometimes the cause of the pain is elusive.
Why Use Aromatherapy for Chronic Pain?
Aromatherapy, whether administered topically or through inhalation, can help eliminate the need for medication or enable a reduction of use. When used appropriately, and the oils are used in the correct amounts, no harmful effects are likely to occur, with the exception of possible hypersensitivity to certain fragrances or an allergic reaction when an oil is massaged into the skin. Through inhalation the smell receptors in the nose respond to the scents of the essential oils, sending chemical messages through the nervous system to the brain’s limbic system—the part of the brain involved in memory and emotions.
Pure essential oils come from aromatic plants which possess a vitality that can affect the human body in a number of positive ways. Chronic pain can be relieved, or at least relaxed, through the use of aromatherapy.
Essential oils that can help relax muscles, decrease inflammation and pain, these are especially effective for chronic pain conditions.
Analgesic: relieves or reduces pain. Essential Oils: Black pepper, Birch, Cinnamon Leaf, Clove Bud, Eucalyptus, Ginger, Lemongrass, Sweet marjoram, Myrrh, Peppermint, Rosemary ct. camphor and cineole
Anti-inflammatory: soothes and reduces inflammation. Essential Oils: German chamomile, Frankincense, Helichrysum, Lavender, Myrrh, Patchouli, Sandalwood.
Antirheumatic: relieves the symptoms of rheumatism. Essential Oils: Black pepper, German or Roman chamomile, Juniper, Lemon, Rosemary ct camphor, Vetiver
Antispasmodic: relieves smooth/ skeletal muscle spasms. Essential Oils: Angelica root, Bay laurel, German or Roman chamomile, Clary sage, Cypress, Fennel, Ginger, Lavender, Sweet marjoram, Neroli, Peppermint, Petitgrain, Sage.
Detoxifier: removal of toxic substances from the body. Essential Oils: Carrot Seed, Cypress, Fennel, Grapefruit, Juniper, Lemon.
Nervine: relaxes the nervous system and can reduce nervous disorders. Essential Oils: Angelica root, Bergamot, German or Roman chamomile, Frankincense, Lavender, Mandarin, Sweet marjoram, Melissa, Neroli, Sweet orange, Petitgrain, Rose, Sandalwood, Vetiver, Ylang-ylang.
Neuralgia: nerve pain is a sign or symptom of some other nervous system disorder or condition in which pain travels along a sensory peripheral nerve path. Most common that involves, trigeminal neuralgia with sharp, sever pain or burning sensation. Essential Oils: Birch, German chamomile, Cinnamon leaf, Clove bud, Laurel, Lavender, Lemongrass, Eucalyptus, Sweet marjoram, Melissa, Neroli, Palmarosa, Pine, Ravensara, Spearmint, Vetiver.
Fibromyalgia: pain in the muscles, ligaments, and tendons of the soft tissue. Includes: chronic pain, fatigue, stiffness, sleep disorders, headaches, restless leg syndrome, anxiety, and depression. Essential Oils: Angelica root, Bergamot, Birch, Black pepper, German or Roman chamomile, Ginger, Helichrysum, Laurel, Lavender, Mandarin, Sweet marjoram, Neroli, Ravensara, Rose, Rosemary, Sandalwood, Spearmint, Vetiver, Ylang-ylang. Herbal Oils: Arnica and St. John’s Wort herbal oils.
Carpal tunnel, tendinitis or Bursitis: caused by edema or repetitive movements. Pain, tingling, numbness and weakness. Essential Oils: Birch, Black pepper, Cardamom, Clary sage, Clove bud, Cypress, Eucalyptus, Fennel, Geranium, Helichrysum, Juniper, Laurel, Lavender, Lemon, Peppermint, Rosemary ct camphor or cineole. Herbal Oils: Arnica and St John’s Wort herbal oils.
Plantar Fascistic: pain and inflammation caused by injury to the plantar fascia of the foot. Massage to release tension in deep calf muscles that put a strain on the plantar fascia. Essential Oils: Birch, Cardamom, German or Roman chamomile, Clary sage, Clove Bud, Eucalyptus, Helichrysum, Laurel, Lavender, Sweet marjoram, Peppermint, Rosemary ct camphor, cineol, Spearmint. Herbal Oils: Arnica and St. John’s Wort.
