Essential Oils for Joint and Muscle Pain

Part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle is to stay active, but what if the pain in your body doesn’t leave you alone? Body aches and pains are now all too common and could be a sign of some serious underlying conditions. However, most of these pains are in the muscles and joints, with nothing more than the discomfort to worry about.

The consistent and frequent pains in your joints and muscles could keep you from living your best life. They could make your cranky, prevent you from working at your full potential, and might even ruin your relaxation time. Some people even grow addicted to painkillers that they take in order to deal with the constant pain. This is just one of the unfortunate side effects of taking too much OTC medication.

Fortunately, there are several natural and alternative ways to deal with your joint and muscle pain. Some people swear by massages, while others go for saunas, acupuncture sessions, and several other methods. Trying out essential oils is a particularly luxurious and effective method that you can try out at home as well as with professionals.

Trying Out Essential Oils

Sore muscles and painful joints can happen to anyone, no matter what their age or gender is. This is one of the reasons why exploring the benefits of essential oils isn’t just for women. If foam rollers and over-the-counter pain relievers aren’t working anymore, it may be time to try essential oils for a change. When your body is stiff and sore, and your muscles are crying out in pain, you may need a soothing massage with the help of essential oils with the right healing properties.

Remember, essential oils are potent, so you shouldn’t apply it directly to your skin as it can irritate it. To be safe, dilute your essential oil first with a carrier oil such as olive oil, coconut oil, jojoba oil, and/or argon oil before using the mixture as a massage oil. Also, essential oils can be added to a relaxing bath or to a cold or warm compress to ease pain, inflammation, and swelling.

At times, just smelling certain essential oils can provide relief from some body aches and pains. This is especially true if your muscles and/or joints are stiff and creaky due to stress. You can de-stress and calm your nerves by putting a few drops of essential oil in a diffuser. This method of healing is called aromatherapy. While it may not be completely scientific, there are many proponents of this step. 

Precautions Before Using Essential Oils

Since essential oils are a natural means of soothing pain, they’re also not likely to have many side effects. You still want to use them properly, as they might end up being too drying and even irritate the skin. Make sure you read up on the proper care and methods beforehand. 

Diluting with a carrier oil is just one precaution you can take. An alternative might be to put a few drops in a cream, lotion, or ointment. Massaging with this concoction will not just be easier, but also better for your skin. Some more precautions that you can take are as follows: 

  • Make sure the essential oils are as pure as possible. Some of the more generic brands are diluted with chemicals, which can cause more harm than good
  • Read up on each essential oil before using it on your skin. Some of them might even have certain levels of toxicity, while others could trigger allergies. 
  • The concentration level of your essential oils should be below 5 percent in whichever combination you’re applying it. 
  • Conduct a patch test before rubbing any new kind of essential oil over your body. This will let you know how your skin will react to that specific oil. For the test, clean your forearm and rub some drops of the diluted oil on a small area. You can cover this up with some gauze, and then wait around 24 hours. After that, check the skin patch for blistering, swelling, redness, blisters, or itching. Any one of these is a warning sign. If the place gets uncomfortable within 4 hours, wash it with soap and water. 
  • While the internal use of essential oils is possible, this requires some advanced training and/or certification beforehand. Alternatively, you can contact a trained professional for guidance.
  • As a general rule, avoid orally ingesting essential oils or applying them internally in the vagina, mouth, eye, ear, etc.  
  • While diffusing essential oils, make sure that you’re in a well-ventilated area. You should also follow the diffusion guidelines carefully and diffuse intermittently for just up to an hour, and then take an hour off. 
  • If you have pets, keep in mind that some essential oils might be poisonous for them. The same goes for kids, so make sure to read up on the effects beforehand. It’s always wise to avoid aromatherapy in public and keep your essential oils out of the reach of both children and animals. 
  • Some essential oils might have clinical interactions with the medications or supplements you’re taking. If you are taking anything like this on the regular, make sure to consult a professional before you start aromatherapy or massage with the oils. Even if you’re not taking them orally, essential oils seep into your body and interact with the substances there. 
  • Keep in mind that citrus essential oils can increase the photosensitivity of your skin. Don’t apply these before going out in the sun. If you don’t take this precaution, this action might result in severe skin burns. 
  • Some oils might cause hormonal imbalances in certain genders, so you would again need some professional guidance here. Applying lavender essential oil topically, for instance, has been known to lower hormones for males below the age of puberty. 

Essential Oils for Easing Pain

Here some of the essential oils you can use to quickly ease joint and muscle pain:

1. Lavender

Lavender is perhaps the most common and most widely-recognized essential oil, so this goes first on the list. It helps ease joint and muscle pain through aromatherapy. Due to its mild yet active sedative compounds, it has long been used for relieving pain and inflammation. The scent of lavender essential oils can trigger the “feel good” hormones, relaxing you and relieving stress that can increase pain levels. It is also helpful as a sleep aid. As you improve the quality of your sleep, you can also reduce your pain levels.

