In an injury, swelling and inflammation are often seen together. Even so, they’re not the same thing and may have different causes. Fortunately, you can relieve these symptoms naturally. You can use essential oils for inflammation and swelling. Read on to find out more about them and their treatment.
In this post, you’ll read about:
- Questions and answers about swelling and inflammation, inside and outside the body. Read how the oils can help with these problems. Then check out what some of the best aromatic oils are, with pros and cons.
- How to use essential oils to reduce swelling and inflammation. Plus a few therapeutic recipes to try.
(FAQ) Best Essential Oils for Inflammation and Swelling (Pros & Cons)
The following section is about questions and answers. They’re meant to clear out what inflammation and swelling are. You’ll see why essential oils are useful at reducing both swelling and inflammation.
Check out the differences between the two. This is important if you want to find the most appropriate treatment. That said, let’s start with the most obvious question of them all:
1) How can anti-inflammatory essential oils help with swelling?
Being anti-inflammatory is one of the most important properties of an aromatic oil. On a certain level, almost all essential oils have it. They are very concentrated plant liquids, each with its own unique chemical composition.
Thus, the best essential oils for swelling and inflammation have the following effects:
- Anti-inflammatory – This property makes the oil great at relieving local inflammation. In other words, it helps the affected area to go back to its normal size.
- Analgesic – It refers to the ability to relieve local pain. Swelling and/or inflammation are often accompanied by pain. Aspirin is usually used as an analgesic. Luckily, a few essential oils can also act like aspirin (Sweet Birch, Wintergreen, etc.)
- Stimulating – Essential oils can stimulate certain physiological processes. Depending on the oil used, you can boost your lymphatic system. That will help flush out the toxins and harmful pathogens, and help with a better healing.
- Antioxidant – Antioxidants fight the free radicals that harm our cells. This makes them useful at reducing inflammation inside the body. A few studies show the potential of certain essential oils as strong antioxidants.
- Cortisone-like – Cortisol is a steroid hormone that takes charge during stressful moments. It’s produced by the adrenal glands. Cortisone is the result of cortisol metabolization. This hormone can help relieve and even prevent inflammation. Cortisone-like refers to the ability of an essential oil to act like cortisone. This means that once applied or inhaled, that oil can mimic the presence of cortisone in your body. Thus, it will also help with the inflammation and swelling process.
- Diuretic – This effect stimulates the kidneys to produce more urine. This means you’ll flush out toxins and harmful pathogens faster than normal. Through urine, you also eliminate small amounts of cholesterol. As a consequence of going to the bathroom more often, you’ll also eliminate excess water. This helps with water retention, a.k.a edema, which is in fact swelling.
- Disinfectant – Some essential oils for inflammation and swelling are stronger disinfectants. They are antibacterial and antiviral substances that can kill bacteria and germs. Diffused regularly, they can also prevent viral infections.
- Wound-healing – Some oils can stimulate the collagen production. This helps the tissue regenerate faster, thus the wound closes much faster.
- Circulatory – This property can improve the blood flow to the affected area. Some oils can also thin the blood so it can flow much easier. Others can contract and shrink the blood vessels. This may be useful in stopping the bleeding. Blood-thinning can decrease swelling and inflammation.
- Antihistamine – Some essential oils (Blue Tansy & German Chamomile) can treat allergic reactions. These essential oils can reduce hive or rash swelling and itching.
As bonus effects, they can also be:
- Uplifting – Some aromatic oils can uplift your mood and energize the mind and body. For example, citrus oils are excellent at this task.
- Relaxing – Several studies have shown that some oil molecules affect the nervous system. They can induce relaxation by relieving tension in the muscles. They can also lower the heart rhythm.
- Digestive – Other oils excel at boosting the production of bile and speeding up digestion. They can also relieve nausea and gas, and kill bad bacteria.
All these properties make anti-inflammatory essential oils useful in reducing swelling too. You can be swollen without having an inflammation. But inflammation is usually accompanied by swelling too.
The best treatment depends on the cause of your condition. Finding the root cause can help you prevent such episodes in the future.
2) What are the benefits of using essential oils for inflammation and swelling?
The benefits of using an anti-inflammatory aromatic oil are, as you’ve seen, many and diverse.
You can help heal inflammation with essential oils, as long as you know the cause. That plus your health condition can be good indicators for a good treatment.
The most important aspect of these natural remedies is the fact that they’re:
- Milder than NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). Essential oils are not as potent as drugs, but they are efficient. They take different paths toward the injured area, as opposed to just one like drugs do. Used appropriately, they also have very few side effects.
