Can Essential Oils Help Soothe Neuropathy Symptoms?
Neuropathy refers to nerve damage that manifests as nerve pain and discomfort.
Peripheral neuropathy affects the nerves of the peripheral nervous system (PNS).
The PNS consists of nerves outside the brain and spinal cord and connects our limbs and organs to the brain via the spinal cord.
Symptoms of neuropathy include the sensation of pins and needles, numbness in limbs, pain, and discomfort.
Severe cases might include digestive problems, a compromised bladder, and irregular heart rate.
Causes of neuropathy pain can include trauma, injury, genetic variants, toxin exposure, metabolic imbalance, sciatic nerve damage, shingles, and infections.
One of the most common causes of neuropathy is diabetes.
Chronically high blood sugar can damage peripheral nerves causing diabetic neuropathy primarily in the legs and feet.
Living with neuropathic symptoms can severely impact one’s quality of life.
The safe use of essential oils can help alleviate some of the symptoms associated with neuropathy (and sciatica) and, therefore, improve the quality of life.
Essential Oils As A Natural Remedy
Essential oils (EOs) are highly concentrated plant extracts sourced from various parts of trees, plants, flowers, and even fruit.
They contain several active compounds that are associated with multiple healing properties.
Aromatherapy is a complementary and alternative medicine practice that involves the therapeutic application of EOs.
Certain EOs offer specific benefits known to help alleviate neuropathy symptoms:
- Anti-inflammatory properties
- Neuropathic pain relief (analgesic properties)
- Immune system support
- Antispasmodic properties (to reduce muscle spasms)
Research suggests that EOs can also be useful for:
- Decreasing stress and anxiety
- Improving sleep
- Soothing eczema and other skin conditions
- Treating colds, coughs, sinus infections, and sore throats
- Addressing allergy symptoms
- Soothing headaches and migraines
- Supporting weight loss
- Treating warts
- Healing bug bites
- Treating hemorrhoids
- Soothing arthritis symptoms (joint pain), back pain, and muscle pain
- Helping sunburns and skin burns
- Providing constipation relief
- Improving mood and mental health
The 4 Best Essential Oils for Neuropathy Symptoms
Peppermint is anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic.
Menthol, an active compound in peppermint essential oil, is a well-known pain reliever and anesthetic agent.
A case report published in the Clinical Journal of Pain mentions a 76-year-old woman with neuralgia (nerve pain) who had been resistant to standard pain therapies. (1)
She applied peppermint oil containing 10% menthol directly on the affected area that resulted in an almost immediate pain reduction, which lasted for 4-6 hours after the topical application.
Peppermint oil is also effective at treating digestive conditions such as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), which is particularly beneficial for severe neuropathy cases involving gastrointestinal complications.
Children, pregnant and breastfeeding women, and those with high blood pressure should avoid this essential oil.
Eucalyptus essential oil is rich in 1.8 cineole, an active compound known to help relieve pain, reduce spasms, and fight inflammation. (2)
A 2010 study published in BMC Complementary Medicine & Therapies found that a blend containing eucalyptus, geranium, bergamot, tea tree, and lavender essential oil provided significant relief from neuropathic pain. (3)
Sixty participants with peripheral neuropathy were split into two groups.
One group was administered a placebo, and the other group was given the EO blend once a week.
The EO blend led to significantly higher pain reduction than the placebo.
Holy Basil (Tulsi) oil
This EO is an anti-inflammatory that supports the nervous system that also helps balance blood sugar levels.
If you’re suffering from diabetic neuropathy, this is one of the oils you can use.
A 2015 animal study found holy basil to reduce injury-induced neuropathic pain and oxidative stress in rats significantly. (4)
Roman chamomile oil
Chamomile oil is a well-known pain-reliever, calmative, anticonvulsive, and anti-inflammatory.
It’s rich in a compound called Borneol.
A 2015 animal study published in the European Journal of Pharmacology indicates that Borneol can reduce chronic inflammation and neuropathic pain in mice.
However, more human studies are needed to confirm its effectiveness on human nerves. (5)
Other EOs that may help alleviate neuropathic pain and discomfort are:
- Frankincense essential oil
- Ginger essential oil
- Lavender 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 that there is no allergic reaction.
If you experience any adverse reaction to any oil, discontinue use immediately and consult your healthcare provider.
Be aware of the contraindications for each oil you use 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 only use the highest-quality products for medicinal purposes.
How To Use EOs for Neuropathy
As mentioned, always dilute your EOs in a carrier oil like coconut oil or jojoba oil.
Stick to 2-3 drops of essential oil per teaspoon of carrier oil.
You can use it as a massage oil and gently rub the affected area.
You can also add EOs and Epsom salts in your tub for a therapeutic soak.
You can mix oils together to create essential oil blends as this can amplify the effects.