Essential Oils

Use These Essential Oils For Muscle Pain & Body Aches

Updated on 18 October 2020 • 4 minute read
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Whether you’re an active yogi, runner, or just plain dealing with muscle soreness, chronic back pain, or any sort of joint pain essential oils may help provide some natural relief. 

Essential oils (EOs) are highly concentrated plant extracts that can come from tree resin and bark, stems, roots, leaves, flowers, nuts, seeds, and even fruit. 

The use of plant extracts as healing agents is a topic of interest and continued research. 

Studies indicate that the many potent active compounds found in even just one drop of EO can help with a long list of issues such as headaches, inflammation, blood sugar, hormones, insomnia, anxiety, and digestion. 

 

How EOs work to relieve sore muscles, joint pain, & sprains

Certain EOs are powerful allies for pain, aches, and soreness because they contain three important medicinal and therapeutic effects: 

  • Analgesic properties – Provides pain relief
  • Antispasmodic properties – prevent or lessen muscle spasms and cramps 
  • Anti-inflammatory properties – reduce inflammation 

You can use essential oils (aromatherapy) as the first line of defense for these issues before resorting to over-the-counter medication that sometimes comes with undesired side effects and suspect ingredients. 

Please note though that EOs aren’t a magic bullet or a cure-all.  

You should see your healthcare provider if your pain gets progressively worse or is chronic. 

 

The best essential oils for muscle aches & chronic pain

We’ve listed each oil based on the desired effect, although you’ll notice that many oils are listed in all three categories which make these oils particularly potent agents for healing and relief. 

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. (1)
  • 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. (2)
  • Eucalyptus oil – Similar to peppermint, Eucalyptus offers pain relief along with a cooling sensation. (3)
  • Rosemary oil A 2015 animal study found that rosemary essential oil may be a good adjunct to other analgesic drugs. (4)
  • Lavender oil – This popular oil offers several healing benefits and according to a 2015 review article, it’s particularly effective for muscle pain and headaches. (5)
  • Black pepper oil – This oil has a warming effect that can help soothe pain. (6)
  • Clary Sage oil – A study published in the Journal of Essential Oil Research found clary sage to have moderate analgesic effects. (7)

 

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: (8)

  • German & Roman chamomile oil 
  • Peppermint oil 
  • Lavender essential oil
  • Basil 
  • Clove
  • Marjoram  
  • Clary Sage 

 

The most potent anti-inflammatory EOs:

  • Eucalyptus oil A 2013 study on knee-replacement patients found that inhalation of eucalyptus oil significantly reduced postoperative pain after just three days. (9)
  • Ginger essential oil – A 2016 animal study found lowered rheumatoid arthritis-related inflammation rates in female rats after exposure to ginger oil. (10)
  • Lemongrass oil – This oil is considered both a potent anti-inflammatory and an anti-fungal. (11)
  • Frankincense oil – The Arthritis Foundation suggests supplementing with Frankincense to treat inflammation pain symptoms. (12)
  • Lavender oil – A 2016 study on osteoarthritis knee patients found that massaging lavender oil and almond oil onto the affected joint for three weeks resulted in less inflammation and pain after the first week. (13)
  • 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. (7)

Other oils that might be useful:

  • helichrysum 
  • vetiver
  • cypress
  • juniper

 

How to safely apply EOs topically 

Because they’re so potent, EOs should not be applied neatly or directly onto the skin without first diluting in a carrier oil

Also, because they’re quick to evaporate from the skin, the carrier oil helps the healing compounds to be absorbed into the skin more deeply. 

Common and effective carrier oil options are: 

  • Coconut oil
  • Jojoba oil
  • Sweet almond oil
  • Olive oil 

 

2 effective essential oil blends & uses for muscle or joint pain 

Bath Soak 

Fill your tub with warm or hot water and add the following: 

  • 1 cup Epsom salts
  • ¼ cup baking soda
  • 5 drops of Peppermint
  • 5 drops Eucalyptus
  • 5 drops of Wintergreen
  • 5 drops Lavender
  • 5 drops Frankincense
  • 2 drops Black pepper

Soak your whole body in the tub and let your muscles relax a bit. 

 

Body massage oil 

Choose your preferred carrier oil to create a soothing massage oil to treat the affected area. You can also use a roll-on to apply. 

Mix the following: 

  • ½ cup of carrier oil
  • 5 drops Peppermint
  • 5 drops Eucalyptus 
  • 5 drops Wintergreen
  • 5 drop Lavender
  • 5 drops Frankincense
  • 5 drops Black pepper

 

7 Tips for choosing high-quality EOs for pain relief

There are many EO brands available in the market but unfortunately, most of them are either adulterated or diluted.

You don’t want to put any impure oils on your skin as they may be diluted with irritating or harmful chemicals unless they come from a reputable source and are certified organic.

 

Here are 7 fool-proof steps to help you choose the right oils for your skin: 

  • Look for certified organic therapeutic grade essential oils.  
  • Check that the proper testing has been done.  
  • Research the company. Is it reputable?
  • Check the label. Is all the relevant information there? 
  • Check the price. Too cheap is a red flag. 
  • Check the Latin name. This is the plant’s actual botanical name.
  • Check in with yourself. Your body will give you feedback so trust your intuition!

 

 

 

References: 

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5751100/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3995208/
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14611892/
  4. https://www.europeanreview.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/165-172.pdf
  5. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2221169115001033?via%3Dihub
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25192562/
  7. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10412905.1997.9699459
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6539827/
  9. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2013/502727/
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5115784/
  11. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.3402/ljm.v9.25431
  12. https://www.arthritis.org/health-wellness/treatment/complementary-therapies/supplements-and-vitamins/supplement-and-herb-guide-for-arthritis-symptoms
  13. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Leyla_Ozdemir/publication/301344191_The_Effects_of_Aromatherapy_Massage_and_Reflexology_on_Pain_and_Fatigue_in_Patients_with_Rheumatoid_Arthritis_A_Randomized_Controlled_Trial/links/59df0847458515376b386139/The-Effects-of-Aromatherapy-Massage-and-Reflexology-on-Pain-and-Fatigue-in-Patients-with-Rheumatoid-Arthritis-A-Randomized-Controlled-Trial.pdf
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