Fibromyalgia is "a chronic widespread pain disorder estimated to affect 2% to 5% of the US adult population and 0.5% to 5% of other Western populations…” (Arnold, L.M., Clauw, D.J., Dunegan, L.J., Turk, D.C. (2012). A Framework for Fibromyalgia Management for Primary Care Providers. Mayo Clinic Proceedings 87 (5), pp. 488–496.). There are many symptoms ranging from disorientation to insomnia, however, severe pain is the most common and debilitating.
There are many theories as to the cause and the treatment of fibromyalgia, however, theories they remain. The good news is that there are topical essential oil based remedies that can bring pain relief and help lift the spirits of those who suffer from fibromyalgia.
- Wintergreen is the go-to essential oil for inflammation of bones, joints, and muscles and is used to topically treat arthritis, tendonitis, rheumatism, gout, neuralgia, lumbago and fibromyalgia. Wintergreen has a chemical makeup akin to aspirin - being largely made up of methyl salicylate. A substance which inhibits the formation of prostaglandins, thereby reducing pain and inflammation. Wintergreen should NOT be used by people who are allergic to aspirin and it should never be ingested. Use only in dilutions of 12% or less.
- Ginger is a natural analgesic and antispasmodic which brings a soothing warmth to the affected area. While this oil is mainly associated with the treatment of nausea and colds, it has been used for centuries to treat muscular / skeletal pain.
- Frankincense is one the most powerful essential oils and yet one of the most underrated. Well known biblically as one of the gifts given to Christ at his birth, frankincense was valued above gold because of its ability to treat almost any illness. Scientists at Cardiff University have been studying the potential benefits of Frankincense to help relieve joint pain and the symptoms of arthritis. It inhibits the production of key inflammatory molecules thus inhibiting the breakdown of cartilage tissue. It reduces inflammation and improves immune functions.
- Camphor is a natural analgesic and it is an anti-inflammatory. It relieves similar issues as Wintergreen and pains, sprains, and bruises.
- Peppermint has cooling and soothing effects and specifically reduces inflammation to damaged tissue. It improves circulation and blood flow to the skin, so it not only feels cooling, it actually does reduce the body's temperature. It also soothes the nerves and helps alleviate nausea.
- Blue Tansy relieves pain, reduces low blood pressure, and is an anti-inflammatory. It is used for sore muscles, sprains and strains and it may help with low blood pressure, arthritis, rheumatism, fibromyalgia and chronic inflammation of the muscles and tendons and sciatica.
- German and Roman Chamomile have anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. German Chamomile reduces swelling by slowing the production of chemicals such as prostaglandins, leukotrienes, and histamines. Used in ancient Rome for its medicinal properties, chamomile has been used as an antispasmodic and sedative in treatment of digestive and rheumatic disorders. Chamomile is an antioxidant and may relieve arthritis, rheumatism, fibromyalgia and congestion. People using warfarin or cyclosporine should AVOID Chamomile.
- Helichrysum is such a powerful anti-inflammatory that it may reduce inflammation in the meninges of the brain. It cleanses the blood, which improves circulatory functions. It helps with muscle aches and pains, respiratory problems and the digestive system. It is often used to alleviate sciatica, bruises, tendonitis, fibromyalgia and tissue pain and repair
- Marjoram can reduce anxiety and help people to cope better. It is also useful for muscular aches and pains. Given the pain, stress and depression associated with fibromyalgia, this is a useful essential oil to add to any massage blend or rub.
Select 4 of the above oils and use 15-20 drops each (unless otherwise indicated) mixed with 40 mls of a carrier oil such as coconut, olive, grapeseed or Vitamin E oil. Massage directly into the affected area and other pressure points for pain relief. Some of these Essential oils are very strong and it is advised to start with a milder mix first to test for sensitivity. If you react with unpleasant itchiness or a rash stop using immediately. Graduate to a stronger mix if the pain relief is not sufficient.
Pain is only one aspect of fibromyalgia and it is advisable to look at stress, sleep and eating habits as part of a natural approach to dealing with the symptoms.
All of the above oils are effective in treating pain in general.