Over 60% of people in the United States report having some kind of pain, according to a recent population health survey of 24, 000 people. Nerve pain, also known as neuropathy, is very common among people with pain issues. Of those suffering from pain, almost 16% have nerve pain [R].
Nerve pain is difficult to treat and reduces the quality of life. Very few satisfactory treatment options or pain relievers are available as a prescription, so using essential oils for nerve pain is very appealing. Why? Essential oils can have pain-relieving effects on the body if used appropriately.
Essential oils work for many aspects of health because they have multiple mechanisms through which they benefit our bodies. Choose only high-quality Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade essential oils to avoid chemical additives and to provide the best purity and effectiveness. Bear in mind that the food and drug administration does not evaluate supplements or herbs, including essential oils.
This blog describes how both single oils and essential oil blends may help you with various kinds of nerve pain. You can also download a free PDF of which oils to use as a reference when buying oils as well as a recipe for nerve pain.
Table of Contents
What Causes Nerve Pain?
Nerve pain and damage to nerves can be caused by many health conditions, including:
- Nutritional deficiencies, such as vitamin B-1, B-6 and B-12, niacin, and vitamin E
- Autoimmune disorders
- Viral illness
- Cancer treatment
- Genetic conditions
Damaged nerves can be due to many factors as you can see. Diabetic neuropathy is the main cause of polyneuropathy, according to the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke [R].
Nerve damage can result in the following issues: pain, numbness, tingling, burning, sensitivities, muscle weakness, paralysis, change in digestive function, sexual issues, and more. Nerve pain is often felt as strong, sharp, sensitivity to touch, and stinging [R].
Peripheral neuropathy is a type of nerve pain that is typically felt in the fingers and toes but also can be felt as a lack of coordination, heat intolerance, or bladder and bowel problems.
Pain management from a functional medicine perspective takes into consideration the whole person: emotional, cultural, a personal history, as well as a detailed health history. Nerve pain often can be treated more effectively when the holistic perspective like this is used [R].
Treating Nerve Pain
Nerve pain treatment in an allopathic way can include anti-inflammatory medicines like ibuprofen, anti-depressants, anti-convulsants, and opiate drugs. Treating nerve pain can also include injections and surgery. Many allopathic providers are also using complementary and functional nutrition treatments, including:
- nutritional supplements
- transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)
- repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS)
- essential oils
The nervous system depends on nutrients and plant compounds to help protect it from damage. Treatments can include restoring antioxidants from supplements, such as turmeric, and vitamins like vitamin B12, vitamin D3, and alpha lipoic acid. Essential oils are now being recognized as an important treatment option as well because they can be an effective way to treat both acute and chronic pain [R].
Nerve Pain Terms
Many terms for nerve pain are used and the following will help you understand what these terms are referring to:
- Neuralgia means pain in the nerve.
- Peripheral nerves are nerves that are outside your brain and spinal cord.
- Neuropathy means disease or dysfunction of one or more peripheral nerves, typically causing numbness or weakness [R]. It is also referred to as peripheral neuropathy.
- Neuritis means inflammation of a nerve.
- Sciatica or sciatic nerve pain is from inflammation or damage to the sciatic nerve, resulting in back, buttocks, and leg pain.
What is an Essential Oil?
Essential oils are a very concentrated liquid made from the distillation of plants. How concentrated? A single drop of Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade high-quality peppermint oil will have the equivalent of 29 cups of tea in terms of concentration. Because they are highly concentrated, they can have stronger effects on your health than other forms of plant extracts, such as teas, supplements, or tinctures.
Essential oils are volatile, meaning that they will over time evaporate into the air or be absorbed into the body. Good quality pure essential oils will evaporate completely. The best essential oils for nerve pain will be ones that can help reduce inflammation, help repair nerve tissue, and of course, also provide pain relief.
Quality matters the most. Want to see an unbiased and 3rd party testing of essential oils? Visit Consumer Advocate.
Essential Oils for Nerve Pain
Oils that can help the stabbing and burning pain of neuralgia include helichrysum, clove, neroli, douglas fir, copaiba, turmeric, and many more. Essential oil blends called Past Tense and Deep Blue also may help potentially reduce neuropathy pain.
