Fibromyalgia has come a long way since the days when physicians thought of it as an "imagined" disease!
As the National Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain Association (NFCPA) reports, as many as eight percent of adult Americans, approximately 75 percent of whom are women, may suffer from this mysterious disease.
Even though researchers now know that fibromyalgia is not a form of arthritis, fibromyalgia is currently included with rheumatoid arthritis and other arthritic conditions for diagnostic purposes.
For this reason, the American College of Rheumatology is responsible for maintaining the latest diagnostic guidelines.
7 Best Essential Oils For Fibromyalgia
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How does a person get fibromyalgia?
Unfortunately, we don't yet understand precisely what triggers fibromyalgia in the human body. One theory is that people who develop fibromyalgia may process pain signals differently and more intensely.
What researchers do know is that fibromyalgia is a real, physical condition - it is not "all in the mind," it is not an autoimmune condition or inflammatory disease and it is not a disorder of the joints or muscles.
However, at this moment, there is no cure for fibromyalgia, so treating physicians focus on managing symptoms to improve quality of life.
What are the first signs of fibromyalgia?
The symptoms of fibromyalgia can be difficult to pin down from a diagnostic standpoint.
Often, the disease is first diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, although symptoms can start earlier. Diagnosing fibromyalgia also remains challenging because not all doctors are equally familiar with the condition and there are no standardized diagnostic tests.
The first signs and symptoms of fibromyalgia can include fatigue, trouble sleeping, pain on both sides of the body, presence of "tender points," body stiffness, difficulty focusing ("fibro fog"), headaches, mood changes and abdominal cramps.
The Mayo Clinic outlines three classifications of medications that can potential ease symptoms of fibromyalgia: pain medication, anti-depressant medication and anti-seizure medication.
But these medications have their own side effects, and often patients and loved ones feel dissatisfied with the trade-off!
If this describes you, you may be eager to learn about these essential oil-based natural remedies to help with fibromyalgia pain.
7 Best Essential Oils for Fibromyalgia Pain
As the Arthritis Foundation points out, treating physicians often recommend physical exercise and stress reduction to help manage the symptoms of fibromyalgia pain.
Of course, "stress reduction" is a very broad area of focus! We encourage you to incorporate these essential oils in with other practices you may find helpful to maximize their healing and pain-relieving properties.
Allow lavender essential oil to help you ease into calming, restful sleep.
According to the Journal of Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, lavender essential oil can successfully relieve pain from osteoarthritis of the knee.
Research participants reported relief lasting up to one week after a single massage session with lavender essential oil!
While we know that fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis are not the same condition, there can be some overlap in how the pain of each condition is experienced. After all, at some level, pain is pain!
Lavender essential oil also has well-documented stress-relieving properties, as one recent study published in the Journal of Holistic Nurse Practitioners highlighted.
But perhaps most pertinently, the Journal of Complementary and Alternative Medicine reported that lavender is the most widely and rigorously studied essential oil for its widespread use as a calming, anti-anxiety and sleep aid.
Send "fibro fog" packing with powerful peppermint essential oil.
Peppermint essential oil is not just one of the most popular flavoring agents in the world - it is also one of the most powerful.
According to Fibromyalgia News Today, peppermint essential oil can be beneficial for easing headaches, promoting cognitive clarity, improving circulation and reducing pain.
Apply capsaicin essential oil to chase the pain of FM away.
In the Rheumatology International Journal, capsaicin essential oil was applied topically for pain relief.
The study participants were classified as "severely affected" by their fibromyalgia symptoms and they reported significant relief from participation in the study.
Based on study outcomes, researchers recommended a three times daily topical application of 0.075 percent capsaicin oil for six weeks for pain relief.
Change how your brain and body process pain signals with cedarwood essential oil.
The Journal of Ethnopharmacology published results of a research study that looked at how mice responded to post-surgical pain alleviated by inhalation-based application of cedarwood essential oil.
The study results highlighted cedarwood essential oil's ability to transform how both brain and body respond to pain signals as a method for easing pain.
