28 essential oils for pain

August 9, 2023
28 essential oils for pain

Pain and inflammation

pain can stem from many different causes.

  • Muscle pain can occur as a result of working out, sports and related injuries.
  • Chronic conditions like arthritis, and other joint problems can cause joint pain, muscle aches, spasms and inflammation
  • rheumatism can cause joint pain
  • bad posture can cause backache
  • stress can result in tension in the body that causes general body aches and pains
  • pain is also caused by headaches and/or migraines
  • women who have pms and menstrual cramps suffer from abdominal pain
  • those who suffer from fibromyalgia experience pain in ways science does not yet fully understand

acute and/or chronic pain can make life difficult, every day activities may become cumbersome, and pain can severely impact quality of life when it is highly uncomfortable or debilitating.

Pain, such as that from arthritis has afflicted humans for thousands of years. Evidence exists that as far back as back as 4500 b. C, our ancestors who did not have pharmacies on every corner, used only natural remedies for their pain. Many of these ancient remedies are still in use today.

What are essential oils

essential oils are natural oils that are derived through a special distillation process from botanicals like flowers, bark, trees, herbs, and plants. Essential oils have the characteristic fragrance of the plant or other source from which it is extracted.

How oils work on pain

there are many different essential oils, many of which are widely used for pain relief. Some soothe the mind and body to alleviate stress and tension that indirectly helps improves the pain profile, while others have actual analgesic properties. Yet others possess anti-spasmodic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-rheumatic properties, all of which serve to alleviate pain in various ways.

While modern science has yet to provide substantial proof as to how and why essential oils work, the fact remains that these have been in use for hundreds of years in eastern medicine practices, like traditional chinese medicine and ayuerveda, and thousands still rely on them today, both in western and eastern cultures. Modern holistic medicine counts aromatherapy as one of the treatment options available for a variety of uses and afflictions.


one of the main ways use these essential oils for pain relief is through aromatherapy, where vapors from the oils are diffused into the air allowing the sufferer to breathe in their smells and their therapeutic values then work through the human sense of smell.

Our sense of smell is powerful and specific scents elicit specific associated reactions. For example, when we smell garbage, we are repulsed; when we smell a flower, we are pleased;

we often encounter scents that can invoke memories, both bad and good, such as those from childhood.

These inherent reactions elicit a certain response within our brain. Aromatherapy for pain relief, relaxation, rejuvenation, and mood control works in the same way, where the scent of a particular oil elicits a respective response.

Dr. Mehmet oz, professor of surgery at columbia university medical center in new york city states that various research studies support the use of aromatherapy for pain relief and, as opposed to other remedies, aromatherapy acts very fast as the brain interprets the scent quickly and feels it instantaneously.

While researchers are not yet sure exactly how aromatherapy really works, the theory is that our sense of smell works to stimulate the part of our brain that activates relaxation and promotes healing.

Massage oil form is another way to use essential oils when they are diluted with a carrier oil, which can bring spot on relief to muscles and joints.

28 essential oils for pain

here are 28 of the most popular essential oils that promote healing.

Lavender oil

lavender is a wonderful sweet calming oil that has a luscious scent and is most known for its ability to induce a state of relaxation. Lavender essential oil is an anti-inflammatory, and an anti-microbial. It also has sedative properties to help with muscle tension, joint pain, headaches, and spasms. It also helps to ease pain with its ability to induce relaxation that calms the mind and body. Lavender supports pain relief indirectly as well, by relieving stress and promoting calm.

Eucalyptus oil

eucalyptus is another wonderful smelling oil that boasts analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. The mere scent of eucalyptus elicits feelings of peace, calm, and serenity. Great for nerve and muscle pain, it also helps clear up sinus and lung congestion, and is great to use for flu related aches and pains.

Clary sage oil

clary sage is calming, soothing with anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic properties is effective in easing muscle tension, pms stomach pain, and spasms.

Sandalwood oil

sandalwood works as a sedative on the nervous system, and so it helps to relive nerve pain and muscle spasms.

Juniper oil

juniper relieves joint and muscle aches and helps with spasms thanks to its antispasmodic properties.

Chamomile oil

chamomile has anti-inflammatory properties and so it helps to relive spasms, lower back pain, joint pain, migraines and pms related pain.

Yarrow oil

yarrow has natural analgesic and powerful anti-inflammatory properties so its great for muscle and joint pains.

Mustard seed oil

mustard seed helps arthritis pain. Make a plaster using warm mustard seed oil and apply to swollen joints. This method may improve blood flow to the inflamed area and help with pain relief. Mustard seed used in cooking is also helpful as it contains omega-3 fatty acids, selenium, and magnesium, which are all linked to improving arthritis symptoms.

Tea tree oil

tea tree oil is derived from the leaves of the tea tree and is used relieve pain and inflammation of arthritis.

Lemon oil

lemon oil is an anti-inflammatory that reduces joint inflammation.

Olive oil

olive oil contains a compound called oleocanthal that works in a similar fashion to the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs that are prescribed for arthritis pain. Research has shown that oleocanthal decreases the production of cox-1 and cox-2 enzymes that cause inflammation.

Helichrysum oil

helichrysum has antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, and analgesic properties all of which may be used in support of various types of pain relief.

Ginger oil

ginger oil is widely used for back pain, muscle pain, and arthritis.

Cedarwood oil

cedarwood oil is widely used in ayurvedic medicine and the oil is extracted from cedarwood trees. Works great as a massage oil in diluted form and is used to ease arthritis and joint stiffness and pain.

