Essential oils have properties that can be useful in the treatment of neuropathic pain. However, are they effective? Today we tell you what options there are and what the investigations say.
In recent years various treatments have been investigated to calm neuropathic pain. However, as noted in the Journal of the Spanish Pain Society, managing this type of symptom remains complex and pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions are often necessary.
Neuropathic pain refers to a type of pain caused as a consequence of injury or nerve damage. It is estimated that it affects between 7 and 10% of the general population, with older adults being the most affected. Specifically, it is frequent in patients with chronic postoperative pain, postherpetic neuralgia and diabetic neuropathy.
However, it can also be associated with other chronic diseases. In any case, its most common form is diabetic peripheral neuropathy, which affects up to 50% of patients with diabetes. In general, along with pain, it causes tingling, inflammation and numbness.
Now, will it be possible to calm this ailment with the use of essential oils? According to some research, this type of natural remedies can be an aid in pain relief. The evidence is still limited and should, therefore, be used with caution.
Essential oils to calm neuropathic pain
As we mentioned at the beginning, the treatment of neuropathic pain is complex and requires professional intervention. While options like essential oils may help promote a sense of relief, they are not a substitute for medical treatment. If you decide to use it, pay attention to the recommendations we give you in this space.
St. John’s wort essential oil
In natural medicine, St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum) has been used as an adjunct to improve mood in cases of anxiety and depression. However, an individual case study opened up the possibility that it works as a supplement to calm neuropathic pain.
According to research, published through Complementary Therapies in Medicine, a person with trigeminal neuralgia – a type of nerve pain that affects the face – found an improvement when using a homeopathic preparation with St. John’s wort. Therefore, the authors concluded that the extracts of this plant are promising as a therapeutic option for this type of pain. Despite this, the evidence is insufficient to make claims.
Holy basil essential oil
Holy basil is also known as tulsí; It is an aromatic plant whose scientific name is Ocimum sanctum. According to data collected in the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine, its medicinal properties include antimicrobial, antidiarrheal, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. In addition, it also has analgesic and immunomodulatory potential.
In a study published in 2015, the essential oil of this plant demonstrated positive effects against sciatic nerve pain in rats. Therefore, it is believed that it can be useful against neuropathic pain. In any case, the evidence is still insufficient, and more studies are required to confirm these effects in humans.
Chamomile essential oil
Chamomile essential oil contains a substance called borneol. According to a study in the European Journal of Pharmacology, this compound may be useful in reducing pain and inflammation caused by neuropathy. In the study, borneol reduced pain sensitivity in mice with neuropathic pain.
However, as in the previous cases, its effects in humans remain unconfirmed. Despite this, this type of essential oil is safe to use, and calming effects have been described in popular literature.
Chamomile demonstrated effects in animal studies, but there is no solid evidence yet to calm neuropathic pain in humans.
Ginger essential oil
There is no evidence to prove that ginger essential oil works to calm neuropathic pain. However, research has found analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects in this natural product. This is due to its content of a compound called zingibain, which has shown a beneficial impact against inflammatory conditions.
How to use these oils to calm neuropathic pain?
First of all, it should be borne in mind that these oils should only be used as treatment supplements. Given the lack of evidence on their effectiveness, there is a possibility that they may not work in some cases. The way of use is in aromatherapy or applied topically.
In the first case, we put the oil in a diffuser, or we add it in very hot water to inhale the steam. Topically we must mix them with a carrier oil, which can be olive, almond or coconut; about 5 drops per tablespoon will suffice.
To take into account!
Essential oils can be purchased at herbal and cosmetic stores. However, when purchasing them, we must make sure to buy only essential oils from reputable manufacturers. In addition, we must read its instructions and labels.
Pure essential oils are quite concentrated and can be toxic. Therefore, we should not ingest them, and we should always use minimal amounts. In addition, to apply them to the skin, we must combine them with a carrier oil. If you notice any unfavourable reaction, rinse with plenty of water and suspend its use.