If you’ve ever felt any type of heel pain, you know how heavily it can impede day-to-day functioning.
Everyone has to use their feet at some point throughout the day, whether they’re at a desk job, enjoy sports, or work a trade that requires them to be on their feet.
Without the tools we use to literally ground ourselves within the world working properly, every movement becomes a source of irritation.
Perhaps the most common source of discomfort in the heel area is plantar fasciitis and here at Pure Path, we’re in the business of providing solutions; so today, we’ll be discussing 5 excellent essential oils for plantar fasciitis and other heel pain.
But before we get to the list…
Some Quick Info on Plantar Fasciitis and Essential Oils
Plantar fasciitis originates from our plantar fascia, which is a band of tissue that connects our heels to our toes. They give our feet an arch that helps absorb the shock typically related to walking, running, or jumping.
When the plantar fascia is stretched past their limits or experience too much stress, tears form. These tears, in turn, lead to inflammation and the heel pain plantar fasciitis is known for.
For treating plantar fasciitis, doctors typically recommend a combination of pain relievers, stretching, along with exercises that strengthen the calves and foot muscles. Shoe inserts can help those that developed the condition due to the soles of their shoes. Ice is one way to reduce inflammation or simply limiting the amount of time you speed on your feet.
An underutilized way of treating the pain, however, is the use of essential oils.
The root cause of all physical pain is inflammation.
The vast majority of essential oils contain anti-inflammatory properties, though there are some that are more potent or dense with these compounds than others.
These anti-inflammatory properties, along with other pain relieving compounds (analgesics) make essential oils a superb, natural intervention for plantar fasciitis and other sources of heel pain.
Lavender is a plant commonly found in Mediterranean regions and used for its aromatic and medicinal effects. The violet flower is traditionally used to treat gastrointestinal issues, nervous system disorder, rheumatic disorders, and a host of other illnesses and health conditions.
In every essential oil article about pain, lavender oil is almost a guarantee because of its popularity combined with its incredible effectiveness which is backed by many personal testimonies and published studies.
For example, a 2015 Brazilian study investigated and confirmed the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects of lavender oil and even found that it exhibited a similar kind of pain-numbing effects to tramadol (1).
Lavender essential oil is a great option for plantar fasciitis due to its wide variety of pain-reducing and anti-inflammatory properties. Furthermore, its extremely mild nature makes lavender oil perfect for individuals with sensitive skin.
To get relief from plantar fasciitis using lavender oil, combine 5 drops with 1 teaspoon of coconut oil (or another carrier oil) and massage deeply into your heel area.
You should also inhale the aroma of lavender because its pain relieving and anti-inflammatory properties are also absorbed through our olfactory systems.
Simply add two drops to a cotton cloth and then breathe in with the cloth about one inch from your face.
Alternately, you can also inhale directly from the bottle or diffuse in your bedroom.
It is also an excellent anti-inflammatory and analgesic but how it goes about addressing pain is a lot different from most essential oils.
The main driver in peppermint oil’s pain applications is its menthol content which brings a cooling sensation to area while inhibiting certain neurons that carry pain impulses to the brain (2).
Menthol further helps to improve plantar fasciitis by increasing blood flow in the heel area when applied. This improved circulation is due to the dilation of blood vessels; and when oxygen and nutrient rich blood is brought to the area more quickly, the healing process is expedited.
Combine 4 drops with 1 teaspoon of carrier oil and apply the mixture directly to your heel to benefit from the cooling sensation this oil provides. Massage it into your feet slowly to promote comfort and pain relief.
You can also use an essential oil diffuser to put the scent of peppermint into the air for easy inhalation.
The lemongrass plant has a long list of uses. Some people put it in tea, add it to a herbal mix of seasoning to dash over a stew, pasta, or chicken but its medicinal benefits are well respected in many countries around the world.
These benefits are what have led to the extraction of its essential oil for therapeutic applications such as reducing inflammation and pain.