How does each of these oils work for this type of pain? Read the following research information to learn more. Keep in mind, most research about essential oils for nerve pain is early. This shouldn’t deter you from getting safe and natural health solutions. They are functional medicine because they help treat the root causes of pain.
Also, only buy Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade Doterra oils. Other brands don’t have rigorous enough testing to support their therapeutic benefits. Here is a video describing essential oils for nerve pain:
Helichrysum Essential Oil
Helichrysum italicum is a plant in the sunflower family (Asteraceae). Helichrysum essential oil is extracted by steam distillation of parts of the flower. It is a very sought-after and precious oil because it is very effective, according to testimonials and early research. Inflammation is a major cause of nerve pain.
With rejuvenating effects, helichrysum oil reduces inflammation and is rich in antioxidants [R]. It also has corticoid-like effects to help reduce free radical damage. The main compound in helichrysum is called nerol.
Nerol, also known as geraniol, is the main compound in helichrysum. This compound is a monoterpene that has neuroprotective effects. Nerol also reduced the loss of dopamine-producing neurons in a mouse study [R]. Most of the research about helichrysum is early but is very promising for pain relief. Helichrysum may reduce muscle spasms [R].
Helichrysum is also promising for health because it may reduce cancer growth and spread, according to a recent cell study [R]. Helichrysum essential oil blends well with frankincense, copaiba, lavender, rose, and clary sage. You can find helichrysum oil here.
Clove Essential Oil
Clove essential oil is rich in eugenol. Clove oil’s compounds like eugenol have very potent antioxidant effects that can reduce the damages of toxins in the body. The damage of diabetes to the sciatic nerve was completely corrected by the main compound in clove oil in a study of diabetic rats [R].
Clove oil also reduced nerve damage to the stomach area, so it also may prove effective for nerve damage to the stomach in diabetes, also known as gastroparesis. Translation: clove essential oil for sciatica is a very promising treatment option. Nerve damage can result in excessive sweating.
Clove oil in a liposome applied twice daily reduced excessive sweating over a two-week period in a clinical study [R]. Eugenol from clove oil was also able to reduce neuropathy pain, including allodynia (pain initiated by a non-painful stimulus) and hyperalgesia (increased pain sensation following a painful stimulus) [R]. While research is still early, clove oil holds a lot of promise for people struggling with sciatic nerve pain and other types of nerve pain. Clove essential oil blends well with ginger, cinnamon, wild orange, copaiba, and rosemary.
Neroli essential oil (Citrus aurantium L. blossoms essential oil), has the ability to block the detection of a painful stimulus in early research work[R]. Neroli’s anti-inflammatory activity appears to also work against both short and long-term pain. Neroli essential oil can also help reduce stress.
Stress can trigger nerve imbalances in the body. Neroli also helps balance hormones, according to a small clinical study [R]. Inhaled neroli resulted in reduced menopausal symptoms, blood pressure, and increased sexual desire among postmenopausal women. Neroli essential oil helped reduce mood swings among women with premenstrual syndrome as well [R].
Neroli essential oil blends well with other oils like frankincense and ginger. Neroli oil is used as an essential oil for nerve pain.
Copaiba Essential Oil for Nerve Pain
Copaiba’s traditional uses include treatment for wounds, infections, pain, and other skin conditions. Copaiba oleoresins have been traditionally used in healing and anti-inflammatory agents in Brazilian folk medicine. Several studies suggest that copaiba has the following benefits [R] [R] [R]:
- Inhibits cancer cells
- Helps heal wounds
- Heals ulcers
Copaiba may also be one of the more effective essential oils for nerve pain. How? Copaiba reduces inflammation, relaxes smooth muscles, protects neurons, and has analgesic properties [R]. In a review of copaiba research, 8 preclinical studies found that copaiba essential oil is anti-inflammatory [R].
Copaiba reticulata is neuroprotective by reducing inflammation and damage to the central nervous system, as shown in a rat study [R]. A substance in copaiba known as beta-caryophyllene is very beneficial for health. Beta-caryophyllene binds with cannabinoid receptors and thus can reduce inflammation and pain [R].
