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Essential oils for pain and inflammation relief may very well be what you need to be freed from the suffering you’ve been praying for! Pain conditions are not only rampant, but they can be difficult to treat with conventional anti-inflammatory drugs, and you may find natural remedies that bring safe relief.

How is Chronic Pain Lethal?

Chronic pain … it will take down the toughest of the tough, harming livelihoods and lives. It can impact you and those you love on every level – the ability or inability to work and make a living, relationships, and your very way of functioning successfully in life.

Each kind of pain and each person is different. In general, however, chronic pain is generally defined as ongoing, unrelenting pain. We’re talking about daily headaches, arthritic pain, or pain that persists after an injury heals. There may be an underlying cause like cancer, a virus, or an infection. But some people hurt even in the absence of any past injury or body damage.

The problem with pain relief lies is that there is no great solution. If pain is considered a symptom, are you more focused on managing symptoms or discovering what the symptoms point to? And no matter the goal, with painful conditions, it’s difficult to do more than damage control simply because you have to ease it in order to function.

Unfortunately, that damage control has created a lethal epidemic in the U.S. with millions of people becoming hooked on prescription painkillers, technically termed “opioids.” In addition to other potential side effects, opioid addiction rates are higher than they’ve ever been, and more and more people have become dependent on painkillers. Tragically, on average, 130 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose, according to the CDC, making safe alternatives for pain relief more urgent than ever.

Chances are, you’ve turned to this chapter because you’re struggling with pain and tired of the bandage solutions that just treat it symptomatically and come with a myriad of side effects. You want a real change instead of temporary relief. Read on!

Chronic Pain & Inflammation

What actually causes chronic pain?

There are a huge number of possible causes. For some people, it’s activated by an illness such as diabetes, arthritis, or cancer; for others, it turns up after an injury or accident. Sometimes chronic pain can erupt for no obvious reason. Medical tests and scans can’t always determine the source.

But one common denominator exists: The genesis of pain is inflammation, regardless of the factors producing the pain.

Chronic inflammation is not necessarily bad and can be a part of your body’s healing system. When you injure a muscle (as in a twisted ankle), for example, your immune system initiates an inflammatory response by sending blood and immune cells to the affected area, which can result in redness, heat, and swelling. Otherwise, why would God design our immune system to function this way? The problem is when our bodies become chronically inflamed due to preventable risks such as food choices, stress, anxiety, and overuse of harmful medications.

Thankfully, a growing number of physicians are looking into root causes of disease and helping their patients get off unnecessary drugs, discover unknown food allergies (which trigger inflammation), detoxify heavy metal poisoning, and address other chronic inflammation triggers.

The bottom line is this: if you want to solve and prevent chronic pain effectively, you need to resolve your inflammation problem. You can find out clinically if your body is inflamed through a simple blood test that looks for a marker called c-reactive protein, or CRP. Increased levels of CRP could be a major warning sign for health problems. But the good news is that higher CRP levels can be brought down with certain lifestyle adjustments, including exercise, weight loss, and a diet with anti-inflammatory properties.

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Diseases Related to Pain and Inflammation

Pain can manifest due to a variety of causes such as illness, injury, and inflammation. It can be dull or sharp, acute or chronic, widespread or at a specific point. The unifying factor is that pain is incredibly difficult to live with and endure. Here’s a brief rundown of some of the most prevalent chronic pain conditions:

Chronic Back Pain. This is the leading cause of disability in the United States. It can be caused by injury or develop with advancing age. A common source of back pain is a spinal misalignment called a “subluxation” in chiropractic terms. Misalignments “pinch” or irritate spinal nerves, leading to spasms and pain.

Disc herniations in the spine, which press against nerves as they exit the spinal cord, may also be involved. (This condition is frequently misdiagnosed by MRIs.) Other sources of chronic back pain include soft tissue damage; traumatic fractures; and structural problems in the back that create muscle pain or muscle spasms, among many other causes.

Disease-Related Headaches.  Certain diseases will cause chronic headaches or migraines: MS, cancer, brain injuries, HIV, and high blood pressure. Even the prescription drugs used to treat these illnesses can cause headaches.

Chronic Joint Pain. The most common types of joint pain include osteoarthritis, the wear and tear on joints over time; rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease in which the body attacks its own bones, ligaments, and tendons; and repetitive strain injury, in which frequent assaults on larger joints, like the knee or shoulder, result in chronic pain.

Neuropathic Pain. With neuropathic pain, there is a lesion, disease, or dysfunction in the nervous system. When impacted like this, the nerves within that system can’t transmit sensations to the brain. This often leads to numbness, or lack of sensation, or pain that is often described as pricking, tingling, pins and needles, electrically shocking or shooting, or hot or burning.