Frankincense oil

frankincense oil is extracted from the Boswellia plant that grows in northern Africa. Its anti-inflammatory properties are why it is used to relieve stress and pain, and it is widely used in herbal medicine.

Various research studies are promising in its ability to ease arthritis knee pain. Frankincense can be used in aromatherapy and also comes in supplement form.

Spruce oil

the oil derived from the spruce tree has a wonderful aroma, and has been used since ancient times to promote relaxation and boost immunity. Many reply on it to help ease pain that is caused by arthritis and rheumatism, as well as bone and back pain and sciatica.

Sweet marjoram oil

sweet marjoram with its sedative properties supports the relief of muscle pain, spasms, stiffness, and rheumatism.

Peppermint oil

peppermint is a great oil to alleviate joint and muscle pain. Athletes use it when they are training and many fitness buffs love it as a massage oil.

Rosemary oil

rosemary works for back, muscle, joint, and headache pain because it has analgesic and antispasmodic properties.

Thyme oil

thyme is a natural antispasmodic, which makes it good for muscle and joint pain.

Wintergreen oil

wintergreen contains methyl salicylate, which is the exact pain reliever in aspirin, making this essential oil effective for headaches, arthritis, and menstrual cramps.

Myrrh oil

myrrh has been used for centuries to treat swelling caused by arthritis. A powerful anti-inflammatory that is also believed to help wound healing. It also helps calm the spirit and relax the body, which promotes healing. Myrrh causes miscarriage and should never be taken during pregnancy.

Bay oil

bay essential oil possesses anti-spasmodic, analgesic, antiseptic, and sedative properties. The oil is extracted from the leaves of the bay tree that is native to the Caribbean islands.

Its anti-spasmodic properties make it useful for cramps, aches and other related symptoms caused by spasm within the body. Bay oil blends well with cedarwood, eucalyptus, lavender, lemon, and orange. Bay oil should not be used during pregnancy as it contains high levels of eugenol that can cause irritations in the skin and mucus membrane.

Vetiver oil

vetiver essential oils are extracted from the roots of the vetiveria zizanoides grass, which is part of the same botanical family that holds lemongrass. It is used for general aches, arthritis, rheumatism, and headaches.

Clove oil

cloves have uses beyond your holiday meal spice, as the essential oil extracted from the clove flower buds possesses anti-inflammatory and anesthetic properties. Clove oil that is derived from the flower buds is of much better quality than that derived from stems or leaves, so read the labels. Some of its uses include tooth pain, and throat infections, which is why it is sued in many pharmaceutical and dental products.

Clove oil also helps boost digestion and alleviate various digestion problems because it relaxes the smooth muscle lining of the digestive tract, which helps to prevent intestinal spasms, bloating, and gas. Clove oil also has antifungal, antiviral, and antibacterial properties that help rid the body of digesting upsetting pathogens. 4 or 5 drops in a warm bath can help with bowel problems.

Use it in massage oil form diluted with a carrier oil as a topical application to relieve pain in any part of the body.


dr. Alan Hirsch, neurologist at the smell and taste treatment and research foundation in chicago, advises that our sense of smell can be used for pain beyond essential oils.

In his research he has found that a green apple, either eaten or used in baths in the form of bath salts can reduce both duration and severity of migraine headache pain and may possibly even help joint pain. Dr. Hirsch believes that the scent of the apple helps to reduce muscle contractions, which are the main cause of pain in migraines.


vanilla was studied by the columbia university medical center where subjects smelled vanilla while performing stress tests and the vanilla resulted in them having more stable heart rates and blood pressure readings than those who took the same tests in an unscented environment.

How to use essential oils for pain relief


while you can use any of these oils on their own, blending of various compatible essential oils is commonplace and can greatly improve results. You can blend on your own or purchase premade blends specifically intended for pain.

Topical application/massage

essential oils work great in massage form, but you should never apply undiluted oils directly to the skin because they can cause burns, dilute with a carrier by using about 10 to 12 drops to 1 ounce of a carrier oil

  • best carrier oils
  • sweet almond oil
  • grapeseed oil
  • jojoba oil
  • macadamia nut oil
  • olive oil
  • peanut oil
  • apricot kernel oil
  • avocado oil
  • coconut oil
  • evening primrose oil
  • pecan oil
  • rosehip oil
  • walnut oil
  • wheatgerm oil
  • sesame oil
  • shea butter
  • sunflower oil
  • kukui oil

for headaches

blend 4-6 drops of any essential oil of your choice with 1 tablespoon of carrier oil and massage gently into the temples. Aromatherapy is also useful for headaches.


use essential oils in specialty diffusers or vaporizers to fill the air with a healing scent. You can also place a few drop on a cloth or a few balls of cotton and place under your pillow or on your nightstand before going to bed at night.

Peaceful sleep

lavender is a wonderful scent to promote peaceful sleep, which indirectly helps with pain. Use a diffuser in your bedroom to activate this healing aroma, and sleep better.

Bath soak

a warm bath can do wonders to soothe tired, achy muscles, and joint pain that is caused by arthritis and rheumatism. Place a few drops of essential oil into a bath, and add Epsom salt to make it even better.

Final thoughts

all of us have to deal with pain at some point in our lives. For some it comes and goes, while others have to live with it daily, like those who suffer from chronic conditions, like arthritis and fibromyalgia.

Living with chronic pain can be quite difficult and may cause added stress, discomfort, and immense suffering to those who deal with it on a daily basis.

Any therapies that may benefit and ease this burden should be investigated and tried in the hope of finding relief.

Essential oils may prove to be of great benefit, and they are easy to get and easy to use.

Stay well and take care!