According to experts, up to 80% of the population will suffer from back pain at some point in their life. Many people either can’t afford to keep seeing a doctor or specialist, or find that nothing they do or take seems to work. There are many different causes for back pain, including tension, swelling, injury, arthritis, and muscle strain. Depending on your pain’s root cause, there may be an essential oil that can help get you some relief. It is important to be aware that most back pain will resolve itself within a few weeks, but if it does not, it is important to seek help from a medical professional. Other indications you may need expert advice are if your pain spreads down into your leg, causes weakness, numbness, or tingling, and if your pain is severe and does not subside with rest. If you find you are suffering from bowel or bladder problems, or have a fever, you should seek emergency attention. However, if you suffer from minor back pain and wish to seek a natural alternative to help deal with your symptoms, then this list of the best essential oils for back pain may be able to help you!
Taking a Closer Look at the Root Causes of Back Pain
Before we dive into describing the best essential oils for back pain, let’s take a closer look at some of the more common causes. Your back is divided into three main parts: the upper, the middle, and the lower. Within these sections, there are many ligaments, muscles, tendons, and discs. Back pain can arise from any of these components, which is why sometimes it is hard to figure out exactly what is causing the pain.
- Muscle Strain: Strain is one of the most common reasons people have back pain. Strain can result from overuse, heavy lifting, or even just an awkward movement
- Disc Injury: A ruptured or bulging disc can put pressure on the nerves in your back, causing pain. This type of back pain is usually diagnosed via an X-ray
- Arthritis: Arthritis is a swelling of the joints, and it is common to suffer in the hips or lower back. In some situations, you can also have arthritis in your spine
- Sciatica: Sciatica can be very painful, and presents with shooting pain down the buttocks and the back of the legs
While this list is by no means exhaustive, it indicates just how many components and processes make up the back.
The Top 5 Best Essential Oils for Back Pain
When you look online there is an overload of information on using essential oils for back pain. Some of these claims have a basis, while some do not. At VINEVIDA we put a focus on being transparent about what oils can and cannot do for you, as well as stressing the importance of knowing when to seek medical help. After extensive research, we’ve come up with what we believe to be the five best essential oils for back pain:
- Frankincense Essential Oil
- Rosemary Essential Oil
- Lemongrass Essential Oil
- Lavender Essential Oil
- Peppermint Essential Oil
Frankincense essential oil is one of the world’s most ancient commodities. It is extracted from the resin of five different species of the Boswellia tree, which is native to the Arabian Peninsula and the tip of Africa. Research done on frankincense indicates that it is effective in easing pain, in particular, pain due to arthritis and joint inflammation. This makes it one of the best essential oils for lower back pain, as this is commonly caused by osteoarthritis. In Iranian medicine, the topical use of frankincense is a common alternative to over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications.
You may be most familiar with rosemary as a cooking herb, but its essential oil offers plenty of mental and physical benefits. A study comparing the effects of both rosemary and menthol shows no discernable differences between the two, with both effective at treating pain. Furthermore, fans of aromatherapy know that the inhalation of rosemary oil can help relieve stress, improve focus, and even lift your mood!
Ginger is another spice that is most famous for its use in food and beverages. However, the essential oil of ginger happens to be a very effective anti-inflammatory, which also makes it one of the best essential oils for back pain! One particular study we can reference shows the topical application of essential oils, including ginger, to reduce symptoms of certain types of arthritis. Many people believe that ginger oil comes from the “root” of ginger, but it is extracted from the rhizome. In addition to its anti-inflammatory properties, ginger is also a hot oil. This means that when you dilute it and massage it into the skin it leaves a warming sensation, which can help further relieve pain and tension.
For centuries, humans have been using lavender essential oil to treat a variety of different mental and physical health issues. Likely most famous for its calming properties, lavender is reputed to help relieve stress, anxiety, depression, and help aid in regulating sleep patterns. In terms of pain relief, lavender may able to help lower pain levels due to many different causes, including tension and arthritis. The Arthritis Foundation even recommends using lavender oil aromatherapy to treat pain and help promote sleep! For this reason, lavender is one of our top picks for the best essential oils for back pain.
Last but not least, we have peppermint essential oil. Peppermint oil is widely used as an analgesic due to its high content of menthol. It also offers a cooling sensation, which can help numb and dull pain. This makes it our number one pick to use for sore muscles and joints. Many people also use peppermint oil for tension headaches and migraines, applying a diluted mixture to the temples and/or the back of the neck.
The Best Essential Oils for Back Pain Relief: How To
You now know some of the best essential oils for back pain, but it is also important to know how to properly use them. Here are a few simple, but effective ways to do so:
Topical use is one of the most effective methods of using essential oils to get relief from back pain. When it comes to topical use, the most important thing to remember is that essential oils cannot be applied raw. The National Association of Holistic Aromatherapists offers a dilution guideline on their website, which we recommend following. If you have sensitive skin it is also best to do a test on a small area before continuing with full use. Massage the solution onto your back, being firm but careful.
While not as immediate as topical use, diffusion still shows indications of being effective when it comes to reducing pain. There are many different ways to achieve this method, including using either a passive or active diffuser. You can also simply inhale from the bottle, or add a few drops of oil to a tissue or cloth. Inhaling scents directly triggers certain areas of the brain that can help reduce the sensation of pain. You can also come up with your own essential oil recipe for back pain by combining two or more options from our list of the best essential oils. One of our favorite combinations is peppermint and lavender!
The Best Essential Oils for Back Pain: Beginner's Blends for Massage & Diffusion
One of the benefits of using essential oils to help relieve pain is that you can combine them for even more effective results. Here are two easy ways to get you started, using oils from our list of the best essential oils for back pain:
Massage Oil for Back Pain
- Lavender Essential Oil - 5 drops
- Peppermint Essential Oil - 8 drops
- Rosemary Essential Oil - 5 drops
- Carrier Oil - 1oz
Combine essential oils with carrier oil and gently massage into the afflicted area to help relieve back pain and tension.
Best Diffuser Blend for Back Pain
- Lavender Essential Oil - 10 drops
- Peppermint Essential Oil - 5 drops
- Lemongrass Essential Oil - 10 drops
Best Essential Oils for Back Pain: Precautions
Pure essential oils may be all-natural, but that doesn’t mean they can’t cause harm if they are not used properly. Here are a few standard precautions to take if you choose to use essential oils to treat back pain:
- Always dilute essential oils before applying them topically to the skin. Make sure you follow appropriate dilution guidelines and discontinue use if there are any signs of irritation or discomfort
- Essential oils can be very toxic to pets. Make sure you don’t allow them to lick at oils. Unfortunately, even diffusion is unsafe around pets as the particles can become stuck to their fur and be ingested during grooming
- In addition to pets, be aware of who else is in the room if you choose to diffuse essential oils. Women, small children, and people suffering from respiratory ailments should avoid breathing in essential oils
- Never ingest essential oils or use internally
In recent times, more and more people are moving towards using essential oils to help improve their mental and physical well-being. Our list of the best essential oils for back pain is by no means extensive, and if you have a favorite oil you use then we would love to hear about your experience!