We include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Here’s our process.
People can extract essential oils from the flowers, leaves, roots, fruits, and other components of plants. Many essential oils, including Roman chamomile and eucalyptus, seem to offer benefits for relieving muscle aches and pains.
Essential oils are highly concentrated oils that a person can apply to the skin or inhale.
Researchers have studied the benefits of essential oils in treating many health issues, ranging from joint swelling to muscle pain and headaches.
In this article, we list some of the best essential oils for people to use to relieve muscle pain and soreness.
Arthritis can cause warmth, tenderness, and swelling in the joints and muscles. The following essential oils may help reduce the discomfort associated with arthritis:
A study in the Journal of Korean Academy of Nursing examines aromatherapy with eucalyptus.
The researchers studied a mixture of eucalyptus, marjoram, lavender, rosemary, and peppermint oils for relieving arthritis pain. They found that the combination helped relieve pain associated with arthritis.
However, it is worth noting that this study only involved 40 participants and a nonequivalent control group, which means that other factors besides the use of eucalyptus oil could be behind this finding.
Marjoram is a cooking oil that could also have positive effects, according to the study in the Journal of Korean Academy of Nursing.
The crisp, awakening scent of peppermint could help reduce muscle spasms and arthritis pain when a person applies it to the skin or inhales it.
This is according to a review article in the Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine.
According to one review article, people tend to mix the following essential oils with vegetable oil or other oils to use in massage therapy:
- grape seed
It is worth noting that massage alone may help with relieving pain and discomfort. As a result, any improvement in muscle soreness that occurs from massage may not specifically be due to the use of essential oils.
Most of these oils are beneficial for muscle soreness in general, but researchers have found that the following may be especially helpful for relieving menstrual-related muscle pains:
Clary sage is an essential oil with antimicrobial properties.
It may help control menstrual-related muscle cramping and soreness, according to a review article that appears in the Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine.
A study in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology examined the effects of self-massage and aromatherapy on menstrual cramps.
In the study:
- 25 people performed self-massage alongside rose oil aromatherapy
- 25 people performed self-massage using unscented almond oil
- 25 people in a control group only performed self-massage
The researchers found that self-massage alongside rose oil aromatherapy was better at reducing muscle soreness and menstrual pain than self-massage alone.
Roman chamomile is a soothing, daisy-like flower with a distinct bluish tint.
Chamomile oil may be effective for relieving menstrual pain, as well as soothing muscle soreness and spasms, according to a review article in the journal Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine.
If a person has general muscle soreness, the following essential oils may help:
Tea tree oil
Essential oils are highly concentrated. Manufacturers take an estimated 220 pounds (lb) of lavender to produce just 1 lb of essential lavender oil, according to the National Cancer Institute.
Due to their high concentration, people should mix one to two drops of essential oil with a carrier oil to dilute it and prepare it for use.
To prepare massage oil or oil for application on the skin to relieve sore muscles, a person can try the following steps:
- Gather the desired essential oils for use. Some people prefer to use only one essential oil, whereas others will mix different combinations to enhance their benefits.
- Pour 1 ounce (oz) of a carrier oil into a plate or bowl for mixing. Examples of carrier oils include coconut, jojoba, sweet almond, olive, and argan oils.
- Dilute the essential oil to the desired volume. For most adults, the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy recommend a 3% dilution. This is about 20 drops of essential oil per 1 oz of carrier oil. However, some people use a 5% dilution for muscle soreness. This is about 30 drops of essential oil per 1 oz of carrier oil.
- Mix and apply to areas of muscle soreness.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are not obligated to approve or review essential oils. Not needing FDA approval means that essential oils do not have the same regulation as traditional medications.
For this reason, a person must obtain essential oils from high quality sources to ensure that they minimize any potential risks.
Allergic reactions can occur as a result of exposure to essential oils. Applying oils topically is more likely to cause an allergic reaction than inhaling them, according to a review article in the Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine.
The most common side effects of essential oil application include eye and skin irritation, especially in sensitive areas such as the inside of the nose and mouth.
There are some concerns that lavender and tea tree oil may have hormone-like effects on the body, according to the National Cancer Institute. For this reason, and due to concerns over potential side effects, doctors do not recommend using essential oils on children.
Many essential oils could potentially help treat muscle aches and soreness. They represent an opportunity to mix and match oils to find a combination that helps a person soothe sore muscles while also minimizing potential side effects.
It is worth noting that a lot of research into essential oils has limitations, such as small sample sizes. However, as essential oils tend to be safe to use, people may want to try them to see if any benefits occur.
If a person does experience an allergic reaction or any discomfort, they should stop using the essential oil immediately and cleanse their skin.
Shop for essential oils
The essential oils listed in this article are available for purchase online: