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.
Did you know that essential oils can be used for inflammation and pain?
In this article, we will go over the best essential oils for inflammation and pain. As well as a list of common types of pain such as back pain, sore feet, joint pain, and which oils work best for each type of pain.
Table of Contents
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.
Types of Pain and Inflammation
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.”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 long periods of time, if not for life.
Chronic pain can be caused by genetic conditions, some illnesses, surgical pain, and injury. Approximately 20 percent of people worldwide suffer from moderate to severe chronic pain on a daily basis. The good news is, there are effective alternative uses of essential oils over traditional treatments for chronic pain.
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, symptoms of a heart attack sometimes include teeth and jaw pain. This is a classical example referred pain as pain is felt at a site that is distant from the origin of pain.
Which came first, the pain or inflammation?
Often, pain is accompanied by 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, and soft tissue damage and is a necessary act that ignites the healing process.
While inflammation is necessary, it’s far from comfortable.
Best Essential Oils for Pain & Inflammation
Peppermint Oil for Muscle Pain
Studies have noted peppermint oil for its incredible anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, and analgesic( pain-relieving) properties.
The one property of this is oil that is vital to relieving pain is its antispasmodic property, which means that it can suppress muscle spasms/cramps. This is why research has shown that peppermint is the best essential oil for menstrual cramps, muscle pain, muscle soreness, irritable bowel syndrome, and headaches.
Another property of this oil that aids in pain relief is that it is a vasoconstrictor, which means that it can constrict blood vessels which reduces blood flow to the painful area.
How to Use
The most effective way to apply peppermint essential oil is to create an easy-to-use rollerball. 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 rollerball 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.)
Please make sure to do a patch test before use as this oil can cause skin irritation in some people.
Copaiba for 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.
Interestingly, one 2018 study looked at the anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving benefits of Copaiba essential oil combined with Deep blue oil from Doterra for hand arthritis. All of the participants either had rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and/or chronic inflammation. They found that the group that received hand therapy in combination with these oils saw a 50 percent decrease in pain compared to the group that received hand therapy with coconut oil.
How to Use
This oil comes in topical form as well as in capsule form. Make sure to dilute this oil and every essential oil with a carrier oil when applying topically.
Alternative Copaiba Oil: UpNature Pure Undiluted Copaiba Essential Oil (4 fl. oz.)
Lavender & Ginger Oil for Back Pain
Research has shown that about 70–85% of older people in the U.S. experience back pain at least once during their lifespan, and 36% experience a period of lower back pain each year. Treatment is usually focused on symptoms rather than the cause of the pain.
One study looked at the pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties of lavender essential oil. They combined this oil with acupuncture as a treatment for back pain and found that the participants experienced a significant reduction in pain, and increased mobility. Researchers noted that although these results are promising, there wasn’t a control group in this study, therefore more research is needed.
Another study looked at two groups: ginger essential oil with a Swedish massage and Thai massage with no oil for back pain. They found that the participants in both massage groups experienced a reduction in pain and increased mobility, but the group whose massage contained ginger oil had better outcomes for longer periods of time.
Essential Oil Blend for Back Pain
One essential oil blend that we love for back pain 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.
How to Use
As far as application, that is a personal preference. We 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.
Three Ways to Use Essential Oils
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 the 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.
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.
“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.”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.
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 capsule form for a second.
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 interested in 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.
Talk to Medical Professionals, Aromatherapists,etc.
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, and pain, this should also be noted:
If you are having pain of any kind, take a moment to assess your situation and its level of seriousness and see a health professional if your pain is severe.
Wrapping It Up
We 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 your body.
Please feel free to leave a comment or a question below!