Pain and Essential Oils

Article by Alexia Buttigieg

Do you ever wonder why pain exists? Wouldn’t it be a better place if there were no aches and pains and we wouldn’t have to listen to ourselves or people around us grumble that the pain is killing us? Living with pain has become the norm!! We get a headache or lower back pain, sciatica or stiff neck… but of course it shouldn’t be this way!  So what is really happening?

Pain happens for one simple reason: to protect you. If your brain registers pain, you typically stop doing what caused it. It goes back to the “fight or flight” instinct, says Sujittra Tongprasert, MD, an anesthesiologist from the University of Louisville Hospital in Kentucky. Pain is the body’s way of letting you know that what you are doing is harmful, and that you need to stop.

But then again can we stop? Does our lifestyle or family needs allow us to do that? Most of the time the answer is NO. Sadly but truly, whether it is due to work or family commitments, we have to live with pain.  No matter the age, gender, social position, pain is becoming a companion leading us to become gloomy, irritable and angry.

What to do?

In all situations there are various possibilities for relieving pain, all kind of pain. In my belief over the years as a massage therapist and aromatherapist I came to understand that the lifestyle is crucial. “The right approach to pain is different for each individual, a cookie-cutter treatment plan isn’t the answer’’. everyone has to adapt to their age, condition, climate etc… various professionals can help to deal with all kind of ailments which also must include a good balanced diet and some form of movement. Then there is the part where I come in or let’s say my precious little friends, the essential oils. But let’s discuss a bit pain threshold as to understand better why everyone needs different treatments even with essential oils.

Pain treshold:

Studies show there might be 3 reasons as why people differ in the way and intensity that they feel pain: the neurotransmitter dopamine is able to stimulate the release of endorphins which are pain relievers. There is a psychological part, meaning that if the body is mentally happy pain might be less evident. Pain also depends on the level of oestrogen, where studies found that the higher the hormone the less pain there is, explaining why a woman doesn’t have a constant pain threshold which changes according to her hormones.  So this also indicates that a woman might need to change her diet and her habits according to her menstrual cycle.

Back to essential oils:

One should always emphasize the importance of essential oils being pure and of good quality and of keeping to the amounts required, not exceeding in the dosage. They have to be ALWAYS diluted – whether it is for room vaporising or body application they should never be used neat!

Basil Fortifying; stimulating; helpful for depression. Treats digestive aches and pains, chest complaints and travel sickness. Do not use on people with high blood pressure or epilepsy; avoid during pregnancy; not suitable for children.
Bergamot Helpful for depression and anxiety; uplifting; mood enhancer; reviving Treats colds, coughs, sore throats, and travel sickness; acts as an insect repellent Do not use before sunbathing; can irritate sensitive skin
Benzoin Calming; eases nervous tension Treats coughs, laryngitis, aching muscles, sluggish circulation and travel sickness Can irritate sensitive skin
Cedarwood Settles nerves Treats aches and pains, water retention; treats scalp problems like dandruff; acts as an insect repellent Avoid during pregnancy; may irritate sensitive skin
Chamomile Calming; sedating; eases nervous tension Eases pain; treats insomnia (mild enough for babies and children)
Cinnamon Combats mental exhaustion Treats chills and improves poor circulation Avoid if pregnant, suffer from high blood pressure, are epileptic, or have sensitive skin; do not use for children.
Citronella Refreshing; combats mental fatigue Treats colds and flu; combats fatigue; acts as an insect repellent
Clary Sage Mood enhancer; calming and reassuring Treats muscular aches and pains, throat infections, hormone imbalance Avoid during pregnancy; do not use if alcohol has been consumed
Clove Soothes toothache; acts as an insect repellent Always use in weak dilutions; avoid during pregnancy not suitable for kids
Cypress Calms nerves Treats cellulite, haemorrhoids, and poor circulation Avoid during pregnancy
Eucalyptus Clears the head; acts as a stimulant; eases mental fatigue Treats colds and flu, muscular aches and pains, wounds, and insect bites Not suitable for small children or during pregnancy
Fennel Revitalizes; eases nervous tension Treats constipation and relieves flatulence; stimulates lactation in nursing mothers Avoid during pregnancy
Geranium Mood enhancer Acts as an insect repellent; soothes tender breasts; treats cellulite, head lice, and hormone imbalance Avoid during pregnancy
Ginger Combats mental exhaustion Treats nausea, fatigue, poor circulation, and indigestion Avoid during pregnancy, if suffering from high blood pressure or epilepsy; do not use with homeopathic medication
Grapefruit Uplifting; mood enhancer Treats cellulite, muscle fatigue, and morning sickness Do not use before sunbathing
Juniper Stimulates and boosts mental clarity Treats poor circulation, muscular aches and pains, rheumatism, and gout; acts as a diuretic Avoid during pregnancy, if suffering from high blood pressure, or if epileptic
Lavender Balances and calms emotions Treats inflammation, wounds, colds and flu, cystitis, headaches, insomnia, and athlete’s foot
Lemongrass Relieves nerves and eases stress Treats poor circulation, indigestion; breaks a fever; acts as an insect repellent
Mandarin Calms nerves and gently sedates; mood enhancer Eases fluid retention; aids in digestion and quells stomach aches, especially in children
Marjoram Deeply relaxing; helpful for anxiety, stress and shock Loosens stiff muscles; eases aches, pains, and arthritis; treats insomnia Avoid during pregnancy; do not use on people with low blood pressure
Myrrh Calms and soothes nerves Treats yeast infection, chilblains, athlete’s foot, and coughs; promotes healthy circulation Avoid during pregnancy
Neroli Helps grief; reduces anxiety; helps relieve postnatal and menopausal depression Promotes healthy circulation; eases palpitations; helps prevent and treat stretch marks
Niaouli Revives and refreshes Decongestant for colds, flu and bronchial ailments; treats aches and pains; promotes healthy circulation Avoid during pregnancy; do not use for babies and children less than two years old
Orange Enhances concentration; helps relieve stress Helps reduce and treat cellulite; eases constipation Do not use before sunbathing
Peppermint Revives and boosts a tired mind; calms nerves Aids digestion and helps relieve nausea; eases headaches, treats colds and flu; soothes muscular pain Do not use with homeopathic medication; avoid during the first three months of pregnancy
Petitgrain Helps relieve stress and nervous exhaustion; mood enhancer Calms indigestion and muscular tension
Pine Helps relieve stress and nervous exhaustion; calms nerves Eases breathing, especially for colds, flu and asthma; eases muscular aches and pains; helps reduce excessive perspiration
Rosemary Stimulates the mind to combat mental exhaustion and fatigue Useful for treating rheumatism; gets rid of head lice; stimulates circulation; relieves colds and flu Avoid during pregnancy; do not use on people suffering from high blood pressure or epilepsy
Tea Tree Treats athlete’s foot, plantar warts, cold sores, blemishes, acne, insect bites, yeast infections, colds and flu
Thyme Strengthens and restores vitality Treats aches and pains, laryngitis, sore throats, tonsillitis, colds, and flu; treats cellulite; improves circulation Avoid during pregnancy; do not use on people suffering from high blood pressure or epilepsy
Vetivert Helps lift depression and relaxes the mind Eases arthritis, rheumatism, stiff joints and muscles; soothes aches and pains
Ylang Ylang Aphrodisiac Eases palpitations


