When you bump yourself, twist your ankle or get a cramp, your instinct is to place a healing hand on the area to hold or rub it to feel relief. Cooling inflamed areas and massaging a sore muscle or joint are instantly soothing and healing. Essential oils provide instant localised relief and are rapidly metabolised so have an effect without a side effect. They work on a physical level, are pleasant to use and aromatically beneficial!
Here are our top five favourite essential oils that can help with muscle aches and pains, cramping, injuries, bruises and joint pain or stiffness:
Lavender is helpful for muscle tension, and rheumatic pain. It is calming, soothing, and relaxing, good for high blood pressure and can be used like a balm for painful areas. Lavender, though safe to use on the skin for topical problems, is better used diluted for muscle and joint treatment because it is easily absorbed into the area.
Rosemary oil has warming and rubefacient properties (like the effect of rubbing an area). It stimulates circulation and therefore oxygen supply to an area to stimulate respiration. Better blood supply helps to drain away toxins such as lactic acid that accumulates in muscles and joints. It also acts as an irritant to an area and therefore warms up the area, bringing fresh blood supply.
Peppermint is one of the most well-known pain relieving essential oils. Peppermint with its high menthol content has been shown to alleviate rheumatic pain, headaches and other inflammatory conditions in the body. Peppermint oil has a cooling effect on the applied area, similar to an ice pack. Peppermint is also stimulating to the mind and many athletes inhale peppermint to stay focused.
Black pepper is a strong irritant and is circulatory stimulating. When used to warm up muscles before exertion, it helps to “wake them up “. It has a potent action and should be used sparingly or in conjunction with other oils in a blend.
Ginger is also warming for muscles and joints. Its warming action increases circulation and soothes the tissues that are traumatised. When used in combination with cooling essential oils such as peppermint, its action is emphasised.
Treating the pain
One of the best ways to treat muscle or joint pain is to alternate cooling and warming applications. Oils with warming properties such as ginger are an irritant to an area and therefore warm up the area, whereas peppermint is cooling. If the cooling and warming oils are combined in one preparation the antagonistic effects give very effective pain relief.
Essential oils are concentrated extracts from aromatic plants and must be used with care. Essential oils should be diluted in a base oil, gel, cream or as a compress when treating sore or stiff muscles and joints. Use them for massage, or as a soak in the bath.
Remember that with all essential oils, less is more. Discontinue if irritant.
Aromatic Apothecary has developed a range of ready-to-use aromatherapy products that can be used for pain relief, sports injuries, aches, pains, muscle cramps, and joint pain