Essential oils had been in use for hundreds of years as natural remedies for curing various diseases. They are well known for the many therapeutic properties they contain.
Essential oils (EOs) are used in perfumes, food flavorings, medicine, and aromatherapy (1).
In this article, we are going to see how we can make use of essential oils for managing nerve pain, neuropathy, and sciatica.
EOs are the best natural remedies that work well for treating the symptoms of Neuropathy or nerve damage. Many essential oils have anti-inflammatory, analgesic, nervine, and antispasmodic properties beneficial for treating Peripheral Neuropathy and nerve pain.
Of course, you may not find so much of scientific backing to prove the medical effectiveness of these oils. Yet, the traditional and folklore wisdom of ancient medicines relied heavily on natural remedies like the EOs for curing nerve pain, nerve damages, and other such diseases.
Before we proceed to discuss in details the best essential oils to use for curing nerve pain and how to use them, let us have a brief understanding of Neuropathy.
The basic symptoms of neuropathy are numbness and pain in the affected parts of the body.
Neuropathy is usually classified according to the disease causing it or the location of the nerves that are affected.
It can either affect the central nerve system (spinal cord and brain) or the peripheral nerves system which covers the rest of the body (4).
Peripheral neuropathy (PN) is the damage that happens to any of the nerves that link the rest of the body with the brain and spinal cord. It usually happens to nerves in a particular area of the body like feet, legs, hands, etc. People who are suffering from severe diabetes often experience PN on feet, legs or hands.
‘Peripheral neuropathy may impair sensation, movement, gland or organ function, or other aspects of health, depending on the type of nerves affected (5).’
Medical history has identified over 100 types of peripheral neuropathy each one having its own prognosis and symptoms. In general, PN is classified according to the number of nerves damaged and according to the type of damages to the nerves (6).
Neuropathy can affect all the three types of nerves in our body, such as sensory nerves, motor nerves and autonomic nerves (7).
Understanding the causes of each type of neuropathy is critical for administering right treatments for it.
The most commonly found Neuropathy is the polyneuropathy, a type of peripheral neuropathy. It is caused by high levels of glucose in your blood damaging the tiny blood vessels that supply your nerves. Studies estimate that 50% of people with diabetes will develop neuropathy (8).
- Chemotherapy drugs
- Alcohol and substance abuse
- Hereditary nerve disorders
- Autoimmune diseases
- Side effects of medications
- Exposure to toxic chemicals
- Severe infectious diseases
- Vitamin deficiencies
- Physical injuries
Can neuropathy be reversed? No, it cannot be. Medical science has not found a proven medication that can totally reverse neuropathy.
Unfortunately, there are no proven cures for the total elimination of neuropathy. The only consolation is its management through medication, physiotherapy, and natural remedies.
The existing neuropathy treatments intend to slow down the progress and treat the causes and symptoms. Most of the prescription medicines for neuropathy fall in the category of painkillers and antidepressants.
There are few natural remedies and preventive methods that can be effectively used for managing nerves damages and pain.
The basic preventive treatments for nerve pain should start with making changes in food and lifestyle habits of the patient. Such as:
- Engaging in regular exercises;
- Stop the consumption of alcohol;
- Quit smoking;
- Eating diets that have B-12 Vitamins, Vitamin E, Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium;
- Getting 8 hours of daily sleep;
- Prevent dehydration;
- Managing diabetes and high blood pressure.
It is easy to relieve pain and numbness caused by neuropathy through acupuncture, yoga, aromatherapy, hypnosis, and chiropractic massage.
Several herbal remedies are popularly used for getting relief from nerve related issues like numbness, pain, and weakness.
Some of the best herbal remedies for treating Peripheral Neuropathy are St. John’s Wort, cayenne pepper; and the use of supplements containing capsaicin, L-Carnitine, ALA (alpha-Lipoic acid), GLA (gamma linolenic acid) and omega-3 fatty acids.
