There’s been a lot of talk lately about essential oils. You can find them everywhere from luxury oil specialty shops to your local health food stores. Do you wonder what all the fuss is about? Review our 10 picks for chronic pain and see if essential oils have a place to help you build a healthier lifestyle. Be sure to read the entire article before purchasing your own essential oils set.
What Are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are highly potent plant extracts that have endless health benefits as well as cleansing properties. Recently they have become increasingly popular, although they’ve been used in non-Western traditional medicine since the beginning of civilization. The oils can be used for aromatic therapy, topically, and some can even be ingested. Many of these blends can be used to combat chronic pain because of their anti-inflammatory properties along with their abilities to soothe neurological pain, strengthen the immune system and ease the digestive tract.
Since these oils are so potent, certain precautions should be taken to avoid irritation and possible toxicity. When applied topically, all oils unless otherwise stated should be mixed with a carrier oil or lotion to prevent skin irritation. Carrier oils are harmless and non-irritating, such as fractionated coconut oil. Do not ingest an oil unless you know it is not toxic and has internal benefits. Most oils should be diluted by using 1-2 drops per 4 fl oz. of water before being ingested. If the extract is being used in a diffuser, do not use more than 4-5 drops at one time.
This guide features common extracts used for relieving a range of chronic pain conditions, and explains how to effectively use them. Many of these oils have plenty of other benefits not mentioned because they are not chronic pain-related.
Ginger is a root commonly used for its health benefits including reducing inflammation and pain relief. Ginger oil is a more concentrated way to receive the benefits of the root. Its anti-inflammatory properties make it ideal for people with rheumatoid arthritis, IBS and fibromyalgia. It is a great way to combat joint pain. Ginger also helps with nausea and settling the stomach, so patients going through chemo-therapy can consume it to help reduce side effects.
How Ginger Oil Can be Used:
- Add 1 drop per 4 fl oz. of water to help with gas, bloating, indigestion and stomach aches.
- Apply topically with a carrier oil to ease skin inflammation and joint pain, and to create a soothing sensation.
- Diffuse in a diffuser to energize the mind and stay focused. Good to use for the late afternoon lull.
- Add 1 drop while cooking for flavor and to receive general benefits.
Ginger oil pairs well with orange, rose, sandalwood, lime and lemon.
Eucalyptus is most commonly known for helping with respiratory issues such as bronchitis, sinusitis and allergies. It also purifies the body and reduces inflammation. Inhaling the vapors of eucalyptus oil reduces constriction of blood vessels and clears congestion. Note: eucalyptus should not be ingested.
How Eucalyptus Oil Can be Used:
- Add 1-2 drops to warm water and gargle to soothe a sore throat.
- Mix with a carrier oil or lotion and rub on chest to improve circulation and relieve congestion.
- Use as air freshener to kill air-borne bacteria
- Diffuse in diffuser for general benefits.
Eucalyptus oil pairs well with rosemary and frankincense.
Warning: eucalyptus oil is toxic to cats.
Frankincense is another highly popular essential oil because of its diversity and pleasant smell. It builds up the immune system, regulates the nervous system and reduces inflammation. When used topically, it can also reduce age spots and even out the skin tone. It’s also been claimed that frankincense helps fight cancerous cells. When ingested, this extract can help people suffering with IBS because it encourages acid and bile production and aids digestion. Frankincense can also regulate estrogen production, which helps prevent uterine cysts and normalize the menstrual cycle. Some fibromyalgia symptoms can be soothed with frankincense.
How Frankincense Can be Used:
- Add 1-2 drops per 4 fl oz. of water and drink to aid IBS symptoms, help regulate estrogen or soothe neurological pain.
- Mix 1-2 drops with facial lotion or toner to decrease age spots and help complexion.
- Diffuse in diffuser for general benefits and to calm mood.
Frankincense pairs well with citrus oils.
Juniper oil is used in many therapies because of its calming smell and detoxification properties. It is not as commonly known for its amazing ability to fight chronic pain. It can treat hemorrhoids, colitis, and dysmenorrhea. If ingested, it can also help relieve gas and indigestion. People suffering from rheumatoid arthritis can use it topically to relieve joint pain.
How Juniper Oil Can be Used:
- Add 4-5 drops to hot/warm bath water and soak for 20 minutes to help relieve hemorrhoids.
- Add 1-2 drops per 4 fl oz. of water and drink to improve digestion and prevent gas.
- Diffuse in a diffuser for general benefits.
- Mix with a carrier oil and massage into sore and swollen joints.
Juniper oil has a distinct smell that may not pair well with other oils but can still be combined for the health benefits.
Warning: juniper oil is toxic to dogs.
Clove is a natural antibacterial, antioxidant protectant and anti-parasitic. It also has anesthetic properties that help with instant acute pain relief. It can be massaged into muscles to relieve soreness, inflammation and sharp surface pains. Conditions such as toothaches are easily combatted with clove oil. People with infections, chronic muscle pain or neurological pain can benefit from clove oil.
