Essential Oils For Lower Back Pain
Millions of Americans struggle with lower back pain. It has been estimated that up to 80% of adults will experience chronic lower back pain over the course of their lives. The high rates of lower back pain might be due to the sedentary lifestyle of most Americans, causing weak psoas muscles and sciatic nerve pain. It is the third reason why people go to a physician.
It can be caused by inflamed joints, degenerated disks, torn ligaments, and even strained muscles. It can be incredibly severe depending on the cause, and some of the worst causes are lifestyle issues like postural problems, or inactivity placing pressure on the spine. Many people seek to relieve lower back pain with regular exercise, soft tissue therapy, and chiropractic care. Some even seek prescription medication to treat chronic lower back pain.
However, there are a number of holistic ways to treat the condition without the harmful side effects of medications. One way to treat it is by using essential oils, both topically and internally. Essential oils have become well-known in the holistic health community as a way of treating back pain. By inhaling the essential oil or rubbing a diluted formula on the skin, the oils stimulate the limbic system and reduce pain.
There are a number of essential oils that can be used specifically for back pain including tea tree essential oil, basil essential oil, lavender essential oil, flaxseed essential oil, sandalwood essential oil, eucalyptus essential oil, clary sage essential oil, wintergreen essential oil, bergamot essential oil, and copaiba essential oil.
Essential Oils For Lower Back Pain
1. Tea Tree Essential Oil
Tea tree essential oil, otherwise known as melaleuca is derived from the Australian plant to use for a number of different things including anti-bacterial, pain relievers, cleaning products, and even perfumes. Tea tree essential oil can be used as a topical anti-inflammatory which reduces pain in the lower back. (1)
- Draw a warm bath with Epsom salt. Add up to 15 drops into the bath to help relax the lower back muscles and reduce inflammation.
- Add several drops to a carrier oil like coconut oil or olive oil. Massage into the pained area two to three times per day.
Things to Know About Tea Tree Oil
Using tea tree essential oils have been proven to be safe, though there are some things you should be aware of prior to using tea tree oil. Tea tree essential oil should not be consumed or swallowed. It should be kept out of reach of children. People should also be careful about using tea tree oil if they have sensitive skin.
The skin might become irritated if you use undiluted tea tree oil. Instead, mix it with a carrier oil like coconut oil, almond oil, or olive oil before placing onto the skin. Do not let pets consume this essential oil because it might cause nervous system issues or tremors.
Most people know basil is an excellent herb for flavoring a variety of dishes. However, the essential oil can also be used for mouthwash and perfumes. It is also an anti-inflammatory that can help relieve pain, including lower back pain. When the essential oil is inhaled through a diffuser, it communicates with the limbic system in the brain, helping to control stress levels, blood pressure, and immune function.
- Draw a warm bath with Epsom salt. Add up to 15 drops of Basil essential oil into the bath to help relax the lower back muscles and reduce inflammation.
- Add several drops to a carrier oil like grapeseed oil or almond. Massage into the lower back area two to three times per day.
- Apply two to three drops to a cloth or tissue to inhale the scent.
- Apply two to three drops to an aromatherapy diffuser or vaporizer.
Things to Know About Basil Essential Oil
Basil essential oils and other forms of basil should be avoided by women who are breastfeeding, nursing, or pregnant. It should not be consumed internally without the advice of a medical professional. The oil should not be applied to the skin without diluting it. Those with sensitive skin should do a skin patch test to ensure the skin doesn’t react harshly to it.
Lavender is one of the most recognized essential oils. It has been used for thousands of years as an ingredient in perfume, a relaxant, and even in preparing food. It provides a calming sensation and it is often associated with sedative properties. Lavender essential oil also contains anti-inflammatory properties, helping the back reduce inflammation and pain in the muscles and surrounding tissues.
- Apply directly to the skin in the lower back region to massage the muscles and release tension.
- Add 5-10 drops to a warm bath to soak the lower back to reduce inflammation and relax the lower back muscles. The temperature of the water combined with the lavender essential oils can reduce pain and stress in the body. It loosens the muscles and releases tension.
- Add several drops to a diffuser or vaporizer to reach the limbic system and calm the mind, relaxing the body and mind.
Things to Know About Lavender Oil
One study suggested that lavender essential oil can be used as a topical anti-inflammatory and analgesic. It has been shown to provide the same amount of pain relief as tramadol.
4. Flaxseed Essential Oil
Flaxseed oil has been used for thousands of years. the plant was originally spun into cloth, however now it is an excellent source of omega-3 and 6. Flaxseed oil has become known for promoting heart health by reducing blood pressure levels.
It has also been used to reduce inflammation in the body. A number of studies reveal that flaxseed oil had potent anti-inflammatory properties comparative to olive oil. Those who consume flaxseed oil supplements reduce inflammation in the lower back.
- Apply one tablespoon of flaxseed oil to smoothies or shakes to add flaxseed oil into the diet.
