Essential oils have a wide range of uses and applications. Some of these I’ve written about previously, such as weight loss and treating eczema, as well as for allergies and issues such as arthritis and hemorrhoids. One application that you may not be aware of is using essential oils for neuropathy and nerve pain treatment.
What is neuropathy?
Neuropathy is the name given to a variety of nerve problems including nerve pain, tingling, weakness and numbness.
The nerves in your body are broken down into two groups by health professionals.
The first group is the central nervous system which includes your spinal cord and your brain.
The second group is the peripheral nerves which is basically everything else.
What does neuropathy feel like?
Peripheral neuropathy, i.e. problems with the peripheral nerves, is very common and can affect the motor nerves, the sensory nerves and the autonomic nerves. The neuropathy symptoms you experience depend on which nerves are affected in your particular case. For example, if your sensory nerves are affected your symptoms may include pain and tingling or numbness in your hands and feet.
What causes neuropathy?
Peripheral neuropathy can be caused by a range of health problems and also by some medication. The root cause of neuropathy is nerve damage although sometimes there is no obvious cause. This is called idiopathic neuropathy.
The majority of cases of neuropathy are caused by diabetes, which is a growing health problem, particularly in the U.S. Indeed, according to 2012 statistics from the U.S. Department Of Health And Human Services, 20 million people in America had diabetic peripheral neuropathy.
Another common cause of neuropathy is drugs such as those used for HIV and also some chemotherapy drugs. Other causes include alcohol abuse and liver and kidney disease.
Can neuropathy be reversed or cured?
Neuropathy can’t be reversed and unfortunately there’s no known cure for neuropathy. It can be managed though, through suitable treatment. You should always discuss your treatment options with a medical professional.
There are a variety of different treatments for neuropathy that can slow down its progress and treat the symptoms. Traditional pain relievers such as paracetamol don’t normally work for neuropathy and so other drugs are often prescribed.
For example, neurontin (gabapentin) is a medication that’s used to help ease nerve pain. And capsaicin is a cream that’s often used to treat neuropathy. Strong painkillers such as tramadol may also be used.
And surprisingly, anti-depressants are also used to treat neuropathy and nerve pain. This is the case even when depression isn’t considered a cause of the neuropathy.
Natural remedies for neuropathy
The underlying causes of the neuropathy may also be addressed through natural remedies.
For example, with diabetic neuropathy your symptoms can be improved by making changes to your lifestyle such as:
- Cutting back on the amount of alcohol you drink.
- Cutting out alcohol altogether.
- Giving up smoking.
- Getting more exercise.
- Changing your diet.
And if your feet are one of the areas affected by your neuropathy, then you can treat the neuropathy by starting to take better care of them. For example, you can wear more comfortable shoes and/or visit a podiatrist.
There are a variety of other different natural remedies that can be used to treat neuropathy; really anything that provides pain relief. Examples are acupuncture, hypnosis and also meditation.
Warm water is great for blood flow to your legs, so taking a warm bath can also help alleviate symptoms of neuropathy. This works even better when you add some of the best essential oils for neuropathy to your bath water, as we’ll see in a moment.
And one of the causes of neuropathy is a lack of B vitamins, so these vitamins are often used to treat it too.
Natural herbs can also be used to treat the symptoms too. In particular, St John’s Wort can be effective in halting the progress of neuropathy and in pain relief.
And, of course, you can also use certain essential oils for neuropathy and nerve pain treatment. So let’s take a look now at what essentials oils are good for neuropathy.
The best essential oils for neuropathy
As always, you should check with your doctor before using essential oils if you’re pregnant or have a medical condition. Also, never apply undiluted essential oils directly to the skin; always use a carrier oil to dilute them.
These are some of the best essential oils for neuropathy treatment:
Eucalyptus oil is great for neuropathy because of its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties.
Geranium oil acts as a sedative and helps with pain relief; clinical studies have shown that it can greatly reduce neuropathic pain.
Helichrysum is renowned for its fast acting pain-relief. Like most other essential oils that are good for treating neuropathy, it has analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties.
Lavender oil is well known for its ability to help with pain relief. It has a soothing, relaxing scent and also anti-inflammatory properties. It’s great for reducing stress and depression.
Peppermint oil has both analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. These make it an excellent essential oil for neuropathy. It’s also a stimulant so I don’t recommend using it before you go to bed!
Rosewood oil can help with stress reduction and relaxation, in addition to being a nerve tonic with analgesic properties.
Ylang Ylang oil helps to strengthen and nourish your nervous system. It’s also a sedative, helping to release stress and reduce anxiety.
How to administer essential oils for neuropathy
There are a number of different ways that you can apply essential oils.
Creams and lotions
You can administer the essential oils through creams and lotions. It’s possible to make your own, but you can also buy ready-made blank lotions and creams. You just need to add drops of your oil to these and then mix in.
A nice relaxing aromatherapy bath is a fantastic way of administering essential oils. You can either use bath oils, or just add a few drops of your oil directly to the bath water.
To do this just mix one of your favorite neuropathy essential oils with a carrier oil such as fractionated coconut oil. For example, try adding 4 to 6 drops of the oil to a teaspoon of the coconut oil. Then add the mixture to some table salt or Sea Salt to allow the oils to blend with the bath water rather than floating on top. Use a salt to oil ratio of about 3:1 or 4:1 and mix well in a bowl to make sure the oils are absorbed by the salt. You want to make sure that every one of the salts comes into contact with your oil mixture.
Then run a nice warm bath and climb in. Pour the salt into the bath and swirl the water around to mix the salt in as it dissolves, then lie back and relax.
You can also use the bath water to massage your skin to give relief too. And if your muscles are aching, try adding the oils to Epsom salt rather than table salt, before adding to the bath.
Essential oil diffusers
Essential oil diffusers are another good way of getting the benefits of essential oils. And this method has the advantage that everyone in the room gets the same benefits too!
Essential oil massage
You can also use massage to administer the oils. Make sure you use a carrier oil if you’re making your own massage oils.
For example, try mixing 10 drops of one of the above essential oils for neuropathy per ounce of carrier oil. Fractionated coconut oil works well as a carrier oil. You can then use this mixture to massage the areas affected by pain.
Using a hot or cold compress is another good way of using essential oils to help with your neuropathy symptoms. Using a hot compress will help you to relax and boost your circulation while a cool compress will help to reduce inflammation and at the same time invigorate you.
To make a compress, just fill a bowl with either hot or cold water depending on your needs. Add a few drops (about 3 – 5 drops) of whichever neuropathy essential oil you’ve chosen, stir the mixture and then lie a face cloth in it. Once the face cloth is wet, wring it out.
Then simply apply it to whichever area you wish to treat. Repeat the process of wetting, wringing and applying the cloth 3 or 4 times. On the last occasion, leave it in place on your body for a few minutes.
Using essential oils for neuropathy treatment can be an effective way of managing the pain associated with this condition. Try experimenting with different blends of the oils described above to see which work best for you.