Pain. We’ve all dealt with it at some point in our lives and trying to find what works for our own body can be exhausting, time consuming and expensive. There is a ton of information out there to consume and consider.
In this article, you will find what myself and the collective agreement of professionals in the essential oil industry have deemed worthy of reducing pain and inflammation among a myriad of ailments.
Included is a list of common types of pain such as back pain, sore feet, and joint pain along with oils that are a common go to for such ailments.
The list of available essential oils is long, and it can be arduous to go through on your own. Here, I’ve made it simple and all you have to do is pick and give it a try!
Pain and inflammation often go hand in hand
Even though pain and inflammation are often connected, each can pose a different feeling in the body.
But first, let’s talk about the types of pain and how they differ.
We’ll start by going over the more generalized types of pain that people tend to suffer from, all with their own variety of conditions. Acute, chronic, neuropathic, and referred pain are the most common types.
Pain falls into one of two categories: acute or chronic
Acute pain is described as pain that lasts for a short amount of time and dissipates after healing.
The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) says this about acute pain:
“Acute pain can be a difficult medical problem to diagnose and treat. It may be caused by many events or circumstances. Symptoms can last hours, days, or weeks and are commonly associated with tissue injury, inflammation, a surgical procedure, childbirth, or a brief disease process.”The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA)
Acute pain is caused by tissue damage. Broken bones, childbirth, dental work or other kinds of surgery.
Chronic pain is described as something to be managed over longer periods of time, if not for life.
Chronic pain can be caused by genetic conditions, some illnesses, surgical pain, and injury. JAMA indicates over 20 million U.S. adults suffer from moderate to severe chronic pain on a daily basis. The good news
It is important to know and be familiar with the type of pain you are dealing with in order to find the most effective treatment.
Neuropathic pain is nerve pain caused by the nerves between tissues and the spinal cord or between the nerves.
Degenerative diseases such as Marfan’s syndrome or Loes-Dietz syndrome (involving the degeneration of the myelin sheath around the nerves) that involve nerve and tissue degeneration are in this category.
Other such conditions and causes include but are not limited to: diabetes, chemotherapy, spinal surgery, alcoholism, shingles, and multiple sclerosis.
This is when pain is felt somewhere else in the body other than the original site of the pain. For example, people with chronic back pain will experience pain wrapping around their hips or running down the backs of their legs.
Whew, now that we got all of the definitions out of the way, here’s the fun stuff!
Here are the Best Essential Oils for Inflammation
Okay, now that we have a better understanding of the types of pain and where they come from here’s a list compiled from the top essential oil producers in the U.S. for treating pain.
As a frequent user of essential oils, I have bought and tested many brands. My top three favorites are Young Living, doTERRA and Rocky Mountain Oils. While they may be a bit more price wise, you are getting the purest form of oils with minimal to no fillers or preservatives.
My Favorite Essential Oils for Flare-Ups
The following list has individual essential oils recommended for (but not limited to) pain.
Most of these oils are topical unless directed otherwise. (Further down in the article are several different ways you can prepare your oils.)
- Copaiba (doTERRA 15 mL // Young Living 5 mL // UpNature 118 mL)
- Siberian Fir (doTERRA 15 mL // Plant Therapy 10 mL)
- Peppermint (Young Living 15 mL // ArtNaturals 118 mL)
- Lavender (doTerra 15 mL // NOW Foods 118 mL)
- Cinnamon (Young Living 5 mL // Plant Therapy 10 mL)
- Frankincense (doTERRA 15 mL // Young Living 5 mL)
These oils come up frequently in the essential oil community as some of the most effective for pain and inflammation.
I, myself, having suffered several injuries over the course of my life am more than familiar with these oils. I have found these work the best for me and my needs.
Everyone’s preferences and budgets vary widely so be sure to take all of your needs into consideration when making your decision.
I recognize that not everything works for everyone. It’s important to take in all the information and then determine what works best for you!
Which came first, the pain or the inflammation?
Often, pain is accompanied with or can start with the inflammation of an area.
Examples of chronic inflammation would be asthma or arthritis. Acute inflammation is often experienced with bacteria, viruses
While inflammation is necessary, it’s far from comfortable.
Inflammation and Essential Oils: How They Work
The best way to go about explaining this is through an example.
Let’s say you twist your ankle. Your body recognizes the injury and floods the area with fresh blood to ignite the healing process.
Large amounts of fresh blood to a specific area creates inflammation. This amount of blood creates pressure that can range from uncomfortable to painful.
Yes, it has to be said. If you are experiencing an injury that requires medical attention, seek medical attention! Essential oils are to play a supportive role in healing and are not to be used in any sort of emergency or extreme situation.
