The Top 16 Essential Oils to Relieve Pain and Inflammation
Acute or chronic pain can make our everyday life very difficult, uncomfortable or even debilitating. Physical pain can result due to several reasons, such muscle aches, spasms and inflammation, sports injuries, arthritis and rheumatism that can cause joint pain, or even bad posture that can cause backache or neck pain.
There are many essential oils for pain relief, and people who use them seem to heal more quickly than others. Some essential oils have analgesic properties, which means that they have shown to relieve or reduce pain, as well as anti-spasmodic, anti-inflammatory and anti-rheumatic properties.
This article will cover the most common essential oils to relieve pain. This list is not conclusive as there are many more essential oils that can help relieve pain, but I’ve concentrated in the more familiar ones. At the end of the article I will explain you how to use these essential oils to relieve pain.
Important note – Some essential oils are not suitable for pregnant women or people with certain medical conditions. Check with your doctor before using them.
1. Chamomile – is well known for its effective anti-inflammatory properties. Helps to relieve muscle pain and spasms, low back pain, headaches and pain caused by PMS.
2. Sweet marjoram – has sedative properties. Helps to relieve muscle pain and spasms, stiffness, rheumatism, osteoarthritis and migraine.
3. Lavender – this is probably the most famous essential oil for pain relief and relaxation. It has anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and sedative properties and it helps to relieve muscle tension and spasms, joint pain and headache. Lavender is also one of my top 5 essential oils for allergy relief.
4. Eucalyptus – has analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. Good for muscle pain and nerve pain. Use in small quantities.
6. Rosemary – has analgesic and antispasmodic properties. Good for relieving back pain, muscle and joint pain and headaches.
7. Thyme – antispasmodic, good for joint and muscle pain as well as backache.
8. Clary sage – has calming and soothing properties, as well as anti-spasmodic and anti-inflammatory properties. Helps to ease muscle tension, spasms and PMS pain. Use in small quantities.
9. Sandalwood – relieves muscle spasms. One of sandalwood’s most important uses is to sedate the nervous system, so it helps to reduce nerve pain. Read more about this oil in my article about the best uses for sandalwood essential oil.
10. Juniper – has antispasmodic properties. Relieves nerve pain, joint and muscle aches and spasms. Also read my article on how to make juniper berry ointment for joint, muscle and arthritis pain relief.
11. Ginger – can ease back pain and improves mobility. Can be used to treat arthritic and rheumatic pain, muscle pain and sprains.
12. Frankincense – has anti-inflammatory properties and also acts as a mild sedative. It’s also used to alleviate stress and relieve pain.
13. Yarrow – a powerful restorative and analgesic pain reliever with powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Good for muscle and joint aches and pains.
14. Wintergreen – this is not a well known essential oil, but it’s very effective to treat painful conditions including headache, nerve pain, arthritis and menstrual cramps. This essential oil is created by steam distilling the leaves, and it contains a very high percentage of methyl salicylate. This oil has pain-relieving properties similar to aspirin (salicylate is the principal component of aspirin).
15. Vetiver – not very known in the west, vetiver has been used since ancient times in Ayurvedic medicine. Vetiver essential oil is extracted from the roots of a grass known as Vetiveria zizanoides which belongs to the same botanical family as lemongrass and citronella. It brings relief to general aches and pains, especially for rheumatism, arthritis and muscular pain and headache.
16. Helichrysum – this essential oil is quite expensive and valued for its pain relief properties. It has anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic and analgesic properties. It helps to relieve arthritis pain and supports the nervous system. Pain relief reported by most users happens nearly instantly – certainly within minutes of application. Read more about this oil in my article about the health benefits and best uses of helichrysum essential oil.
How to Use Essential Oils to Relieve Pain?
While you can use any of these oils on their own, it is also beneficial to blend some of them together. Don’t apply essential oils directly to the skin, but dilute them first with a carrier oil such as olive oil, jojoba oil, sweet almond oil, etc.
For headache – blend 4-6 drops of essential oil with one tablespoon of a carrier oil and apply a small amount of the mixture to the temples and massage gently. Make sure to stay away from the eyes. Headache can also be relieved by smelling the oil: sprinkle a few drops of the oil onto a cloth or tissue, or use an aromatherapy diffuser or vaporizer.
Bath soak – good to soothe tired, aching muscles, relieve arthritis and rheumatism. Put a few drops of essential oil in a hot bath (you can also add 2-3 cups of Epsom salt to enhance the effect). It’s a good idea to mix the essential oil drops in a small amount of carrier oil first and then add to the bath.
Massage oil – use about 10 drops of essential oil per 1 ounce of carrier oil and massage this oil blend into any body part where your muscles are sore.
Hot or cold compress – According to WebMD website there is some evidence that heat can help decrease low back pain. Although there is little proof that cold will help, some people do find that heat or cold help them: apply heat, such as hot pack, for 15-20 minutes at a time. Ice and cold packs can relieve pain, swelling, and inflammation from injuries and other conditions such as arthritis. You may also want to try switching between heat and cold. Use heat for 15-20 minutes, then a few hours later use ice for 10 to 15 minutes.
To make hot compress take about a pint of hot water, as warm as you can comfortably tolerate, and add about 4 drops of your selected essential oil to it. Then place a small towel on top of the water and let it soak it up. Next squeeze the excess water and place it over the painful area. A cold compress is made exactly the same as the hot compress, but ice or refrigerated water is used instead of the hot water, and the compress is replaced when it has heated up to body temperature.
If you are interested to learn more about essential oils you can find useful information in my e-book Magical Aromatherapy. This e-book will help you to discover the power of essential oils and the most effective ways to use them.
If you are interested to make your own oils to relieve pain, read my other posts: