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Aromatherapy for Chronic Pain Management

We all suffer pain throughout our lives whether from illness or injury. There are two specific types of pain. Acute pain, though it may be debilitating, is temporary and is usually cause by an injury or surgery. Chronic pain, however, can be permanent and can be caused by a wide range of disorders including AIDS, arthritis, cancer, fibromyalgia, sciatica, bursitis, Crohn’s disease, lupus, irritable bowel syndrome, sickle cell anemia and Lyme disease.

Aromatherapy and essential oils have been used for the management of pain since the time of the ancient Egyptians. These days, scientists know that the pain-killing -- or analgesic -- effects of pain are the result of a number of different factors. One important factor is the way that complex blends of chemicals affect brain areas related to mood, memory and behavior. The active ingredients of some essential oils may affect serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine levels in the brain. These three neurotransmitters are directly related to pain, fatigue and emotional well-being.

Lavender Oil

Lavender oil may be beneficial for many types of chronic pain. Studies have shown that patients in critical care units who were massaged with a carrier oil containing essential oil of lavender showed up to a 50 percent reduction in chronic pain. They also experienced a significant lowering of heart rate, blood pressure and respiratory rate.

Chamomile Oil

Roman chamomile is another essential oil that has a long history of use for pain relief. Chamomile has been used to treat arthritis, lower back pain and post-surgery pain. Several studies have shown that chamomile oil can relax cancer patients and reduce their level of pain. You should not use chamomile oil if you have a sensitivity to any plants of the ragweed family.

African Marigold Oil

African marigold essential oil has been shown to significantly reduce the pain of patients suffering from hyperkeratotic plantar lesions. These are sores that form on the soles of the feet in elderly patients. The lesions are painful and make walking difficult. Studies have shown that pads soaked in African marigold oil and then applied to the soles of the feet reduce both the level and the duration of the pain.

Peppermint Oil

Studies have shown peppermint to be beneficial for the treatment of nerve pain caused by post-herpetic neuralgia. This is a painful condition that occurs in the elderly after they have suffered a bout of shingles. Essential oil of peppermint can also be used for the relief of chronic headache pain such as is caused by migraines. Applied topically, it also has a cooling and soothing effect on the skin.

Corinna Underwood


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The information provided on this site is provided for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice. Should you have any serious health concerns, you should always check with your health care practitioner before self-administering any natural remedy.