Copaiba essential oil also blocks a major compound that causes inflammation: NF-κB. It also then reduces inflammation compounds like IL-6 and TNF-α [R]. A blend of copaiba oil with Deep Blue rub is effective at reducing arthritis pain in a clinical study as well; there was a 50% decrease in total pain, increased finger strength, and increased range of motion compared to placebo [R].
Beta-caryophyllene is an agonist of a cannabinoid receptor called CB2, which is unique to beta-caryophyllene. Copaiba contains more beta-caryophyllene than any other known plant [R].
You can find both Deep Blue Rub and copaiba essential oil here. Copaiba essential oil blends well with frankincense, marjoram, lavender, peppermint, and many others. I find that copaiba is great with any oil combination.
Turmeric Essential Oil
Turmeric essential oil, also known as Curcuma longa or curcumin, may be helpful to provide nerve pain relief. A number of animal and human studies support the use of turmeric for various kinds of pain, including neuropathic pain.
For example, turmeric reduced neuropathic pain and reduced inflammation in the spine by reducing IL-1β and damaging inflammation in the astrocytes of mice [R]. Astrocytes are cells that help form the blood-brain barrier, provide nutrients to nervous tissue, and help repair the brain and spinal cord following traumatic injuries.
Turmeric was very effective at reducing nerve pain by reducing two inflammatory compounds in the brain known as BDNF and Cox-2 in a rat model [R]. Pain relievers often target inflammation because this is painful in the body and in nerves. Arthritic pain and inflammation were reduced by turmeric oil as well in a study of mice [R]. However, very high doses may be toxic.
Turmeric oil provided potent pain relief and increased antioxidant enzymes in the brain, liver, and kidney in an animal study [R]. These enzymes include superoxide dismutase and glutathione-S-transferase.
Turmeric essential oil blends well with frankincense, ginger, copaiba, and marjoram oil. You can get it and all other oils for 25% off when you click the image below. ↓
Douglas fir is rich in B-pinene, a beneficial compound for health. Douglas fir essential oil benefits the body by blocking pain due to a painful stimulus due to its high ß-pinene content [R].
Douglas fir essential oil Doterra brand is unique. Why? It is extracted from fir trees in New Zealand that would otherwise be wasted. This makes the Doterra brand a very ecological and renewable source.
Other tree oils like cypress oil and cedarwood oil are likely helpful for nerve pain as well. Why? Cypress oil contains a lot of alpha-pinene. This compound may help improve circulation and tone because it is anti-inflammatory, while cedarwood oil may increase muscle mass and calm the body as well [R] [R]. Why? Cedarwood essential oil contains a lot of alpha-cedrene, which increased muscle and reduced muscle atrophy.
The anti-inflammatory properties of douglas fir, cypress oil, and cedarwood oil may help many conditions [R]. Douglas fir essential oil blends well with cedarwood oil, copaiba oil, and lavender oil for pain. You can find it here.
Marjoram Essential Oil for Nerve Pain
While no direct research has looked specifically at marjoram oil and nerve pain, clinical studies show that marjoram essential oil does have analgesic effects. In a study of over 10,000 hospital admissions, marjoram essential oil use reduced pain better than other essential oils and also significantly reduced anxiety.
A blend of essential oils including marjoram was able to reduce menstrual pain and reduce the need for pain medications. In a nursing home setting, the use of a blend of essential oils, including marjoram, dramatically reduced pain and symptoms of depression in people with arthritis.
Marjoram essential oil use may also extend to menstrual pain because it has analgesic effects and reduces a hormone precursor called DHEA-S. Treatment of nerve pain can include a blend of marjoram, frankincense, and copaiba oils.
Frankincense essential oil is able to reduce numerous kinds of pain, according to a number of small clinical studies. This includes a reduction in arthritis pain and a reduction in pain sensation and threshold.
Using frankincense helps to dampen down inflammation as well. Toxins can damage the body, including our nervous system. Frankincense oil may help reduce toxins in the body by increasing detoxification enzymes [R]. Known as the King of Oils, frankincense is one of my favorites to reduce pain.
Blended with marjoram, and copaiba oil, frankincense can be one of the most effective essential oils for back pain. You can find this oil combination here. This order, when combined with 10 drops each in a carrier oil of fractionated coconut oil can last over a year! That costs about $8 a month for healthy pain relief.
