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My back hurts! Is there an oil for that?

How many people in the United States go to the doctor for back pain?

A 2012 NIH study shows that 11% of Americans had pain every day with 17% reporting severe levels of pain. Forward to 2016, where a CDC published article shows that 20% of adults in the United States has chronic pain.

Can essential oils with analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and pain-blocking therapeutic properties help my back pain?

How is pain usually treated by a physician?

The American College of Physicians guidelines for back pain generally recommend over-the-counter pain medication or an NSAID such as ibuprofen or naproxen sodium. NSAIDS relieve pain by preventing COX enzymes from working. COX-2 inhibitors like celecoxib or Celebrex block COX-2 enzymes. Some doctors prescribe prescription pain relievers.
Many people do not see a doctor for acute back pain unless it is injury specific, treating with rest and ice.

How can I use essential oils to alleviate pain?

Can essential oils with analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and pain-blocking therapeutic properties help my back pain?

If you study the data sheets of essential oils look for analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and antinociceptive properties. These data sheets are available from sellers of essential oils. There is a long list of essential oils that have pain modulating properties and numerous chemical components.

Oils that are high in the chemical components a-pinene, linalool (linalool) and menthol have analgesic properties. Also oils that are high in camphene, b-myrcene, and b-pinene have anti-inflammatory and antinociceptive properties. There are many other oils that have these therapeutic properties, but I am just listing a few here.

What are some of the therapeutic components and how can they help?

Let’s look at menthol and menthone which bring us to peppermint essential oil.

Image by congerdesign from Pixabay

Peppermint (Mentha x peperita) is known for its cooling and pain-relieving properties because of these components. It is in many over-the-counter remedies such as Icy hot, most BenGay products and Biofreeze. Like these products, your own DIY products are for localized areas and for short term use. Robert Tisserand states that a maximum dermal use of up to 5% is safe. (2nd Edition Essential Oil Safety, Tisserand Young, 2014).

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) has the chemical components of linalool @ 27% and linalyl acetate @ 46%. Research shows that an eight-session manual acupressure with lavender oil (3% lavender oil; used as the massage lubricant) over a three-week period in patients with nonspecific subacute neck pain (32 patients) or low back pain (61 patients) significantly alleviated the neck and back pain and improved movements of the cervical and lumbar spine.

Koulivand, P. H., Khaleghi Ghadiri, M., & Gorji, A. (2013). Lavender and the nervous system. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine: eCAM, 2013, 681304.

In a 2017 study, Lavender angustifolia showed a reduction in pain of patient’s post-surgery for colorectal cancer. Using an inhalation of 1% lavender or 1% linalyl acetate, the study showed significant reduction to pain versus the control group.
So Hyun Yu, Geun Hee Seol, “Lavandula angustifolia Mill. Oil and Its Active Constituent Linalyl Acetate Alleviate Pain and Urinary Residual Sense after Colorectal Cancer Surgery: A Randomized Controlled Trial”, Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2017, Article ID 3954181, 7 pages, 2017.

And finally, the other chemical component that has analgesic properties is a-pinene.

A-pinene of significant percentage, let’s say above 30% is found in pines @ around 40% for most, cypress @ 51%, juniper berry @ 36%; frankincense @ 45%. Again, it is important to check the GC/MS reports for your individual oils.

Studies of mice and frankincense oil (Boswellia carteri) revealed higher anti-inflammatory and anti-analgesic effects, compared to mice administered with water extracts. Relatively more clinical studies have been found in scientific literature considering α- and β-pinene-containing plants than essential oils.

To date, most of the investigations have not studied the bioavailability of α-pinene and β-pinene in the human body, though these terpenes have antimicrobial, anticancer, anti-inflammatory, and antiallergic properties. Although several in vivo, and more recently, few clinical studies have assessed the pinenes biological effects, further efforts are needed to deepen knowledge in this field.

Salehi, B., Upadhyay, S., Erdogan Orhan, I., Kumar Jugran, A., L D Jayaweera, S., A Dias, D., Sharopov, F., Taheri, Y., Martins, N., Baghalpour, N., Cho, W. C., & Sharifi-Rad, J. (2019). Therapeutic Potential of α- and β-Pinene: A Miracle Gift of Nature. Biomolecules, 9(11), 738.

If alleviating pain the natural way is for you, look into a consultation that offers you the personal attention you require! I provide custom-made blends that work harmoniously with your body to enhance your well-being.

Happy blending,


Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed.

Proverbs 16:3