8 Essential Oils for Muscle and Tendon Pain Relief

I think we can all agree: muscle and tendon pain sucks! It is the indisputable downer that makes anything we are doing less fun, less enjoyable, and more difficult.

Wouldn’t it be awesome if there was a natural topical pain reliever that you could ust rub onto your sore muscles and tendons?

The great news that there is! Many essential oils provide excellent muscle and tendon pain relief.

In this article, we’ll touch on the following:

  • What place do essential oils have in history?
  • What are essential oils?
  • How do essential oils work their magic?
  • What are the magnificent 8?
  • What should I know before using essential oils?
  • 5 powerful tips on getting the most out of essential oils
  • Dr. Lucas’s Incredible Essential Oil Muscle & Tendon Rub Combos
  • Conquer Pain Now!

For many of us, the primary source of our pain is some type of muscle or tendon injury. Your muscles and tendons might be too tight, completely or partially torn, inflamed, fatigued, stiff, sore, or swollen.

This can be due to a recent injury or an injury that has been lingering a while. Pain is not always a constant and injuries that haven’t bothered you in years can suddenly pop back up.

Irrespective of the how or when your injury occurred, it leaves you in an anything but ideal reality: unrelenting, irritating, and downright selfish pain.

Your reaction probably goes like this:

  • curse your pain
  • avoid things that hurt
  • try ice and heat
  • pop pain pills.

Unfortunately, these treatments are often ineffective, barely making a dent in the source of your pain, and their ineffectiveness further compounds your irritation.

Often your health care provider is just as frustrated as you are, since they recognize that are unable to give you an effective solution.

While it’s easily recognized, pain is actually a very complex process that involves emotion, genetics, biology, physiology and anatomy.

This complexity often makes a straightforward solution elusive.

But maybe there is a more ancient and natural remedy that could be more effective and safe. 

The fantastic news is that potentially there is: the venerable essential oil! There are 8 that are — well, essential — for muscle and tendon pain relief along with some of amazing blends.

Essential oils an ancient pain reliever

Ancient healers used essential oils for thousands of years  to promote health and treat a diverse variety of conditions .

In fact, the ancient Chinese wrote an entire medical textbook called the “Inner Canon of the Yellow Emperor” over 2500 year ago that highlighted the critical role essential oils played in treating illness.

Additionally, both the old and new testament emphasize the therapeutic benefit of essential oils. Remember the story of the three wise men?

Essential oils an ancient pain reliever

Surprisingly, modern medical traditions that originated in Europe were slow to embrace the use of essential oils to treat medical maladies.

Shockingly, some purists shunned essential oils to such an extent as to brand them a pseudo “snake oil.”

Fortunately for us, eastern practitioners continued to use essential oils , even though modern western medicine was reluctant to adopt them.

More recently, sparked by the cutting edge research and the clinical success of essential oils, many health practitioners schooled in western medicinal traditions have become receptive to the ancient wisdom of these natural compounds.

While not completely embraced by all health professionals, essential oils are inching towards mainstream acceptance and as a first line treatment option for many medical conditions, especially muscle pain.

In addition, several medical studies suggest the therapeutic potential of essential oils for the treatment of seizure disorders, chronic inflammation, cancer, anxiety and depression, and stomach ulcers.

What are essential oils?

Essential oils, as the name implies, are the “oily” juice found naturally in plants. They are frequently responsible for the aroma and flavor of the plant.

The oils are distilled and purified from the plant for use as a therapeutic remedy.

Essential Oil Distillation Device for pain relief

Interestingly, essential oils are rarely composed of one substance, but most often are composed of many different active ingredients that synergistically mesh together to provide healthful benefit.

Most substances in an essential oil have similar characteristics including:

  • Possess strong odor
  • Easily vaporized
  • Soluble in other oils or fats

Not to get too technical, but for you science nerds out there — the substances in essential oils are usually from a chemical class called terpenes or modified terpenes. Some very famous terpenes include:

  • Cannabinoids (cannabis)
  • Cinnamaldehyde (cinnamon)
  • Camphor (Evergreen Trees)

In nature, essential oils play vital roles in supporting plant survival by:

  • Attracting insects to promote the dispersion of pollens and seeds
  • Acting as anti-bacterials, anti-virals, anti-fungals, insecticides, and herbicides
  • Detering herbivores by reducing herbivore appetite for plants and attracting the herbivore’s main predators

Why do essential oils relieve muscle and tendon pain?

In humans, essential oils seem to have four main mechanisms to help combat pain:

They Are Powerful Antioxidants:

Free radicals are unstable, high energy substances that attack your DNA, your proteins, and your essential fats, causing oxidative damage.

Basically, this occurs when free radicals attack healthy cells, healthy proteins, and healthy fats which causes them not to function properly.

Your muscle and tendon pains are major consequences of oxidative damage.

Essential oils are powerful antioxidants.

