Use of Essential Oils for Neuropathy
It is unfortunate that despite the advancements in modern medicine, a cure for neuropathy is yet to be found. The only consolation that patients of this agonizing condition have is that it can be managed through treating the causes and symptoms. This is done by giving medication depending on the underlying cause, offering physiotherapy and by use of alternative medicine. Alternative medicine such as the use of essential oils for nerve pain and neuropathy is common among those seeking natural and non-invasive remedies.
Essential oils have been used for thousands of years, throughout the world as medicines, pain relievers and antidepressants. Today however, some medical establishments regard them with a bit of scorn and may not give them consideration as a form of treatment. Nonetheless, essential oils continue to be used in the management of nerve pain and neuropathy, and many people report positive results. Essential oils for neuropathy are generally considered safe, although a few need you to observe extra caution when using them. There are also few regulations in place to control their usage, and thus, it is a personal responsibility to inform yourself of the safety and suitability of any essential oil before use.
What is Neuropathy?
The nervous system is made up of two parts; the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system. Peripheral nervous system consists of a network of nerves that connect the central nervous system, which includes the brain and spinal cord, to the rest of the body. It includes three types of nerves: the motor nerves, which control voluntary movements of muscles; autonomous nerves, which control bodily functions beyond your control; and sensory nerves, which communicate signals from the sensory organs to the brain. Any condition that disrupts or damages the optimal functioning of the nerves in the peripheral nervous system is referred to as peripheral neuropathy, or simply neuropathy.
The course of peripheral neuropathy will often vary. For some people it comes and goes, slowly progressing over time, while for others it sets in being severe and unbearable. The condition often affects the hands and feet causing pain, tingling, numbness, loss of dexterity, dizziness, and fainting and muscle mass loss, depending on the type of nerve that is affected. A number of tests can be used to diagnose for neuropathy, and possibly its cause. First, a doctor will review your medical history and perform a neurological exam to observe your tendon reflexes, response to sensations, posture and coordination and muscle strength and tone. After that, certain tests may be ordered, including blood tests, nerve biopsy, skin biopsy, nerve function tests and imaging tests.
Causes of Neuropathy
According to the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke, there are more than 100 types of peripheral neuropathies. The symptoms exhibited by each type will depend on the nerve affected. It is common for patients to have one nerve affected, mononeuropathy, or several of them, polyneuropathy. Neuropathy can develop because of several factors, although around 30% of the cases reported have no known cause. Some types of neuropathies can be inherited; others can be because of physical trauma, toxins and medications; while others can be caused by an underlying medical condition.
Some of the common factors that have been observed to lead to damage of nerves in the peripheral nervous system include:
Diabetes – The condition causes damage to the walls of tiny blood vessels that supply oxygen and nutrients to the various nerves in the body. The result is that the skin becomes damaged and sensation to the feet is either lost or reduced.
Chronic liver diseases – This may give room to high levels of nerve-damaging substances to circulate within the blood.
Excessive alcohol consumption – It is thought that alcohol in itself may cause a combination of damage to the nerves, which is worsened by poor nutrition that is associated with most alcoholics.
Cancer – The tumours associated with cancer can put pressure on nerve fibres leading to damage.
Deficiency in essential vitamins such as thiamine, pyridoxine and folate that are necessary for healthy nerves.
Other causes of neuropathy include certain infections such as HIV/AIDS, shingles and leprosy, some drugs and medication procedures, ingesting toxins and poisons and autoimmune diseases such as Guillain-Barre syndrome and rheumatoid arthritis.
Considering the nature of the causes of neuropathy, making lifestyle changes is the most effective way of preventing the condition. You can reduce your consumption of alcohol and ensure that you are eating right in order to avoid vitamin deficiencies. Additionally, make sure that you eat food free from any kind of toxins and that you exercise regularly in order to keep off any diseases or situations that make you prone to neuropathy. Although there are risk factors that are beyond your control, taking charge of your lifestyle towards the right direction will help lessen chances of developing neuropathy.