The nervous system is susceptible to damage from chemicals. Ginger essential oil may protect the nervous system from toxins. How? A recent study found that ginger essential oil reduced inflammation due to neurotoxicity in rats [R]. Using ginger is a great add-in to any health regimen because it helps so many systems in the body.
Ginger reduces inflammation, improves insulin sensitivity, and may reduce diabetes. Diabetes is the number one cause of nerve pain [R]. Inflammation compounds are reduced by ginger, including COX-2 and NF-KB [R].
Ginger essential oil blends well with clove, cardamom, and frankincense essential oils. You can find it here.
Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender oil is a very popular essential oil because it has such calming effects on the body. Clinical studies in humans find that lavender reduces pain in the following settings, including[R]:
- pediatric pain
- menstrual pain
- cesarean pain
- labor pains
New research suggests that lavender may also protect the body from neuropathic pain. Lavender essential oil results in dose-related pain relief due to pain from exposure to heat in rats [R]. Lavender also reduced neuropathic pain in this study: it was comparable to the drug pregabalin (Lyrica), which is used as a reference drug for nerve pain. This is why lavender may be one of the most effective ways of healing nerve damage with essential oils.
Lavender use has been clinically studied to reduce lower back pain and nerve pain due to hemiplegia after stroke as well [R] [R]. Lavender essential oil blends well with frankincense, peppermint, or just about any oil.
You can find Doterra lavender oil here or at a big discount in a Doterra Natural Solutions essential oil kit here. It saves $86.00 off a retail kit and allows you to get 25% off the best essential oils all year long.
Cardamom oil reduces nerve toxins and protects nerves from aluminum toxicity in a rat model [R]. This healing oil helped decrease oxidative stress in a region of the brain called the hypothalamus as well. Using cardamom essential oil can be helpful for pain relief because it has anti-spasmodic effects in the digestive tract as well and has anti-inflammatory effects.
Cardamom blends well with clove, peppermint, and lavender essential oils for pain-relieving effects.
You can find Doterra cardamom essential oil here.
Patchouli essential oil (Pogostemon cablin) contains over 140 compounds that are beneficial for health [R]. The use of patchouli has traditionally been used in the following ways:
- treat colds
- diarrhea and abdominal pain
- insect and snake bites
- depression and stress
- control appetite
- improve sexual interest
This complex oil is considered a base oil with lasting effects. It is known to also have pain-relieving properties [R]. This is because it has both anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects in a mouse study [R].
Patchouli essential oil blends well with other essential oils like lavender, cypress, and sandalwood essential oil to create a lasting effect. You can find Doterra patchouli essential oil here.
You can get wonderful patchouli and patchouli essential oil blend called Anchor here.
Rosemary extract reduced neuropathic hypersensitivity and protected nervous tissues after sciatic nerve injury in a rat study [R]. A combination of rosemary essential oil, lavender, and peppermint was effective at reducing nerve pain after stroke in the case of hemiplegic arm pain [R].
For this reason, rosemary is one of the best essential oils for nerve damage. Rosemary essential oil blends well as above with lavender, peppermint, and thyme essential oil. You can find these oils here.
Thyme Essential Oil for Pain
Thyme for pain relief has been proven in a triple-blinded clinical study. Thyme essential oil dose of 6 drops every 6 hours was as effective as 200 mg ibuprofen for muscle spasms and menstrual pain [R].
Thyme oil also has potent antimicrobial effects. Thyme essential oil is one of the very strong essential oils. For this reason, a small amount goes a long way.
Thyme essential oil blends well with basil, lavender, and rosemary oils. You can find Doterra thyme oil here.
Eucalyptus Benefits for Pain
Eucalyptus essential oil has been proven to have analgesic effects in animal studies. It has long been used as aromatherapy to strengthen the immune system. Now we have research in randomized clinical trials to support its use for pain in humans. Patients inhaled eucalyptus essential oil or almond oil after total knee surgery. The following improved:
- Systolic blood pressure
- Diastolic blood pressure
Eucalyptus oil contains α-pinene and 1,8-cineole. Both of these compounds act as antioxidants. 1,8-cineole suppresses edema formation and reduces inflammation and pain in mice [R]. Eucalyptus essential oil blends well with cardamom, peppermint, and rosemary essential oils for topical use and for nebulizers.