An antioxidant is any substance that helps protect your body against damage inflicted by free radicals.  

Research suggests essential oils:

  • Stop the formation of free radicals
  • Transforms free radicals into less dangerous substances
  • Scavenge and completely neutralize free radicals
  • They Are Potent Anti-inflammatories

Healthy inflammation is important for your body’s natural defenses against invaders (bacteria, viruses, etc), removal of unhealthy cells, and facilitating your recovery from injury.

However, chronic unhealthy inflammation creates a scenario in which your body’s immune system unnecessarily attacks and destroys healthy tissue and normal cells.

Chronic inflammation is a major cause of muscle and tendon pain!

Essential oils are powerful ant-inflammatories

Essential Oils are potent anti-inflammatories.

An anti-inflammatory is any substance that thwarts unhealthy inflammation.

Essential oils  target and neutralize multiple steps in the inflammatory pathway.

For instance, research suggests essential oils:

  • Decrease synthesis of pro-inflammatory signaling molecules (cytokines IL1-β, TNF-α, IL-6)
  • Decrease production of enzymes that generate pain, swelling, and redness (↓COX-2, iNOS)
  • Disrupt pro-inflammatory cellular communication pathways (↓NF-kB, MAPK)

They Inhibit  Pain Receptor Activation

Injury that occurs in your muscle is communicated to your brain through activation of nerves.

Essential oils block pain receptors

These nerves are located near your injured muscle and are connected to nerves in your spinal cord.

When a muscle injury occurs your nerves are stimulated and send strong signals to your brain that alerts of the pain.

Research suggests that essential oils are able to cut off the pain signal your nerves send to your brain and can stimulate natural painkillers in your body.

Essential oils:

  • Decrease the production of substance P, a protein that activates pain receptors
  • Cause an electrical malfunction of the nerve ending disrupting your pain signals
  • Stimulate your opioid system, releasing natural morphine-like substances

They Numb Pain Processing

Essential oil active ingredients vaporizer easily.

The vapors travel through your olfactory system (your sense of smell) and have a direct influence on your limbic system.

This area in your brain, which processes emotion, is spatially very close to the areas in your brain that processes pain.

And there seems to be crossover communication between the two areas, with one influencing the other.

Research suggests positive emotion helps reduce your pain perception, while negative emotion magnifies your pain perception.

Essential oils  induce positive feelings that in turn help reduce the physical pain you experience.

Top 8 essential oils that reduce muscle and tendon pain


Turmeric essential oil for tendon pain relief

Turmeric is a vibrant orange-yellow spice used  by traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine for centuries to promote health.

Turmeric’s healthful nutrients are housed in an underground stem like structure called a rhizome.

While there are many health promoting plant nutrients found in turmeric, most investigators believe curcumin and tumerone responsible for turmeric’s healthful properties.


Ginger essential oil for muscle pain relief

This spice has been used as a  remedy in India and China since ancient times. Ginger possess the powerful active ingredients zingiberene, gingerol, and shogaol.

It is well known as an effective rival of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). In fact, some research indicated that ginger is even more effective than NSAIDs when it comes to treating pain and swelling (2).

While the exact mechanism remains to be unknown, it is thought that ginger can inhibit the activation of genes involved in inflammation.

Black Pepper

Black Pepper essential oil for tendon pain relief

A spice frequently used in the culinary arts for flavor and in traditional medicinal systems for its therapeutic value.

Black pepper is prepared by drying the unripe fruits of the Piper nigrum plant.

Most researchers attribute black pepper’s most desirable therapeutic attributes to pinene and piperine.

It has the unusual characteristic of helping your body better absorb health promoting nutrients such as those found in ginger and turmeric.


Clove oil essential oil for muscle pain relief

Clove is a popular spice derived from the dried flower bud of the clove tree.

For thousands of years, dating back to the ancient Chinese civilizations, cloves have been used for spice, fragrance and medicine.

In fact, Chinese supplicants were required to chew cloves in their mouths prior to speaking with the Emperor as not to offend him with bad breath.

Clove oil has a high concentration of eugenol, a powerful anti-pain and antioxidant nutrient.


Rosemary essential oil for tendon pain relief

This popular herb has diverse application in cooking, herbal teas, food preservation, fragrances, and medicine.

Rosemary is a member of the the mint family, Lamiaceae.

While it is indigenous to the Mediterranean, it was coveted throughout Europe and the New Word for it’s healing prowess.

Investigators suggest that the most important health promoting compounds in rosemary oil are carnosal, cineole and camphor.


Oregano essential oil for tendon pain relief

Oregano is another notable member of the Lamiaceae family.

The ancient Greeks were among the first to exploit oregano’s medicinal qualities and termed the spice origanos, meaning “delight of the mountains.”

Oregano is composed of a diverse array of health stimulating substances, but the principal active ingredients in oregano are carvacrol and thymol.


