The use of essential oils and aromatherapy isn’t just for mental and emotional well-being.
Essential oils (EOs) are highly concentrated plant extracts containing several active chemicals known to support the body’s healing and re-balancing mechanisms. Certain oils appear to help soothe sore muscles, low back pain, and may even help with nerve pain or sciatica pain.
When used as part of a well-rounded, holistic care protocol and other treatments such as chiropractic care and massage therapy, EOs can be a useful ally for chronically tense back muscles and back pain.
Essential Oils As Natural Remedies
Many people choose to use EOs as a first-response option and home remedies for several common ailments like:
- Headaches and migraines
- Foot pain
- Tennis elbow
- Sinus infections
- Skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis
- Allergy symptoms
Research shows particular EOs can help support the immune system and offer several other beneficial effects:
- They possess anti-inflammatory properties that help with chronic pain management and muscle tension.
- They have potent analgesic effects, which helps relieve muscle pain and joint pain without the added potential adverse side effects of over-the-counter options or pain medications.
- They are antispasmodic, so they may help manage muscle spasms.
The Best Essential Oils For Back Pain Management
The most potent anti-inflammatory EOs:
- Eucalyptus oil – A 2013 study on knee-replacement patients found that inhalation of eucalyptus essential oil significantly reduced postoperative pain after just three days. (1)
- Ginger oil – A 2016 animal study found lowered rheumatoid arthritis-related inflammation rates in female rats after exposure to ginger essential oil. (2)
- Lemongrass oil – This oil is considered both a potent anti-inflammatory and an anti-fungal. (3)
- Frankincense oil – The Arthritis Foundation suggests supplementing with Frankincense to treat inflammation pain symptoms. (4)
- Lavender oil – A 2016 study on osteoarthritis knee patients found that massaging lavender essential oil and almond oil onto the affected joint for three weeks resulted in less inflammation and pain after the first week. (5)
- Basil oil – This oil is rich in 1.8-cineole, which is a known anti-inflammatory compound.
- Clary sage oil – A study published in the Journal of Essential Oil Research found clary sage to be an anti-inflammatory. (6)
The most potent analgesic EOs:
- Peppermint oil – Menthol, one of the active compounds in peppermint essential oil, is a known pain reliever and cooling agent. (7)
- Wintergreen oil – Think of wintergreen as peppermint’s cousin. It contains a compound called methyl salicylate, which is referred to as one of nature’s aspirin. (8)
- Eucalyptus oil – Similar to peppermint, Eucalyptus offers pain relief along with a cooling sensation. (9)
- Rosemary oil – A 2015 animal study found that rosemary essential oil may be an excellent adjunct to other analgesic drugs. (10)
- Lavender oil – This popular oil offers several healing benefits, and according to a 2015 review article, it’s particularly useful for muscle pain and headaches. (11)
- Black pepper oil – This oil has a warming effect that can help soothe the pain. (12)
- Clary Sage oil – A study published in the Journal of Essential Oil Research found clary sage to have moderate analgesic effects. (6)
The most potent antispasmodic EOs:
A 2019 review of the antispasmodic effects of essential oils found the following oils to be effective at relieving cramps and spasms: (13)
- German & Roman chamomile oil
- Marjoram essential oil
- Lavender essential oil
- Peppermint oil
- Basil oil
- Clove oil
- Clary Sage oil
When used safely and adequately, EOs usually offer little to no side effects.
When used topically as a natural aid for neuropathic pain, EOs must always be diluted in a carrier oil to prevent skin irritation and reactions.
It’s advisable to perform a patch test on a non-affected area of the skin and wait 24 hours to confirm no allergic reaction.
If you experience any adverse reaction to any oil, discontinue use immediately and consult your healthcare provider.
Be aware of each oil you use and its contraindications as some EOs aren’t suitable for children or pregnant or nursing women.
Always choose high-quality, certified organic and therapeutic grade products to avoid diluted batches and the addition of potentially harmful chemicals.
The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) does not regulate EOs, so it’s essential to use the highest-quality products for medicinal purposes.
How To Use Essential Oils For Lower Back Pain
The most effective dosage mode for back pain is a topical application.
Always dilute EOs in a carrier oil like almond oil, jojoba oil, or coconut oil when you’re applying them directly to your skin.
Stick to 2-3 drops of EO per 1 teaspoon of carrier oil.
Apply to the affected area at least twice a day – once in the morning and once in the evening.
Create your own essential oils blends by mixing multiple oils for amplified effects.
Add EOs, baking soda, sea salt, and baking soda to your bath water for a therapeutic soak.