Sweet marjoram essential oil is warming and relaxing and a useful analgesic for pains, sprains and strains. {Photo: Bigstock]

Neck pain? Try these essential oils

21 May, 2015

Neck pain can flare up without warning and without any obvious cause.

Most of the time it can be traced to issues such as poor posture, to poor support when you are sitting or sleeping, and to stress and strain (both emotional and physical).

As long as your neck pain is not connected to anything more serious, time, warmth, gentle massage and the application of therapeutic essential oils can be a real help.

Four essential oils in particular can be of benefit.

Sweet marjoram (Origanum majorana)

This pungent essential oil is produced from steam distillation of the flowers with the aroma being warm with a hint of pepper. Warming for the body and relaxing for the mind, it can aid in the treatment of insomnia . It is also a useful analgesic for pains, sprains and strains and for clearing tension headaches and migraines.

Black pepper (Piper nigrum)

Distilled from partly dried, unripe fruit, has an herbaceous, sharp spicy scent. Also used for lung conditions, this warming oil can improve circulation. Used it in massage blends it can combat muscle stiffness, pain, and fatigue and even sluggish digestion. Really useful for dancers and athletes, black pepper can help prevent stiffness and may improve performance. While nontoxic, black pepper is a skin irritant and needs to be used sparingly and be well diluted (see below for advice).

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

Indigenous to the Mediterranean, lavender essential oil is produced by steam distillation of the fresh flowers. Lavender herb and essential oil has a multitude of uses including as a skin soother, to provide relief from nervous conditions (including depression, headache, insomnia, PMS, shock, and hypertension), and to relieve muscular pain, rheumatism, and sprains. In one 2005 study acupressure combined with lavender proved effective for short term relief from neck pain.

Peppermint (Mentha piperita)                

Distilled from the leaves peppermint was used by the Romans, and most likely by the Egyptians, as a digestive aid. Peppermint is a cooling herb and can soothe headaches, ease muscle tension and reduce inflammation. Add a few drops of lavender and peppermint oils to distilled water and put into a small spray bottle to make a quick cooling spritzer for use on hot summer days.

Each of these can help on their own. But in one Korean study treatment. The purpose of the study was to ascertain whether a cream containing a 3% concentration these essential oils could relieve neck pain and increase range of motion. At the end of the month-long study, the subjects using the essential oil combination once a day after bathing or showering had improved range of motion and decreased pain compared to those just using an unscented cream.

Since neck pain is a common ailment, a simple essential oil cream like this is an effective, low-cost, treatment that most people can use to bring quick relief.

To make your own 3% concentration cream add 18 drops of essential oil IN TOTAL to 30mls of an unscented base cream or to organic coconut oil (if you are using black pepper in the mixture don’t use more then 2-3 drops per 30mls of base oil). Mix well and use to gently massage the sore area. This mixture is not suitable for young children.