For many patients, nerve pain intensity can wax and wane throughout the day. Injuries to the brain or spinal cord can also lead to chronic neuropathic pain. A few examples of neuropathic pain are neuropathy (a common nerve disorder), shingles, diabetic neuropathy, and trigeminal neuralgia (a type of facial pain). Essential oils for nerve pain can help relieve neuropathic discomfort.

Chronic Illness-Related Pain. People also suffer from cancer pain, caused by tumors or even by the cancer drugs used to treat the disease. Similarly, people with heart disease often experience angina (chest pain). Angina is considered a sign of heart disease and indicates that you might be at an increased risk of suffering a heart attack.

Conventional Treatments for Pain and Inflammation

As we mentioned, opioids are commonly prescribed for pain, including morphine, oxycodone, and milder painkillers like tramadol. Once opioids enter your bloodstream, they attach to brain receptors, producing a sense of euphoria. This sensation is very addictive and creates a physiological dependency that is very difficult for people to overcome. Medical studies have shown that physical dependence can happen in as few as five days.

Then are also over-the-counter products to fight pain, particularly NSAIDs with artificial anti-inflammatory properties. These include aspirin and drugs containing ibuprofen or naproxen, such as Advil and Aleve, or acetaminophen (Tylenol). Some of these most commonly used pain relievers can cause troublesome and potentially deadly side effects: kidney damage, liver damage (particularly with acetaminophen combined with alcohol), and stomach bleeding. Researchers say 16,500 people die and 107,000 are hospitalized each year because of NSAID-related problems, according to a report published online by the American Nutrition Association.

Over-the-counter NSAIDs are routinely taken for arthritis pain. They don’t really treat the arthritis, however; they really just ease the pain and discomfort of the disease. Still, some people mistakenly believe that they actually slow the progression of arthritis or that by taking them, their arthritis will improve, but that’s not true. Outcome studies have shown that these drugs, may actually accelerate joint and cartilage damage – the very condition patients think they are “curing.”

Finally, there are surgical options to correct pain. But many of these represent a major assault on our bodies. Consider back surgery, for example. Currently, nearly 700,000 disc surgeries are performed in the United States, supposedly to remove pain-producing herniated discs in the back. Research now indicates that perhaps only one percent of these procedures are necessary and that herniated discs, in most cases, don’t produce pain.

Total knee replacement has emerged as a mainstream surgery. These procedures are performed more frequently for women than men, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

An estimated 4.7 million Americans have undergone total knee replacement. Another orthopedic surgery on the rise is total hip replacement. More than 2.5 million people in the U.S. have had this procedure.

Whether it’s back, knee, hip, or other surgery, the risk of complications looms, such as blood clots, infections, allergy to metal implants, complications of anesthesia, artery damage, nerve damage, joint stiffness, loss of mobility in the joint, and ironically, continued pain.

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Top 5 Essential Oils For Inflammation

Of all of the essential oils evaluated for their pain-relieving, inflammation-busting properties, these top the list.

1. Frankincense

The pain-relieving ability of aromatherapy massage was tested with patients struggling with cancer. They were treated with an aromatherapy hand massage that included frankincense, and their pain was relieved significantly. (10) Because there is a connection between inflammatory processes and pain, oils that are anti-inflammatory (as we will see below) are often analgesic, as well. Frankincense essential oil has this dual role.

While the trial may have been directed toward cancer rather than arthritis, the hands are a common site of pain for people with arthritis, and the analgesic effects can be appreciated by all. Try adding it to an oil used for massage with ginger oil since this study shows its effectiveness in relieving pain.

These essential oils for pain and inflammation can be used in diffusers, topical body care products, and directly inhaled. Frankincense essential oil is one of the main ingredients in my favorite essential oil pain-relief roll-on recipe.

2. Lavender

When discussing the best essential oils for arthritis pain and inflammation, lavender will always come up. Generally used to improve sleep or treat skin irritations, lavender essential oil once again displays its wide range of results when considering its therapeutic benefits for arthritis.

As an anti-inflammatory agent, lavender oil can help to relieve the painful swelling and inflammation that arthritis, in its various forms, creates. Lavender is an analgesic as well, tackling arthritic pain from multiple angles. (11)

Since lavender oil can be used for anxiety and depression, it may also help to relieve secondary issues that arise in the life of a person with chronic pain. Its gentle nature and myriad of therapeutic properties help make lavender a reliable choice for most people’s use and application.

3. Roman Chamomile

Roman chamomile essential oil is regularly used for its calming, soothing, and anti-inflammatory effects. (12) As a whole herb, chamomile is renowned for its relaxing, and calming effects, making it popular in homegrown herb tea gardens. The essential oil isolates some of these abilities, especially as an anti-inflammatory effects.