And lemongrass essential oil doesn’t disappoint. Numerous studies have shown this essential oil to be a potent anti-inflammatory that effectively limits the production of certain biomarkers typically associated with inflammation (3).
Furthermore, this oil acts as a powerful hygienic tool for maintaining healthy feet. It can eliminate bacteria such as Bacillus subtilis, E.coli, Staphylococcus aureus, salmonella paratyphi, and Shigella flexneri and it also combats common sources of fungal infections such as Trichophyton mentagrophytes, T.Rubrum, Epidermophyton floccosum, and Microsporum gypseum.
This oil is also an excellent intervention for long-term pain as it is regularly used as an intervention for conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.
It’s possible that severe enough heel pain may make it difficult to sleep. If this is the case, lemongrass also has a sedative effect that can assist in getting appropriate amounts of rest.
Since rest is also one recommended way to treat plantar fasciitis, this can potentially speed up healing.
To use lemongrass oil, combine about 4 drops with about 1 teaspoon of coconut oil and massage into the heel area while also diffusing it in your environment.
Clove oil is used to aid in tooth pain related to dental procedures or other teeth-bound maladies and it is also found in toothpaste and mouthwash due to its antiseptic properties.
Part of clove oil’s potential is derived from its primary active ingredient: eugenol.
Eugenol is a natural anaesthetic and anti-inflammatory that is found in a variety of herbs such as cinnamon, basil and turmeric, however, clove oil has one of the highest concentrations of this incredible compound.
Several studies have investigated the effects of eugenol on inflammation and pain reduction and the results have been extremely positive.
One such study by Chung-Ang University determined that the mechanism behind eugenol’s effects lie in its ability to alter certain ion channels involved in pain signaling while also inhibiting pro-inflammatory mediators (4).
When using clove oil, however, it is important to remember just how potent it is and use proper dilution before applying to the skin.
Combine 2 to 3 drops of clove oil with 1 teaspoon of coconut oil and massage into the heel area for relieving plantar fasciitis pain.
The fruit is a mix between a sour orange and lemon, and it’s used commonly used in as an essential oil for aromatherapy, food, and cosmetic products.
Italian folk medicine has used bergamot essential oil to treat a variety of ailments, including parasites, fever, infections, tonsillitis, and sore throats and due to its antibacterial traits, it’s also used to assist in wound healing and can help treat respiratory-tract disorders. It has also been shown to be an incredible stress and anxiety reliever that promotes feelings of positivity when inhaled (5).
Bergamot essential oil has been proven to have potent anti-inflammatory properties (6); and multiple studies have also shown this oil to have an analgesic effect, which seems to be aided by one of its components: linalool. Together they can reduce pain sensitivity and address the root cause of plantar fasciitis: inflammation.
Combine 5 drops with 1 teaspoon of coconut oil (or another carrier oil) and massage deeply into your heel area.
Inhalation is also suggested when using bergamot oil for best results. Inhalation can be done directly or via diffusion.
Using Virgin Coconut Oil As Your Carrier Oil
Virgin coconut oil is made by preparing coconut milk without using chemicals or high amounts of heat. To make it, you shred coconuts and cold-press the shreds to form coconut milk. The milk is fermented for two days during which the oil separates from the milk.
Coconut oil has become a popular alternative to other cooking oils that aren't considered as healthy, but it also serves as an anti-inflammatory in its own right (7).
By combining the anti-inflammatory prowess of coconut oil with one or more of the potent anti-inflammatory and analgesic essential oils listed in this article, your plantar fasciitis will quickly become a thing of the past.
Essential oils have seen use across the world for their countless benefits. The ability to eliminate foot pain is only one out of dozens of utilities these oils have.
Coupled with proper rest and doctor-recommended treatments, they’re an effective and natural way of solving any foot discomfort stemming from overuse or overexertion.
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