Essential Oils for Pain and Inflammation

Essential oils have been found to help reduce various forms of pain and inflammation. There are many useful essential oils that can help relieve different types of pain.  Therefore, even if you are sensitive to one or more of them, there are several different options that you can try. At times, essential oils are overhyped as a catch all solution; this is not the case and it is always advisable to seek professional medical attention and advice if your pain is severe or chronic. Nevertheless, the usefulness of essential oils for pain has been proven in various studies, the University of Minnesota has conducted multiple studies that have found essential oils to “show positive effects for a variety of health concerns including infections, pain, anxiety, depression, tumors, premenstrual syndrome, nausea, and many others”.

In this guide we will go over:

  • Essential oils for specific types of pain
  • The common essential oils used for pain relief
  • How to apply oil properly

If you are looking for pain relief with the help of essential oils for a specific area on your body, we have prepared additional guides that discuss that in more detail.

Pain From Injuries

Essential Oils For Tennis Elbow

Pain Specific To Women

Pain From Headaches

Pain From Illness

Digestive Pain

Nerve Pain

Foot Pain

General Pain

Essential Oils for Muscle Aches/Pains

For topical application, add a few drops(2-3) of Marjoram oil & Lavender oil to 1 tbs of a carrier oil (e.g coconut essential oil) Massage 1-2 drops over the area of concern as needed or several times a day. This blend relieves muscular spasms resulting from overexertion of muscles in hands and legs.

Essential Oils for Muscle Tension/Relaxation

Add few drops of lavender oil, Chamomile oil and peppermint oil in a tablespoon of castor oil or coconut oil and massage 1-2 drops over the area of concern as needed or several times a day. This essential oil blend works as a highly effective muscle relaxant.

Essential oils for Sore Calf Muscles

Marjoram essential oil diluted with olive oil and massaged into the affected area, it relieves muscular spasms resulting from overexertion of muscles in hands and legs. rosemary oils can also be applied topically to reduce joint pains and muscle soreness.

Essential Oils for Arthritis

Rosemary essential oil is particularly useful in treating rheumatism. Juniper berry oil or Cayenne essential oil mixed with a light carrier oil like coconut oil can be used topically to relieve arthritic and rheumatic pain and neuralgia. Helichrysum oil is also a staple in anti-rheumatic medications. It can relieve deep nerve pain and provide quick relief from painful conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome and sciatica.

Ginger is a culinary herb used as spices in vegetables. In Ayurveda, it is considered as a medicinal herb with immense therapeutic properties. It is also used in Chinese System of Medicine. Due to its anti-inflammatory property it is effective against joint pains. The essential oil is extracted from rhizome of ginger (Zingiber offincinale). Massaging ginger oil (after diluting it with a carrier oil) on the affected area heals the cells and reduces pain. Ginger oil has zingiberene that acts as analgesic and anti-inflammatory. Scientific studies have also confirmed that ginger has anti-inflammatory, analgesic properties, anti-ulcer activities, etc and thus can be used against all kinds of arthritis.

Essential Oils for Back Pain

To Use Essential Oils for back pain, add lavender oil (10 drops), marjoram oil (6 drops), rosemary oil (8 drops) and peppermint essential oil (9 drops). blend together with jojoba oil as the carrier oil. Add several drops into the area of pain, and apply a hot or cold compress.

Essential oils for Joint Pain

Helichrysum and peppermint essential oils – dilute 3 -5 drops of oils in 1-2 tablespoons of carrier oil (such as olive, coconut or jojoba). massage gently to the pain spot followed with a hot or cold compress, heating pad or ice pack.

Essential oils for Fibromyalgia

Use ginger essential oil diluted with a carrier oil for pain. Turmeric is very good for inflammation – take it through adding it to meals or through pills. Massage 1-2 drops of essential oils for pain into the area of concern or the soles of the feet daily or as desired.

Essential Oils for General Inflammation

This blend of oils is just the right thing for inflammation:

  • Chamomile oil to reduce inflammation and pain
  • Lavender essential oil
  • Marjoram essential oil
  • Eucalyptus essential oil
  • Peppermint essential oil

Dilute with a carrier oil like coconut essential oil. Massage 1-2 drops over the area, moving with the lymphatic system (toward the heart). Also, consider an oil like Spearmint essential oil. Making anti-inflammatory foods the mainstay of our diet and supplements like theracurmin and omega 3 can also help reduce inflammation of all kind.

