Before we get into how to use essential oils to reduce swelling, lets review swelling so that we are on the same page. Swelling is typically caused by inflammation or fluid buildup. This is when something happens to your body and you start to experience enlargement of organs, muscle, the skin surface and other parts of the body. You may experience external swelling, which is visible, or internal swelling that can only be diagnosed by a doctor.
Inflammation is the body’s automatic response to injury. It is triggered by cells when they release a signal to neutrophils around the affected part of the body. The signal activates the larger white blood cells to attack harmful pathogens and dead tissue. This is the process of your body healing itself by re-growing cells that repair the affected part.
What Is Acute Inflammation?
Acute inflammation is caused by wounds, skin scrapes, muscle sprain and strain. This type of swelling is temporarily painful and limits activity. The only way to cure acute inflammation is by adequate rest and treatment. Introduction of foreign bodies to a particular part of the body can trigger immune responses and result in swelling.
What Is Chronic Inflammation?
Scrapes, wounds, insect bites and bee stings introduce pathogens that cause swelling of the body part affected. Chronic inflammation is caused by recurrent injuries to the body, especially in the cases of athletes and manual laborers who sustain tendon injuries over time.
Chronic inflammation also includes autoimmune inflammation caused by genetic diseases. One example of genetic autoimmune inflammation is rheumatoid arthritis, which affects bones, causing swelling in the joints and fingers. Asthma is also an inflammatory condition caused by inflammation of the bronchial tubes.
The Difference Between The Two
The difference between acute and chronic swelling is that acute swelling is an immediate response to inflammation caused by wounds, muscle strain, and skin scrapes. Chronic swelling is a result of inflammation over time.
How Essential Oils Can Help With Inflammation
Using essential oils soothes both acute and chronic inflammations. Essential oils can be used alongside conventional medicine to help reduce swelling and pain. They can, therefore, substitute over the counter pain killers and help avoid possible side effects in the case of chronic swelling due to prolonged use.
Using the following essential oils to reduce swelling and help curb the associated pain:
1. Eucalyptus essential oil
The properties of Eucalyptus essential oil that make it an effective remedy for pain and swelling are:
- It is anti-inflammatory
- A decongestant
- A coolant, and an antiseptic.
Using eucalyptus essential oil on an external swelling kills pain and reduces the swelling. The pain relief from eucalyptus essential oil is almost instant due to its cooling properties.
Inhaling eucalyptus essential oil is an effective remedy for swollen sinuses as well. That is what makes this oil such a great tool against snoring.
2. Peppermint essential oil
Applying peppermint essential oil on a swelling caused by a wound or injury reduces the swelling and relieves pain. It is an inflammatory and antibacterial that helps the body heal by preventing further infection.
The oil contains menthol that can relieve the pain caused by swelling. It gives a cold sensation thereby numbing the nerves in the affected area. The pain-relieving effects are as result of calcium antagonism in the oil.
3. Chamomile essential oil
Chamomile essential oil contains flavonoids that make it a potent anti-inflammatory oil. The inflammation reducing compounds penetrate into the skin easily once the oil is topically applied. The anti-inflammation compounds reduce inflammation hence reduce swelling.
Chamomile essential oil is very effective in pain relief, and swelling inhibition in cases of rheumatoid arthritis as the patient undergoes treatment.
The oil is also effective as a pain reliever for muscle cramps and spasms.
Internal consumption of chamomile oil relieves hemorrhoids.
4. Lavender essential oil
Lavender is among the most common among oils known for pain relief. Apart from curbing migraine headaches through inhalation, lavender is a topical pain reliever. Application of the oil to a swelling, muscle strains and other inflammations help relieve pain.
Lavender essential oil is also a potent analgesic and inflammatory. Applying the oil to a swelling makes it shrink.
Massaging the oil on the abdominal area also helps relieve menstrual cramps.
5. Rosemary essential oil
Rosemary essential oil is a potent analgesic and anti-inflammatory. The anti-inflammatory properties make the oil sufficient for the relief of chronic pain. It inhibits the pain in muscle spasms and soft tissue swelling. Inhalation of Rosemary essential oil soothes other pains like headaches and migraines.
Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, massaging rosemary essential oil on acute swelling reduces the swelling, while it inhibits chronic swelling and gives way for conventional treatment to work.
Rosemary essential oil can replace synthetic analgesics or be used together with them to improve their effectiveness.