To work the anti-inflammatory compounds into the skin and onto joints and other sites of pain, add Roman chamomile to topical, anti-inflammatory massage oils. You can also diffuse chamomile to relax an anxious or depressed mind.

Note: Those with allergies to ragweed will want to test chamomile with a small skin patch first as the plants are related.

4. Yarrow

Yarrow is a soothing and healing herb, and its essential oil also carries anti-inflammatory components that are beneficial for arthritic ailments. Yarrow essential oil is used in many anti-inflammatory preparations and is part of the Ayurvedic tradition. (13)

Topical preparations of yarrow essential oils for arthritis can help to improve anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving combinations to relieve acute inflammation. Making the most of synergistic reactions – oils working together to make each other more effective – creates special blends that help to relieve pain and inflammation for your specific arthritis conditions.

5. Wintergreen

Wintergreen oil, another traditional analgesic that has helped countless arthritis patients, is known as “liquid aspirin.” Used with peppermint, it is particularly effective in reducing inflammation. A 2014 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine states,

“The predominant natural ingredient in wintergreen oil is methyl salicylate, which is a compound closely related to acetylsalicylic acid, or aspirin. When applied to the skin, including tissues at the site of pain, wintergreen oil has analgesic properties… A combination of wintergreen oil and peppermint oil is commonly used because it is believed to give far better pain relief than either wintergreen oil or peppermint oil alone.

In addition, the combination of the two essential oils for arthritis may potentiate the individual effects of each oil, thus enabling the use of lower doses of each, which, as a consequence, is likely to produce fewer side effects.” (14)

Try mixing wintergreen and peppermint essential oils to maximize the anti-inflammatory compounds for acute inflammation and pain relief.

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Using Essential Oils for Specific Conditions

Each kind of pain and each person is different, but taking a whole body approach and using natural solutions like essential oils for pain relief and other conditions in a much more direct way.

Topical applications using essential oils for pain and inflammation can complement a holistic, natural approach to minimizing your suffering and allowing you to live an abundant life! Oils and methods chosen might vary based on the kind of pain you wish to address.

Looking for an essential oil recipe using our best blend for pain and inflammation relief? Check out our Pain Away Roll-On!

Here are some of the more common pain-inducing illnesses and the essential oils that may help:

1. Fibromyalgia

As a relatively recent official diagnosis, fibromyalgia is increasing in prevalence simply because more and more people realize there is a name for the pain they have struggled with for years. At this point, about 5 million people are diagnosed with fibromyalgia, dealing with many concurrent symptoms: (2)

  • Morning stiffness or sore muscles.
  • Tingling or numbness in hands and feet.
  • Headaches, including migraines.
  • Irritable bowel syndrome.
  • Sleep disturbances.
  • Cognitive problems with thinking and memory (sometimes called “fibro fog”).
  • Painful menstrual periods and other pain syndromes.

Essential oils for pain relief can address many of these symptoms, helping to alleviate the various forms of suffering that fibromyalgia presents with. Relieving these symptoms can help to slow the pain cycle, allowing more movement and rest that can limit further pain. Try this fibromyalgia massage blend with essential oils designed to relieve muscle aches.

Application: Consider bolstering gut health with essential oils and probiotics. Alleviate sleep issues with lavender and bergamot essential oils. Improve focus with citrus and peppermint essential oils. And massage painful menstrual cramps with clary sage and ylang ylang essential oils diluted in olive oil or another carrier oil.

2. Headaches

Caused by sinuses, migraine disorders, bad diet, dehydration, and even stress, headaches can range from mildly annoying to truly debilitating pain. The cause of your headache pain needs to be discovered to rule out anything serious and to help prevent recurrences, but acute pain relief is necessary when a headache strikes.

  • The cooling, pain-relieving effects that peppermint oil has make it soothing for headache applications. Massaged with a carrier oil onto the site of pain, such as sinus pressure, peppermint can help to take the pain of a headache away. It may also help to counter headaches that are triggered by scents and artificial fragrances. (3)
  • In light of chamomile’s traditional use for migraine relief, researchers are looking into verifying its mechanisms of action. (4) Known for its relaxing abilities, Roman chamomile as both an herb and an essential oil is good to have on hand for headache relief.
  • Calming in cases of anxiety and useful when sleep is hindered, lavender essential oil is effective simply via inhalation. In a placebo-controlled trial, lavender exhibited excellent pain relief in a simple inhalation application. (5)

Application: Headache relief with essential oils can be administered with inhalation or by adding the oil to a carrier and massaging the temples.

3. Arthritis

Arthritis comes in multiple forms, sometimes caused by age and others by genetics. The type of arthritis can affect both the severity and location of pain, but the results are similar across the board. Secondary depression that comes with chronic pain is common and difficult to counteract.