Essential Oils Benefits in Neuropathy
Essential oils for neuropathy will usually contain one or more therapeutic properties that can address some of the symptoms of the condition. Ideally, essential oils are not oils as they lack fatty acids. It also takes a huge amount of plant just to produce a small amount of the oil, and thus their high concentration. The most significant benefit of essential oils is that they have the ability to drastically reduce pain and discomfort caused by neuropathy and other nerve disorders. These oils have very powerful properties and will address a number of issues, affecting the nerves such as pain, tingling, numbness and hypersensitivity all at once.
One can choose to use a single type of essential oil or a combination of several oils with different properties. Using essential oils for nerve pain and neuropathy gives patients a natural solution to dealing with the condition. The oils are used in their most natural form and as long as correct measures are observed, patients can expect minimal or no side effects. The oils are also very easy to use and are often more economical than modern drugs as a little oil can go a long way.
By using essential oils for neuropathy, you get to enjoy a wide range of both physical and mental benefits, something pharmaceutical drugs may not address. Besides finding relief from the pain and discomfort of neuropathy, you get to treat other non-neuropathic symptoms along the way, such as stress, scars, acne, and blood pressure etc. Additionally, you can always boost the effectiveness of one oil by mixing it with one or more other oils. The oils can also be diluted to different concentration levels to suit different tolerance levels. The very young and elderly will usually respond just well to standard dilutions, although it is advisable that everyone starts with a mild dilution and increase it gradually, only if need be.
In case you are wondering how to go about it, relax, because using essential oils for neuropathy is easy and requires basic skills. The most popular ways of using essential oils for nerve pain and neuropathy include topically or through massages, in aromatic baths, in diffusers and by directly inhaling them. Provided you have the oil that works for you, you are free to experiment a number of methods, before settling on what works best for you.
Using essential oils topically or via massages allows you to absorb the healing properties of the oil through the skin. In addition, you also get to breath in the scent of the oils. The better part of the deal is that you do not require a professional to do this, in fact it can be fun experience for you and your partner, or you can simply rub the oils onto the affected areas by yourself. For aromatic baths, just add a few drops of your essential oil into a hot bath and then settle into the water. The steam from the water will create a vapour that allows you inhale the healing properties of the oil while the water can be rubbed into the skin. In diffusers, you will have to find a good diffuser that will slowly release a fine mist of the oil into the air for you to inhale. Alternatively, you can inhale the oils straight from the bottle or try using a cloth or tissue, or even place a few drops on your pillow.
Best Essential Oils for Neuropathy Reviews
There are several variants of essential oils throughout the world, but not every oil has the needed qualities to address the condition of neuropathy. In this section, we review some of the best essential oils for nerve pain and neuropathy, depending on their chemical properties, and what they can do to make life a little more comfortable for neuropathic patient.
Frankincense Essential Oil
Frankincense essential oil boosts the transmission of messages to the brain’s limbic system, which influences the nervous system. It has sedative and anti-inflammatory qualities that make it very effective for conditions like rheumatism, one of the underlying causes for neuropathy. The oil will also stimulate your immune system, relax your muscles and works as an antiseptic.
To use frankincense oil, combine 1 drop of it with 2 drops of carrier oil, and then use it to massage the affected region. You could also use the mixture for a bath or hot compress.
Cypress Essential Oil
This essential oil is obtained by steam distillation of young needles, stems and twigs of the Cupressus Sempervirens. The extracted oil contains useful and potent elements that contribute to the oil’s medicinal value. Cypress essential oil acts as an astringent, causing the skin and muscles to contract. It also has antispasmodic qualities that relieve muscle pulls and cramps which are common among neuropathic patients.
Regular use of this oil will also improve good health of the liver, increase frequency of urination and trigger sweating, all of which ensure that toxins are rid from the body, and thus reduce the chances of having any nerve-damaging toxic substances in the body. Finally, cypress essential oil is known to have a calming and sedative effect on both the body and mind. You can use the oil to reduce nervous stress to help patients cope with the pain and discomfort of neuropathy.
