Pain Relief With Essential Oils. Do They Work?

Have you wondered if you can find pain relief with essential oils?  Do they work?  I researched this topic to come to some conclusions.  Read on to see what I found out.

Introduction

In this article I plan to discuss the veracity of the popular claim that essential oils can remedy many problems. My main focus will be on the application for pain. But I want to present research based outcomes, quality of essential oils, and if applicable, what to use for your pain. I want to reach a conclusion about whether or not essential oils can help us in our pain suffering.  I do not sell or promote any oils.  If through my research I find that yes the oils help, and yes there is a reputable company, I will note that here.

Research

First, a definition of essential oil.  These oils are derived mainly from plants.  It is “essential” because it contains the essence of a plant’s properties.  Like other natural pain remedies, essential oils have been around for some time.  I found one source that stated the ancient Egyptians used the oils over 5000 years ago (Aromatherapy, Julia Lawless, pg. 14).  The use is usually through aromatherapy or massage.

The oils must be used in a carrier oil such as coconut or grapeseed oil if used in massage, or direct application to the skin.  If used in aromatherapy the oil can be used undiluted.  I didn’t find conclusive advice about ingesting some oils, so I would err on caution and advise not to ingest any oils.  But you can do more research if you are so inclined.

It is also recommended that you do a skin sensitivity test to find out if you have a reaction to the oil. Skin tests are where you apply a few drops (of the oil in a carrier oil) to the back of your wrist, cover with a bandage, and leave it for an hour.  If irritation occurs, wash with cold water.  You can try the oil in a reduced concentration with the same method to see if that helps.  Otherwise, it is recommended you don’t use that oil.

My Sources

I researched on YouTube, Google and social media.  In a lengthy article (and not in layman’s terms) the National Institutes of Health concluded there was a “significant positive effect from aromatherapy in reducing pain”.  This study was released in 2016.  The oils they list are lavender, eucalyptus, rosemary, chamomile, and peppermint.  These are the oils that I see mentioned most often.

But there was a reduction in pain.  In post operative pain the use of eucalyptus had some effect on reducing pain as well.  This NIH article is worth investigating for further information, and results on different types of pain.  In another article from Italy, published in 2015, bergamot oil was found to be effective in controlling neuropathic pain.  Another article I found helpful and that directed me to some research is this article by Healthline.  Please take time to read the links I have included.  They are informative and cover more information than I have here in this article.

This video is very helpful and full of information.  It is an objective review.  I highly recommend it.

The author, Joe Leech, presents research on several different oils.  His conclusions are that there are only a few oils that have verified results.  These were peppermint for headaches, tea tree for acne, and lavender for relaxation.  His video was released in 2015.  Otherwise, according to Leech, the claims that are made involving over 100 oils have not been proved by research.

Now here are two authorities that state there is some verified results from peppermint and lavender.  I would choose to believe the NIH study on the eucalyptus, rosemary and chamomile; that there are benefits from these as well.  Their conclusion regarding back pain, which is what I focus on, involved lavender oil with massage.  So the results might also be related to massage.

Pain Relief With Essential Oils
By Yercaud-elango – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

What Oils Help Relieve Pain?

From the above research I can conclude there is some scientific evidence that essential oils of peppermint, lavender, and bergamot oils are natural pain remedies.  Other oils I have listed above can be used for other concerns, but as I said, I am interested in the ones specifically used to relieve pain.

In case you are wondering about CBD oil, read my article here.

Quality of Essential Oils

As I researched this important topic, I was looking for information on how we can determine the quality of a product.  It makes me laugh when I find a source that is going to promote their product in the results.  So be careful as you search.  I am going to only include sites that don’t recommend any particular product in this post.  In this article by Doreen Petersen, there are five guidelines to follow in purchasing your essential oil.  Among the criteria, are

  • knowing your supplier
  • and knowing your Latin.

So, check out who you are buying from and learn about the names on the product.  I am embarrassed to say that some of the oils that I bought before I did this article don’t even list ingredients!  I’ll be more careful in the future.  And just because it’s expensive doesn’t guarantee the quality either.  This article was very helpful and I hope you will read it.

There are some MLM companies out there that have made claims that may be unethical and I don’t know about the quality of their products, so I recommend you do lots of research before you purchase or participate.  Furthermore dosages appear to be subjective, since there is currently no regulation of the oils.  The manufacturer of the oils can apparently determine the dosage. (Based on what, I don’t know.)  So again, do your research.  I would figure that if I decide I can trust the company for the quality of the product, I can also trust them for the recommended dosage.

Did you know there is actually an organization called National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA)?  They feature Artisan Aromatics, with several products for you to choose from.  Their products look like quality products.  I am recommending you check them out.

Conclusion

There seems to be some validity in the use of essential oils to lessen pain symptoms.  It is a safe alternative when used with care and following directions.  I would still recommend talking with your doctor first in case it might interfere with other medications or sensitivities.  But otherwise there should be no adverse side effects, unlike medication.  Costs will come out of your pocket though, as opposed to insurance covering other treatments.  So even though prices can range from $10.00 to $60.00 or more, since it’s out of your pocket, the costs can add up.

JJ Georges – Wikimedia Commons

Still, I think much more research is needed before essential oils can become a mainstream treatment for pain.

In the meantime, I believe there is evidence that essential oils can help in relieving pain.  I plan to do more research and testing, so watch for updates.

Your comments, questions, and responses are welcome.  What do you think?

Disclaimer

Consult your doctor before you use any products discussed here.  I am not a medical professional; just a pain sufferer like you.

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Wikimedia Commons – Cryptocarya agathophylla van der Werff [as Ravensara aromatica Sonn.]
M.E. Descourtilz, Flore médicale des Antilles, vol. 8: t. 567 (1829) [J.T. Descourtilz]

Essential Oils

10.00
10

Natural

10.0/10

Very Little Side Effects

10.0/10

Easy to Use

10.0/10

Pros

  • Natural
  • Easy to Use
  • Minimal Side Effects

Cons

  • Not Regulated
  • Limited Research Data
  • No Standardized Dosages

2 thoughts on “Pain Relief With Essential Oils. Do They Work?”

  1. Hi Barbara,

    I enjoyed this article looking at essential oils as a remedy for pain, and I appreciate the various links exploring the topic in more detail. I like to keep up with the research in this area because natural solutions are so much more appealing than prescription pain relievers. It’s unfortunate that research remains somewhat shallow and that there’s no real regulation in this area. I may look into using mint and lavender because I don’t think they can hurt. Thanks for the info!

    Reply

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