- A lot more affordable than drugs. A small 10ml bottle of an anti-inflammatory essential oil can last you months and months. You can’t use it undiluted because it’s very concentrated. Thus, you’ll need to mix it with carriers and use very little.
3) What are the best essential oils for inflammation and swelling? (Pros & Cons)
The little research that we have so far suggests that many essences can relieve inflammation. Thus, they can also reduce swelling in the limbs, skin, and organs.
I’ve picked those oils with anti-inflammatory potential, which are also proven to work. Of course, the list will continue after the pros and cons, so be sure to check that out as well.
Wintergreen Essential Oil
Botanical name: Gaultheria fragrantissima/procumbens.
- Aspirin is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug. Wintergreen essential oil is 95 – 99% methyl salicylate. This compound is closely related to aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid). This means that the oil of Wintergreen is a very good analgesic. It relieves local pain and reduces inflammation almost right away.
- The oil is also a great antispasmodic. This helps to relieve muscle cramps and contractions by warming up the area.
- Wintergreen can also improve the circulation and protect from infections.
- The oil is very concentrated and can be very dangerous to your health. If you were to apply a 10 ml formula with 2.5% Wintergreen essential oil, it would be equal to one tablet of 325 mg aspirin. The effect is applicable only if you apply all the amount (10ml) and if it is all absorbed into the skin. Under normal circumstances, this is not usually possible.
- You must use only high-quality, pure Wintergreen essential oil. It can be G. procumbens too, but it’s a bit more concentrated than G. fragrantissima.
- If you suffer from epilepsy, you must talk to a doctor first.
- Avoid using Wintergreen oil as an anti-inflammatory if you’re also on anticoagulants.
- If you are allergic to aspirin, you should obviously stay away from it.
Why I like it:
Wintergreen is one of the best essential oils for joint pain and inflammation. It’s also a great essential oil for swelling and bruising. You can use this essential oil for arthritis recipes too. It can help you with all sorts of knee pain and swelling. But it can reduce inflammation and speed up tissue healing, just as well.
Bergamot Essential Oil
Botanical name: Citrus bergamia.
- Do you want to know what essential oil helps with inflammation? Bergamot is one of the best ones because it’s a very rich source of linalool. This compound comes with impressive anti-inflammatory and pain relieving effects.
- You can safely apply Bergamot essential oil for inflammation and swelling relief. The oil is also a good antibacterial and antiseptic.
- It’s a very good antispasmodic, which relieves pain and muscle spasms.
- In rats, Bergamot oil reduced the volume of edema (water retention) too.
- Unless specified otherwise, the oil is phototoxic. There are mechanical ways used to extract the coumarins that cause phototoxicity. You should never expose the skin where you applied the oil to the sun. It may cause violent skin irritation and rashes.
Why I like it:
Bergamot is one of the best essential oils for swelling and inflammation. It’s also great for skin care and to improve your mood. Bergamot is an excellent calming and sedating essence. Studies show encouraging anti-anxiety effects. At the same time, Bergamot can improve your digestion and relieve nausea.
Peppermint Essential Oil
Botanical name: Mentha piperita.
- Peppermint oil is very rich in menthol, a cooling analgesic compound. Topical use of Peppermint can soothe pain and cool down the heat from inflammation.
- The oil is a very good antibacterial and antiviral too.
- Peppermint oil is great for swelling and inflammation. It can also stimulate the lymphatic and digestive systems.
- Peppermint oil is not recommended for people with epilepsy or asthma.
- Large amounts can have narcotic and toxic effects. It can damage the kidneys and the liver.
- It should not be used by people with low blood pressure and heart problems.
Why I like it:
There are many great essential oils for inflammation, and Peppermint is among them. It’s also one of the best essential oils for swelling from injury too. Peppermint is refreshing and uplifting and can relieve headaches as well. It’s a great anti-repellent too.
German Chamomile Essential Oil
Botanical name: Matricaria recutita.
- German Chamomile oil is very rich in alpha-bisabolol, chamazulene, and borneol. These compounds are great for wound healing.
- The oil is a very good antioxidant and pain reliever too. These two effects help to relieve inflammation and swelling.
- German Chamomile (chamazulene) is also a good antihistamine. It can be used to relieve allergic reactions like itching and pain.
- The oil can also protect the nerve endings and relax the blood vessels. Thus, the blood will pass more easily and deliver oxygen and nutrients at the injured site.
- Depending on the extraction method, the oil can be phototoxic. If it contains coumarins, you should avoid exposing yourself to the sun for at least 24 hours.
- For diffusion, dilute this oil with others that are lighter. The scent can be a little too overpowering.
Why I like it:
German Chamomile is among the best essential oils for swelling and inflammation. It is very gentle with the skin, including that of children. It’s great for allergies and it’s great for skin care. It can also soothe cramps and prevent viral infections.