Another best option is the use of essential oils for nerve pain and sciatica; we are going to discuss them in the rest of this article.
11 Best Essential Oils For Neuropathy
There are no proven remedies for neuropathy. Most of the prescription pills for nerve damages are just pain-killers or vitamin and nutrients supplements. Other treatments are meant for removing the causes of neuropathy such as diabetes, infections, and kidney or liver diseases.
If you prefer to go with natural remedies, then essential oils for neuropathy are excellent. They are natural, non-invasive and without any side effects. They can effectively reduce the symptoms of neuropathy and give a fresh lease of comfortable life to patients suffering nerve damage.
Each of the essential oils contains one or more therapeutic properties that can effectively treat some of the issues associated with neuropathy. EOs can treat issues like pain, weakness, numbness, stress, anxiety, depression, poor blood circulation, high blood pressure and infectious diseases which are connected to neuropathy.
The biggest benefits of essential oils for sciatica and other nerve damages come from their effectiveness in reducing pain and numbness.
According to one of the studies which examined ‘Neuragen PN’ was able to find significant relief from neuropathic pain after using this essential oil blends therapy. The five essential oils used in Neuragen PN are a proprietary blend of geranium oil, lavender oil, bergamot oil, tea tree oil and eucalyptus oil which act as transdermal carriers.
Here are a few of the most effective essential oils for Peripheral and Central Neuropathy.
‘Eucalyptus oil has been reported effective in reducing pain, swelling, and inflammation (11).’
Eucalyptus essential oil contains anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic properties which are great for reducing the pain and numbness arising from neuropathy. Massaging this oil on affected areas also help in improving blood circulation and stimulating the nerves.
According to one of the research reports published by The Evidence Based Complementary And Alternative Medicines, the Lavender Oil may be an effective medicament in the treatment of several neurological disorders.
Lavender essential oil is traditionally used as a pain relief solution. It contains powerful anti-inflammatory properties that can soothe the neuropathy troubled nerves. It is very beneficial for relieving stress and anxiety which otherwise aggravates nervous stress.
The analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties in Bergamot Essential Oil is truly beneficial for reducing all kinds of pains that torment the nerves and muscles. It is effective for relieving the symptoms of neuropathy like numbness and pain by stimulating the nerves and increasing the blood flow in the affected areas.
Geranium oil has the sedative power that is beneficial for relieving pain. This oil also contains elements with adaptogenic, stimulating and astringent characteristics beneficial for damaged nerves.
Geranium oil is proven to trigger microglial cells, which release pro-inflammatory agents that combat inflammation in neural pathways. Because of this reason use of this oil can help in preventing and healing all types of neuro-degenerative diseases.
There are several positive reports from patient reviews by individuals who suffer Peripheral Neuropathy and take Tea Tree Oil either as part of the daily diet or as a method of treatment. Many of them have reported a reduction in pain and numbness after using tea tree essential oil for neuropathy. Tea tree oil contains potential anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties beneficial for containing nerve pains.
According to a study published by Cephalalgia (The International Headache Society), a significant analgesic effect with a reduction in sensitivity to headaches was produced by a combination of peppermint oil, eucalyptus oil and ethanol. The study was affirmative on the analgesic effects of peppermint oil in helping to relieve pain.
Besides the analgesic elements, this oil also contains anti-inflammatory properties which make this oil an excellent essential oil for nerves pain relief.
Peppermint essential oil is also effective in improving the blood circulation that is needed for easing out the pain and numbness from Neuropathy.
Holy Basil is considered to be a divine plant in Hindu tradition of India; it is a widely used major ingredient in several of the Ayurvedic recipes for treating various illnesses, including nerve damage.
According to one of the research studies published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, the holy basil oil extract was tested on rats which had their sciatic nerves severed. After 10 days of the treatment, the holy basil extract was found to be helpful in reducing the symptoms of nerve damage and made the nerves more receptive to the stimuli.
