Did you know that in addition to being good for cold symptoms, eucalyptus can also be very effective for pain? Yes. This is true. You learned in previous lessons that essential oil's chemical compounds determine the therapeutic properties and eucalyptus is a good example of an oil that can be effective for many reasons including pain. You also learn that essential oils interact with receptors as they are inhaled and absorbed into the bloodstream. But how does that affect pain? Essential oil interaction with various neurotransmitters and enzymes can reduce pain by reducing spasms, inflammation and anxiety, and by providing relaxation or a calming sensation. Pain is acute or chronic, it's caused by a number of factors, can be a varying intensity, and can be treated with both pharmacological and non-pharmacological methods. Due to the opioid epidemic, many people are searching for effective non-pharmacological treatments. While essential oils can not replace drugs, they can certainly play a role in lessening pain. The Joint Commission, a hospital and clinic accrediting organization in the US, has mandated that healthcare organizations offer non-pharmacological pain treatments in addition to pharmacological treatments. Now, let's get back to how essential oils work for pain. Much of the research, looking at specific mechanisms of action of essential oils or their specific compounds is done with animals in laboratories. This research has shown essential oils can reduce pain by interacting with pain receptors and inhibiting inflammatory effects. They can also provide pain reduction by stimulating cold receptors, something you might have experienced if you've ever used a topical cream that feels cold when applied. Although these studies are very valuable to help us understand the possibilities of mechanism of action of essential oils, they can't always be replicated in humans. Human studies often used measurements of vital signs, brainwaves, body fluid samples, and subjective data to investigate the effects of essential oils. Overall, the studies have shown that essential oils may provide pain reduction in humans by a number of mechanisms. As you recall, essential oils have an effect on the limbic system of the brain, the seat of emotions. Pain perception may be altered via this mechanism. Other mechanisms of action propose to decrease pain or by interactions with transmitters, that carry pain and relaxation responses to the brain. When anxiety is decreased, pain has also been shown to decrease. Think about what happens when you experience pain. Most people tend to tighten their muscles. So when we are able to relax these muscles, pain lessens. We know inflammation plays a role in healing, but it can also cause pain. Studies have shown that some essential oils reduce inflammation by various mechanisms including inhibiting enzymes that are responsible for inflammation. Examples of essential oils with antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory properties are sweet marjoram, or again a marjorana, german chamomile, matricaria, recutita, and roman chamomile, chamomile nobile. Some essential oils such as lavender, lavon julian and gusto folia can have a local anesthetic effect when applied to the skin, and some provide either warming or cooling effects. Warming oils include ginger, zingeber officinale and black pepper, pepper niagrum. Oils that are cooling and stimulate cold receptors are peppermint, vent to x pepper rita and eucalyptus, eucalyptus globulus. Finally, relaxation is produced with massage as endorphins are stimulated. Some studies have shown that essential oils added to massage oils have been shown to increase the relaxation response. Any essential oil that is effective for pain and or relaxation, can be used for massage, diluted per the guidelines given in your references. Remember, that some essential oils require more caution when using topically. Aromatherapy reference books and monographs, often use the term analgesic to indicate that the oil is effective for pain. Keep in mind that other terms such as antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory, also indicate the essential oil may be effective for pain related to specific causes. Essential oils listed as being effective for calming, relaxation, stress, and nervousness may also be effective for pain, although they don't necessarily have chemical properties that are considered analgesic. Consider blending these essential oils with those that are known to have therapeutic pain-relieving properties. Blending essential oils together is easily done when following the dilution guide in the topical application methods reading in week three. If blending more than one essential oil, calculate the total drops for the total desired dilution, the percentage. Example, lavender, six drops and sweet marjoram, six drops in one ounce fractionated coconut oil. 12 drops total in one ounce equals two percent. There are many essential oils found to have therapeutic effects as we just discussed. This course will only include monographs for some of these oils that are most commonly used in a clinical setting due to the reported evidence and safety. As you continue to learn more about aromatherapy, you may want to explore more effective essential oils on your own. Essential oils covered in this course effective for pain include lavender, sweet marjoram, peppermint, and roman chamomile. Given what you have learned, what would you do in this scenario? Pain is caused by a number of factors, and now you know that essential oils can have an effect on pain through a variety of physiological responses. The rest of this lesson will guide you through essential oils for pain in the clinical setting, provide you with a few summaries of studies on the topics, and share personal experiences of using essential oils for pain.