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10 Natural Essential Oils For Back Pain

Back pain is something we all encounter at some point in our lives, some of us even bear the brunt of this silent villain every day. The good news is, 95% cases of back pain do not need surgeries. However, it might turn severe if left untreated or ignored for a long time. Yoga, physiotherapy, pain medication and acupuncture are a few popular ways to deal with this condition. Though acute (short-term) back pains can be treated with rest and medication, chronic cases need some extra care and modifications in lifestyle.

Some essential oils contain properties that give you the much-needed relief from pain. They are usually extracted from leaves, seeds, flowers, fruits and bark of some plants. When diluted and applied topically, they can alleviate pain to a great extent.

Natural Essential Oils For Back Pain

1. Peppermint oil

Pure peppermint oil contains 44 per cent menthol content, which relieves achy and sore muscles, leaving a cooling effect. When added to a warm bath or massaged topically with a carrier oil, it works as a magical elixir for all kinds of pain [1] .

2. Wintergreen oil

Wintergreen oil is made by steam processing of warmed, water-soaked wintergreen leaves. It carries similar analgesic properties as peppermint oil. Moreover, it contains methyl salicylate, a component similar to aspirin. Wintergreen oil is applied to the skin as a "counter-irritant" to relieve muscle pain. Counter-irritants cause irritation that reduces pain and swelling in the underlying tissue. The leaves are also directly applied to the skin to treat lower back pain [2] .

3. Ginger oil

Apart from pleasing our palettes, this culinary star contributes to the world of medicine to a large extent. The anti-inflammatory properties of ginger have shown great results in fighting chronic low back pain [3] . You can buy this powerful oil in stores, or can make it yourself at home, alternatively. Gently massage it into the affected areas, you may notice relief within 30 minutes.

4. Lemongrass oil

Extracted from the leaves and stalks of the lemongrass plant, this essential oil is known for its antifungal, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory components. It may help release pain as it relieves inflammation [4] .

5. Lavender oil

This multi-purpose oil is popular in aromatherapy. The anti-inflammatory properties ideally alleviate lower back pain. It is known for reducing local pain, as well as inflammation when warmed and applied with a carrier oil. It also helps calm down the nerves, reduce stress and ease insomnia [5] .

6. Eucalyptus oil

Strong antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties of this oil make it ideal for easing muscle spasms and cramps, as well as inflammation. This antispasmodic oil releases general muscle tension and discomfort, enables the muscles to relax. It should be mixed with a carrier oil in a ratio of about 1:1 [6] .

7. Rosemary oil

This popular cooking herb is a wonderful cure for back pain caused by rheumatic disorders and menstrual cramps, due to its antispasmodic and analgesic compounds [7] .

8. Sandalwood oil

This oil is most commonly used in Ayurvedic medicine. Long and pleasant massages with this oil reduce discomfort related to inflammation, owing to its anti-inflammatory components. This oil has reportedly shown great results in treating sciatica in particular [8] .

9. Basil oil

This soothing oil helps relax and loosen up any muscular tension. It is recommended for pain related to neuritis [9] .

10. Chamomile oil

It is best known as a soothing oil for calming down your nerves. It actually contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, that reduce muscle spasms and overall inflammation [10] .

How To Use Essential Oils

Essential oils may be inhaled in aromatherapy or diluted and applied to your back topically or may be used in a warm bath. Here is how to use these strong oils without getting skin irritation or any side effects:

  • Apply the oil mixture topically

Before using them for a massage, you must dilute them with your choice of carrier oil such as olive oil, jojoba oil or almond oil. You can mix up to 6 drops of any essential oil with 6 teaspoons of any carrier oil. Perform a patch test on a small area of your skin. If you do not notice any irritation after 24 hours, you can safely use it for applying to the affected area. Apply in liberal amount and massage in light motions for better absorption.

  • Inhale

Add a few drops of pure essential oils to water in a diffuser. This aromatherapy will promote general calm and relaxation which will help in easing your muscles.