How Clove Oil Can be Used:
- Add 1-2 drops to warm water and gargle to relieve sore throat and fight infection.
- Massage 1 drop on temples to relieve headaches and migraines.
- Mix 1 drop with a carrier oil and apply to skin abrasions and infections to help healing with the oil’s antimicrobial properties.
Warning: clove oil is toxic to dogs and cats.
Cypress oil improves circulation and reduces varicose veins. It also stabilizes your mood and can raise confidence. Since it improves circulation, it can be applied topically to the legs, feet and abdomen to improve energy and resilience. It does not need to be diluted, but still check for skin sensitivity. It can be massaged into any sore area to relieve pain. Note: cypress oil should not be ingested.
How Cypress Oil Can be Used:
- Rub 1-2 drops into each leg to increase circulation before and after workouts or when sore.
- Diffuse in a diffuser for general benefits
- Massage 1-2 drops into sore or swollen area to relieve pain. Massage into areas with varicose veins as well.
Cypress oil pairs well with pine, juniper, lime and peppermint.
Myrrh is a go-to oil for pain relief because its properties are so diverse. It can help with an array of symptoms. It is a natural antiseptic that can be used to fight infections, reduce inflammation, promote blood circulation and strengthen the organ systems. Myrrh also helps the body filter out toxins and reduce hormonal imbalances. People with chronic inflammation conditions, infections, asthma and fibromyalgia can all benefit from Myrrh.
How Myrrh Oil Can be Used:
- Add 1-2 drops in warm water, gargle and swish to relieve a sore throat and aid in healing mouth infections.
- Mix 1-2 drops per 4 fl oz. of water and drink to help muscle and stomach cramps and relieve gas. It can be ingested for other internal benefits, such as regulating metabolism, relieving muscle pain, balancing your mood and normalizing most body systems.
- Inhale vapors to break up mucus and phlegm in the chest.
- Diffuse in any essential oil diffuser for general benefits and to stabilize mood.
- Apply topically with a carrier oil or lotion to help with skin inflammation and sore muscles.
Myrrh pairs well with basil, oregano, clove and sandalwood. It has a smoky, earthy smell.
Peppermint is one of the oldest oils used for medicinal purposes. Its active ingredient is menthol, which is used to soothe skin irritation, relieve muscle pain and reduce inflammation. It is also antispasmodic, which means it suppresses painful muscle spasms associated with some chronic pain conditions. These properties also allow peppermint oil to soothe stomach aches, deter migraines, relax muscles in the lower back and calm neural pain. This is another good extract for people with fibromyalgia.
How Peppermint Oil Can be Used:
- Add 1-2 drops per 4 fl oz. of water or tea for an upset stomach.
- Mix with carrier oil or lotion and rub on chest for respiratory issues such as congestion or a cold.
- Mix with carrier oil or lotion and massage into swollen, sore or painful areas to help with inflammation and to soothe the skin.
Peppermint oil pairs well with pine, cedarwood, lemon or other digestive-aid oils.
Warning: peppermint oil is toxic to dogs and cats.
Sandalwood is a naturally powerful pain reliever for a range of symptoms because it is both antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory. It’s been known to help with muscle pain, neuralgia and even skeletal pain. It can be inhaled, applied topically or ingested to receive the benefits. Sandalwood is one of the more expensive essential oils because of its origin and difficulty to obtain.
How Sandalwood Oil Can be Used:
- Add 1-2 drops per 4 fl oz. of water, tea or citrus drink to receive internal benefits
- Mix with a carrier oil or lotion and massage into sore muscles to act as an anti-inflammatory and pain reliever.
- Diffuse in a diffuser for general benefits.
Sandalwood oil pairs well with lavender and citrus oils.
10. Tea Tree (Melaleuca)
Tea tree is a very soothing oil that is a natural antibacterial, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory. The extract can be placed on abrasions and piercings that are healing to fight infection and reduce inflammation. It is also an immune system booster and promotes healthy cell function when ingested.
How Tea Tree Oil Can be Used:
- Use 1-2 drops to massage into the back of the neck and shoulders to relieve pain and tension.
- Add 1-2 drops per 4 fl oz. of water or tea for a natural immune booster.
- Apply 1 drop with a carrier oil to cuts, abrasions or any infected skin to fight infection and quicken the healing process.
Tea Tree oil pairs well with lime for muscle relaxation.
Warning: tea tree oil is toxic to dogs and cats.
Essential oils can be a powerful tool for combatting pain when used with other methods recommended by your doctor. They are completely natural, and have endless benefits when incorporated into your daily life. Remember to always test a small area of skin to make sure an oil is not irritating before you begin using it for medicinal purposes. Essential oils’ potency is a beneficial quality, but it also means you should always be cautious when using them. If you have furry friends, make sure to check if the oils you have are toxic for pets before you use them in a diffuser or let your pet lick a treated area.
If you use essential oils and have specific blends or applications you like for combatting chronic pain, comment below to share!