How To Use Essential Oils For Pain Relief

The best way to use essential oils for pain is to put them in massage oils. Pure essential oils are highly potent and concentrated, so they should be diluted with carrier oils such as olive oil, coconut oil, jojoba oil or castor oil, avocado, sweet almond, apricot kernel, sesame oil.

Before direct application on the skin. you can do a skin patch test to check its effects on your skin. Rub your diluted oil onto the inside of your forearm. If you don’t experience any irritation or discomfort within 24 hours, the oil should be safe for you to use.

To blend your essential oils into a synergy, You only need to use a few drops of essential oil. The dosage varies, but the standard practice is to add  4  to 10 drops of essential oil to every tablespoon of your carrier oil. You can mix different essential oils together as long as you keep to these proportions. Be sure to only use the purest grade of carrier oils since they have therapeutic properties of their own and enhance the action of the essential oils.

Essential oils, whether they are purchased as pure oil and prepared at home or in therapeutic products are particularly useful in the management of chronic pain as in the case of arthritis and sciatica. Essential oils have been proven to be a great addition to any pain management program. They can help with reducing the need to take prescription pain medications.

This also helps with increasing the relaxing and pain relieving effects of a massage therapy using essential oils or bath salts, or pain relief lotions and creams.

Lavender and peppermint essential oils are very popular pain relievers for general use but they are not the only oils for pain. Some of the Best 7 Essential Oils For Pain Relief are provided in the following list, along with their most important uses.

The Most Common Essential Oils For Pain

Essential Oils for Croup


Lavender Essential oil is one of the most popular and well-known essential oils for pain relief.  It is antimicrobial, pain relieving and relaxing in nature.  When you inhale the vapors, either from the bottle directly, or diffused in the air via using a diffuser, it helps to reduce muscle tension and relieves stress and anxiety which is what could be the underlying cause of many painful conditions.

These both will reduce your level of pain you feel.  It also can help with easing the pain felt from migraine headaches, neck pain or tension by either placing oil on your temples or inhaling the vapors.

Being a mild essential oil, one or two drops can be applied undiluted on the neck and forehead for quicker results. You can also use this excellent sleep aid in a diffuser in the bedroom or add it to bath water before going to bed for instant pain relief.

1. Lavender Essential Oil

Lavender in a bath can be very helpful for joint and muscle pain as well as stress.  It can help you sleep better when used at bedtime.  It can also help to ease body pain, stress, and ache.1

There have been studies that show pain levels can be increased by poor sleep.  Improving the amount and quality of sleep helps you reduce those pain levels. (When you combine chamomile and lavender there is increased benefits for pain relief, stress reduction, and sleep).

A chamomile and lavender bath soak can help reduce pain, relax you and relieve stress.  So you should get a bottle of pure lavender oil and add some to your bath water.

2. Clary Sage

Clary sage is added to massage oils, it can be very useful for relieving cramping, muscle aches, and muscle spasms. 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.

It is quite effective when used with chamomile for menstrual and PMS problems. Inhaling Clary Sage has been proven to have the ability to soothe nervous tension, lighten the mood, and create a sense of euphoria but it should not be taken internally. This oil should be used sparingly and cautiously.

3. Juniper

There are many uses for juniper essential oil.  However, the ones that are most relevant when it comes to pain relief are the anti-rheumatic and anti-spasmodic properties. Juniper, when applied in a lotion or cream, helps with reducing muscle spasms and joint and muscle pains and aches that are associated with fibromyalgia, arthritis, dysmenorrhea2  and other similar ailments.

Juniper strengthens the nerves as well.  With regular use, it can be helpful as well for neuropathic pain.  Juniper has stimulant properties as well.  Therefore, you should use it early in your day.  If you use it before bedtime it can interfere with you being able to get to sleep properly.

4. Eucalyptus

Eucalyptus essential oil are similar to those of juniper.  When used topically it has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties.  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.  It’s recommended for treating nerve pain, sprains, strains and muscular pains and aches.

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.