From these results, it is thought that cedarwood essential oil's analgesic (pain-relieving) and sedative (soothing and calming) properties can also be helpful for people suffering with fibromyalgia symptoms.
Open up your body's healing pathways with ginger essential oil.
The Indian Journal of Physiological Pharmacology published an exciting study highlighting how ginger essential oil can ease pain and inflammation as well as introduce disease-fighting antioxidants into the body.
Today, ginger is still best-known as a food flavoring agent and popular digestive remedy. Ginger can also ease nausea.
But now ginger in its essential oil form has been shown to help change how the brain and body processes pain while easing inflammation and boosting the body's natural immune response functions as well.
Use orange essential oil on tender points for soothing pain relief.
Citrus essential oils are popular for several reasons that range from flavoring foods to providing mood lifting benefits and pain relief.
In a study published by Science Direct, researchers combined ginger essential oil and orange essential oil in a massage oil recipe to treat knee pain in elderly research participants.
Study participants reported a reduction in knee pain and stiffness as well as improved physical function after receiving knee massages with this essential oil blend.
Fibromyalgia New Life Outlook also reports that mandarin, sweet orange and tangerine essential oils can be effective for anxiety relief and also for pain relief.
Harness the pain-blocking properties of basil essential oil.
The International Journal of Molecular Sciences shared exciting study results showcasing how basil essential oil can be helpful in easing chronic non-inflammatory muscle pain in research mice.
Mice were given basil essential oil in an oral formula, which was shown to simnifically ease their chronic pain.
The Pain Doctor also cites basil essential oil for its ability to lift "fibro fog," improve mental clarity, ease nausea, lift mood and improve energy level (reduce fatigue).
Essential Oil Blends & Recipes You Can Make
Once you have an idea of which essential oils are most likely to support you in finding relief from troublesome fibromyalgia symptoms, the next step is to figure out how to use them for maximum benefit!
There are two generally accepted pathways for using essential oils for easing fibromyalgia symptoms. You can use each oil on its own or you can combine them into custom blends that harness the powers of more than one essential oil in a single formula.
The way that you use your essential oils is likely to boil down to personal preference.
Ultimately, there is truly no right or wrong way to approach using essential oils for fibromyalgia so long as you follow the manufacturer's instructions, check with your doctor first and take care to dilute each oil as necessary to avoid skin irritation.
Here are some ideas for combining these and other essential oils into recipes for treating FM symptoms.
Ginger + Orange
Combine one part ginger essential oil with one-half part orange essential oil. Use to massage aching or painful areas for pain relief.
Peppermint + eucalyptus
Combining peppermint and eucalyptus essential oil is a good recipe to boost cognitive function, ease muscle pain and reduce headaches.
Lavender + Sweet Orange + Marjoram + Chamomile
Blend two drops of each essential oil with 3 ounces of carrier oil and using it topically for pain relief as needed.
Mandarin Orange + Lavender + Valerian
Combine one drop each of lavender and valerian essential oils with two drops mandarin orange essential oil and add it to your diffuser to breathe in just before sleep.
How to Use Essential Oils for Fibromyalgia
Essential oils can be used in a variety of creative ways to help ease pain, promote restful sleep, calm anxiety, lift depression, increase mental focus and alertness, provide increased flexibility and promote better overall wellness and quality of life.
Just as no two cases of fibromyalgia are exactly identical and certainly no two people suffering with FM are precisely alike, so too may you discover you prefer some ways of using essential oils to others.
The key here is to give each method of use that interests you a try and then decide what works best and stick with that going forward.
Here are four specific recommendations for how to use essential oils for fibromyalgia symptoms management.
Massage is widely considered to be one of the best methods for using essential oils to ease FM pain and tenderness.
You have two options when you are using essential oils for massage: direct topical application or dilution in a carrier oil prior to application.
Because pure essential oils can be sufficiently strong to cause skin irritation, many practitioners recommend diluting essential oils into your favorite carrier oil before using them topically on your skin.
