7 Best Essential Oils for Back Pain

Suffering from a back pain?

You are not alone. Back pain is a very common problem. It affecting the people of all ages worldwide. It limits your activity and affects your quality of life. According to several studies done in USA and Europe, millions of working days are missed due to back pain.

As per the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2010, almost 70% of adults experience in developed countries suffer from low back pain. Moreover, the Global Burden of Disease considered the back pain one of the top 10 most common causes of disabilities and injuries (1)

Luckily, Essential Oils might help to soothe your back pain, alleviate your stress and make you function better.

Should you use essential oils for Back Pain?

Medicine says: YES.

Essential oils have been used for decades to treat the pain and reduce inflammation. As demonstrated by a randomized-controlled study in 2014 (2) that indicated much better outcomes among the treatment group( those who are treated with essential oils) rather than the placebo group.

Essential oils are an all-natural therapy that many will appreciate, as a quick solution, instead of over the counter medications that cause a lot of side effects

If you want to treat back pain, you must first identify the cause. Back Pain comes in different forms; acute or chronic.

Acute back pain is caused by many causes such as:

  • Muscle or ligament strains
  • Repeated heavy lifting
  • Sudden awkward movements that might strain your back muscles and spinal ligaments

However, Chronic back pain lasts for longer periods, halt your daily activities, and make you less productive in your life.

The most common causes of chronic back pain include:

  • Chronic arthritis and Osteoarthritis
  • Bulging or herniated disk
  • Spinal nerve compression
  • Osteoporosis
  • obesity
  • Poor posture
  • Spine misalignment(scoliosis)
  • Sleeping disorders
  • Uncomfortable mattress and inactivity
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Emotional stress
  • General conditions such as cancer and AIDS as well.

It is also important to know how to identify the symptoms of back pain. Back pain can be manifested in form of sharp burning pain extending to the leg, fever, tingling sensation around the buttocks or genitalia, or urinary incontinence.  Those symptoms can be mild or severe.

Furthermore, back pain might indicate a serious underlying cause that affects the spinal nerves. In that case, seeking a medical advice is a must.

For those who suffer from back pain, either acute or chronic, using essential oil is much more powerful than you might think. Many of them are anti-spasmodic, analgesic, and sedative which will help you to relieve your discomfort and increase your productivity throughout the day.

In those with back pain, the use of essential oil massage is a fantastic and holistic solution if used properly along with lifestyle change and posture modification.

Thankfully, There are many essential oils can soothe your pain and inflammation. For now, Let’s discuss the most frequently used essential oils which provide a holistic solution for back pain.

7 Best Essential Oils for Back Pain

Here are seven essentials oils that are safe, efficient, and highly recommended to treat back pain and inflammation.

  1. Lavender Oil
  2. Peppermint Oil
  3. Chamomile Oil
  4. Ginger Oil
  5. Frankincense Oil
  6. Rosemary Oil
  7. Basil Oil

Lavender Oil

Lavender oil is one of the most commonly used essential oil over the 2500 years for many reasons. It was originally found in the Mediterranean region. It is naturally extracted from flower tops by steam distillation.

It is particularly indicated for use in cases of backache, stress, and anxiety. It helps to soothe your muscle tension, improve the blood circulation, calm your brain, and reduce your stress and anxiety.

It also a wonderful all-natural oil for analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and sleep aid purposes. It also helps you to relax because of its beautiful floral scent.

A 2014 systematic review study, conducted by the Cochrane library, showed that lavender oil provided a short-term pain relief for those who suffer from disabling low back pain. Similar results were obtained from a study conducted at Hong Kong in 2006.

In 2015 study, researchers found that lavender essential oil can be an effective to reduce the pain and any associated inflammation. When diluted lavender essential oil was applied topically, it reduced the pain compared to those on tramadol.

In 2012, A study published in the Journal of Medical Association of Thailand revealed the relaxing effects of inhaling lavender oil on the central nervous system and the mood in general.

