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Thyme Relieves Pain as Well as Ibuprofen in Tests

Thyme Relieves Pain as Well as Ibuprofen in Tests

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A study shows thyme oil relieves menstrual cramp pain


Thyme oil relieved menstrual cramps as well as ibuprofen in a recent study.

Natural remedies are often looked at with skepticism in the days of convenient over-the-counter painkillers, but a recent study indicates that thyme oil could actually be as effective as ibuprofen in treating menstrual cramps.

According to Jezebel, the study was conducted on 84 students between 18 and 24 years old who were assigned to one of three testing groups. One group was given an ibuprofen capsule and 25 drops of placebo oil. Another group was given 24 drops of thyme oil and a placebo capsule. The third group was given placebo oil and a placebo capsule. All three groups were studied for two menstrual cycles.

At the end of the study, researchers report that there was no significant statistical difference in the pain relief observed between the subjects taking thyme oil and the subjects taking actual ibuprofen. Both groups reported much more pain relief than the women in the placebo group.

During the second menstrual cycle, test subjects taking the ibuprofen said they experienced slightly less pain relief than during the previous cycle. The thyme oil group had no such drop in efficacy, possibly because the body builds up a resistance to ibuprofen over time but not to the thyme oil.

Natural pain relievers: 6 Alternatives to ibuprofen

Reaching for drugs like ibuprofen in case of a headache or aching joints is a knee-jerk reaction for many people. But healthcare professionals find that the long-term use of ibuprofen heightens the risk of a fatal heart attack or stroke. In high doses, it can also place a person at a greater risk of heart disease and its complications.

Because of the disconcerting side effects and health risks linked to ibuprofen use, more and more people are turning to natural painkillers, including medicinal spices and healing herbs. Natural health practitioners might recommend using different substances for different conditions depending on the nature and degree of the pain.

But in general, there are some tried-and-tested natural medicines out there that are just as potent against painful chronic conditions as ibuprofen. Here are six of them:


Jessica Cording, a registered dietitian and a certified health coach, states that turmeric has been linked to a number of beneficial properties, including pain relief, and disease-fighting potential. For the most part, these benefits can be attributed to curcumin, the main ingredient in turmeric.

On top of its potent analgesic properties, curcumin can also suppress inflammation. For this reason, natural health practitioners often recommend curcumin capsules or supplements to osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis patients suffering from painful and inflamed joints.

For fast-acting relief from pain, drink turmeric tea made from fresh, ground turmeric. Some people also like to make golden turmeric milk using ground turmeric and a plant-based milk substitute like almond milk or coconut milk. (Related: 10 Turmeric recipes that can help relieve arthritis symptoms.)


Ginger, a root related to turmeric, has also been used to treat painful ailments for millennia in China and India. There are more than 100 organic compounds found in ginger, but the most potent ones for pain relief are gingerols.

In particular, gingerols inhibit inflammation and block molecules that signal to the brain it is in pain. For pain relief, some people find that ingesting fresh ginger slices confers relief the fastest. Others like to create turmeric and ginger tea for a more potent painkilling combination.


In 2018, researchers found that the consumption of cinnamon can help reduce inflammation and joint pain due to rheumatoid arthritis. Their findings, published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, indicated that cinnamon’s analgesic properties can be attributed to cinnamic acid.

Fish oil

Omega-3s in fish oil can inhibit the production of molecules linked to inflammation. Fishes like salmon and tuna are abundant in these nutrients, so people prone to painful flare-ups due to chronic conditions like colitis or arthritis might fare better consuming these foods as part of a balanced diet in the long run.


Potent phenolic compounds in thyme, such as thymol, tannins and saponins, can confer fast-acting relief from pain. The herb can be consumed fresh to treat sore throat, stomach pain, arthritis and bronchitis.

Recent studies also confirm that the herb’s essential oil is potent against pain and inflammation. In particular, the oil is often used to treat menstrual cramps and to ease painful periods.


This perennial plant is endemic to the mountains of Europe and Siberia. It is a medicinal herb used in homeopathic medicine to treat general bruising and joint pain due to osteoarthritis. Note that arnica is not meant to be ingested as it is toxic. Instead, natural health practitioners use arnica as a topical medicine.

People prone to chronic inflammation or painful flare-ups due to preexisting conditions should consider these foods as part of a balanced diet for better pain management in the long run.

Acetaminophen vs. Ibuprofen: Which Works Better?

Over-the-counter painkillers have earned their spot in your medicine cabinet. You reach for them to lower a fever, banish a headache or ease those monthly cramps.