  • Warm bath

Add about 10 drops of diluted essential oil to your warm bathwater. This will reduce the pain and inflammation of a sore back.

Though essential oils shouldn't cause any major side effects, it is always advisable to consult a doctor before using them, if you are pregnant, lactating or have any medical conditions. Also, make sure the oils do not come in touch with your eyes or mouth.

View Article References
  1. [1] Tarfarosh, S. F., Lone, B. U., Beigh, M. I., & Manzoor, M. (2016). An Innovative and Portable Multimodal Pain Relief Device for the Management of Neuropathic Low Back Pain - a Study from Kashmir (Southeast Asia).Cureus,8(6), e661. doi:10.7759/cureus.661
  2. [2] Gabb, H. A., & Blake, C. (2016). An Informatics Approach to Evaluating Combined Chemical Exposures from Consumer Products: A Case Study of Asthma-Associated Chemicals and Potential Endocrine Disruptors.Environmental health perspectives,124(8), 1155–1165. doi:10.1289/ehp.1510529
  3. [3] Justo, O. R., Simioni, P. U., Gabriel, D. L., Tamashiro, W. M., Rosa, P., & Moraes, . M. (2015). Evaluation of in vitro anti-inflammatory effects of crude ginger and rosemary extracts obtained through supercritical CO2 extraction on macrophage and tumor cell line: the influence of vehicle type.BMC complementary and alternative medicine,15, 390. doi:10.1186/s12906-015-0896-9
  4. [4] Boukhatem, M. N., Ferhat, M. A., Kameli, A., Saidi, F., & Kebir, H. T. (2014). Lemon grass (Cymbopogon citratus) essential oil as a potent anti-inflammatory and antifungal drugs.The Libyan journal of medicine,9, 25431. doi:10.3402/ljm.v9.25431
  5. [5] Miguel M. G. (2010). Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities of essential oils: a short review.Molecules (Basel, Switzerland),15(12), 9252–9287. doi:10.3390/molecules15129252
  6. [6] Caceres, A. I., Liu, B., Jabba, S. V., Achanta, S., Morris, J. B., & Jordt, S. E. (2017). Transient Receptor Potential Cation Channel Subfamily M Member 8 channels mediate the anti-inflammatory effects of eucalyptol.British journal of pharmacology,174(9), 867–879. doi:10.1111/bph.13760
  7. [7] Sayorwan, W., Ruangrungsi, N., Piriyapunyporn, T., Hongratanaworakit, T., Kotchabhakdi, N., & Siripornpanich, V. (2013). Effects of inhaled rosemary oil on subjective feelings and activities of the nervous system.Scientia pharmaceutica,81(2), 531–542. doi:10.3797/scipharm.1209-05
  8. [8] Dickinson, S. E., Olson, E. R., Levenson, C., Janda, J., Rusche, J. J., Alberts, D. S., & Bowden, G. T. (2014). A novel chemopreventive mechanism for a traditional medicine: East Indian sandalwood oil induces autophagy and cell death in proliferating keratinocytes.Archives of biochemistry and biophysics,558, 143–152. doi:10.1016/j.abb.2014.06.021
  9. [9] Bassolé, I. H., Lamien-Meda, A., Bayala, B., Tirogo, S., Franz, C., Novak, J., … Dicko, M. H. (2010). Composition and antimicrobial activities of Lippia multiflora Moldenke, Mentha x piperita L. and Ocimum basilicum L. essential oils and their major monoterpene alcohols alone and in combination.Molecules (Basel, Switzerland),15(11), 7825–7839. doi:10.3390/molecules15117825
  10. [10] Bhaskaran, N., Shukla, S., Srivastava, J. K., & Gupta, S. (2010). Chamomile: an anti-inflammatory agent inhibits inducible nitric oxide synthase expression by blocking RelA/p65 activity.International journal of molecular medicine,26(6), 935–940. doi:10.3892/ijmm_00000545

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