How to use it: You can use it in many ways either alone or in combination with other essential oils by:

  • Adding few drops of concentrated lavender oil to the site of the pain then massage it into the sore area
  • Mixing it with other essential oils such as peppermint and/or basil oil and rubbing the inflamed area gently
  • Adding it to a diffuser to enjoy the relaxing aroma of this oil in your home to relieve your stress and help you to fall asleep
  • Breathing it deeply for its beautiful smell and tranquillizing effect
Bottom Line – Lavender oil is a powerful all natural remedy that helps you to relieve your pain and tranquilize your mind for its calming, anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties.

Peppermint Essential Oil

One of the most versatile essential oil worldwide that is well-known for its calming, cooling, and refreshing sensation.  It is of Mediterranean origin, however, it is now cultivated in USA, Japan, and Great Britain.

Peppermint essential oils serve multi-purposes to reduce back pain by alleviating the muscle aches, soothing the feeling of muscle irritation, enhancing the blood circulation, and boosting the overall energy.

It is extracted from the peppermint herb. Its use in the medicine and pain relief goes back to the ancient ages in the Chinese, Japanese and Egyptian culture as well. It was also widely used as a soothing agent in form of lotions and creams since the ancient Greek and Roman civilizations.

The main active ingredient of the Peppermint is menthol and menthone which are known for its natural painkiller effect and antiseptic characteristics. It is best used when you suffer from arthritis and fibromyalgia.

Menthol binds to kappa opioid receptors that numb the pain when applied to the inflamed area. It also activates that cold-sensing nerves that make you feel refreshed when you rub it on a sore muscle.

Moreover, it enhances the blood circulation because of its vasodilation properties. This help to eliminate all the toxic products of the inflammation and allow better and quicker healing by bringing more nutrients.

How to use it:

  • Apply the diluted form of peppermint directly to the inflamed area of the back.
  • Blend it with other essential oils such as the lavender and/or rosemary, and gently massage the area to improve the absorption for the best cooling effects. It enhances the painkiller effect when applied topically to the area that hurts.
  • Diffuse it in your home and enjoy the sharp fresh smell of the peppermint.
Bottom Line – Peppermint oil serves as a natural painkiller, potent analgesic, and anti-inflammatory agent.

Chamomile Oil

One of the most ancient herbs known to humankind. It is commonly used for medicinal purposes. It is also known for its all-natural healing capabilities for more than 5000 years.

The soothing, anti-spasmodic, analgesic, sedative, anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities of that essential oil make it ideal for pain relief.

Chamomile oil is extracted from dried flowers of Matricaria species and it has been widely used in aromatherapy & cosmetic medicine.

There are two types of chamomile: Roman (Chamaemelum nobile) and German (Chamomilla recutita) chamomile, Both of them share some medicinal properties. However, there are slight differences in the uses and chemical structure.

German chamomile contains Chamazulene compound, giving it the characteristic blue color, which is very powerful to reduce the inflammation and pain. It also promotes the healing of strains.

However, Roman Chamomile contains high levels of esters giving it the yellow-pale blue color and serves more as anti-spasmodic agent and highly relaxing to relieve pain.

Chamomile oil is widely used to soothe back pain, especially the arthritic joint pain. This anti-inflammatory action is mediated through the inhibition of Lipopolysaccharide-induced Prostaglandins release (E2) and the activity cyclooxygenase (COX-2) enzyme. That what makes the chamomile oil a potent antiphlogistic agent. It can also help to relieve mental and emotional stress which might manifest in form of back pain.

NB: Prostaglandins are inflammatory mediators that are known to cause pain

How to use it:
You can use it in different ways by

  • Adding 2-3 drops of diluted chamomile oil in your favourite carrier oil and gently apply it to the sore area
  • Inhaling the scent directly from the bottle and breath deeply.
  • Mixing some drops into a cup of chamomile tea for its potent anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant benefits.
  • Diffusing it into a diffuser either alone or along with a lavender and/or peppermint
Bottom line-Chamomile oil help to reduce the pain by blocking the release of Prostaglandins E2 and inhibiting the action of cyclooxygenase-2.

Ginger Oil

If your back pain due to arthritis or rheumatism, that oil will be the best fit for you. Ginger essential oil is extracted from fresh ginger rhizomes—rich source of zingibain which is a potent anti-inflammatory agent.