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Both acetaminophen (such as Tylenol®) and ibuprofen (Advil® or Motrin®) are used to treat fevers and pain. But they’re not exactly interchangeable. Which should you choose? Here family medicine specialist Matthew Goldman, MD, discusses what you should know about which med makes the most sense for your aches and pains.

Ibuprofen basics

Ibuprofen is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). As the name suggests, it tends to be most helpful for discomfort that goes hand in hand with inflammation, which can include redness, swelling, heat, pain and/or loss of function at the site or source. That makes it a smart pick for pain such as:

  • Back and neck pain.
  • Earache.
  • Menstrual cramps.
  • Muscle sprains and strains.
  • Sinus infections.
  • Toothache.

Acetaminophen basics

Acetaminophen is a type of drug called an analgesic. Translation: It reduces pain signals within the nervous system and not at the site itself. That makes it a good choice for pain such as:

Pain medication side effects

Both acetaminophen and ibuprofen carry a risk of side effects, so follow the dosage info on the labels. Here’s what to look out for when you’re taking these painkillers.

Ibuprofen side effects

Common side effects of ibuprofen include:

Taking ibuprofen for a long time or at high doses can also increase the risk of more serious side effects, such as:

  • Blood clots.
  • Heart attack.
  • Kidney damage.
  • Stomach bleeding (ulcers).
  • Stroke.

Acetaminophen side effects

Side effects of acetaminophen are minimal, but some people experience problems including:

Ibuprofen is metabolized by the kidneys and therefore is not a great option for those with kidney issues. Acetaminophen is metabolized by the liver and is not a great option for those with liver issues. For those who have neither kidney nor liver issues, sometimes we alternate acetaminophen and ibuprofen to avoid overdosing as well as attacking pain and inflammation from two different approaches.

Acetaminophen can also be hiding in several over-the-counter medicines, including cough and cold medications. If you’re taking more than one medication, read drug labels carefully so that you don’t go over the recommended dosage. For example, it may not be safe to take cold medicine and Tylenol at the same time.

Which painkiller should you pick?

So which pain med reigns supreme? While there’s no right answer, these pointers can help you decide.


Most research suggest acetaminophen and ibuprofen have similar results in controlling fevers, so pick what works for you.

Stomach trouble

If you have a sensitive stomach or find that ibuprofen causes heartburn or nausea, give acetaminophen a whirl.

Period pains

Ibuprofen reduces your body’s production of prostaglandins. These are the chemicals that trigger the uterus to contract and start periods each month. Ibuprofen can ease menstrual cramps and may also make menstrual bleeding lighter.

Other meds

Both ibuprofen and acetaminophen can interact negatively with some prescription and over-the-counter drugs. If you’re taking medication, talk to your provider doctor or pharmacist before reaching for the painkillers.

Persistent pain

If you’re taking painkillers over several days, consider alternating ibuprofen and acetaminophen to lower the risk of side effects.

Both ibuprofen and acetaminophen can control pain in kids. But ibuprofen tends to work better as a fever reducer. Be sure to follow the dosage guidelines on the label for your little one’s age and weight.

What’s the takeaway? When used responsibly, ibuprofen and acetaminophen are safe choices for turning down the dial on fever and pain. And isn’t it good to have options?

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Benefits of Thyme Essential Oil

Thyme has been used as a medicinal plant for hundreds of years, and is thought to provide relief for a variety of ailments. Based on recent scientific research, below are some of the most common benefits of thyme essential oil. The benefits of thyme essential oil are:

  1. Antimicrobial Benefits
  2. Natural Insecticide
  3. Anti Cancer Properties
  4. Pain Relieving Benefits
  5. Eczema Relief
  6. Acne Fighting Benefits
  7. Antidepressent Activity

Antimicrobial Benefits of Thyme Essential Oil

In several studies, thyme essential oil has demonstrated a versatile range of antimicrobial activity. In 2010, researchers investigated the antibacterial activity of eight different essential oils. In particular thyme and cinnamon essential oil displayed strong activity against several strains of Staphylococcus, which often cause skin infections. In recent years, drug-resistant strains of Staphylococcus have appeared in health care centers and prove difficult to treat. 3 With further testing, essential oils could potentially be a natural and effective way to combat new, drug-resistant bacterium.