6. Clary sage essential oil
Clary sage essential oil is a natural anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, astringent, antispasmodic, antiseptic, antibacterial and analgesic. It is therefore very effective in the relief of pain, healing wounds and inflammations, and preventing further infection on wounds.
The oil relieves spasms and reduces swelling when topically applied. It also reduces pain related to abdominal cramping. Massaging the oil on the abdominal significantly reduces menstrual cramps.
Massaging the oil on a swollen part reduces the swelling and relieves the pain it might be causing. This is a great way to use essential oils to reduce swelling.
7. Lemon grass essential oil
Lemon grass essential oil has a refreshing scent that helps boost someone’s mood. Thus it is useful for chronic conditions when inhaled. It reduces the stress caused by the conditions thereby enabling the patient to concentrate on healing.
Topical application relieves pain on sore muscles. It also helps manage chronic conditions like rheumatism and arthritis. It kills pain when applied to the affected areas and relaxes nerves. The oil also inhibits swelling caused by these illnesses.
Lemon grass essential is scientifically proven to block the COX-2 enzymes thereby inhibiting inflammatory responses within the body. The oil, therefore, plays an invaluable role in making the treatment of chronic conditions bearable while improving the efficacy of drugs.
8. Ginger essential oil
Ginger contains a compound known as gingerol. Gingerol makes it highly potent as an anti-inflammatory and analgesic. Ginger essential oil is thus effective for pain relief when topically applied on sore muscles, painful joints and swelling.
Whether massaged on a painful part of the body or inhaled, ginger provides relief from pain caused by osteoarthritis, joint inflammation, menstrual cramps and rheumatoid arthritis. Apart from menstrual cramps, the rest are chronic conditions that take time to heal; thereby it is important to use natural painkillers due to the side effects associated to over the counter painkillers.
Ginger essential oil boosts the potency of drugs in treating these conditions while helping reduce the swelling they cause.
9. Frankincense essential oil
This oil is primarily known in the Middle East for its antidepressant properties. Inhaling the oil helps the user relax and reduce stress.
Frankincense essential oil also possesses strong anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. The oil is potent in relief of joint pain and suffering caused by swelling. Massaging the oil on a swelling helps reduce the swelling because the anti-inflammatory properties trigger healing.
It works by blocking the COX-2 enzymes that trigger inflammatory reactions, thereby inhibiting inflammation.
10. Black pepper essential oil
This oil is an extract from black pepper. It heals acute and chronic inflammations. It is potent in the reduction of swelling and pain relief.
11. Wintergreen Essential Oil
Wintergreen essential oil is an extract from the winter green plant, common in the rural areas of Nepal. The oil is an anti-inflammatory, and it is particularly helpful to pregnant women to remedy swollen painful ankles. Using the oil reduces the swelling and relaxes the soreness.
How To Use Essential Oils To Reduce Swelling
Using essential oils to reduce swelling gives the advantage of a natural pain reliever. Essential oils are indulging due to their pleasant scents. Thus they help the patient cope better during treatment. Essential oils are administered to swellings through topical application for the oil to be effective in swelling reduction.
- Preparing a massage oil
Essential oils are very potent and powerful. It is advisable to dilute essential oils in carrier oils such as jojoba oil, coconut oil, olive oil, sweet almond oil or castor oil. The carrier oils also enhance the efficacy of the essential oils. They also make application and spread easier.
The blended oils are potent when used as a massage oil on the affected part.
- Using the essential oils in a hot or cold compress
To make a hot compress to relieve swelling, you will need a pint of hot water, mix it with a few drops of your preferred essential oil. Soak a small towel in the water and squeeze out the excess water. Place the hot towel on the swollen area and apply gentle pressure on the surface. The procedure is perceived as painful though it reduces swelling faster than a massage.
A cold compress uses the same procedure as the hot compress. However, you replace the hot water with cold water.
- In an essential oil soak
An essential oil soak is mostly used by pregnant women to relieve swelling and pain on the ankles. To prepare an essential oil soak, fill a bathtub with lukewarm water halfway and add a few drops of your preferred oil. You can even combine your favorite oils and use sparingly as the small quantities will still be effective. Then dip your feet for 30 minutes. Do this twice per day.
Essential oils are an excellent remedy for swellings caused by injuries, bee stings, pregnancy, abscesses, and infections among many other reasons.
They are effective in relieving the pain brought about by the swelling, and they may be applied for aromatherapy to make chronic swelling like arthritis and rheumatism bearable due to their nerve calming effects.