- Add to dips, salad dressings, or sauces.
- Take flaxseed supplements daily according to product instructions.
Things to Know About Flaxseed Oil
Flaxseed oil should not be used in cooking because it will smoke and add harmful toxins to the air if it is exposed to high heat. It can also be applied to the skin as a natural moisturizer to enhance skin health. Adding one to two servings daily can have a number of health benefits.
Sandalwood uses alpha and beta-santalol molecules to reduce inflammation in the body. The compounds are found in oil extracted from sandalwood tree roots to treat lower back pain. Studies have demonstrated that the cytokines and NSAIDs of the santalols reduce inflammation and muscle spasms in the lower back. This helps the muscles of the lower back relax, releasing tension and easing back pain.
- Add three to four drops of Sandalwood essential oil to a teaspoon of a carrier oil like almond or grapeseed oil. Massage the concoction into the lower back two to three times per day.
- Add 15 drops to a warm bath and soak for 30 minutes to relax the lower back muscles and relieve pain. For added benefit, add Epsom salt to increase the effectiveness of the Sandalwood essential oil.
Things to Know About Sandalwood Essential Oil
Sandalwood oil does not need to be diluted prior to placing on the skin. However, it is still important to perform a patch test prior to applying to the entire painful part of the body. If the skin becomes red, itchy, swollen, or blistering, you have had a reaction to the oil and should stop using it.
If the discomfort continues for more than 24 hours, wash with warm water and soap. However, these risks are not associated with sandalwood essential oil directly.
Eucalyptus essential oil has analgesic properties that are often used in creams and vapor rubs. Analgesic properties relieve pain by binding the cell receptors in the brain, spinal cord, and gastrointestinal pain to reduce pain.
It eases the pain in the same way many over the counter creams do, reducing inflammation and soothing pain. It is particularly useful for those experiencing lower back pain or joint pain.
- Add two to three drops to a diffuser to breathe in the vapor.
- Add two to three drops to a carrier oil and massage into the lower back. It can also be applied to the chest to clear sinuses.
Things to Know About Eucalyptus Essential Oil
Researchers have also revealed that Eucalyptus essential oils also work as an anti-microbial if you are looking for an alternative to pharmaceuticals. It can be used to fight off infection and foreign pathogens.
When it is applied topically with a carrier oil, it can reduce swelling, muscle pain, and soreness of the lower back. Inhaling the eucalyptus essential oil through a diffuser can also lower blood pressure and heart rate to reduce pain.
Clary Sage oil has become known for the use in soap, perfumes, and shampoos. Clary Sage essential oil has also been used to treat pain and spasmodic muscles because of the anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic agents. It can also be used as a sedative and a nerve tonic.
- Add three or four drops to a carrier oil like almond oil, coconut oil, or extra virgin olive oil. Massage into the lower back to relieve muscle tension and pain three times each day.
- Add 15 drops to a warm bath to soak the lower back, relieve tension from the muscles and relieve pain.
Things to Know About Clary Sage Essential Oil
Clary sage is also a natural antidepressant because it works as a natural anti-stressor. Women who ingested the oil saw reduced cortisol in the body. Using essential oils should be discussed with your physicians prior to consuming, it may have side effects when mixed with other medications or herbal treatments. It may cause side effects in people who have low blood pressure.
It should not be consumed. It is important to spit out the oil if you are using it for oral health. It should only be used topically or aromatically. It should be kept out of reach of children since there have been several instances of the oil poisoning infants and young children.
Wintergreen Essential Oils are classified as counterirritants, allowing people to use it as a pain relieving cream. Wintergreen can numb the area when it is rubbed into the skin, similar to cortisone.
It has analgesic properties that allow it to act as a location-specific pain reliever, like aspirin. It can be used to improve blood circulation which would reduce swelling. It can also be used as an anti-inflammatory to reduce inflammation in the lower back. The numbing properties can also dramatically reduce pain while soothing the muscle. (2)
- Drop three to four drops dire onto the skin with a carrier oil if you are using the essential oil alone. If you are combining it with another essential oil, mix the oils 50:50 before massaging the painful area.
Things to Know About Wintergreen Essential Oil
The release of the analgesic properties in a topically applied wintergreen essential oil is determined by the dosage. It should not be consumed, though the wintergreen plant is edible. The essential oil can be toxic if swallowed due to the high levels of methyl salicylate. Pregnant women or people with digestive issues should not consume it.
Those who use internally should do so under the supervision of their physician to avoid an impure product or using too high of a dose. Sensitive skin can react to the mint oils. Wintergreen oils can cause redness, swelling, or burning.
Essential oils are the most beneficial if they are 100% pure and therapeutic grade. They should also be organic when possible. They can last for up to two years before they need to be replaced. Essential oils can be a great holistic way to reduce back pain, but if you experience chronic back pain you should consult your physician. If you need to improve absorption, apply with heat to the lower back.
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