If you want a powerhouse essential oil, look no further than peppermint. It can be used for daunting pest issues around the home, to help naturally alleviate headaches, reduce itching, reduce allergies, and more. What about nerve-related pain? Peppermint helped alleviate pain in people after stroke when combined with rosemary and lavender oil [R].
In a case report of postherpetic neuralgia, a very painful nerve condition, peppermint essential oil provided immediate pain relief and ongoing pain relief over a period of two months [R]. The peppermint oil was applied topically every 4-6 hours as needed.
Basil Essential Oil
Basil oil (Ocimum basilicum) may be one of the best essential oils for sciatica nerve pain. Very rich in a substance called linalool, basil essential oil may help protect nerves from toxins, such as glutamate [R]. Linalool was able to block action potential and nerve excitability of the sciatic nerve in a rat study [R].
The use of basil essential oil reduces neuronal excitability in the part of the brain called the hippocampus in an animal study [R]. Basil essential oil can also reduce pain because it has anesthetic properties [R].
Linalool-rich basil also may help pain because it reduces nitric oxide formation [R]. Basil essential oil blends well with peppermint, lime, cilantro, and marjoram oils.
Wintergreen essential oil is useful for painful conditions because it is rich in methyl salicylate. Methyl salicylate is a compound very similar to aspirin. Small amounts of methyl salicylate are absorbed through the skin and into the body as well [R]. Using wintergreen oil may enhance the absorption of other essential oils and even enhance the absorption of other transdermal medications [R]. What blends well with wintergreen essential oil?
Many people find that it works best when paired with peppermint essential oil for enhanced pain-relieving effects. Wintergreen essential oil is also great when combined with copaiba, helichrysum, Siberian fir, and yarrow essential oils. A couple of drops goes a long way for pain relief.
A great way to get the benefits of wintergreen oil for pain is to add a couple of drops to your bathwater.
As a relative of aspirin, wintergreen should not be used in high amounts with blood-thinning medications like warfarin. How to use wintergreen oil for pain: Apply topically; it is not safe for internal use.
Holy Basil (Tulsi)Essential Oil for Nerve Pain
Not to be mistaken for sweet basil or Thai basil, holy basil is considered a medicinal plant. It is also considered an adaptogen herb, which means it may help the body deal with daily stress. Holy basil is one of my personal favorite plants for so many health purposes.
This versatile plant has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for helping to treat asthma, malaria, dysentery, skin diseases, arthritis, painful eye diseases, and more. Early research shows that holy basil is potentially beneficial in protecting against carcinogens, neurotoxins, heart damage, helps the immune system, and also helps with stress and anxiety.
For nerve pain, holy basil was able to prevent the pain and damage of a chemotherapy drug called vincristine in a study of rats [R]. Holy basil was even able to prevent nerve pain caused by injury in an animal model [R].
There are two common types of chamomile essential oil: German and Roman chamomile. Both are helpful for health but have slightly different properties. It is also important to know that Blue Chamomile and German Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla L) are the same plants.
However, Roman Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis) is different than German (Blue) chamomile.
German (Blue) Chamomile
German, or Blue chamomile essential oil, is a beautiful blue oil because it is rich in chamazulene. Chamazulene is anti-inflammatory [R]. Blue chamomile essential oil helps with pain for this reason, as it has known analgesic effects. It is also helpful for digestion, healing skin, helps detoxify, is relaxing, and helps fight harmful infections.
Blue chamomile is very calming and helps PMS and hormonal symptoms [R].
Blue chamomile essential oil is also part of the Deep Blue Rub blend, a great essential oil blend for discomfort. You can find it here.
Roman Chamomile Essential Oil
Blended Essential Oils for Nerve Pain
Tension and stress are at the root of many neurological pain issues.
Essential oil blends are often better than single oils to help relieve the pain of tension in the body.
An essential oil blend called Past Tense contains a synergistic blend of oils, including wintergreen, lavender, peppermint, frankincense, cilantro, marjoram, Roman chamomile, basil, and rosemary. I find that this blend is especially helpful for neck and shoulder pain due to repetitive use and occupational overuse such as computer work.