A 2005 study used aromatherapy to help relieve the depressive symptoms associated with arthritic pain. The study used lavender, marjoram, rosemary, peppermint, and eucalyptus oils in carrier oil on a total of 40 patients. After using the oils, both pain and depression were lessened. (6)

Application: Blend lavender, marjoram, eucalyptus, rosemary, and peppermint essential oils into a carrier and massage into painful areas to relieve inflammatory conditions.

4. Inflammatory Illness

Inflammation is at the heart of most painful conditions, from injuries to chronic illness. Anti-inflammatory oils are important tools when fighting pain.

  • A good reason for lavender’s pain-relieving abilities is that it’s an anti-inflammatory essential oil. (7)
  • Tested in the lab, Melissa (lemon balm) essential oil has shown some effectiveness against both inflammation and swelling. (8)
  • Monoterpenes. Really, any essential oils with monoterpenes – which, as one study notes, can comprise about 90% of essential oils – have some level of anti-inflammatory ability. (9) So feel free to play!

Application: For relief of inflammation, add a blend of anti-inflammatory essential oils to your carrier oil(s) of choice and massage onto painful areas to relieve inflammatory conditions.

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Other Natural Therapies

In addition to using oils for inflammation, you should approach pain relief as a holistic venture to carry your efforts further. Keeping your body loose with exercise, getting good sleep, and eating good foods are all important. In fact, one of the biggest benefits we hear from people who go through The Essential Oils Diet book’s Fast Track Challenge research-based, is they report less pain and inflammation.

It also helps minimize stress and keep the immune system functioning well. And remember, using essential oils for pain relief is great to have as part of your pain relief toolbox. For example, you might like to try this magnesium spray for muscle relief as well.

The problem with conventional pain relief is that there is no great solution. If pain is considered a symptom, are you more focused on managing symptoms or discovering what the symptoms point to? And no matter the goal, with painful conditions, it’s difficult to do more than damage control simply because you have to ease it in order to function.

Natural pain remedies are often less invasive than medications and usually include lifestyle changes that begin to address the underlying causes. Stretches to ease back pain, for starters, and then essential oils for advanced relief. With something like essential oils for pain relief, you can easily incorporate them into your lifestyle while taking advantage of pain-relieving effects that – when used properly – carry few side effects. (15)

Additionally, a comprehensive review of complementary and alternative medical therapies for chronic pain was published in the China Journal of Integrative Medicine in 2016. It outlined several research-based treatments worth looking into the following.

Massage therapy. Massage may be a helpful addition to the overall treatment strategy of patients with chronic pain. It has a short-term effect on pain but also relieves the stress associated with trying to live with chronic pain, and in this regard, has a healing benefit.

Acupuncture. The practice of acupuncture is an ancient system that recognizes that disease is due to imbalances in the flow of Qi (pronounced “chee”) or “life energy” that moves through everyone. Qi is believed to be disrupted by stress, poor diet, fatigue, and excessive heat or cold.

Traditional acupuncturists insert hair-thin needles into acupuncture “points,” located throughout the body, to balance the Qi and restore health. When energy “flows” freely, there is less pain, better communication among bodily systems, and improved well-being. Some Western scientists believe that acupuncture triggers the release of the body’s natural painkillers.

Unlike some forms of alternative medicine, acupuncture has been well-researched. To date, nearly 20,000 human trials have studied this system. In the area of chronic pain, results from a number of studies suggest that acupuncture may help ease low-back pain, neck pain, and osteoarthritis/knee pain, to name just a few

In other conditions of chronic pain, acupuncture may also help reduce the frequency of tension headaches and prevent migraine headaches. It is also effective for people with neuropathy, the painful nerve damage of diabetes. Acupuncture therefore appears to be a reasonable option for people with chronic pain to consider, and it works well with other drugless, non-surgical treatments.

Herbs and Dietary Supplements. This review listed several pain-relieving supplements that have been fairly well-researched: Devil’s claw, curcumin, capsaicin, white willow bark), and Boswellia.

Prayer & Meditation. Several mind-body interventions can alter how your brain processes pain, thereby reducing your perception of pain, plus ramping up the production of the body’s supply of natural painkillers. Common therapies include prayer, Bible reading and meditation, guided imagery, and the “moving meditations” like yoga, Tai Chi, and qi gong.

We would add to this review study, natural therapy with essential oils. With something like these essential oils for pain relief, you can easily incorporate them into your lifestyle while taking advantage of pain-relieving effects that – when used properly – carry few side effects.

As easy topical applications, essential oils for pain relief can complement a holistic, natural approach to minimizing your suffering and giving you your life back! Oils and methods chosen might vary based on the kind of pain and the part of the painful condition you wish to address.

With that said, you should always work with your doctor to determine the best strategy for tackling pain and its causes. Use caution and learn of contraindications and interactions before introducing supplements and essential oils for pain relief when you are already taking medications.

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