Thyme also has the ability to preserve food from common foodborne bacteria that causes illness or spoiling. 7

In a recent study, scientists examined the antimicrobial effect of thyme essential oil on various types of pre-cut fruit. When compared to other essential oil compounds (verbenone and camphor), thyme essential oil demonstrated the most significant anti-listeria effect on both melon and pineapple. While further research is required, thyme essential oil shows promise as an alternative option to chemical sprays in reducing foodborne pathogens on fresh-cut, ready-to-eat fruits. 4

Thyme Essential Oil as a Natural Insecticide

A 2012 study noted that key chemical compounds found within the oil may be effective against tiger mosquito larvae, which can carry the West Nile virus, Yellow Fever, Dengue Fever and Chikungunya Fever. Additionally, researchers concluded that the compound thymol demonstrated a 100% repellency rate against the female mosquitos. 5

Anti-Cancer Properties of Thyme Essential Oil

Oncological researchers in Turkey studied the effect of wild thyme on breast cancer cells. The results of the study showed that wild thyme brought on significant cytotoxicity in breast cancer cells, but not in regular cells. 6 While this information is exciting, more research is needed to validate if essential oils could be used in the treatment of various cancers.

Pain Relieving Properties of Thyme Essential Oil

A Japanese study found that a component of thyme essential oil inhibits the COX-2 enzyme, part of the body’s pain-producing response to inflammation. It also found that thyme essential oil does not result in the unpleasant cardiovascular or digestive side effects that pharmaceutical equivalents do. 8

In another study, 84 young women with menstrual pain discovered that thyme essential oil reduced symptoms of cramping, back ache, nausea and dizziness better than Ibuprofen. 9

Eczema Relieving Benefits of Thyme Essential Oil

In a university study, researchers used thyme essential oil in an antifungal cream for treating eczema-like skin conditions. The cream containing thyme fully healed 66.5 percent of those treated, while the results for a placebo and for chamomile essential oil cream were similar at only 28.5 percent. 10

Acne Improving Benefits of Thyme Essential Oil

Researchers in the United Kingdom found that thyme essential oil may be effective in treating acne. Benzoyl peroxide, which is the usual active ingredient in acne creams and washes, proved to be weaker in its antibacterial effect. They pointed out that thyme essential oil would have an added advantage of not causing a burning sensation. 11

Antidepressant Activity of Thyme Essential Oil

Chinese researchers observed thyme oil to provide anti-inflammatory relief on the neurotransmitters that cause depression in a study on mice. This is an encouraging new direction for further research that would validate some of the ancient recorded uses of the herb. 12

Which Is Better for Arthritis Pain?

Indocin and ibuprofen provide similar pain relief when used in arthritis patients. A study that compared the drugs found that they were similarly effective, but patients preferred Indocin, although the study authors did not say why. However, patients on Indocin had a slightly higher risk of stomach bleeding, a possible side effect of both medications.

When you’re considering whether to use Indocin or ibuprofen, it’s best to consider your lifestyle and talk with your doctor about which medication would be best for you. Think about whether you’d like to take just one medication a day, or whether you’d rather not have to be on prescriptions.

Difference in Cost

Depending on whether you are insured or not, the cost of the medication may also factor into your decision. For the uninsured, or if your insurance charges you a co-pay for prescription drugs, ibuprofen may be the cheaper treatment option, since it is an OTC medication. Without insurance, generic indomethacin is roughly four times more expensive than ibuprofen per dose.

Common Questions

How is thyme oil used in aromatherapy?
Practitioners of aromatherapy believe that you can enhance the benefits of treatment by using the oil for aromatherapy massage. To prevent skin irritation, never use the oil at full strength. Instead, dilute it with a cold-pressed carrier oil, such as avocado, sweet almond, or jojoba oil. Cold-pressed carrier oils are less acidic than heat-extracted ones.

Most people find that a 2% thyme massage oil is well tolerated. Simply add 12 drops of high-quality essential oil to one fluid ounce (30 milliliters) of a cold-pressed oil, lotion, or vegetable butter.

Resist adding extra thyme oil to topical preparations if they don't smell strong enough. As the oil is heated on the body, the aromatic essence will start to emerge.

Never inhale thyme oil directly from the bottle. Instead, place a few drops on a tissue or cloth and breathe in lightly. You can also use a commercial diffuser or vaporizer, or simply add a few drops to a simmering pot of water.

What does thyme taste like? What foods does it go with?
There are a few varieties of thyme, but common thyme and lemon thyme are those most often used for culinary purposes. Thyme has an earthy, sharp taste that is spicier than oregano.

