How To Use Aromatherapy for Pain Management


Aromatherapy is a popular method for relaxation and self-care. Diffusers, lotions, body sprays, and homemade salves are standard integrations of essential oils in daily life. However, few people utilize the full effects of these oils, especially when it comes to pain management. 

Essential oils can help relax the muscles and mind, which allow the body to rest and recover. While it may not be as immediately noticeable as a painkiller, research shows that aromatherapy can help manage pain when coupled with other treatments. 

The NIH published a 2016 analysis comprising 12 studies on the effectiveness of aromatherapy for pain management. The results were as follows: 

“There is a significant positive effect of aromatherapy (compared to placebo or treatments as usual controls) in reducing pain reported on a visual analog scale. Secondary analyses found that aromatherapy is more consistent for treating nociceptive and acute pain than inflammatory and chronic pain, respectively. 

Based on the available research, aromatherapy is most effective in treating postoperative pain and obstetrical and gynecological pain…. The findings of this study indicate that aromatherapy can successfully treat pain when combined with conventional treatments.”

The next time you see aromatherapy products in the store, you may want to think twice before brushing them off. Even the relaxation benefits of aromatherapy can help you recover after an injury or operation and care for your body more holistically. 

Tips To Use Aromatherapy for Pain Management

Essential oils can be applied as a topical treatment or diffused into the air. When used as a topical treatment, it is recommended to mix the essential oils into another oil, such as sweet almond oil, to create a more smooth and even application. When diluted with water, oils can also be used with a diffuser or in a spray bottle to provide similar effects. Common essential oils used for pain management include:

  • Lavender 
  • Peppermint 
  • Ginger 
  • Marjoram
  • Geranium
  • Clary Sage 
  • Black Pepper
  • Lemongrass 
  • Roman Chamomile 

Ask your local apothecary about different uses of essential oils, as well as your doctor, for safe topical application. 

While aromatherapy is not the most effective form of pain management for chronic pain, at PPOA, we like to explore all of our patient’s options. If you are interested in long-term treatment for a chronic pain condition, talk to our physicians today about medication-free possibilities and how to recover from injuries resulting in chronic pain.