Essential oils are very concentrated oils derived from a natural substance for medicinal or healing purposes.
How Essential Oils Work:
The process of extracting the oil from the plant material is tedious, time consuming, and requires significant resources. For example, it takes about twenty-two pounds of roses to make a tiny five ml bottle of essential rose oil.
With the aromatherapy and essential oil industry already in the billions of dollars and growing, the efforts are obviously worth it. The oils take on the concentrated properties of the plant they are derived from and blending the oils can create a synergetic healing experience.
The three top ways in which essential oils can be administered are:
- Skin– When essential oils are added to massage lotions or a carrier oil such as olive, jojoba, or almond, they can be applied with very therapeutic results. The skin is, of course, the largest organ. Essential oils penetrate the skin and work on a cellular level to relieve inflammation and block pain. Do not apply essential oils directly to the skin. The oils are very potent and can cause burning and irritation.
- Olfactory– The olfactory system involves anything to do with the sense of smell. When airborne molecules are detected and inhaled, they travel throughout the brain and body. Inhaling essential oil molecules particularly affects the respiratory system. Inhaling oils such as eucalyptus and peppermint can bring comfort and healing to someone with a cold or respiratory problem. One way to use essential oils to work with the olfactory system is by employing a diffuser. Make sure the oil is not used full strength but mixed with water. Sachets and cotton balls soaked with essential oils are also methods to utilize the olfactory.
- Limbic part of the brain- It is no coincidence that certain smells take us back through time. The limbic or emotional part of the brain not only affects memory but also heart rate and blood pressure. Any essential oil the patient finds pleasurable can have psychological healing attributes.
Benefits of Aromatherapy:
There are many advantages of using essential oils and aromatherapy:
- Pain relief- Oils such as lavender, eucalyptus, rosemary, basil, and more have analgesic properties and have been found to alleviate pain and discomfort from conditions such as fibromyalgia, joint pain, arthritis, and headaches.
- Stress Management- Essential oils can help reduce anxiety and relieve depression. Lavender, chamomile, and jasmine are all examples of essential oils which will lift the spirits.
- Sleep aid- A good night’s sleep is vital for optimum health. Essential oils not only help you relax but also assist in realigning the body’s rhythms, thereby improving the quality of sleep. Some of the oils to try alone or in a blend to aid in sleeping are rose, sandalwood, and lavender.
- Increase energy- Of course, getting a proper sleep will help with energy levels throughout the day, but for an additional boost, you may want to try using cinnamon, cloves, or tea tree oil.
- Digestion- Digestion problems can come in the form of indigestion, constipation, diarrhea, and gas and bloating. Lemon, orange, ginger, and dill are oils that will relieve these types of symptoms while boosting the metabolism, often resulting in losing unwanted pounds.
How Essential Oils Help with Back Pain
Most adults will experience back pain at some point in their lives. Back pain can be caused by several different factors:
- Physical stress
- Emotional stress
- Arthritis or Osteoporosis
- Fibromyalgia or another autoimmune condition
- Degenerative disc disease or scoliosis
- Idiopathic or unknown causes
The treatment of the pain depends on the origin of the cause. Common sense measures for a healthy life, and a healthy back includes a nutritious diet, sensible exercise, adequate sleep and relaxation, and when necessary, taking supplements such as Calcium and Vitamin D.
The use of essential oils for back pain can help in the following ways
- As an analgesic- Back pain that is caused by injury or physical stress responds well to massage therapy. Massage therapy can be amplified by adding essential oils with analgesic and stress reducing properties.
- Stress reduction- Emotional stress and anxiety can contribute to and complicate pain. Using a diffuser while practicing yoga or preparing a hot bath with salts containing essential oils is an excellent way to relax. Oils which deal with the limbic part of the brain also contribute to a sense of well-being thereby helping to reduce the perception of pain.
- Energizer- Staying physically active and moderate exercise such as walking and swimming are vital in controlling back pain. Adding essential oils to your routine by applying it to the skin or using it through olfactory methods can improve your exercise routine or allow you to be more active throughout the day.
When to Avoid Exercise with Back Pain
Generally speaking, low-impact aerobics, swimming, yoga, and Pilates are excellent for your back. Exercising is particularly useful if the back pain is caused by stress, arthritis, autoimmune conditions, or fatigue.
However, conditions such as scoliosis or degenerative disc disease can be made worse by the wrong kinds of movements or exercises.
Additionally, if you have injured or overused your back, it is best to listen to your body and continue physical activity after the pain has subsided.
If you have questions on which exercises are the best for alleviating back pain and which ones should be avoided, be sure to check with a doctor or healthcare professional.
Essential oils can be purchased at health stores, co-ops and online as individual oils or therapeutic blends. The science of aromatherapy encompasses how to mix and use essential oils. Some of the most popular oils used for pain and back discomfort are basil, eucalyptus, ginger, peppermint, and lavender.
Have some fun investigating this holistic art form and see what kind of healing concoctions you can create to deal with the pain and stress of back discomfort.
About Sally Wong:
Sally Wong has been a massage therapist for over 15 years. She was born in a small town in China and lived there until she was 12 when her family moved to Canada.
She observed her mother and grandmother improving people’s lives and health in China through massage therapy and was introduced to the benefits of essential oils by her grandmother. In her spare time, Sally enjoys Tai Chi and yoga.