It is an excellent herb to use when making chicken, beef, or vegetable stocks, as well as stews. It is a great addition to pork, lamb, or chicken marinades too, and it gives an aromatic boost to roasted vegetables and potatoes that's reminiscent of pine and camphor (and in the case of lemon thyme, citrusy as well).

Thyme can be infused into orange, lemon, or raspberry teas and served either hot or cold. It can even add a surprising floral note when added to whipped cream and baked custards. Lemon and thyme pair beautifully, whether in a roast chicken recipe or a lemony panna cotta.

What does thyme look like?
Thyme can be recognized by its tiny, sage-green leaves and thin but woody stalks. In early summer, the plant will blossom with pink or purple flowers.

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 potently 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 the 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 reduced 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]:

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Pain-relieving
  • Inhibits cancer cells
  • Helps heal wounds
  • Heals ulcers
  • Neuroprotection

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

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.

Ginger Oil

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
  • osteoarthritis

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 Oil

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
  • headaches
  • fever
  • nausea
  • 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 oil

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:

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.

You can find Doterra Eucalyptus Oil here or get this and all essential oils for 25% off all year long when you click here.


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.

Peppermint essential oil blends well with wintergreen, lavender, and basil oil for pain relief. You can get peppermint oil here.

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. Basil is part of a synergistic blend called Past Tense. You can find all of these oils here.


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. A great wintergreen blend is called Doterra Deep Blue Rub for discomfort. You can find it here. Doterra wintergreen essential oil blends well with copaiba, helichrysum, and blue tansy as well.


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]. You can get holy basil essential oil or holy basil capsules. Here are two brands that I like:


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.

You can find Past Tense here. Deep Blue is another great blend that may protect nerves and supporting tissue. You can find Deep Blue in a great kit called the Natural Solutions Kit. You can find that here.

With this kit, you also get 25% of all essential oil order every time you order.

Rub-on pain reliever can ease arthritis discomfort

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When it comes to relieving the pain of achy joints, many people reach for a pain-relieving pill like aspirin or ibuprofen. There may be a better way. When the source of pain is close to the surface, applying a cream, gel, patch, or spray that contains a pain reliever right where it hurts can ease pain and help avoid some of the body-wide side effects of oral pain relievers.

As I write in this month’s Harvard Men’s Health Watch, these so-called topical analgesics work best for more superficial joints like the knees, ankles, feet, elbows, and hands. “In those areas, the medication can penetrate closer to the joint,” says Dr. Rosalyn Nguyen, a clinical instructor in physical medicine and rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School.

The active ingredient in most topical analgesics is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) like ibuprofen, naproxen, aspirin, or diclofenac. These medications target inflammation, which contributes to pain, swelling, and stiffness.

We know that oral NSAIDs can quell arthritis pain. Do they work as well when applied to the skin? A scientific review by the Cochrane Collaboration, an international body of health experts, found that some prescription topical NSAIDs can offer the same pain relief as oral medications with fewer gastrointestinal concerns.

The advantage of using a topical analgesic is that the medication works locally. Targeting pain more precisely using a medication applied to the skin can help skirt the side effects of oral drugs. This can be a boon for people whose stomachs are sensitive to NSAIDs. (Keep in mind that a small amount of the medicine still enters the bloodstream and ends up in the stomach and elsewhere, so a topical analgesic isn’t a guarantee against NSAID-related stomach irritation.)

Other people seek topical NSAIDs because they want to avoid adding another pill to their daily regimen, or have trouble taking pills.

Using a topical analgesic

Topical analgesics can be applied two to four times a day to control mild to moderate pain. Make sure to wash your hands thoroughly after use so you don’t smear the drug into your eyes, nose, mouth, or other mucous membranes.

Side effects from topical medications include redness, itching, and other skin irritation. They are generally mild—and uncommon. The cause of skin irritation is often the material used to make the cream or gel, not the NSAID, says Dr. Joanne Borg-Stein, medical director of the Harvard-affiliated Spaulding-Wellesley Rehabilitation Center in Massachusetts. When that happens, it’s possible for a pharmacist to create a preparation with ingredients that are less irritating to your skin.

A topical analgesic may not be the best choice when pain affects an extended area, like the lower back, or affects more than one part of the body.

A key warning about using topical analgesics: don’t use them if you are also taking an oral NSAID—either prescription or over-the-counter—without telling your doctor. Taking too much of an NSAID can land you in the hospital with stomach bleeding or an ulcer flare-up. In fact, up to 100,000 Americans are hospitalized every year for NSAID-related gastrointestinal problems.