Getting to Relief
In order to get relief, we want to soothe the area slowing down the constant pumping of fresh blood that is creating the discomfort.
Now if you’re here reading this, you are probably interested in achieving this as naturally as possible. This is where the essential oils come in.
One of the most basic yet popular and effective oils is lavender. Upon application, you are beginning to soothe those layers of tissues and muscles to relax them.
Recommended Lavender Oil: NOW Foods Lavender Essential Oil (4 fl. oz.)
When the tissues have been relaxed, the tissue stops sending messages to the brain that the area is still in pain. When the brain ceases to receive these messages, the body stops the blood from rushing to the area and resumes normal flow thus reducing the inflammation.
Once the inflammation has been reduced, the pressure on the nerve endings that send pain messages to the brain are given relief thus reducing the messages screaming, “I’m in pain!”
For the love of lavender….
Lavender has also been suggested to possess restorative properties that encourage the healing of damaged tissue. Essentially, lavender is a sedative oil that ignites relaxation and calm.
When we relax we reduce the stress our body is under. When we reduce stress, everything else starts to slow down into a peaceful state, almost as a sort of butterfly effect within your body.
“Aromatherapy is thought to work by stimulating smell receptors in the nose, which then send messages through the nervous system to the limbic system — the part of the brain that controls emotions.”The Mayo Clinic
Our olfactory system is one of our most powerful systems in reference to the five senses. Smells create powerful memories, both pleasant and unpleasant. Smells can also trigger certain emotions and feelings.
Have you ever paid attention to the feelings you get with certain smells? You know, those feelings when you walk into a house and smell a fresh baked pie or walk through newly cut grass?
Essential oils can have the same effects when they are used.
Here are the Best Essential Oils for Different Types of Pain
This is one of the most common ailments that every person from every walk of life suffers from at some point in their lives.
Peppermint helps open up pores in the skin effectively releasing heat from the fresh, hot blood rushing to the site of pain. As a result, inflammation in the area is reduced.
Peppermint also constricts blood vessels which reduces blood flow to the painful area. Peppermint can be a stimulant as well, so be mindful of the time of day you’re using peppermint.
The most effective way to apply peppermint essential oil is to create an easy to use roller ball. These containers are available on Amazon. Be sure to buy a dark colored container to preserve the integrity and properties of the essential oils that can be altered by sunlight and heat.
Take your roller ball and put 2-3 drops of peppermint oil in first. Fill the rest of your roller bottle with grapeseed oil (to act as the carrier oil). It fits perfectly into your purse or jeans pocket for relief on the go!
Recommended Roller Ball Containers: Essential Oil Roller Bottles 10 mL Amber Glass
Recommended Grapeseed Carrier Oil: 100% Pure Grapeseed Oil (16 fl. oz.)
Recommended Peppermint Oil: ArtNaturals Peppermint Essential Oil (4 fl. oz.)
Most of us have experienced stiff elbows and achy knees due to joint pain. Copaiba is extracted from the Copaiba tree in the Amazon jungle. It is considered to be the new CBD of essential oils and contains a beta-caryophyllene (BCP) which is one of three cannabinoids used in treating anxiety and inflammation.
DoTERRA Essential Oils Copaiba has over 60% BCP. Depending on the strength of CBD oil, Copaiba has anywhere from two to thirty times more BCP than traditional CBD. It is tapped out of the tree like maple syrup and is considered one of the most potent oils for anti-inflammatory properties.
This oil comes in topical form as well as in capsule form. It is most effective when taken by mouth.
Alternative Copaiba Oil: UpNature Pure Undiluted Copaiba Essential Oil (4 fl. oz.)
Siberian fir is another great anti-inflammatory that possesses analgesic, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, detoxifying, energizing and expectorant properties.
This is an excellent oil for general swelling of the tissues produced by PMS symptoms, sluggish digestion, anxiety, and hemorrhoids. It also addresses hormone balancing, rheumatism, gout, and respiratory issues.
The woes of our backs seem to be never
Cinnamon, peppermint, eucalyptus, and frankincense all have anti-inflammatory properties. There are also blends available from distributors that combine multiple oils in one bottle.
One of my favorites is Cool Azul from Young Living. It combines wintergreen, sage, copaiba, blue cypress and elemi. It has an amazing refreshing smell as well as an icy hot sensation providing immediate relief at the site of application.
As far as application, that is a personal preference. I like to put a few drops in a rollerball with some grapeseed oil for use right after the gym.
Another great option is to create a rub with the following ingredients:
- ½ cup of melted fractionated coconut oil
- 2-4 drops of Cool Azul in a small glass jar
Pop it in the fridge for about an hour and you can take small amounts to apply as needed.