Lavender essential oil for muscle pain reliefLavender, another member of the mint family, is native to countries bordering the Mediterranean.

The ancient Romans used lavender in their baths, for clothing detergent and for medicinal purposes.

Essential oils are derived from Lavender’s fragrant leaves and attractive flowers.

Research suggests linalool and linalyl acetate are most responsible for Lavender oil’s therapeutic properties.


Peppermint essential oil for tendon pain relief

This herb is actually a hybrid mint.

Peppermint is a cross between watermint and spearmint, while indigenous to Europe and the Middle East, it found use throughout antiquity as a potent herbal medication.

Essential oils are derived from its flowers and leaves.

Peppermint oils have high concentrations of menthol, menthone and pulgone giving them potent wellbeing properties.

What you must know before using essential oils?

For thousands of years, essential oils offered an effective treatment for pain relief .  However,  be aware of certain things before diving in.

In general, there are two main safety guidelines to follow:

  1. Never use essential oils undiluted. Refrain from essential oils application directly to the skin. Unless the essential oil is first mixed with another neutral oil, called a carrier oil.
  2. Do not take essential oils internally unless under the direct supervision and recommendation of a qualified healthcare provider.

Inappropriate essential oil use can cause skin damage, kidney damage, and liver damage.

You can experience undesirable symptoms such as pain, nausea/vomiting, burning or tingling and excessive bleeding.

If you are pregnant or on blood thinners you should be especially cautious.

5 powerful tips to get the most pain relief out of essential oils

Here are some guiding principles to help you maximize essential oils effectiveness and to avoid potential side effects

  1. Therapeutic Massage

Apply body oils after a warm bath, when the pores of the skin are still open. This encourage rapid absorption.

Mix a few drops of essential oil with a larger measure of base or carrier oil.

Carrier oils are usually light vegetable oils like almond oil or grapeseed oil.

For general purposes, a dilution to 2.5% is suitable for adult use.

For example, 1 tablespoon of base oil would require 6-7 drops of essential oil.

Initially, always apply a small amount of diluted oil to a small patch of skin to make sure you can tolerate it and don’t have some type of reaction.

  1. Cold Compress:

Dip a clean face cloth or cotton ball in a small bowl containing about 16 oz of cool water.

Add 6 drops of essential oil to the bowl then remove the face cloth or cotton ball, squeeze out any excess water and apply to the affected area.

Keep cold compress on for 10 minutes.

  1. Warm Compress:

Dip a clean face cloth or cotton ball in a small bowl containing about 16 oz of warm water.

Add 6 drops of essential oil to the bowl then remove the face cloth or cotton ball, squeeze out any excess water and apply to the affected area.

Keep cold compress on for 10 minutes.

  1. Hot bath:

Add 8 to 10 drops of recommended oil to bathwater and soak for 10 minutes.

  1. Steam Inhalation:

Vaporize essential oil by adding 3 to 4 drops to a bowl of hot water and take deep rhythmic breaths for 10 minutes. Alternatively, you can use a diffuser.

Best essential oil combinations for muscle and tendon pain relief

These essential oil mixes offer synergistic combinations of active ingredients that complement one another and help you stomp out your muscle and tendon pain.

Try them out, but feel free to play around with different combinations  and do your own research to see what works best for you.

Muscle Relief

Dr. Lucas MD essential oil muscle relief formula

  •  Turmeric oil 6 drops
  • Black Pepper oil 6 drops
  •  Peppermint oil 6  drops
  •  Lavender oil 6 drops
  • 2 fl oz (50 ml) of carrier oil (grapeseed or almond oil)
  • Mix oils together then apply a small amount of diluted oil to a small patch of skin to make sure you can tolerate.
  • If that goes well, massage muscle rub on affected area twice daily, preferable after a warm bath or shower.

Tendon Relief

Dr. Lucas MD essential oil tendon relief formula

  • Rosemary Oil 6 drops
  • Oregano Oil 6 drops
  • Clove oil 6  drops
  • Ginger Oil 6 drops
  • 2 fl oz (50 ml) of carrier oil (grapeseed or almond oil)

Mix oils together then apply a small amount of diluted oil to a small patch of skin to make sure you can tolerate. If that goes well, massage muscle rub on affected area twice daily, preferable after a warm bath or shower.

Experience muscle and tendon pain relief now!

Don’t let muscle and tendon pain compromise the quality of your life.

Even if everything you have tried in the past hasn’t worked as well as you would have liked, don’t give up! There is a solution out there for everyone.

For thousands of years, essential oils provided pain relief. Experience and scientific study has established their effectiveness.

Essential oils potent and powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-pain properties are a welcomed relief for muscle and tendon pain.

Remember essential oils combined with proper nutrition, smart training and appropriate rehabilitation offer an exciting and effective tool to get you back to the pain free life you desire and deserve!