Pain Management With Essential Oils
By Dan Keller, PhD. C.A.
Member of the National Association of Holistic Aromatherapist
Pain, even the very word hurts to hear. And most people find it undesirable and look quickly for a way to eliminate or minimize it. Some pain issues can be addressed at the root cause and stop the problem causing the pain; those being cystitis, bronchitis, and such intermittent types of painful inflammation.
What is pain? The word “pain” comes from the Latin “poena” meaning a fine, a penalty. Pain is very basically the inflammation of a nerve ending whether it is birth pain, tooth pain or migraines. There are several classifications of pain.
Pain Types and Classifications1
- Acute Pain and Chronic Pain
- Nerve Pain
- Psychogenic Pain
- Musculoskeletal Pain
- Chronic Muscle Pain
- Abdominal Pain
- Joint Pain
- Central Pain Syndrome
- Complex Regional Pain Syndrome
- Diabetes-Related Never Pain (Neuropathy)
- Shingles Pain (Post herpetic Neuralgia)
- Trigeminal Neuralgia
The body is such a complex system of bones, muscles and specially nerves. Irritate a nerve in the tooth and you get a toothache, irritate one in the bladder from cystitis you have pain. Oh, for those of you who do not know when you see the suffix ‘itis’ it means inflammation. The suffix ‘ism’ simply means “A medical condition or a disease resulting from or involving some specified thing;” 2
Our body is an intricate network of wiring just like your home. Some connect to this outlet, some connect to that box, but they are all connected to the junction box. It is the same with your body, only the wires are called nerves. The nerves are the electrical wiring of the body.
We have nerves from the top of our head to the tip of our toes. Luckily, the only spot there are no nerves are our nails and hair. Our body is made up of millions of nerve endings. Our brain is part of that junction box. The brain is made up of many nerves and lead down to the spine. This is called the Central Nervous System. Mainly called that because it is in the central part of the body, but I like to think of it as being the central connection box. Our spine is intertwined with nerves and all nerves lead to the spine. (Except the nerves in our olfactory system aka nose). We have another system called the peripheral nervous system or autonomic system that leads nerves to hand, legs and toes among other spots.
Some of the nerves connect to a muscle and the spine. This allows the body to inform our hand that the skillet that was picked up is hot and is burning the hand. Nerves are the central system that tells us something is wrong aka pain. Having a tooth pulled? What did the dentist do first? He deadened the nerve endings in the tooth area.
So, pain is all in the nerves. Without nerves there would be no pain, but without nerves there would be no feeling that cuddly puppy or the warmth of the wife hugging up to you. It is all a part of our body system. Nerves are a part of life.
Plant oils are a fabulous method of relieving pain. Headaches can be relieved using inhalation of something as simple as peppermint Mentha x piperita oil. Of course, there are several oils that an aromatherapist has in their arsenal to use in the case of migraines. Peppermint, Eucalyptus Eucalyptus globulus,and the wonderful Lavender Lavandula angustifolia just being a few of the oils that we use to combat the pain of headaches.
Most body pains that are caused by arthritis, rheumatism, fibromyalgia and other similar pains can be treated with a massage oil or cream. Arnica oil is used due to its natural pain relief tendency. Within this carrier oil we have chosen some highly specific oils such as:
- Black Pepper Piper nigrum Black Pepper is an excellent choice to help in reducing occasional discomfort after exercise or easing achy joints that are associated with normal aging or wear and tear.3
- Copaiba Balsam Copaifera officinalis Copaiba has long been used to soothe the joint pains associated with normal aging.3
- Cajeput Melaleuca cajuputi Helps alleviate sore muscles and joints, relieve cramping during menstruation.3
- Bergamot Citrus bergamia It is a favorite to add to massage blends to help reduce muscle tension and give relief from tightness caused by overexertion or achy muscles.3
Blending these oils in the correct proportions are just a part of the training that a certified aromatherapist learns. We then tell our clients to make sure that they do not over exert the joint or the muscle just because the pain in not present at the moment. My favorite method also entails placing a warm compress over the inflamed area to allow the heat to aid the oils penetrating the area.
In conclusion, pain is a part of life but you don’t have to allow pain to become a way of life. Seek help from someone who is trained to help you with pain remedies that are not toxic, not addictive and are as natural as the grass in your yard. How you manage it is all up to you. How you take care of your body is up to you. Eat right, drink properly, exercise if possible are great places to start. See out naturopathic doctors, a certified aromatherapist and try staying away from addictive drugs. You and your family will feel much better for living as pain free as possible, all naturally.