Whether your muscles are aching from exercise, from working in the garden, from lifting heavy objects or because of a poor posture, aromatherapy offers effective, gentle and natural remedies to relieve muscular aches and pains. A massage is always the best way to ease muscle tension and to get rid of back and neck aches and pains, but self-massage with essential oils and aromatic baths are easy and enjoyable home treatments.
Some of the best essential oils for relieving aches and pains in the body are:
- Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia): to relax the muscles and to relieve tension and pain, and also to de-stress, to relax the mind and to improve sleep
- Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis): to stimulate blood circulation and to relieve pain
- Marjoram (Origanum majorana): to relieve pain and to increase local circulation
- Ginger (Gingiber officinalis): this warming oil is used to boost circulation to ease pain
- Black Pepper (Piper nigrum): another warming, circulatory oil
Make a blend of any 3 or 4 of these oils: add 3 drops of essential oil(s) into each 5 ml of a natural, cold-pressed vegetable oil, such as sweet almond, jojoba, sunflower or grape seed oil. Arnica oil is very good for aching muscles and for injuries. A good general muscle relaxing blend is:
- 2 drops of Lavender
- 2 drops of Rosemary
- 2 drops of Marjoram
into 10 ml of base oil. You can use this oil in a bath, or to massage the painful area. You can also add the essential oils straight into a warm bath as long as you mix them well into the bath water, or you can mix them with sea salts or even full-fat milk. Lavender and Marjoram are relaxing oils and more suitable for an evening bath, and they are also very useful if the aches and pains are related to stress. Rosemary and the spice oils are more energizing. According to Patricia Davis, Rosemary is a good oil for tired, stiff and overworked muscles. However, Rosemary is not recommended for anyone suffering from high blood pressure or epilepsy.
Pregnant woman should avoid most of these oils and stick to Lavender in a mild dilution (1 drop of Lavender into 5 ml of base oil). If you haven’t used essential oils before, read more essential oil safety tips first. The spice oils Ginger and Black Pepper can irritate the skin if your skin is sensitive; one drop in a blend is usually enough as these oils are very warming and effective (and they smell pretty strong too).
Sources: Patricia Davis: Aromatherapy: an A-Z (Random House UK, 2004)
Photo by Lubyanka (photo from Wikimedia Commons)