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The Best Essential Oils for Pain

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The Best Essential Oils for Pain

One of the most frequent questions I get is what are the best essential oils for pain? If this is a question you’ve had yourself, read on.

It’s hard to feel happy when your body hurts! It’s estimated that 20% of people of all ages have chronic body pain which they experience every day or most days. It’s even worse for the older segment of the population and 60-75% of people over the age of 65 say they have at least some persistent pain. Among our senior citizens in assisted living, that figure jumps to nearly 100%, and a lot of the requests I get for help in choosing essential oils come from people trying to ease the pain of their aging parents or grandparents. And that’s just chronic pain – who hasn’t experienced acute aches and pains from doing too much yard work or exercise? Knowing how to support your body and spirit through the experience of acute or chronic pain is one of the real blessings of knowing how to use essential oils. While some causes of pain are medical conditions that require a doctor’s attention many are not and when that’s the case essential oils can provide important support. Even when pain is caused by a medical condition, the treating physician may approve essential oils as a supportive measure.

Can essential oils really help relieve pain? Let’s take a look at that question. Or, if you just want my recommendations for essential oils for supporting you when you’re in pain, click HERE.

What a Pain Treatment Specialist Knows

Pain is a personal and subjective experience that means different things to different people. Studies from WWII showed that many injured soldiers who were going home due to serious wounds, viewed those wounds and the pain they caused as blessings, because they were going to get them sent home; they were their tickets out of the war and back to safety. Astonishingly, those soldiers didn’t complain much about their pain, even when their wounds were severe. Here’s a link to an article on this interesting phenomenon in the journal Neuroscience.

I saw the same kind of thing in my own experiences treating people with painful injuries and helping people manage pain during medical procedures. People undergoing medical treatments that can save their lives are often better at dealing with the pain of their procedures than are people having routine dental work. So are patients who have faith in their doctors compared to those who don’t. People whose back injury means they don’t have to return to a job they hated will often deal with their pain better than people who will be losing a job they loved. Since I’m aware of the subjective aspect of pain, when I first read essential oils could help people experiencing various type of pain my initial thought was that the placebo effect might be responsible for the reported results.

In fact, people who report that they experience pain relief after using essential oils may indeed be benefiting from the placebo effect in some cases. In other words, the oil they used may have helped them simply because they believed it would and not because it had any real pain-relieving properties. On the other hand, studies on both humans and animals have documented the actual analgesic effects of specific essential oils for specific types of pain. Here’s a link to a review article in the scientific journal Molecules that looked at animal studies utilizing essential oils from 31 plant species. The authors of the article conclude that the studies reviewed show the analgesic potential of this group of natural products for therapeutic purposes. Or consider these human studies showing that specific essential oils help relieve pain in cases of arthritis and headache.

In my opinion, the pain-relieving properties of essential oils applied externally have been documented and I believe that they have a place in helping people deal with pain. There’s a catch though – you must know which ones to choose. There are over 200 essential oils that anyone can buy on the internet and only some of them will help you with pain. In the next section, I’ll tell you some of my favorite choices.


A word of caution to essential oil users: What follows is not intended as medical advice and should not be used in the diagnosis or treatment of any health issue that needs medical attention. Essential oils are not appropriate for treating medical conditions of any kind. Some essential oils have specific risks for use so be sure to consult a reliable reference to learn about safety before using any essential oil. Never apply any essential oil undiluted to the skin and do not ingest essential oils except under medical supervision. Use essential oils sparingly, especially with elders. Consult an aromatherapist before using essential oils with children or women who are or may be pregnant. Be smart, stay safe – and don’t waste your money!

Essential Oils for Pain and How to Use Them

(None of the information given here should be considered as product endorsements for any company’s offerings. Complete instructions for use are not included here and you should consult an aromatherapy reference for further guidance before trying to use these essential 0ils).

Supportive Essential Oils for Achy JointsEssential Oils for Pain - Joint Blend

Tips: Warm (not hot) compresses with these essential oils can be especially soothing; be sure to GENTLY move affected joints through range-of-motion when finished to avoid stiffening of the joint. Essential oils can be incorporated into a salve or liniment for use – just be sure not to massage areas that are inflamed.

Supportive Essential Oils for Muscle Aches & Pains

Tips: Essential oils are most effective for helping with whole-body muscle aches and pain when used in aromatic baths or diluted in vegetable oil and combined with massage.

Supportive Essential Oils for HeadacheEssential Oils for Pain & Antiviral Essential Oils

Tips: One or a blend of both of these oils can be inhaled from a traditional inhaler or diluted in vegetable oil and applied gently to the temples. It is not recommended to inhale essential oils directly from the bottle: your oils will spoil more quickly if you open the bottle frequently and you will also get better results by putting one or two drops in an inhaler.

Supportive Essential Oils for Menstrual Cramps

Tips: Warm (not hot) compresses are the classic way to use essential oils when you have menstrual cramps

I hope this has been helpful. Courteous thoughts and comments are always welcome.

Joie Power, Ph.D.

Joie Power, Ph.D.

Dr. Power is a retired neuropsychologist with a Ph.D. from the University of Georgia. She was an Assistant Professor of Surgery/Neurosurgery at the Medical College of Georgia before entering private practice and has over 20 years of clinical experience in inpatient and outpatient settings. She is both a student and practitioner of alternative healing methods, including herbal studies, aromatherapy, and Chinese Medicine. Her training in the olfactory and limbic systems of the brain gives her a unique qualification for understanding the actions of essential oils and she is an internationally known writer and teacher in the field of aromatherapy. Her approach to aromatherapy weaves together her solid scientific training and strong clinical skills with a holistic philosophy that honors body, mind and spirit. Read Full Bio

3 thoughts on “The Best Essential Oils for Pain”

  1. If lavender and peppermint essential oils are the best essential oils for headaches, I want to mention that vetiver essential oil is also best for headaches because it has a grounded feel that makes you feel heavy and relaxed.

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