Helichrysum Essential Oil
If you suffer from peripheral neuropathy that is associated with shingles, arthritis or rheumatism, then Helichrysum oil is highly recommended. This is because the oil contains strong anti-inflammatory, sedative and anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce muscle pain by lowering swelling, inflammation and improving circulation. This in turn helps support the healing of nerves, joints and muscle tissue. The oil also helps with bacterial and viral infections and will help clear small wounds, burns, bruises and allergic reactions.
Marjoram Essential Oil
Marjoram oil soothes the tense muscles and eases nervous tension. It contains antispasmodic properties that makes it effective in curing spasms and related problems, thus relieves cramps and other muscles aches. The oil also has a general warming effect on body systems, and improves circulation which helps relieve arthritis pain and rheumatism. Other properties of marjoram essential oil include it being a diaphoretic, diuretic, hypotensive and nervine.
Blue Tansy Essential Oil
In its original form, Blue Tansy is very poisonous and so it is important to exercise extreme caution when using it. Nonetheless, several impressive health benefits are attributed to its qualities as an antibacterial, sedative, antiviral, antifungal, and antihistamine. Blue Tansy essential oil is extremely helpful in relaxing the muscles and helping with pain associated with itching and numbness. The oil will also help to relax and heal any damage to the nervous system.
It can sometimes be difficult to find unadulterated Blue Tansy essential oil. The pure form of the oil will usually have a dark blue colour and possess a sweet, floral aroma with woody and herbaceous tinges. Typically, the oil is obtained from the flowers and buds of the Tanacetum annuum and will have a medium consistency.
Wild Orange Essential Oil
Wild Orange essential oil is obtained by cold pressing the peel of oranges, Citrus Sinensis . The oil has a wide range of uses for domestic, industrial as well as medicinal uses. The medicinal properties of the oil include anti-inflammatory, antidepressant, antiseptic, diuretic, sedative and antispasmodic. For neuropathic patients, wild orange essential oil aids in circulation will help reduce numbness and tingling. The oil helps relax muscular and nervous spasms to avoid serious potential problems such as convulsions and muscle cramps.
Although orange essential oil is obtained from a plant you often consume, there is still need to exercise a bit of caution with it. Avoid ingesting the oil in large quantities as it may result in vomiting, loss of appetite and nausea. Additionally, be warned of the photo-toxicity displayed by the oil.
Ylang Ylang Essential Oil
Ylang Ylang essential oil has a pleasant and aromatic scent that helps you relax when used in an exotic blend or just by itself. It is extracted from the flowers of Cananga Odorata through steam distialltion and is thought to contain antidepressant, hypotensive, nervine and sedative properties. These properties enable it to manage some of the symptoms of neuropathy, as well as promote healthy nerves and nervous system.
Peppermint Essential Oil
Compared to other types of essential oils, peppermint oil is one of the most widely researched oils by scientists. Its medicinal values have been studied and proved, and today you can find the oil in form of capsules and tablets, and is even sometimes prescribed by doctors. Peppermint essential oil contains analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. It offers relief from pain, provides nervous system support, controls muscle spasms and improves blood circulation. Additionally, the oil also contains other beneficial minerals and nutrients which include calcium, potassium, copper, folate, manganese, iron, omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamins A and C, and magnesium.
There are general rules that must always be observed when using essential oils for neuropathy, and any other condition. First, you should never directly apply them to the skin as their high concentration can cause an allergic reaction.
As an alternative, always dilute the oils with a carrier oil or with water. Secondly, most essential oils can only be used topically, unless there is a clear indication that it is safe, do not ingest them. Finally, it is good to consult with your doctor about your condition, so that you are in a good position to understand the extent of your peripheral neuropathy, and the symptoms you need to manage to prevent further damage to the peripheral nervous system.
Neuropathy is a complex condition, and as such, there is no clear highlight on how to cure it. While essential oils promise to alleviate some of the associated symptoms, the results cannot be guaranteed as some of the oils are still undergoing studies and nothing conclusive can be said on their effects. Nonetheless, understanding the underlying cause of neuropathy will help you know what symptoms you need to treat, in an effort to manage the condition. choose essential oils according to the systems you wish to nurture and support in order to enjoy maximum effectiveness. In addition, strive to use oils that are in the in purest forms, to ensure safety and minimal side effects.