Essential Oils for Winter Aches & Pains

Dec 7, 11:30 PM

by Katharine Koeppen, RA

The onset of cold weather often means muscular pain or joint aches for many who don't normally suffer from these maladies during other times of the year. Fortunately, aromatherapy can be an effective and fragrant way to soothe winter aches and pains.

Managing muscle or joint pain involves using a blend that contains two different types of essential oils: oils that act as analgesics (pain killers) and oils that move toxic fluids trapped in the muscles and around joint areas. Applications should be topical, and work best in combination with hot compresses. This is one area where inhalation therapy is rarely effective.

Roman chamomile, despite its price, is by far the most analgesic essential oil the the aromatic medicine chest. Other analgesics include lavender, clary sage, sweet marjoram, helichrysum, peppermint and yarrow. Oils such as basil ct. methyl chavicol and Roman chamomile are strongly antispasmodic as well, which make them great additions for muscular and post-exercise blends.

Much of the pain from muscle or joint aches can come from blood or lymphatic fluid that has stagnated in and around affected areas. Lymphatic fluid and blood both carry metabolic wastes away from tissues, and blood delivers oxygen and other nutrients to cells of the muscular and skeletal systems. When tissues are spastic, ischemic or inflamed, cells do not receive the circulation necessary to achieve optimal function. Essential oils that assist in moving stagnant fluids include juniper, cypress, sage, black pepper, bay laurel, rosemary (ct. cineole or verbenone) and black spruce.

If an individual is prone to overall poor circulation, "hot" oils such as black pepper, ginger and sweet marjoram are wonderful additions to a muscle or joint blend. These oils are rubefacient, stimulating circulation and bringing blood up to the skin, thereby creating a warming effect. They are particularly effective for fascial pain, such as the type present in plantar fascitis.

Again, combine an analgesic oil with a purgative one for best effect. For example, 2 drops of juniper and 2 drops of sweet marjoram might be used in an hot compress for arthritis. Once the compress is applied, it should be covered with a hot water bottle or heated gel pack, wrapped with a towel and left in place for 20 to 30 minutes. Heat applications increase the penetration of essential oils. If time is a factor, then essential oils can be mixed in a vegetable oil carrier (1 drop essential oil to 1 tsp carrier), and topically applied without a heat treatment.

Exercise caution when choosing essential oils for your muscle or joint pain blend. Some oils are contraindicated for persons with certain medical conditions. If you'd rather leave the blending to someone else, Aromaceuticals carries a Pain Relief synergy that is preblended and safe for undiluted topical use.


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