Essential Oils and Fibromyalgia – A Student Paper

by Andrea Butje on March 14, 2011

essential oils and fibromyalgiaAs part of Aromahead Institute’s Aromatherapy Certification Program each student writes an 8-10 page paper.

I want to share some excerpts from Maya Brownfeild’s paper, which focuses on essential oils and fibromyalgia.

Fibromyalgia is a syndrome whose cause is not well understood. The syndrome can include a wide variety of symptoms–the main ones are pain and tender spots (extreme sensitivity to pressure) throughout soft tissues of the body.  Maybe given less acknowledgment–but of no less importance to the sufferer–are sleep disturbances, severe fatigue, anxiety and depression, joint stiffness, cognitive dysfunction, and digestive abnormalities.

How aromatherapy can help
Because of the range of symptoms, fibromyalgia is a great case for the use of holistic treatments–such as aromatherapy, which has many applications that could be of assistance for this complex syndrome. It is possible that an oil being used specifically with the intention of reducing fatigue, for example, could also be effective in relieving inflammation.

Treatment plans for a lot of different illnesses could benefit from more personalized attention, and less of a “one-size-fits-all” mentality, particularly in the case of something like fibromyalgia.

The stress and emotional impact of this aspect alone would be one place to start incorporating aromatherapy into treatment.  Other areas aromatherapy would be helpful are for pain, insomnia, to increase circulation, and for headaches, anxiety and depression.

Following are some ideas for how to use aromatherapy for specific symptoms (therapeutic properties from Aromatics International, Aromahead Institute class manual, and personal experiences).

Pain: Aromatherapy could be used either as blends in lotion or oil, or in a bath.  Heat itself seems to be helpful in cases of fibromyalgia, so a warm bath paired with some essential oils would be a great place to start.

Just a few oils with analgesic properties that could be used are German Chamomile (Matricaria recutita), Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile), Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), and Frankincense (Boswellia carterii).  Sweet Marjoram (Origanum marjorana) is both analgesic and warming. Peppermint (Mentha x piperita), Ginger (Zingiber officinale), and Black Pepper (Piper nigrum) are a few that would be effective, but should be used in low (1% or less) dilutions, to avoid potential skin irritation.

Fatigue and brain-fog: For fatigue and the feeling of “brain fog” fibromyalgia sufferers may complain of, an aromatherapy inhaler or a diffuser blend would be a good choice.

Oils to use would be those with stimulant and cephalic properties. Basil (Ocimum basilicum ct. linalool), Black Pepper (Piper nigrum), Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum), Grapefruit (Citrus paradisi), Sweet Marjoram (Origanum marjorana), Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis ct camphor/1,8 cineole), and Rosewood (Aniba rosaeodora) are a few oils to consider.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome/other digestive abnormalities:
Basil (Ocimum basilicum ct. linalool), Bergamot (Citrus bergamia), Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum), Frankincense (Boswellia carterii), Ginger (Zingiber officinale), Laurel Leaf (Laurus nobilis), Lemon (Citrus limon), Nutmeg (Myristica fragrans), Orange (Citrus sinensis), and Peppermint (Mentha x piperita) all have carminative and/or digestive properties.  These could be used effectively blended into a lotion.

Depression, stress, and anxiety:
Many citrus and flower oils are helpful in cases of depression.  Bergamot (Citrus bergamia), Grapefruit (Citrus paradisi), Orange (Citrus sinensis), Jasmine (Jasminum grandiflorum), Neroli (Citrus aurantium var. amara), and Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) are just a few to choose from.  For stress and anxiety, calming oils like Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile), Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), Patchouli (Pogostemom cablin), or Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata) may be of help.

Insomnia/sleep disturbances:
Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile), Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), Sweet Marjoram (Origanum marjorana) and Spikenard (Nardostachys jatamansi) are all sedative oils that could assist in sleep.

Sensitivity: While aromatherapy won’t be a solution to one’s sensitivity to light, sound and odors, it is possible the sufferer may find some relief from the onslaught of triggering scents and chemicals by switching from chemical household products to natural ones that incorporate essential oils.

Underlying emotional trauma/causes: 
By choosing oils with the appropriate energetic/vibrational qualities, aromatherapy can help address these issues as well as it can the physical ones.

A “Top Six”
From the above, there are several oils that address more than one of the symptoms.  If one were to put together a kit of oils to start out with to help treat their fibromyalgia, they might consider the multi-purpose ones:  Sweet Marjoram (Origanum marjorana) is analgesic, cephalic, warming and sedative.  Peppermint (Mentha x piperita) is analgesic, antispasmodic, digestive, and great to diffuse for focus or concentration.  Orange (Citrus sinensis) is antidepressant and digestive.  Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is analgesic, antidepressant, and antispasmodic.  Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata)  is analgesic, antidepressant, and sedative.  Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) is strongly antispasmodic and sedative. 

Earthscentials (Maya’s business facebook page)

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Aromahead Institute, owned by Andrea Butje, is a premier resource for online aromatherapy classes. Andrea offers her inspired approach to online aromatherapy certification through essential oil videos and original education materials. Check out her book, Essential Living: Aromatherapy Recipes for Health and Home, on Amazon!

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