No pain, no gain? Quite the opposite. Vicky Vlachonis, author and pain expert, is passionate about teaching others how to release the pain and stress in their lives to make room for vibrant health and happiness. We’ve read Vicky’s new book, The Body Doesn’t Lie, cover to cover and can’t wait to share her healing wisdom with you each month. Everyone, from our own founders to a few of our favorite wellness warriors like Dr. Junger, Gweneth Paltrow and Cameron Diaz, have fallen in love with Vicky’s practical, yet powerful practice. Vicky teaches her clients that pain is about far more than just joints and muscles – that body pain is both physical and emotional and has to be dealt with on both levels. Here’s Vicky on one aspect of her practice that’s easy to incorporate on your own…
You can relieve pain with remedies that keep you grounded, calm and confident throughout your day. Aromatherapy with essential oils taps into primal neural networks to bypass your crazy monkey mind, quieting your autonomic nervous system. You can more directly access your relaxation response, helping you quickly release tension and toxic stress. Healers around the world have used essential oils for over 5,000 years—everyone from ancient Egyptians to today’s most cutting-edge physicians have helped people use them to help manage stress, depression, anxiety, insomnia, and chronic pain. In my osteopathic practice I use essential oils to help patients quickly relax, open up, and get blood and oxygen flowing to heal their pain. Here are five essential oils I cannot do without.
5 essential oils to relieve pain
BLACK PEPPER OIL:
Warming and soothing to the body, especially when blended with almond oil, black pepper oil is perfect for muscular stiffness and fatigue. (If you’re sensitive to almonds, you can use coconut or grape seed oil.) Relieve pain and spasms in cold muscles with my favorite salt and pepper bath: As soon as you arrive home after a hard day, start the bath—as hot as you can stand it—and add two cups of Epsom salts and three to five drops of black pepper oil. Black pepper oil also reduces inflammation internally—a recent study suggests that black pepper oil’s powerful antioxidants may help decrease risk of high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.
For another relaxing and pain-relieving bath with Epsom salts, add some drops of sandalwood oil. My patients find sandalwood grounds them and increases feelings of safety and security, helps relieve anxiety and depression, and lifts libido! Light sandalwood candles or incense to make a peaceful, calming environment where you can clear your mind, let go of negative thoughts and stress, reflect on your day, and forgive and be grateful. You can also use sandalwood in hot steam or an inhaler for colds and coughs.
For a headache, rub 3 drops on your temples or use on a cold compress on your forehead or back of neck at night. In a bedtime bath or shower, add a few drops of chamomile to help encourage sleep—or a few drops of black pepper oil to help spice things! When you travel, especially the first night at your new destination, put 3 to 4 drops on your chest before bed to help you adjust your sleep cycle to local time.
Bergamot is my favorite antidepressant oil, with a fresh lively lemon-like smell and a very uplifting but still calming effect. Wake up to a bergamot bath or use a room spray to lift your mood. The smell makes you feel fantastic—full of get up and go, but still relaxed. One aromatherapy study found that, compared with placebo, a blend of lavender and bergamot essential oil significantly decreased pulse rate and systolic and diastolic blood pressure, indicating that the oil blend was especially effective in helping calm down the nervous system.
As an after-dinner tea, peppermint has long been hailed as a digestive aid—but a 2013 study also found that peppermint can decrease abdominal pain. A double-blind, placebo-controlled study found that during six weeks of therapy with peppermint oil, people with irritable bowel syndrome had markedly less pain than those who’d been treated with placebo. Drink it all day long to help your body release toxins, especially while you do a cleanse or while you’re traveling. A dab of peppermint oil on each temple can help with morning headaches or sluggishness.
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