Essential Oils for Muscle Pain
Everyone experiences muscle pain at some point in their life. The difficulty in treating muscle pain is that it can come from virtually any cause. While some muscle pain is caused by overuse, other pain may be caused by stress or a sedentary lifestyle. Whatever the cause may be, quick relief is often the end goal.
Over-the-counter pain relievers are a popular choice but can cause damage to the body with long-term use. As a result, many people search for natural muscle pain relief. Essential oils provide a safe way to treat sore, achy muscles. Several clinical studies have found that using essential oils for sore muscles can significantly reduce pain and may be as effective as over-the-counter medication in some cases.2
Essential oils combat pain in two ways. Some essential oils are best used topically with a carrier oil, such as almond or jojoba oil.1 When applied topically, the active compounds are absorbed through the skin and exert their effects on the affected area. Other oils are best used via inhalation, where the active compounds signal pain relief to the brain.
Best Essential Oil for Sore Muscles
While many essential oils possess pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties, it can be difficult to determine which is best. Based on the latest scientific research, the following are considered the best essential oils for pain relief.
Camphor Essential Oil
Camphor essential oil’s benefits include natural pain relief and anti-inflammatory properties. Though it has become a popular remedy for congestion, its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties have made it a common ingredient in topical pain relief creams. It has a cooling sensation when applied topically and may help reduce bruising and swelling. Camphor essential oil can be diluted with water, then applied topically with a cloth.
Cardamom Essential Oil
Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum) is an herb that has been important in traditional Ayurveda. Cardamom essential oil’s powerful anti-inflammatory properties have been demonstrated in a study published by Pharmacology Research.
In the study, scientists injected inflamed tissue with a common anti-inflammatory drug, cardamom essential oil or a placebo solution. The tissue that received cardamom essential oil showed the least inflammation at the end of the study, noting that cardamom essential oil to be effective in reducing inflamed muscles.
Clary Sage Essential Oil
Clary sage essential oil’s properties are particularly useful for easing muscle tension and alleviating muscle cramps. In a 2012 study, clary sage essential oil was applied as a part of a therapeutic massage for women experiencing pain and muscle cramping due to menstruation. Women who received the aromatherapy massage noted a significant reduction in pain levels even 24 hours after application. Due to its impressive antispasmodic properties, clary sage is one of the best essential oils to relax muscles.
Cypress Essential Oil
Italian Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens) essential oil has been used for centuries for its anti-inflammatory and pain relieving qualities.1,2 To use cypress essential oil for muscle pain, soak a clean cloth in a mixture of warm water and six drops of cypress essential oil. Apply the soaked cloth to areas with muscle pain for up to four hours.
Eucalyptus Essential Oil
Eucalyptus essential oil’s therapeutic benefits stem from its powerful analgesic and astringent properties. While the eucalyptus tree (Eucalyptus globulus) has been used medicinally for many years, a clinical study published in 2013 investigated eucalyptus essential oil’s ability to reduce pain. Patients who inhaled eucalyptus essential oil for 30 minutes a day, for three consecutive days, showed a decrease in pain compared to a control group. To use eucalyptus essential oil for pain relief, add a 2-4 drops to a diffuser and inhale for 30 minutes daily until the pain subsides.
Lavender Essential Oil
Two of lavender essential oil’s valuable qualities are its natural its anti-inflammatory and pain relieving properties. The fragrance of lavender essential oil has also been reported to reduce tension and stress, two factors which can contribute to muscle pain.
In a recent clinical study, post-biopsy patients inhaled oxygen enhanced with lavender essential oil, as a part of their recovery. Patients in the experiment group reported better pain control than those who received regular oxygen. Its calming and pain reducing properties make it one of the best essential oils for muscle aches and pains. For a soothing, therapeutic bath, add 10 drops of lavender essential oil to your warm bath water for widespread pain relief.
Lemongrass Essential Oil
The properties of lemongrass essential oil are particularly helpful in reducing swelling and inflammation when applied topically. With natural anti-inflammatory activity, lemongrass essential oil is a good addition to any natural pain relief remedy. To use topically, mix 2-3 drops of lemongrass essential oil with 1 Tbsp. of a carrier oil, such a coconut, jojoba or grapeseed. Apply the mixture to the affected area and rub into the skin until fully absorbed.
Peppermint Essential Oil
The peppermint (Mentha piperita) plant is best known for its refreshing flavor, but it is also a great essential oil for sore muscles. When applied topically, the soothing properties of peppermint essential oil can help alleviate muscle pain by reducing inflammation and drawing fresh blood to the area. To use peppermint essential oil for muscle pain, mix 2 drops of peppermint essential oil with 1 Tsp. of a carrier oil and rub over the affected area of skin. When applied topically, peppermint essential oil has a cooling sensation.
Chamomile Essential Oil
One benefit of chamomile essential oil is its potent anti-inflammatory properties. It also said to have sedative and calming properties that help reduce stress. Thanks to these properties, chamomile essential oil is considered one of the best essential oils for muscle pain relief.
For a natural essential oil muscle relaxer, add 6 drops of chamomile essential oil to 1 oz. of carrier oil. Apply the oil to sore muscles or joints to help reduce inflammation.
Rosemary Essential Oil
Rosemary essential oil’s compounds have been noted to help reduce swelling and pain when applied topically. Inhalation of rosemary essential oil also reduces perceived pain by signaling to the brain that pain has been alleviated.
Sage Essential Oil
Sage essential oil’s muscle relaxing properties make it one of the best essential oils for leg cramps. When used in a hot compress, sage essential oil may help relieve pain in sore muscles, cramps, and sprains.
To use sage essential oils for muscle aches, add 4 drops of sage essential oil to 2 cups of warm water in a bowl. Soak a clean cloth in the mixture and apply the cloth to the sore muscle. Keep on the area until the cloth is room temperature. Repeat as necessary.
Scientific Research Referenced in this Article
- Dias D. A., Urban S. & Roessner U. (2012). A historical overview of natural products in drug discovery. Metabolites. 2(2), 303-336. doi:3390/metabo2020303
- Su, Y., Hsu, K., Hua, K., & Ho, C. (2015). Composition, in vitro Anti-inflammatory, Antioxidant and Antimicrobial Activities of Essential Oils from Leaf and Twig Parts of Cupressus cashmeriana. Natural Product Communications,10(8), 1461-1464. Retrieved April 27, 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26434142.