Our feet do so much for us every day, it’s no wonder we release such a sigh of relief when we can finally sit down at the end of a long day. We can have swelling around the ankles, bunions, aching arches, sore calluses, etc.
Wintergreen essential oil has a naturally occurring property called methylsalycylate which is a derivative of a primary ingredient in aspirin. It also has anti-inflammatory, analgesic and antirheumatic properties.
A great way to apply wintergreen is to make your own foot balm:
- Take one-quarter cup of fractionated coconut oil (melted) and add 4-6 drops of wintergreen.
- From there, put the liquid into a glass container with a lid and into the fridge to harden.
You have a jar of relief ready for you at the end of every day!
Wintergreen Oil: Young Living 100% Pure Wintergreen Essential Oil (10 mL)
Essential Oil blends specifically designed to help with pain.
- Deep Blue (doTERRA 5 mL)
- Valor (Young Living 5 mL)
- Cool Azul (Young Living 15 mL)
- Migraine Support (doTERRA – includes other pain besides migraines)
Follow the instructions and listen to your body or else…
There are three ways to get essential oils into your system.
The two most common ways are topically by putting the oils, diluted or direct concentration, onto the skin. Ingesting oils through our respiratory system through use of oil diffusers and spray bottles is the second way.
Both methods are fairly innocuous provided you are aware of any known allergies.
The third option is oral ingestion and this is where it can get tricky but we’ll talk more about that in a minute. Let’s start with the skin.
The cautions for oils are very few. Allergies aside, the most common side effect from essential oils are mild skin irritations when used topically. Some oils such as peppermint, can be too intense when used out of the bottle and onto the skin.
For example, I can put a drop of peppermint oil on each of my temples and the back of my neck when experiencing a tension headache. My skin, eyes and nose can tolerate the intense smell of the peppermint. Others may experience a slight to moderate burning/tingling sensation on the skin, watery eyes and runny nose.
I highly recommend diluting the concentration of essential oils when using them on children or the elderly, as their systems are far more sensitive than adults.
Most of these oils are used topically unless otherwise instructed by the manufacturer. Some of the oils can be taken orally but are not very palatable and can be purchased in a capsule.
Taking Essential Oils Orally
First and foremost, before we go ANY further, it goes without saying, prior to ingesting any capsule, particularly if you are on prescribed medication, check with your doctor first.
Common sense ignited, medical disclaimer stated…
Let’s move on to talking about essential oils in
Look, we all know ingesting ANYTHING comes with a potential risk. From food, to textiles, to medications and yes even essential oils, all have the potential to adversely affect any individual.
Because we are all so beautifully different, so is the way our bodies react to anything we put into it.
It is for this reason that when someone is looking to address an acute situation and orally ingesting essential oils, it is imperative you work with someone who knows what they are talking about, what they are doing and has a solid reputation in the holistic community for conducting safe practices using essential oils.
Reaching Out to Medical Professionals, Aromatherapists, and Naturopaths
Believe it or not, some medical professionals are catching on to the benefits of holistic health and healing and can be a great resource if you can find one in your community.
Aromatherapists, and naturopaths are a great place to begin your journey.
This is particularly important if you are seeking out alternative methods for treatments for serious medical issues like cancer for example.
In these cases, please seek out professionals and do not attempt to heal yourself based on what you’ve picked up from books, friends and yes, even essential oil blogs.
However oils are ingested, they are processed by the liver and the kidneys. Some oils, if taken in high doses at maximum concentration can cause damage to both of these organs.
It is just not worth the risk to start arbitrarily tossing oil infused veggie capsules in your mouth hoping it will work.
In getting back to the essence of this article, essential oils
If you are having pain of any kind, take a moment to assess your situation and its level of seriousness and make a decision with your health and safety as a priority.
A complimentary support system
Essential oils are a beautiful compliment to any healthy lifestyle and a powerful addition to any holistic and even traditional way of living.
However, it is not recommended that you rely solely on oils to cover up or avoid seeking medical attention.
If you are having pain of any kind and it is not getting better within a few days to a week, seek medical attention.
The goal of essential oils is to complement and encourage, not to cover up. It is important to remember that while pain is physically uncomfortable, it serves a significant purpose in our lives.
Pain is often a sign of something else going on inside. Whether it is an illness, an injury, or a genetic condition, pain lets us know when something isn’t right.
When something isn’t right, we have this amazing opportunity to be an advocate for our own bodies, since they literally take us through every day as we deal with the outside world as well as the world inside our heads.
Wrapping It Up
It is an honor and privilege to treat our bodies in the most gentle and natural of ways in an effort to get back to optimum health and essential oils play an amazing support role in those efforts!
I hope you enjoy your exciting journey into essential oils and continue to explore what works best for your needs to create the ultimate, loving support system for
Please feel free to leave a comment or a question below!