Essential Oils for Pain Management
Pain is one of the most ambiguous words used in modern society today. For what one person describes as an intense pain another would only describe as a slight niggle.
Pain is defined as an unpleasant sensation that may be associated with actual or potential tissue damage and which may have both physical and emotional components.
Pain can be acute or chronic, and applies to physical, potential and emotional pain. Acute pain lasts a short time, or is expected to be soon over. The time frame may be just seconds or as long as weeks. Chronic pain is defined as pain that lasts beyond the healing of an injury, continues for several months or longer, or occurs frequently for at least a period of months. In 2012 a study suggested that chronic pain affects more than two fifths of the UK population, meaning that around 28 million adults are living with pain that has lasted for three months or longer.
Essential oils influence the area of the brain called the limbic system, which is where pain is perceived. The olfactory bulb is at the top of the nose so the effects of the oils is instantly taken into the limbic system and as a result can help someone very quickly when inhaling although in most cases pain is managed through a topical application on the affected area.
The limbic system is involved in registering, recording, and influencing our emotions which is done directly through the olfactory bulb so aromatherapy can help any emotional effects of pain also.
Rosewood (Aniba rosaeodora) is almost enritely made up of alcohols which are known for the usefulness in treating pain. The oil is also an antiseptic, analgesic, cicatrisant and immuno-stimulant oil that is safe to use on children and the frail. It has a deep spiritual side, too, and is good for anxiety and depression which often come hand in hand with the cycle of pain.
Cornmint (Mentha arvensis) has anaesthetic properties making it ideal for pain as well as being, amongst other things, antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory. A good choice of oil for headaches and migraine as well as being cooling (due to its 80% menthol content) – so good for hot flushes, too.
Plai (Zingiber cassumunar) is an anti-inflammatory oil which also has analgesic properties. It is a muscle relaxant and has local anaesthetic effects. It is good for joint pain, reduces inflammation after injury/trauma, and is indicated for ‘hot’ conditions due to its cooling aspect. It is said to be 5 x better than volterol for analgesia.
Clove Bud/Leaf (Syzigium aromaticum) is a well-known analgesic for toothache, clove is also good for the digestive system being carminative and anti-spasmodic. It is also excellent at relieving the muscular pain experienced in arthritis and rheumatism and sprains. It is 24 times more powerful than carbolic so an excellent antiseptic, too. It is a warming oil that tonifies the Qi but be careful as it is high in phenols which pack a punch and need to be used sparingly.