Availability and cost may limit the use of topical NSAIDs. In the United States, the only prescription topical NSAID widely available in pharmacies is diclofenac gel. Other types, such as ibuprofen, ketoprofen (Orudis), indomethacin (Indocin), and piroxicam (Feldene) may require a special order from a compounding pharmacy.

6 Best Fixes for Pain and Swelling in Your Feet and Ankles

Have you ever looked down at your ankles and feet, hardly recognizing them as your own because they are so swollen? Whether from long days on your feet, travel or surgery, it happens. For pregnant women, it’s almost inevitable.

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Feet and ankle swelling is uncomfortable, and sometimes it keeps you from moving freely. But there are several ways to relieve swelling from everyday causes — and sometimes you can even prevent it, says Georgeanne Botek, DPM, Head of the Section of Podiatry.

Swelling (or what doctors refer to as edema) happens when your body retains fluid in the lower legs, ankles and feet, she says. It most often occurs on both sides of the body, and it’s not an emergency situation.

“When it comes to swelling, it’s about management and getting through the day,” she says. “There’s nothing that’s necessarily curative.”

How to relieve painful swollen ankles and feet

You can often treat the symptoms of swelling that occurs on both sides of your body yourself, Dr. Botek says. Here are some ideas that can help:

  1. Compression socks. Available at your local drug store, shoe store or online, compression socks provide pain relief and prevent fluid collection in your legs, ankles and feet. They come in light, medium and heavy weights, so be sure you select a pair that isn’t too tight for your body. Dr. Botek suggests starting with lightweight ones that measure between 12-15 mm or 15-20 mm of mercury. Then wear them as long as you can tolerate beginning first thing in the morning.
  2. Elevation. Prop your legs up on an ottoman to help decrease swelling. Various yoga poses, such as lying on the floor with your legs raised and pressed against the wall, can also help.
  3. Exercise. Sitting or standing in one place for too long can increase swelling. Move your knees, and flex and extend your ankles for relief. Consider swimming, as well, because it’s a non-weight-bearing exercise that can also soothe the skin.
  4. Weight loss. Losing weight can reduce swelling and improve your health overall, Dr. Botek says.
  5. Epsom salt. Soak your feet and ankles for 15 to 20 minutes in a cool bath filled with Epsom salt to relieve swelling-associated pain. If you have diabetic neuropathy in your feet, check the water with your hands first to avoid exposing your feet to extreme temperatures.
  6. Magnesium supplements. It’s possible that adding 200 to 400 mg of magnesium to your daily diet can help limit your water retention and pain. Talk to your doctor before taking the supplement, though, as you shouldn’t use it if you have a kidney or heart condition.

For best results, always use more than one therapy at a time, Dr. Botek says. For example, if you walk for exercise, use compression-sock therapy later. If you swim, consider adding yoga to your routine.

Simple changes to reduce or prevent swelling

You can make small changes to your everyday life to help reduce swelling:

  • Take a short walk every hour.
  • Drink eight to 10 glasses of water daily. Drinking less actually promotes swelling.
  • Limit your salt and carbohydrate intake.
  • Put phone books or bricks under the foot of your bed to elevate your legs and feet at night.

Some people looking for relief from this chronic, annoying problem also try essential oils such as peppermint oil, eucalyptus oil and/or lavender or chamomile.

When you should see your doctor

If you develop leg ulcerations or blisters, call your physician. Blisters and sores can set you up for infection, Dr. Botek says.

Also, monitor your feet. Shoes that are too tight due to swelling can often cut into your skin and create wounds.

Most importantly, if swelling only occurs on one side, consult your doctor immediately. You could be at risk for a deep vein thrombosis.

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Gut-Directed Therapy

Blend Images - Ned Frisk / Brand X Pictures / Getty Images

Let's face it, IBS is stressful. The stress of IBS often serves to make symptoms worse.

There is no need to go it alone. A wonderful option is an online IBS support group, which can easily be found on standalone websites or social media sites like Facebook.

Another option is to seek the services of a qualified psychotherapist. The ACG recommends gut-directed psychotherapy, which takes the same cognitive behavioral approach as therapy used to treat chronic pain and anxiety. Therapy targets the connections between outside stressors, your brain, and your gut. In addition, working with a good therapist can help you to better deal with the stress and disruptive nature of IBS.

Two forms of therapy, in particular, have research support for their effectiveness in reducing IBS symptoms—cognitive behavioral therapy and hypnotherapy.


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