When used topically, most lavender essential oils don’t need to be mixed with a carrier oil as they are gentle enough on its own. If you’re using it as a massage oil, though, you will want to dilute the lavender essential oil in a carrier oil. Lavender contains anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, which can help relax a tired and strained body.

Lavender essential oil is also great in a bath, as the steam diffuses its relaxing aroma all around you. Add 10-15 drops of the oil to the bath before you step in. It can help relax your stressed body and reduce pain.

2. Peppermint

Peppermint contains ingredients like menthol, which acts as an antispasmodic and mild analgesic to relieve pain or pressure on sore and achy muscles. Menthol has a cooling effect that can easily soothe and relieve tiredness and pain. Infuse this oil in your massage oil to help you relax and ease the tensions in your muscular aches and spasms. Besides painful muscles, peppermint is also a great remedy for migraines, headaches, and stomachaches.

For best results, mix 4-6 drops of peppermint essential oil with 1 teaspoon of carrier oil like olive oil or jojoba oil. Mix it well and massage it into the affected areas. For added relief, you can try mixing it up with a couple of lavender drops or drops of rosemary oil to enhance the pain-relieving effect.

3. Rosemary

Rosemary is an effective remedy for relieving pain and inflammation, especially joint and muscle aches. It’s also quite effective for relieving headaches. It contains anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic properties and is even high in antioxidants. One particular antioxidant – carnosol – focuses on inflammation, making rosemary essential oil one of the best choices for relieving pain. 

This is also why it’s great to blend with other essential oils (such as lavender, peppermint, chamomile, and clary sage) to strengthen its pain-relieving properties. To add to its wonders, the compound rosmarinic acid in rosemary oil is also said to inhibit the progression of arthritis.

When using rosemary oil as a massage oil, mix 4-6 drops of it with a carrier oil. Mixing it with peppermint oil can bring wonderful results. Try mixing 3-6 drops of rosemary oil with 2-4 drops of peppermint oil and 1 teaspoon of coconut or olive oil. This combination can bring a soothing and invigorating massage to ease pain and induce relaxation.

4. Frankincense 

Like lavender, frankincense is known for its pleasing aroma. It’s actually one of the most gentle and versatile essential oils on the market today. Besides its aroma and gentleness, it’s a great pain-reliever due to its analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, and anti-anxiety properties. In particular, the active ingredient in frankincense (boswellic acid) has powerful pain relief and anti-inflammatory effects that target cartilage damage and immune dysfunctions.

Even though it’s gentle, frankincense still needs to be diluted when applying on the skin. Mix 2-4 drops of the oil with 1 teaspoon of a carrier oil. Frankincense is also perfect for diluting in the bath, as its aroma can soothe you and make you feel peaceful. Mix 10-15 drops of this oil into your warm and steamy bath water and let it work its magic. 

5. Juniper

Juniper is a good tension reliever and muscle spasm eliminator. It has anti-rheumatic, anti-spasmodic, analgesic, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory properties. It can also strengthen the nerve and relieve neuropathic pain.

Juniper essential oil is strong in its distilled nature, so it should never be applied topically on its own. When using it for massage, mix 2-4 drops of it with a teaspoon of carrier oil like olive or jojoba oil. When using for a soothing bath, dilute 10-15 drops of oil into warm water.

6. Clove

Clove is known for its warming effects, making it an effective pain reliever and refresher of tired and aching muscles. Because of its anti-inflammatory and anti-neuralgic properties, it can allow your muscles to loosen up, reduce tension and pressure, and numb the surface of the skin when it’s applied topically. The numbing properties of clove oil makes it a great reliever for toothache and throat pain.

Like juniper oil, clove oil is also quite strong – it can give a burning sensation to the skin when undiluted. You must test it first on your skin before using it entirely. Furthermore, make sure you mix 2-4 drops of it with 1 teaspoon of carrier oil before using the combo for massaging tired/sore muscles and joint pain. Clove oil is best when mixed with jojoba, olive, moringa, or coconut oil.

7. Eucalyptus

You may have been familiar with eucalyptus, as it’s an active ingredient in many over-the-counter ointments and creams. As an essential oil, it has amazing anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. It’s recommended for treating sprains, strains, muscular pains and aches. It’s also soothing and relaxing to use in aromatherapy. It can even help alleviate pain and inflammation in patients who have undergone a total knee replacement procedure.

Mix a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil with a carrier oil to dilute it, as this oil is very powerful on its own. When combined with lavender essential oil, it adds a whole new level of relaxation and pain relief. However, be careful about using eucalyptus essential oil as it can be toxic when used in excessive amounts.


As we can see from the discussion above, essential oils can really come in handy when one is suffering from joint and muscular pain. It’s even useful in the more serious painful conditions, such as damaged cartilage or high levels of stress.

At the same time, it’s important to stay educated about essential oils if you’re going to use them for your body pains. It might be a good idea to get some books on the subject or consult an expert on these oils. There are different oils for different needs as well, such as these essential oils for sore muscles after a workout. See which ones you need and stock up your arsenal!