Muscle soreness can happen for a range of reasons, from strenuous exercise to difficult menstruation. It can make the slightest motion painful and difficult, and it can stick around for longer periods if left untreated.
One holistic approach to muscle soreness that has been around for millennia is the use of essential oils. Natural healers and aromatherapists had long since used essential oils to enhance mood and relax tight muscles, according to certified nurse practitioner Harpreet Gujral.
Research corroborates the use of essential oils for pain relief and anti-inflammation. In fact, there are numerous studies on the therapeutic effects of essential oils on arthritis pain, chronic back pain, menstrual pain, pediatric pain, cancer pain and multiple sclerosis pain, among others.
Best essential oils for muscle soreness
The scents of essential oils are said to ease tired and sore muscles. Some people prefer to inhale them, others opt for an aromatherapeutic massage, and others still might ingest certain essential oils in capsules.
The administration might differ depending on the person or the natural health practitioner’s recommendation, but the therapeutic effects of the oils should remain the same.
From peppermint to rose oil, here are 12 essential oils that can help ease muscle soreness, pain and inflammation, according to registered nurse and medical journalist Rachel Nall.
Muscle soreness due to arthritis
Some people might suffer from chronic muscle soreness due to arthritis, a chronic condition that affects the joints and surrounding tissues. The best essential oils for reducing discomfort related to arthritis include:
- Eucalyptus – Eucalyptus oil has natural analgesic and anti-arthritic properties.
- Marjoram – Marjoram is relaxing and calming for tight muscles.
- Peppermint – Peppermint oil can ease pain, suppress inflammation and release spasms.
Difficult menstruation can cause painful muscle cramps in the abdomen. In some cases, this can spread to the back and the thighs. The pain might also come in intense spasms and necessitate bed rest. Here are four essential oils that are best used for menstruation-related muscle soreness and pain:
- Clary sage – Clary sage oil is said to be useful for easing muscle spasms and pain. It also has a warming and soothing effect.
- Lavender – Lavender oil has natural analgesic properties.
- Rose – Rose oil stimulates the brain to release endorphins, the chemicals that reduce pain and boost pleasure.
- Roman chamomile – Roman chamomile is calming and can ease muscle discomfort through its anti-spasmodic properties.
General muscle soreness
General muscle soreness could mean that stemming from back pain, neck pain, knee pain, and the like that isn’t due to an apparent condition or ailment. In such cases, massaging alone might help ease pain and discomfort, but using these essential oils can help complement that:
- Almond – Almond oil can relieve pain and boost blood circulation.
- Grapeseed – Grapeseed extract contains a large number of organic plant compounds that act as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents.
- Jojoba – Jojoba oil has natural analgesic properties potent against general pain and inflammation.
- Ginger – Ginger oil has a warming effect and antiseptic properties.
- Tea tree – Tea tree oil can reduce muscle inflammation.
Tips for using essential oils
If treating sore muscles, the oils are best added into a hot bath, put in a compress or diluted into a carrier oil for massage.
For most adults, the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA) recommends at least a three percent dilution. This translates to about 20 drops of essential oil per one ounce of carrier oil. Nonetheless, some people might go for 30 drops of essential oil per one ounce of carrier oil for intense muscle soreness.
Gujral also cautions against using essential oil diffusers, noting that essential oils might not be safe for all members of the household. In fact, some essential oils should not be used around certain groups, such as children, older adults and people suffering from lung or heart conditions.
Lack of regulations also means that essential oils should not be ingested, added Gujral. If used as a topical medicine, the essential oil should first be diluted in a carrier oil to protect the skin from possible burning sensations and other side effects. (Related: Which carrier oils should you pair with your essential oils?)
There are tons of essential oils on the market, from the purest to the most diluted ones. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is not obligated to approve essential oils, so it’s important to read labels on the bottles or purchase oils from reputable sources to ensure that the oils are safe, potent and legitimate.
Read more articles about essential oils for pain relief at EssentialOils.news.