Popular carrier oils include (but are not limited to) coconut oil, jojoba oil, sunflower oil, sweet almond oil, olive oil, avocado oil, grapeseed oil, and argan oil.
If you have never used carrier oils before, you may want to start with coconut oil or olive oil, which are both packed with antioxidants and are very gentle.
Inhalation is considered to be one of the best methods for easing anxiety, lifting depression and improving sleep.
There are a number of methods you can use for inhalation of essential oils. If you happen to have a diffuser (or a humidifier with a diffuser feature), this offers a good way to gently breathe in your essential oils of choice.
You can also easily make your own diffuser by using a few natural wood twigs and a bottle with a narrow mouth. Dilute the essential oil(s) in your favorite carrier oil, then place the sticks into the jar and make sure their tops extend above the jar mouth.
Another effective method for essential oils inhalation is to boil a pot of water on the stove. When you see steam forming, turn off the heat and add a few drops of essential oil to the hot water. Sit nearby and breathe in gently.
A great method for combining pain relief and mood relief is to draw a warm bath and then add a few drops of essential oils diluted in a carrier oil to the bathwater.
Then you can relax your aching body in the bath and also breathe in soothing relief.
Before taking in essential oils by mouth (orally), be sure to talk with your physician or holistic doctor.
Essential oils may be "natural," but they are still powerful and there can be contraindications (such as if you are pregnant or trying to conceive) or interactions with other medications.
Once your physician approves use in this way, you can dilute your essential oil(s) in a small glass of water or juice, make a tea with steaming water and a drop or two of essential oil or even place a drop or two under or on top of the tongue.
Always read the essential oil manufacturer's instructions for use and abide by any suggested usage guidelines
Topical use of essential oils is another popular method of accessing relief from FM symptoms quickly. Massage is one method of topical delivery, of course.
Another popular method is to prepare a warm compress and add a drop or two of your favorite essential oil to that. Then you can take in both the soothing warmth and the healing properties of that oil at the same time.
Still another popular method that requires no extra time at all is to simply rub a bit of your essential oil of choice into your pulse points or directly onto the area that is sensitive, sore or painful.
Always dilute your essential oils in a carrier oil if you have sensitive skin or if manufacturer instructions for the essential oil you are using specifically states to do this.
It is also possible to make or purchase a small roller vial you can tuck into your pocket or bag for topical or inhalation use as needed on the go.
5 Natural Remedies for Fibromyalgia
In addition to using essential oils for easing your specific fibromyalgia symptoms, you may want to try out these five natural fibromyalgia remedies.
Specific types of exercise.
Exercise is recommended as a source of FM pain relief.
Walking, jogging, weight training, high intensity circuit training, tai chi and yoga are all recognized as being potentially beneficial forms of movement therapy for fibromyalgia sufferers.
Getting more Vitamin D
According to the Vitamin D Council, Vitamin D is a vitamin our bodies can't make without some help. We get the help we need from exposure to the sun. We can also get it by taking vitamin D supplements.
Always talk with your doctor before spending more time in the sun or starting any kind of supplement regimen!
Meditation in general has been shown to help ease the anxiety, depression and stress many fibromyalgia sufferers experience.
The Journal of Neuroscience published study results that highlight mindfulness meditation in particular for its benefits in treating symptoms of FM.
For some fibromyalgia sufferers, making dietary changes can help ease certain chronic symptoms. This is best accomplished with the help of a licensed dietitian to make sure you are getting all the nutrients your body needs.
The Journal Revista Brasileira De Reumatologia reported that acupuncture can provide pain relief right away for fibromyalgia patients.
Study participants reported significant pain reduction following acupuncture treatment.
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Final Thoughts About Essential Oils for Fibromyalgia
If you are suffering with fibromyalgia or supporting a loved one who is in treatment for FM, it is important not to get stressed out about trying every possible essential oil remedy on this list at once.
Rather, just pick the one that really resonates with you and start there. Try it and see how you feel. Then as needed, you can start to try other essential oil remedies that intrigue you and just take it slow until you find your favorites!