Summary of Oils to Choose for Nerve Pain Issues
The following is a summary of the best oils for nerve pain relief. You can download a free PDF copy of this summary and recipe here.
Muscle spasms, both smooth muscle, and skeletal muscle can cause pain and discomfort with neuropathy. The following oils have early research to support their use for muscle spasms:
Essential oils for sciatic nerve pain
The following essential oils have early research to support their use with sciatica or sciatic nerve pain as described above:
Oils that Decrease Pain Sensation
- The following is a summary of some of the essential oils for nerve pain relief:
- Holy Basil
- Get all of the oils, carrier oils, and roller bottles here.
A great way to get roller bottles is to stock up:
Essential Oils That Reduce Neurotoxins
Toxins are widespread in our homes and outdoor environments. The following oils reduce neurotoxins as described above in early research:
Neurons are susceptible to damage from toxins in our environment, our foods, our cleaners, and in our homes. The following oils may help reduce the toxins due to these exposures:
- Citrus oils like lime, lemon, bergamot
- Holy basil
Reduce Inflammation with Oils
Inflammation can worsen neuropathy. Most essential oils dampen inflammation in the body.
- The following oils all well-known for their anti-inflammatory effects on the body:
- Douglas fir
- Cedarwood oil
- Cypress oil
- Holy basil
Using essential oils
There are 3 main ways to use essential oils for nerve pain.
- Topically: a general rule of thumb is to mix 20-30 drops of essential oil for every 10 ml of carrier oil like fractionated coconut oil. Add to a roller bottle and apply to affected area .
- Internally: you can take up to 12 drops of the oils internally per day for ingestion, but do not take them all at once. It is best to take small doses more frequently, such as 1-2 drops six times per day or 2-3 drops 4 times per day.
- Never use any essential oil orally unless it is Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade. The doses listed above are for adults only. For children dosing please refer here.
- Of the oils listed above, all are safe for taking orally except wintergreen, cedarwood, cypress, Deep Blue, and Past Tense Blend.
- Diffused: place 4-6 drops of oils or oil blends in a diffuser with water and enjoy the mind and body relaxation and relief.
This recipe incorporates an oil from all of the above categories: anti-spasmodic, anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective, reduces sciatic nerve pain, and oils that decrease the pain sensations in the body.
Nerve Pain Relief Recipe
Add 4 drops of each of the following into a 10 ml glass roller bottle:
- Lavender oil
- Basil oil
- Frankincense oil
- Ginger oil
- Helichrysum oil
- Copaiba oil
- Peppermint oil
Applying the oil: roll onto the affected area. Massage oil into the skin to enhance the absorption.
A note about applying the oil: small amounts used more frequently are more effective than using large amounts all at once. Apply several times a day for the best relief.
Glass bottles are preferred over plastic due to the chemicals the plastics contain.
Side Effects and Precautions
Essential oils are safe when used as described above. Make sure to dilute oils with fractionated coconut oil or another carrier oil. Possible skin sensitivities can occur if you are allergic to any of the plants above.
Avoid essential oils if you are allergic to the plant it contains. For sensitive skin, application to the bottom of the feet may be the best way to go.
You can patch test your skin by applying to a small area first and observe for 48 hrs. As with anything check with your doctor or healthcare provider before making any changes in your healthcare routine.
For more guidelines about dosing and safety, visit Doterra’s safety guide here.
Other Natural Remedies for Nerve Pain
Here are some other helpful websites for natural remedies that you can try for your neuropathy:
- Check out RD.com for some lifestyle remedies for neuropathy.
- Vitamins and herbs for nerve pain at Better Nutrition.
- 18 ways to naturally reduce nerve pain by OM Times.
- B vitamins, acetyl L carnitine, alpha lipoic acid advice at MDedge Family Medicine.
- Acupuncture neuropathy benefits from Medical News Today.
Essential oils often have anti-inflammatory properties and can support your traditional pain relievers to reduce pain. Oil blends with a variety of oils, such as lavender and frankincense, likely have additive benefits for the immune system and nerve pain relief.
Want to learn more about Natural Antihistamine Remedies? Click here.