This is just a guideline chart to help you for reference. It must be kept in mind that not more than 2 essential oils can be mixed together if you are not given directions by a professional.

Using essential oils in diffusers is very simple but always follow the instructions given by the machine supplier. If using it in a candle aroma diffuser, add 2 drops to every 5 ml of water.

If oils are used on the skin these must be diluted in a carrier oil with no more than 2 drops in 5ml of desired oil. For kids over 3 years use 1 drop to 5ml, while for kids under 3 years consult a professional for dosage. NEVER ingest essential oils!! Avoid eye ear and mucous membranes. Keep away from the reach of kids. Always ask a professional when in doubt.

If essential oils are added to a bath, these must be mixed before in a cup of full fat milk or one spoon of honey before putting in the water.

Other alternative remedies go along with aromatherapy like, as mentioned already, regular baths, massages and also reflexology, tui na, acupuncture, hot stone massage, reiki, saunas. Be open in trying these alternative treatments to pain as they might be the key to a more healthy you.


All information provided with best interest for a healthier lifestyle, is intended to be used as general information-only and is in no way intended to replace medical advice, is not to be used as a medical treatment program, nor to diagnose or cure of any disease or medical condition. Always consult with a qualified physician for medical advice.  


Pain – Everyone Experiences It

“The Gene for Pain Tolerance”,


Alexia Buttigieg is a Holistic Therapist who is passionate about everything that can help people feel better in a more natural approach, from massage to self-therapy to essential oils and reflexology. She believes that stress cannot be avoided but nature has given us all we need to reduce it, and live a more balanced existence. She started her career as a Beauty therapist and has achieved diplomas in Esteticienne and Physiatrics, where she was able to understand the anatomy and physiology of the human body. She furthered her studies by achieving diplomas in Reflexology (including palliative care) and Aromatherapy. Other certificate courses include tui na, facial analysis and ayurvedic stone massage.  In these past years she has ventured into natural cosmetics and read for a diploma and an advanced diploma in organic skincare formulation, which harmonises her passions for Aromatherapy and organic skincare treatments. Alexia still feels like her first role is being a mother to her daughter and prioritises family and their well-being. She may be contacted at

About Dr Antonella Grima

Dr. Antonella Grima M.D. M.Sc. Pg.Dip. is the founder of the Health and Nutrition Centre in Luqa, Malta. She is a Medical Doctor specialised in Public Health as well as a Registered Nutritionist. Read More >

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