You may be surprised to learn that research shows some essential oils have medicinal effects that may help improve fibromyalgia symptoms. There are three main symptoms that essential oils can help relieve: anxiety, insomnia/fatigue and pain.
Essential Oils for Stress and Anxiety
Living with chronic pain and illness can be emotionally overwhelming. There are days when I feel anxious over an upcoming appointment, frustrated by the limitations caused by pain and fatigue, worried about the uncertainty of flare-up…and the list goes on and on. Managing stress by making time for relaxation can help you cope with anxiety. There are a number of essential oils that help promote relaxation. For example, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, “Scientific evidence suggests that aromatherapy with lavender may slow the activity of the nervous system, improve sleep quality, promote relaxation, and lift mood in people suffering from sleep disorders”.[i] Many of the same essential oils used for relaxation can also be used to promote sleep.
One of the best ways to use essential oils for anxiety is through aromatherapy (diffusing the oil through the air and inhaling its sent). Essential oils are believed to work when compounds that are inhaled enter the blood stream and are carried to the brain or other organs. You can use a diffuser, which mists droplets of oil through the air, or an aromatherapy oil burner, which uses the heat from a candle to vaporize the oil. For a very inexpensive alternative, you can put a few drops in the melted wax of a burning candle!
- Other oils to consider for anxiety relief include: rose otto, frankincense, clary sage, sweet orange, bergamot, grapefruit, ylang ylang, sandalwood, neroli, sweet marjoram, petitgrain, mandarin, lavender, rose geranium, tangerine, jasmine.[ii]
Essential Oils for Fatigue and Brain Fog
Aromatherapy can also be used to promote energy and mental clarity. Fatigue and brain fog are two of the most challenging symptoms experienced by people living with fibromyalgia. They are also two of the most difficult to treat. I was excited to learn that rosemary oil can help with brain-fog symptoms. According to a recent study, rosemary oil diffused throughout a room helped participants perform significantly better on a memory test than participants in a control room.[iii] This appealed to me because brain fog affects my word recall and short term memory. The refreshing smell of lemon oil and other citrus oils is thought to be energizing. Peppermint and wintergreen oil are also used to improve vitality.
Essential Oils for Pain
Finally, essential oils can help alleviate the muscle pain that is a constant companion for many people living with fibromyalgia. Essential oils relieve pain by improving circulation, reducing inflammation and calming irritated nerves.[iv] The most efficient way to use essential oils for pain relief is through massage. A few drops of essential oil should be diluted in a carrier oil of cold-pressed nut, seed or vegetable oil – approximately 10-12 drops of essential oil in 1 ounce of carrier oil.
- Pain relieving herbs include: spike lavender, sweet marjoram, lavender, petitgrain, Roman and German chamomile, clary sage, lemongrass, helichrysum, peppermint, ginger and black pepper. Spike lavender with peppermint and helichrysum creates an anti-inflammatory synergy.
Blending essential oils is a creative art. In general, most floral oils blend well together, as do most woody oils. Massage Today recommends three blends for fibromyalgia[v]:
- 4 drops of lavender, 1 drop of frankincense, 4 drops of sweet orange, and 1 drop of neroli
- 4 drops of sweet marjoram, 1 drop of Roman chamomile, 4 drops of mandarin, and 1 drop of rose
- 4 drops of lavender, 4 drops of rose geranium, 2 drops of rosemary, and 1 drop of lemongrass