Sciatica: irritated or inflamed resulting in pain, numbness, or reduced sensation from the buttocks down to the legs. Essential Oils: Birch, Cardamom, German or Roman chamomile, Cinnamon leaf, Clary sage, Clove bud, Cypress, Frankincense, Helichrysum, Juniper, Laurel, Lavender, Sweet marjoram, Neroli, Peppermint, Rosemary ct camphor, Spearmint. Herbal Oils: Arnica and St. John’s Wort.
Here are a few blends that we have created for the types of pain mentioned above. Essential Oil Blends are Pure Essential Oils diluted into various carriers and are ready for applying to the skin. Each blend is made for a special purpose.
Aches & Pains Essential Oil Blend has been designed to help soothe, support and maintain muscles and surrounding area. Special formula includes a generous amount of therapeutic quality essential oils making this quite an aromatic herbal blend.
Relief Blend was created to help soothe, support & maintain, healthy Muscles, Joints, Bones, Tendons, Ligaments & Cartilage. This is for that deep down pain that involves all the above.
Bruise Juice Salve helps to ease the discomfort of Bruises, Myalgia (muscle pain), Muscle sprains and/or ligaments, Arthritis, Joint stiffness, and slow healing wounds. Discover your reason for using Bruise Juice Salve.
Essential Oil Safety Information
- We do not recommend the internal use of any Essential Oils.
- Never use essential oils as a substitute for necessary medical care. Always consult a qualified healthcare professional.
- Only the finest quality pure essential oils should be used in aromatherapy.
- Always check the essential oil safety information before using.
- Use less rather than more.
- Always keep all essential oils out of the reach of children.
- Do not use essential oils on or near the eyes.
- Do not apply essential oils neat (or undiluted) to the skin or mucous membranes. Always dilute first!
- Do not use citrus oils or angelica before exposure to UV light.
- If any sort of skin rash develops, discontinue use. Try another oil.
- Store essential oils and carrier oils properly to avoid degradation and rancidity.
Standard dilution of Essential Oils
Pure essential oils are more concentrated than the whole plant. It is important to always dilute essential oils before applying to the skin. Dilutions are typically 2% - 10%. For adults, a 2.5% dilution is recommended for most purposes. For children under 12, .5% - 1% is generally safe.
.5%-= 3 drops per ounce of carrier
1% = 6 drops per ounce of carrier
2.5% = 15 drops per ounce of carrier
5% = 30 drops per ounce of the carrier (Localized treatment work)
10% = 60 drops per ounce of the carrier (Strong localized treatment work)
What kind of Carrier should I use?
Keep it simple, and save money. If you have Olive Oil (organic preferably) or Coconut Oil in your kitchen use that.
We will have more articles on Carrier oils and how to choose one that will best compliment your blend coming soon.
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All material provided on this website is provided for informational or educational purposes only, and is not intended as a substitute for the advice or care provided by your healthcare professional or physician.
Maury, M. (1961) The Secret of Life and Youth. English translation Macdonald & Co. Ltd., 1964.
Schnaubelt, K. (1995). Advanced Aromatherapy. Rochester, Vermont: Healing Arts Press.
Worwood, V. (1996). The Fragrant Mind. Novato, CA: New World Library. Plant database: http://plants.usda.gov/
Woorwood, V (1991) The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy. New World Library, Novato. California.
Buckle, J. (2003). Clinical Aromatherapy. Philadelphia: Elsevier Science.
Shutes, J. Weaver, C. (2008) Aromatherapy for Bodyworkers. Pearson Education, Inc., Upper Saddle River, New Jersey.
Schnaubelt, Kurt. Advanced Aromatherapy. Healing Arts Press, Rochester, VT, 1998. ISBN: 0-89281-743-7
Sheppard-Hanger, Sylla. The Aromatherapy Practitioner Reference Manual. The Atlantic Institute of Aromatherapy, Tampa FL, 1995. ISBN: 0-9643141-O-X
Tisserand, Robert. Essential Oil Safety. Churchill Livinstone, Edinburgh, 1995. ISBN: 0-443-05260-3