Sciatica is a painful condition. It doesn’t only cause physical pain, but also emotional distress and other related issues. Back pain, and in this case also leg pain can leave us rather stressed, anxious, and unable to function properly on a daily basis.
Luckily, alongside the regular sciatica treatment, there are some other, natural ways of lowering the pain levels, as well as stress levels. One such pain and stress relief option are essential oils. Sure, these may be unconventional when it comes to sciatica, but they sure can help us out.
In the following paragraphs, we’ll take a look at the best essential oils you can use to lower the pain and stress levels caused by sciatica. For more information, make sure to contact your doctor and discuss essential oil pain treatment and whether it is safe and applicable to your particular situation. So, without further ado, let’s get started!
Essential Oils And Pain Relief: 3 Things to Know
1. Why Use Essential Oils For Pain Relief?
Using essential oils to relieve pain is called aromatherapy. Essential oils are derived from various plants and are used for their medicinal and therapeutic effects. The claims are that essential oils or aromatherapy can help manage depression, anxiety, muscle tension, nausea, sleep disturbances, and overall pain.
Some studies even suggest that aromatherapy stimulation can result in immediate pain reduction and have positive effects on the pulse, blood pressure, skin temperature, and brain activity.
However, it is important to mention that the actual benefits of essential oils remain controversial. While some people swear on essential oils and their medicinal effects, other people claim that essential oils are a modern-day scam.
No essential oil is FDA approved, and there have been numerous cases of them causing major skin irritations and even phototoxic reactions which can be lethal.
Note: Because essential oils can have adverse effects, cause allergic reactions and skin irritation, we advise you again to consult with your doctor before you decide to use aromatherapy for sciatica!
2. Do Essential Oils Help With Back Pain?
Between 70% and 90% of all adults in the US experience some kind of back pain. Some people experience day-to-day back pain caused by improper sitting or poor posture, while others experience serious back conditions, like sciatica.
The usual back pain treatments rely on physical functional performance, exercise, massages, and medicine. However, an increasing number of people have started opting for essential oil massages or aromatherapy sessions.
A study, conducted with back pain patients suggests that aromatherapy massage using lavender essential oil helped relieve acute lower back pain. Other trials suggested that ginger essential oil used in Swedish or Thai massages for back pain helped the subjects experience significant improvement in pain and mobility.
The long-term effects were incredible and people who have chronic back pain or back conditions experienced a significant reduction of pain levels only after 15 weeks of aromatherapy.
3. Are Essential Oils Safe For Pain Reduction?
Well, the answer to this question would be; yes and no!
As we mentioned before, essential oils are not FDA approved and can cause some serious reactions that can be even lethal. Essential oils can trigger respiratory issues, especially in people and children with asthma and respiratory diseases. Not to mention that these oils can have a rather intense scent, so they can cause negative effects associated with the scent. Some people experience nausea, others can even have allergic reactions.
Also, it is not recommended to apply essential oils directly onto your skin, especially for pain relief. This can result in serious skin irritation and rashing, as well as chemical burns in worst-case scenarios. Moreover, they’re not safe for ingestion as well.
If you consume high doses of essential oils over a longer period, you can cause some serious liver and kidney damage. Not to mention that essential oils are completely unsafe for small children, the elderly, pregnant and breastfeeding women, or animals.
On the other hand, aromatherapy is considered safe because essential oils are being inhaled. This seems to be the best way to take full effects of essential oils for pain relief. But, even aromatherapy can be unsafe for people with respiratory complications and diseases.
Note: Essential oils that are used for back pain or any other pain relief are not to be used as a replacement for traditional medicine. They are meant to be a complementary treatment solution that should relieve stress and pain levels. Only then can essential oils, when inhaled, be fully effective.
So, Which Essential Oils Are The Best For Sciatica?
1. Ginger Essential Oil
As mentioned before, the ginger essential oil has shown exceptional effects in the pain relief for people with back pain problems.
The oil has shown to be effective in cases of rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and of course, sciatica. It can also be used for digestion problems, but the application for this purpose is still questionable and not recommended by doctors.
Nevertheless, ginger oil is very unique and has a spicy, woody, and earthy scent. It can improve one’s circulation, the immune system, and ease aching joints as well.
It is recommended to be diffused in an essential oil or aromatherapy diffuser and shouldn’t be applied topically due to possible skin sensitivity.
