Back pain is incredibly common. It is thought that around 80% of the population will experience it at some point in their lives. Since the 1990s, as jobs have become more sedentary and people spend more time hunched over desks, the ‘years lived with disability’ caused by people suffering from low back pain have collectively increased by 54%.1
So, we know that back pain is common and serious, but what can we do about it? It’s not ideal to live a life dependent on painkillers which can cause unwanted side effects and potentially lasting damage to your body. Using essential oils for back pain can help to reduce the inflammation you are dealing with, relax sore muscles, and promote better sleep, which is essential for healing.
Choosing the Best Essential Oils for Back Pain
There are many different essential oils for back pain. Indeed, most essential oils are likely to have some therapeutic benefit for back pain, because of the anti-inflammatory properties that are found in many plant terpenes. Some good essential oils for back pain include:
Lemongrass is a popular herb in tropical countries. It is rich in terpenes and ketones, and it is thought to have numerous healthful effects, including being anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory. It has a pleasant aroma and could make a good addition to any inflammation-fighting blend.2
Ginger often appears in old wive’s tales as being useful for fighting against nausea and travel sickness, but it is also useful for pain relief. Studies show that ginger can be as effective as ibuprofen in regulating certain types of pain, such as arthritis and even dysmenorrhea.3 It could have the same benefits for low back pain, especially if the pain is caused by muscle issues.
Lavender is well-known for its relaxing and therapeutic properties. Studies show that lavender can help people who are suffering from anxiety, and there is a big enough evidence base to support its use that some researchers are calling for its adoption in mainstream spaces.4 If your low back pain makes it difficult for you to sleep at night, then consider using lavender around bed-time to ease anxiety and make it easier for you to doze off. Getting good sleep helps to reduce the perception of pain and is essential for proper healing of injuries.5
Sandalwood has a distinctive, earthy aroma and it is a popular choice among people who want the benefits of essential oils but find that the more traditional choices are perhaps too ‘perfume-like’ for them. Our Forest blend is popular with outdoorsy types and those who feel that lavender, chamomile, and frankincense are not the scents that fit their personality. Sandalwood is a good anti-inflammatory essential oil, with many potential benefits, and it could make a good addition to an aromatherapy blend for use at bath-time before you ready yourself to stretch and do your low back physiotherapy.6
Eucalyptus has a long history for being used to treat infections, as well as gastric distress. It is known for being an antioxidant and an immune booster. It also has anti-inflammatory effects. Studies show that it can reduce cytokines which are known to cause inflammation, and it is this mechanism which makes eucalyptus potentially useful for fighting back pain.7
Read about our Founder & CEO, Dr. Eric Fishman, and how he came up with the idea for MONQ, a brand that has since become iconic in the Health & Wellness industry.
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There are other essential oils for back pain. You don’t have to limit yourself to the oils on the above list. You can experiment with different products, make your own blends to use in a room diffuser, or try some of our blends. The Sleepy blend, for example, could be a nice choice to use on an evening to see if it will help you doze off.
Preparing Your Own Blends of Essential Oils
If you decide to make your own blends, then be aware that mixing essential oils for use in a diffuser is very different from making massage oils. While some essential oils could be used as a massage oil for lower back pain, you should make sure that you dilute them heavily with a carrier oil. The purpose of the carrier oil is threefold. It stops the essential oil from evaporating quickly, promotes absorption of the essential oil through the skin, and also reduces the risk of an allergic reaction to the essential oil.
There are only a very small number of oils that are suitable for use directly on the skin. Most oils are so potent that they would irritate your skin if you applied them directly, and they may be phototoxic as well (meaning that if you apply them, then go out into the sun you could come up with a rather strong rash).
All you need to enjoy the benefits of essential oil is one or two drops of the ‘active’ oil. If you’re not sure how to make your own blends, then there are lots of pre-prepared options on the market. Our personal diffusers are a good starting point for aromatherapy, and you can buy soaps and creams with popular blends in them online as well.
You Can Recover From Back Pain
You can use essential oils for back pain as a way of managing the sensation, and a way to improve your quality of life so that you can start to work on physical therapy exercises, or look at other options such as weight loss or strength training if your core muscles need built-up to better support your back. Be consistent as you try to recover. Do a little bit every day, and with luck, you will get your strength and mobility back.
Back pain issues should get better within a few weeks, for most people. If you do not notice an improvement in your symptoms after a few weeks or you have numbness, tingling, weakness or other similar symptoms alongside back pain, then you should seek professional medical advice immediately. If nothing else, a doctor can give you peace of mind.
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