Holy basil oil contains analgesic, antidepressant and antispasmodic elements useful for calming nerve pain and to stimulate the nerves.
According to a research report published by the Medline Plus, “Early research suggests that applying a gel containing ground cloves for 5 minutes before being stuck with a needle can reduce needle stick pain similarly to benzocaine.”
Clove essential oil is traditionally used as a remedy to numb the pain of a toothache. If that is so, there is no reason why this oil would not work for suppressing nerve pain.
One of the rat studies done by the Journal of Planta Medica, the eugenol substance present in clove essential oil was found to be effective in improving the nerve functions of the rats suffering from diabetic neuropathy.
The anti-inflammatory property of the essential oil is also beneficial for reducing nerve pain.
Rosemary essential oil for neuropathy is effective because of the analgesic, antidepressant, digestive, and nervine properties present in this oil.
This oil helps to improve blood circulation, removes lactic acid and relaxes muscle fibers.
Massaging the nerves damaged with rosemary essential oil can give quick relief from the pain.
Clary Sage oil has antispasmodic, sedative and nervine properties that are useful for the treatment of damaged nerves.
This oil is a traditionally used medicine for relieving headaches, back pain, muscle stiffness and cramps (11).
Nutmeg Essential Oil is beneficial for relieving nerve and muscle pain and inflammation. This oil has proven effects in promoting blood circulation. In folklore medicines, nutmeg oil is used as a pain-killer and for treating menstrual discomfort. It is also known for sedative and calming effect.
You can make use of essential for nerve damage treatment in several ways. Here are a few effective ways to use them:
a. Essential Oil Compress
Using essential in doing a hot or cold compress is very effective for managing neuropathy symptoms.
Doing a hot compress with essential oil help in boosting blood circulation; the cold compress will reduce pain and inflammation.
You can add few drops of your preferred essential oil or oil blend in the hot or cold water that you are going to use for the compress. Alternatively, you can massage the desirable essential oil on the affected areas and then follow it with a cold or hot compress.
b. Applying Essential Creams And Lotions
You can either buy or make your own creams or lotions with desirable essential oils, and use it to apply on areas of the body that have damaged nerves. To make the essential oil cream, add few drops suitable essential oils in any of the good cold cream that you use. You can make the lotion by adding essential oils in Shea Butter or carrier oils.
c. Essential Oil Massage
Use the essential oil or oil blends to massage the numb and painful areas of the body. It is important to dilute the essential oils in a carrier oil before you use them directly on the skin.
d. Essential Oil Aromatherapy
A relaxing aromatherapy with essential oils helps in relieving stress and tension. This has sedative effects that can give you a good sleep and reduce the pain. Aromatherapy stimulates the nerves and reduces the numbness and weakness that are usual symptoms of Neuropathy.
You can either inhale them directly or use a diffuser.
e. Essential Oil Bath
Add few drops of desirable essential oils to the warm water in the bathtub or the water you use for bathing. It relaxes the body and calms the nerves.
Soaking yourself in the warm water treated with essential oils reduces the pain and numbness caused by neuropathy. Let the essential oil bath last for at least 15 minutes to get the fullest benefit of the treatment.
You need to follow few important steps while carrying out essential oil treatments for neuropathy:
- Essential oils mostly give only a temporary relief from the symptoms of Neuropathy, and thus you need to continue with essential oil remedies regularly.
- Essential oils are powerful, concentrated extracts from plants which should not be used on skin without diluting them in a carrier oil.
- A blend of different essential oils gives the best neuropathy treatment result than using a single essential oil; because when one of them may help to ease the pain, the other might stimulate the nerves, improve blood circulation or heal the damaged nerves.
- Use the pure and therapeutic grade essential oils for the treatment.
- Make correction in your food and lifestyle required for improving neuropathy symptoms.
- Essential oils are not a total substitute for regular medication; it is more of an addition to the regular treatment.
- Try more than one essential oil blends to find which of the essential oils for nerve pain suits you best.
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