2. Marjoram Essential Oil
Marjoram is known to be used in cooking as a wonderful addition to numerous dishes. However, as an essential oil, it can be incredibly effective.
For example, marjoram essential oil is known for its incredible relaxing and calming effects and the ability to relieve stress in the most stressed people. This can be very useful for people whose sciatica flares up because of high-stress levels.
Moreover, marjoram essential oil is known to help with arthritis, migraine, rheumatism, and muscle pain. As of lately, it has also proven to help with chronic back pain and conditions like sciatica.
The reason for this lies in the fact that the oil has a warming and soothing effect, and it effectively eases the tension in the lower back muscles and joints.
3. Peppermint Essential Oil
Not only is peppermint essential oil refreshing, but it can also be very helpful for people with back pain and back conditions like sciatica.
Wondering how? Well, peppermint essential oil has the so-called anti-spasmodic properties, meaning it suppresses or relieves muscle spasms.
These spasms can occur in cases of sciatica, either in the lower back or the back of the thigh. Either way, peppermint essential oil can relieve the spasms.
Moreover, the cooling sensation caused by menthol in the oil can help calm and soothe the irritated sciatic nerve. This can be especially useful for people with sciatica because it can be rather hard to mitigate the pain caused by the sciatic nerve with the traditional treatment options.
4. Rosemary Essential Oil
Rosemary is a well known culinary herb, that goes excellent with Italian dishes. However, rosemary essential oil can be an amazing addition to your sciatica treatment.
The reason for that lies in its amazing anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. These properties make rosemary oil perfect for back pain, muscle pain, and joint pain, but can also be used for headaches and stress relief.
Rosemary essential oil can also boost the immune system, stimulate blood circulation, and ease other types of pain, unrelated to the back pain. However, it is most effective for backaches and back conditions like sciatica.
5. Helichrysum Essential Oil
Now, helichrysum essential oil isn’t very common, especially in the treatment of back pain and sciatica. This essential oil originates from the Meditteranean countries and the countries of southern and south-eastern Europe. It has been used for hundreds of years for its exceptional medicinal effects.
Helichrysum can help a lot of health issues, but it is especially effective for sciatica. It has anti-inflammatory effects and can reduce tension and inflammation of the sciatic nerve.
It can also reduce muscle spasms and joint inflammation in the other parts of the body. This essential oil is generally used for tension-relieving massages rather than inhalation.
6. Nutmeg Essential Oil
Nutmeg essential oil has proven to be an excellent chronic pain reliever. Studies have shown that nutmeg essential oil can reduce inflammation and relieve different types of pain in rats.
Unfortunately, there are no studies conducted on humans, but the oil is considered safe and very effective.
The oil is great for muscle and joint pain, as well as arthritis, nerve pain relief, and muscle cramps. This makes it great for backaches and conditions like sciatica.
It reduces the nerve inflammation and helps you feel better quickly. The nutmeg oil also blends well with other oils, if you want to enhance its pain-relief efficiency.
How Should I Use These Essential Oils?
- Inhalation – this is the easiest and the safest option for using essential oils. You can simply inhale the oil from an open bottle. Make sure to do it a few times, and each time inhale deeply. Make sure not to touch the undiluted oil, since it can cause skin and allergic reactions. You can also inhale the oil through steam by adding a few oil drops into hot water.
- Diffuser – the second-best way to use an essential oil is via essential oil diffuser. This is a device that disperses the oil into the air. Diffusers are relatively cheap and affordable. We recommend you try ceramic, electric, or even ultrasonic diffusers.
- Dry evaporation – this is a method of essential oil use that is pretty simple. All you have to do is add a few drops of essential oil onto a cotton ball or a dry fabric and allow the oil to disperse naturally into the air. You can hold the fabric or the cotton ball close to your nose to inhale the oil directly. You can also place them in your bedroom (next to the bed), in your car, office, or any other place where you need some stress relief.
Essential oils are surely a controversial topic; some people and even studies claim they’re excellent for health issues, while others claim the complete opposite. Well, no matter which side you’re on, it can’t be denied that these oils od have some health benefits.
Therefore, we strongly recommend you talk to your doctor about essential oils, their benefits, and potential application to your sciatica problems. We also hope you like our suggestions and explanations!