The anti-inflammatory action is mediated by inhibiting the prostaglandin and leukotrienes biosynthesis.  The use of that oil can be very effective to relieve the back muscles that might be strained and causing you discomfort. If you experience muscle tension, make sure to have ginger oil in your home.

How to use it– Mix 4 drops of ginger oil with a carrier oil such as coconut oil and jojoba oil. Then, rub it gently at the site of the pain on your back.

Frankincense Essential Oil

Frankincense oil is known for being related to different religions over many years, especially the Christianity.

The word frankincense originates from the term “franc encens,” in the old French which implies quality incense. It comes from the resin of the Boswellia carterii or Boswellia sacara tree that is grown in Somalia.

Boswellic acids are known to decrease the inflammation by inhibiting certain enzymes which produce prostaglandins E2.

Despite being one of the most expensive essential oils in the market, it is one of the best natural oils for back pain. It helps to improve the blood flow, treat the muscle and joint pains.

Moreover, it is used to treat chronic stress. It has a charming and relaxing scent that can naturally aid you to fall asleep and boost your immune system.

Some aromatherapists believe that frankincense oil helps in tissue regeneration and preventing the cartilage breakdown. Whether you suffer from muscle pain, arthritis, or lower back tension, frankincense oil will be always a good choice to soothe that pain.

How to use it –

  • Soak a towel in warm water containing several drops of frankincense oil, then place it on your back to decrease muscle pain.
  • Used in a diffuser in your home for its relaxing scent to lower your stress level.
  • Blend some drops with a carrier oil such as coconut oil or shea butter, mix it with other essential oils such as lavender oil to get the best results.
Bottom Line – Frankincense Essential Oil helps to reduce back pain by inhibiting the production of key inflammatory mediators such as prostaglandin E-2.

Rosemary Oil

Rosemary is another all-natural essential oil that is extracted from rosemary herbs.

It contains rosmarinic acid- a very powerful anti-oxidant that help to scavenge free radicals, boost the immune system, and relieve the muscle spasm as well.

It is one of the oldest known herbs by the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, and Hebrews.

Not only is its soothing and calming effect, but the oil itself can also be used for many problems, from back pain and inflammation to a better immune system.

The good thing about rosemary is that it can be very effective when you are dealing with arthritic back pain and fibromyalgia.

How to use it –

  • Mix4-5 drops of this oil with a 1/2 tablespoon of carrier oil like the coconut oil and massage it gently throughout the painful area.
  • Diffuse it for one hour to reduce tension and stress

Basil Oil

Like many other essential oils, Basil can help to ease the body and mind.

It helps to loosen up the muscular spasms wherever applied. It is an ideal choice to reduce a backache, inflammation, and muscle tension.

Asides from the analgesic and anti-oxidant properties, Basil oil is known to tranquilize the nerves and calm the mental fatigue as well.

How to use it:

  • Add 1-3 drops of basil oil to a warm compress then apply directly to the sore area of your back.
  • You can also mix it with other essential oils such as lavender oil. Then, apply it to the inflamed part of your back.
  • Inhale directly from a bottle. It is highly recommended to relieve your pain and reduce your anxiety

Conclusion

Out of all the essential oils to treat back pain, I would choose Lavender oil for its analgesic, anti-inflammatory, calming effects, and beautiful floral smell as well.

It can be blended with many other essential oils for massage. Furthermore, it is one of the most famous essential oils as well and provides the whole package you might need to soothe your pain and clear your mind.

The sedative, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic effect of essential oils for back pain make it very desirable alternative therapy for short-term pain relief.

Take care if you are allergic! Despite the feasibility of the essential oil for back pain, some of the concentrated essential oils and its active ingredients might cause irritation, especially when applied topically to a sensitive skin.

Moreover, If the at home remedies did not relieve your back pain, it is best to seek a medical advice and make sure that you do not have a serious medical condition.

References


1. http://www.who.int/medicines/areas/priority_medicines/Ch6_24LBP.pdf
2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25192562
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16. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD004504.pub4/abstract;jsessionid=B1E38EC2392D01577E08AC84FF2EEA39.f03t03
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18. http://www.mainespinenerve.com/spine-neuropathy-health-tips/the-best-essential-oils-for-back-pain#.Wg_MaFWWbIU

Dr. Sachin
 

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