10 Amazing Essential Oils for Pain Relief

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

Pain is something that everyone can relate to while using essential oils for pain is something that everyone should try. Pain can come in many different forms, including acute pain from an injury, strained muscle or surgical recovery, or chronic pain, which can be the result of a chronic disease or improperly healed injury in the past. Some of the most common areas for pain include the back and joints, which can be the result of manual labor, poor posture, uncomfortable bed, obesity, nerve damage or natural aging of the spine.

Acute pain often has a clear explanation, whereas chronic pain can often be a mystery, and very difficult to treat. Living with pain can impact your quality of life, making you less active, and taking on a psychological dimension that makes one less likely to be social or happy. This can result in anxiety and depression, which can often exacerbate the source of chronic pain, whether psychological or physical. For those who suffer from pain, either acute or chronic, using essential oils for pain is an excellent option, and one with fairly few side effects. Many of the essential oils below contain analgesic, sedative, soothing, anti-inflammatory and healing properties that can not only help with pain relief but also address the underlying cause of the pain. [1]

List of Essential Oils for Pain Relief

Some of the most impressive essential oils for pain include marjoram, sandalwood, fennel, rose, bergamot, lavender, juniper, wintergreen, cayenne and clove oils.

Essential oil bottle with cloves and a flower on a white dish

Best essential oils for pain relief Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Cayenne Pepper Oil

This essential oil is rich in capsaicin and other anti-inflammatory compounds, making it a potent ally in the fight against pain. Studies and anecdotal evidence have shown that cayenne oil is able to relieve the pain of arthritis, acute pain from injuries, as well as nerve pain. [2]

How to Use – Add a few drops of this oil to a carrier oil, such as almond oil, before rubbing it into the affected area on the body, such as the back, elbows, knees or hands.

Bergamot Oil

When the nerve fibers are damaged in a certain part of the body, the pain can be excruciating, and many modern pain killers are unable to treat the discomfort. Bergamot oil, however, has been researched and found to be an effective form of release from the pain of damaged or severed nerves. [3]

How to Use – You can add 10 drops of bergamot oil to a warm bath and then soak in the tub for 20-30 minutes. This full-body approach to pain relief is very effective for those suffering from chronic, widespread pain.

Clove Oil

In the past, clove oil was once used as an anesthetic during surgical procedures, as it does have numbing and analgesic properties. You can use this oil to soothe symptoms of extended illness or injury recovery, as well as for acute pain. The fast-acting nature of this oil makes it particularly popular. [4]

How to Use – You can blend a few drops of this with a carrier oil and topically apply it to the area of pain, or you can dab a few drops directly on a wound, such as a toothache.

Sandalwood Oil

The main benefits of this ancient oil are its anti-spasmodic nature and anti-inflammatory properties. This can be excellent for chronic pain of the skeletal and muscular symptoms, although it is not as effective for the acute pain of basic injuries. [5]

How to Use – For a concentrated dose, mix 2-3 drops into a cup of warm water and drink every morning. For a milder, but more long-lasting treatment, add some of this oil to a room diffuser and benefit from its effects all day.

Rose Oil

There are certain sedative, analgesic and anti-spasmodic properties of rose oil that make it highly effective for reducing abdominal pain and cramping. This is particularly important for women who experience painful menstrual cramps, as well as people with gastrointestinal disorders. [6]

How to Use – Many people simply add rose oil to a diffuser, as the pleasant aroma is uplifting and soothing at the same time, although the topical application of a diluted form of this oil is also effective as an analgesic.

Fennel Oil

For people who suffer from nerve pain or chronic skeletal/muscular discomfort, using fennel oil has been shown to ease tension in the muscles and prevent spasming or aches. For fibromyalgia, arthritis and multiple sclerosis patients, this remedy is excellent for pain relief. [7]

How to Use – Many people choose to add a few drops of fennel oil into their herbal tea or drink it in a mixture with warm water. Inhalation of this oil is not common, but can also be used for pain that is localized in the head and stomach.

Marjoram Oil

Best known for its soothing properties, marjoram oil is excellent at reducing tension and cramping in the stomach, muscles, joints and overall discomfort in the nervous system. This can relieve pain in the respiratory, gastrointestinal, skeletal and cardiovascular systems. [8]

How to Use – Topical applications of marjoram are the most common, as you can mix it with a carrier oil, such as coconut oil, or blend it with a skin cream and then apply it to the area in pain. The effects can be quite rapid, and the oil can be re-applied as needed.

Juniper Oil

This essential oil is specifically famed for its ability to soothe the pain of the gastrointestinal and excretory systems. In terms of hemorrhoids, few oils are more highly recommended, although juniper oil can also treat the pain of neuralgia and arthritis when topically applied. [9]

How to Use – The easiest way to use this oil is to add 5-10 drops to a warm bath and then soak in the tub for 20-30 minutes. This can very effectively deal with the pain and discomfort of hemorrhoids, and will also help soothe inflammation in the joints and back.

Wintergreen Oil

One of the best essential oils for pain is wintergreen, as it possesses a very similar chemical structure as contemporary painkillers. Wintergreen oil has been used for thousands of years and can help with everything from headache relief to the pain of damaged nerves and rheumatoid arthritis. [10]

How to Use – This oil should not be used internally, due to potential toxicity in large doses, but as a topical application, it can be hugely effective for pain and inflammation all over the body. Mix 5 drops of this oil with 1 tablespoon of coconut oil and apply directly to the affected area.

Lavender Oil

This wildly popular oil is excellent for acute and chronic pain and is even able to speed the healing process of wounds after relieving the pain. Lavender oil can relax the body, relieve tension in muscles, soothe the stomach and eliminate headaches, making it one of the more versatile essential oils for pain. [11]

How to Use – You can add a few drops of this oil to a carrier oil for topical applications, or simply add 5-6 drops of the oil into a room diffuser for long-lasting, all-day relief from chronic pain.

A Word of Warning

Chronic pain can seriously impact your life, and the use of essential oils for pain often seems like an obvious and simple remedy. However, it is important to remember that many of these substances are highly concentrated compounds that can have a wide array of side effects. Some of these may include skin inflammation, gastrointestinal distress, cardiovascular complications, fatigue, and allergic reactions, among many others. It is important to speak with your doctor about any potential interactions with medications you are currently prescribed before adding any essential oils to your pain-relief regimen. If any negative side effects appear, discontinue use immediately.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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