Most people have no doubts when it comes to pain relief. The first thing the more what people do is take a pill and go on with their day. But what if you could relieve pain in a safer and more effective way? That’s where pain-relieving essential oils come in.
Essential oils have the ability to bring relief to those who suffer from pain, whether chronic or acute. How? They penetrate the skin quickly and provide beneficial nutrients, oxygen (through increased circulation) and anti-inflammatories to our most painful areas.
While essential oils and pain relievers differ in their mode of application (one swallowed, one applied topically), that doesn’t mean one works better than the other. If we put essential oils on our skin, do these oils enter our body? Of course! In fact, studies have found that essential oils and their components are quickly absorbed through the skin and they are detectable in plasma after topical application (1).
This makes the topical dermal application of essential oils an effective method of directly delivering a natural anti-inflammatory agent to the site of inflammation.
What kind of pain can essential oils be used for?
Depending on the severity of the pain, my top 10 essential oils for pain relief can be applied in one of two ways.
1. Sharp pain
If you are suffering from acute pain (burn, sprained ankle, broken bone, etc.), apply the oil undiluted (100% strength) to the affected area. After the lesion has calmed down a bit, you’ll want to dilute any other essential oil applications to about 20% with a carrier oil (described below). Continue using the diluted essential oil until the sharp pain is gone (or the wound has healed).
2. Chronic pain
For chronic pain (such as those with autoimmune diseases, arthritis, fibromyalgia, etc.), you’ll always want to dilute your essential oils, since you’ll probably be using them for a long time. Start with a low dilution (like 5%, say 5 drops of jojoba oil to 1 drop of essential oil) and then work your way up to a 10% dilution, 20% dilution, and so on.
How to use essential oils
When using essential oils, never overdo it. Just remember that a little goes a long way. High levels of essential oils can cause reactions and sensitivity, so be sure to check your skin patch before using them regularly. You should also be careful if you have any existing heart conditions or are taking blood pressure medications. Always talk to your doctor before starting a new treatment.
One of the safest ways to use essential oils is by diluting them with a carrier oil such as almond kernel oil, jojoba oil, grapeseed oil, or apricot kernel oil. The way I do it is put a little bit of the carrier oil in the palm of my hand (about 1/2 teaspoon) and then put about 3-5 drops of whatever essential oil I’m using and mix it all together before applying.
Also, make sure the brand of your essential oils is 100% pure. I always suggest oils made by Eden’s Garden or Mountain Rose Herbs as they produce high quality oils.
Top 10 Essential Oils for Pain Relief
Here are the 10 most beneficial pain relieving essential oils for all your aches and pains.
Copaiba essential oil contains the cannabinoid beta-cariphylene (BCP) and specifically targets CB2 receptors, helping to reduce inflammation and pain. Copaiba contains very high concentrations of BCP, and studies have found that BCP relieves chronic pain and neuropathy (2), reduces muscle spasms and muscle pain, and can be applied locally to reduce pain (3). I personally love to use copaiba to relieve pain, and my mother uses it to relieve arthritic pain. It does not smell much, and I find that it is not as intense as other oils, so it does not irritate the skin as much.
rosemary essential oil it is extremely high in antioxidants, and is rich in anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic properties. Rosemary contains the antioxidant, carnosol, which has been studied not only for its powerful anti-cancer properties, but also for its anti-inflammatory properties. Studies have provided evidence that carnosol targets multiple dysregulated pathways associated with inflammation and cancer including nuclear factor kappa B, apoptosis-related proteins, phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase/Akt, androgen and estrogen receptors, as well as molecular targets (4). This makes rosemary one of the most beneficial pain-relieving essential oils out there.
When applied topically, helichrysum it can work for almost any type of pain involving the muscles, joints, tendons, and ligaments. The hypotensive action of helichrysum improves the condition of blood vessels by decreasing inflammation, lowering blood pressure, and increasing smooth muscle function (5). Research also indicates that helichrysum oil decreases muscle pain by reducing swelling, inflammation, and improving circulation. This makes it an effective natural pain reliever treatment for pain-related symptoms of arthritis, fibromyalgia, and injury.
While many people are aware of fresh ginger root and powdered ginger, not many people are aware of ginger essential oil. Given the major anti-inflammatory effects of ginger root, you can only imagine the concentrated inflammation-fighting properties of ginger in essential oil form. Ginger relieves pain by acting on vanilloid receptors, which are found on sensory nerve endings (6). Studies have even found that ginger extract could be a substitute for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (7). Ginger also has small amounts of pain-relieving properties, making it ideal for anyone in a lot of pain.
Similar to ginger, who would know that turmeric essential oil did it exist?! Certainly not, at least not until I decided to look for it one day. And if you haven’t heard yet, turmeric is one of the best anti-inflammatory herbs out there. Turmeric contains the active compound curcumin, which inhibits the activity of interleukin (IL)-6, an inflammatory cytokine known to be involved in rheumatoid arthritis (8). Turmeric has also been compared to work as well, if not better, than conventional pain relievers such as ibuprofen (9). Need I say more?
Frankincense essential oil is known as the “King of Oils” for good reason. By regulating inflammation, frankincense oil It not only helps with acute pain, but is a great option for those with chronic pain. In 2014, researchers wanted to support traditional Omani uses of frankincense for muscle, stomach and arthritic pain. Of the various preparations tested, frankincense oil showed the best pain-inhibiting results with more than 50% in early and late phase pain (10). Not to mention, the incense smells amazing, so you can fight the pain while smelling good too!
Two primary active compounds are found in myrrhcalled terpenoids and sesquiterpenes, which have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects (eleven). Studies have found that myrrh works even better when combined with frankincense. The study that investigated the beneficial effects of the combination of frankincense and myrrh found that when used together, inflammation was dramatically reduced (12).
Orange essential oil has been widely studied for its beneficial effects in combating pain. A study published in the european journal of medical research investigated the antioxidant potential of various essential oils and found that orange essential oil was one of the most effective of those studied (13). And besides, who wouldn’t want to smell orange all day? Citrus aromas help you feel more awake and full of energy: the perfect combination for the morning.
fir essential oil it is highly affective for those dealing with joint pain. It is rich in monoterpenes, which give this oil its anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving therapeutic effects. It is also known to help deodorize the air and help decongest the lungs. It is excellent for anyone with inflammation of the lungs, such as asthma and bronchitis.
10. Holy Stick
If you’re looking to naturally reduce pain from arthritis, injury, or chronic back or neck pain, all you need is a little palo santo. It contains a rich source of antioxidants and phytochemicals called terpenes, including limonene (the natural kind) and alpha-terpineol. This makes palo santo an effective oil for fighting free radical damage (oxidative stress), relieving stomach aches, reducing pain caused by arthritis, and acting as a natural cancer treatment.