Looking for Pain Relief? Try the Top 5 Essential Oils

Healing Herbs And Essential Oil In Bottle With Mortar

Nothing disrupts your day more than pain, and this becomes even more difficult to manage when the pain is chronic. Many people struggle with finding solutions to their pain problems without having to rely on medications that often come with unfavorable side effects when used long term. Adding some of our top essential oils for pain relief may be a game changer for you if you’re struggling with chronic pain and inflammation in the body.

We’ve compiled our favorite essential oils for pain and muscle soreness to use on your next headache, back pain, menstrual cramps, joint pain, or tooth ache. Read on to see which of these top 5 essential oils for pain relief are best for you.

Essential chamomile oil in glass bottle with dry camomile flowers, fragrant daisy oil, beauty treatment. Spa concept

1. Chamomile

Think beyond a calming tea when it comes to chamomile and use the essential oil derived from this medicinal plant instead to help treat pain. There are actually two types of chamomile that are used – Roman and German though there’s a higher concentration of the active ingredient “chamazulene” in the German variety. Chamomile is used specifically to calm inflammation and is used to reduce back pain and arthritis specifically. It also has been used to help heal wounds and other skin conditions such as rashes and even eczema.

Woman pouring eucalyptus essential oil into bowl on wooden table

2. Eucalyptus

This strong lung-opening scent isn’t just for chest rubs to help your cold symptoms; eucalyptus oil has also been shown to help ease joint pain associated with a number of types of arthritis. In fact, several OTC joint creams contain eucalyptus oil as one of their main ingredients because of the power of its anti-inflammatory compounds. Eucalyptus oil can also help relieve back pain and inflammation from injuries. Make sure to dilute this essential oil in a carrier oil like jojoba or almond oil before applying it to your skin for its analgesic effects because of the risk of irritation with direct exposure, and keep it well away from kids and pets who can have severe reactions to eucalyptus oil.

Bottle of cosmetics with ginger oil extract on wooden board with ginger roots. Black background, copy space.

3. Ginger

There’s a reason that we use ginger medicinally to soothe the stomach and heal the inside of the body. This spicy, aromatic root has a number of health benefits due to its anti-inflammatory properties and can be used externally as well, in an essential oil for pain. While the oil made from this root has been less studied, it does appear to be effective at reducing inflammation when applied to the skin by warming the muscles below and increasing circulation. Ginger applied on the skin can help relieve muscle and joint pain. Research has shown that ginger is especially effective at relieving muscle pain and soreness after exercising and relieving pain associated with osteoarthritis.

A bottle of lavender essential oil with fresh lavender twigs

4. Lavender

A versatile essential oil — and among the most popular out there — lavender essential oil is well known for its variety of benefits and significant research backing for its calming, sleep promoting, relaxing, and anxiety decreasing effects. All of these uses could help lower inflammation in the body but studies also show that lavender oil has been shown specifically to reduce pain, both by smelling the oil and by applying it to the affected area. Some studies have even found that applying lavender oil externally can have pain relief effects comparable to a prescription pain relief medication. Other studies have found that smelling lavender can directly reduce pain associated with headaches.

fresh mint essential oil on wood background,top view

5. Peppermint

Studies have indicated that peppermint oil (both applied topically or inhaled) may be effective at mitigating pain associated with headaches and migraines. Researchers have specifically examined the application of menthol found in peppermint oil to the forehead and temples of headache sufferers and found that they experienced more pain relief and less associated symptoms than the placebo group. It also has been shown to reduce the spasms that cause muscle cramps when applied to the affected area. Just be sure to use care when using this oil around kids and pets, as it can have toxic or burning effects.

Have you used any essential oils for pain relief? Let us know about your experience in the comments!


Black CD, Herring MP, Hurley DJ, O’Connor PJ. Ginger (Zingiber officinale) reduces muscle pain caused by eccentric exercise. J Pain. 2010;11(9):894-903. doi:10.1016/j.jpain.2009.12.013

Alqareer A, Alyahya A, Andersson L. The effect of clove and benzocaine versus placebo as topical anesthetics. J Dent. 2006;34(10):747-750. doi:10.1016/j.jdent.2006.01.009

da Silva GL, Luft C, Lunardelli A, et al. Antioxidant, analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects of lavender essential oil. An Acad Bras Cienc. 2015;87(2):1397-1408. doi:10.1590/0001-3765201520150056

Borhani Haghighi A, Motazedian S, Rezaii R, et al. Cutaneous application of menthol 10% solution as an abortive treatment of migraine without aura: A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossed-over study. Int J Clin Pract. 2010;64(4):451-456. doi:10.1111/j.1742-1241.2009.02215.x

Lee G, Park J, Kim MS, Seol GH, Min SS. Analgesic effects of eucalyptus essential oil in mice. Korean J Pain. 2019;32(2):79-86. doi:10.3344/kjp.2019.32.2.79

About Ginger Hultin, MS RDN CSO

Ginger Hultin, MS, RD, CSO, LDN, is a health writer and owner of Champagne Nutrition specializing in integrative health and whole food-based nutrition. She serves as Immediate Past President for the Chicago Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Chair-Elect of the Vegetarian Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group and is a Media Representative for the Illinois Academy. Read Ginger's blog, Champagne Nutrition, and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. Ginger Hultin MS RD CSO LDN gingerhultin@hotmail.com | @GingerHultinRD Chair-Elect, Vegetarian Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group ChampagneNutrition.com  
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