5. Rosemary

Rosemary is a very effective remedy for headaches in addition to joint and muscle ache and pain.  It can be used as well for enhancing memory, concentration and mental alertness.  It also has an antidepressant effect. A study conducted in 2015 found that “the use of rosemary in the management of pain and indicate a therapeutic potential of rosemary essential oil in combination with analgesic drugs”.3

Rosemary blends well with clary sage, peppermint, chamomile, and lavender. However, breastfeeding or pregnant women should not use it.

6. Peppermint Essential Oil

Peppermint oil is very useful for migraines and headaches.4  The antispasmodic properties of peppermint essential oil make it a great natural remedy to treat arthritis and intestinal problems. Because of its soothing and numbing characteristics it is one of the most popular essential oils for pain.

Amongst its many uses, Peppermint essential oil is known to help relax and ease tension muscular aches and spasms.  It relaxes muscles in the lower back, reduces tension headaches and pain due to fibromyalgia.

For headaches, you can blend 4 peppermint oil drops with a tablespoon of jojoba oil, olive oil or some other carrier oil.  A small amount of the blend can be applied to the temples and gently massaged in. this is a very effective remedy.

Make sure you stay far away from the eyes.  If you add a couple of lavender drops or a drop or two of rosemary oil to peppermint oil.  it can enhance the effect that it has to relieve pain.

7. Yarrow Essential Oil

Extracted from the yarrow plant, yarrow essential oil is a very potent pain reliever. It is antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory and contains salicylic acid which is behind the analgesic effect of aspirin. The oil can also be used topically on inflamed joints to increase movement and reduce symptoms of arthritis and rheumatic pain.

8. Clove Essential Oil

Clove essential oil is one of the earliest essential oils to be used medicinally,  It gives a burning sensation when applied on the skin in the undiluted form. It is very useful for treating toothache.  A few drops of clove oil can be mixed with a cup of warm water and used as a throat gargle to get relief from throat pain. Clove oil mixed with jojoba oil or olive oil can be massaged into the affected area to get relief from muscle, joint pain, and soreness.

9. Clove Essential Oil

Chamomile is a very effective anti-inflammatory agent. It can be used for TMJ, neuralgia, lower back and muscular pain, headaches as well as stress and PMS that can cause digestive problems.  When blended with lavender, it can be quite effective, although it also works well with many other essential oils for pain in blends.

Chamomile has a therapeutic, calming effect on the skin, mind, and body. It soothes body systems and promotes a healthy inflammatory response from the body.

Cautions and warnings

The medicinal properties of many essential oils for pain overlap, so if you are allergic to some essential oils, it shouldn’t keep you from trying others., some acting as soothing muscle and nerve relaxants while others have an invigorating action on the mind and body.

The potency of essential oils for pain should not be underestimated. It should be used with great caution. Take care to dilute essential oils when appropriate and perform a skin patch test before applying the oil to your skin.

Talk to your doctor or certified aromatherapist before use if you:

  • are pregnant
  • are nursing
  • have an existing medical condition
  • wish to use essential oils on children or older adults

Potential side effects of using essential oils include:

  • skin irritation
  • skin inflammation
  • sun sensitivity
  • allergic reaction

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References


1.
Soltani R, Soheilipour S, Hajhashemi V, Asghari G, Bagheri M, Molavi M. Evaluation of the effect of aromatherapy with lavender essential oil on post-tonsillectomy pain in pediatric patients: A randomized controlled trial. I. 2013;77(9):1579-1581. doi:10.1016/j.ijporl.2013.07.014
2.
Ou M-C, Hsu T-F, Lai AC, Lin Y-T, Lin C-C. Pain relief assessment by aromatic essential oil massage on outpatients with primary dysmenorrhea: A randomized, double-blind clinical trial. Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Research. 2012;38(5):817-822. doi:10.1111/j.1447-0756.2011.01802.x
3.
Raskovic A, Milanovic I, Pavlovic N, Milijasevic B, Ubavic M, Mikov M. Analgesic effects of rosemary essential oil and its interactions with codeine and paracetamol in mice. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2015;19(1):165-172. [PubMed]
4.
Göbel H, Schmidt G, Soyka D. Effect of Peppermint and Eucalyptus Oil Preparations on Neurophysiological and Experimental Algesimetric Headache Parameters. C. 1994;14(3):228-234. doi:10.1046/j.1468-2982.1994.014003228.x

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