What other essential oils are good for inflammation and swelling?
- Cinnamon bark
- Blue Tansy
- Black Pepper
- Vanilla extract
- Sweet Orange
- Lemon Eucalyptus
- Rose Geranium
Is Frankincense oil an anti-inflammatory also? Frankincense is an excellent anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antioxidant. It is also gentle with the skin and easy to use.
3) Are inflammation and swelling the same thing?
Medically speaking, they are not the same thing. They can be seen one without the other, anywhere in the body. I’ll explain each process in more detail next.
4) What is inflammation?
Inflammation is a term given to your immune system’s response to harmful pathogens. There can be no healing and regeneration without inflammation. As soon as the body feels something’s wrong, it sends blood and other cells to help heal the injury.
Inflammation can be acute (beneficial) or chronic (harmful). The first one is necessary, thus beneficial to our bodies, to get well fast.
It’s actually recommended to let the body follow its healing process and don’t intervene by trying to reduce the inflammation too soon.
Chronic inflammation usually lasts a very long time and that’s not good. Chronic, long-lasting inflammation can damage the tissue. A good example is an acne scar. Inflamed pustules discolor the skin and so you get those unaesthetic dark brown spots.
Untreated chronic inflammation can also cause diseases and other health conditions.
Inflammation, whatever its type, can be very painful. The area is very sensitive to touch and that sensitivity can also affect the nerves around it.
5) Can inflammation cause swelling?
Yes, inflammation often comes with swelling. In fact, it’s one of the symptoms of inflammation. That happens when the immune system tries to heal the injury by sending lymph fluids to the site.
6) How many types of inflammation are there?
Depending on the area where it happens, there can be many types of inflammation. They can affect the:
- Digestive system,
- Respiratory system,
Anti-inflammatory essential oils can be used for skin successfully. You can also use essential oils for knee pain, arthritis, swelling and bruising. Anti-inflammatory oils can be used for all external inflammation types.
7) What is swelling and why does it happen?
First, why is there swelling in inflammation? Swelling is, in fact, the enlargement of certain body parts. It usually is a buildup of fluids, but it can also be the result of inflammation.
There are many causes of swelling. Basically, anything can cause your skin or body to swell. It can be an insect bite, a pregnancy or excess salt intake.
Swelling, just like inflammation, can be internal or external. It can affect the:
If you’re interested in knowing more about what the best essential oils for swelling after surgery are, you can read this post.
8) What is the difference between inflammation and edema?
Edema is the medical term for swelling. Edema is basically water retention. There are lots of reasons for which one may retain water. It is usually very visible on the face, hands, legs, and feet. It can sometimes be painful too.
There are differences between inflammation and edema. They can both have different causes. Edema is not an inflammation but inflammation can be accompanied by fluid retention.
How do I get swelling to go down? You can massage the swollen area with an essential oil blend and elevate your limbs, for starters.
Which essential oil is best for swelling? There are many oils that have diuretic and circulatory properties. Anti-inflammatory essential oils can also help reduce swelling. Some of the best essential oils for edema are:
These essential oils can be used for swollen face, fingers, knees, and feet, etc. For more recipes and details about reducing edema, you can read this post.
Tips to Further Reduce Inflammation and Swelling
Before deciding on a course of action, you must make sure of a few things. Make sure you know the cause of your inflammation and swelling. That will help you find a good treatment option.
You should also check with your doctor to eliminate other serious underlying problems.
Until you get to see a doctor, you can try the following:
- If it’s a knee or arm, you should elevate them above the heart level. The body keeps sending blood and fluids to help the injury. Keeping the concerned area elevated will get less of these fluids, thus reducing the swelling too. What’s already there will slowly begin to drain out.
- If it’s the skin, drink plenty of water to encourage the elimination of the excess fluid. Apply local blends to stimulate drainage.
- Apply gentle massage movements to stimulate drainage and the lymphatic system.
- Protect the injured area as best as possible. Avoid touching it or using it too much.
- Rest as much as possible and apply compresses if needed.
How to Use Essential Oils for Inflammation and Swelling, plus Recipes
If the inflammation is external (on the skin), it’s simple. All you have to do is make a blend and apply it locally. If the inflammation is internal, you must seek medical help.
You should not take essential oils for internal inflammation unless they’ve been approved by a doctor first.
But how exactly do you use essential oils for inflammation and swelling?
The most common and easy to use method is the topical application. You can mix up to 20 drops of an anti-inflammatory essential oil per Oz carrier oil. The carrier can be anything you have at hand.
Some of the best carriers are Tamanu, Black Seed, Hemp, Olive, and Coconut. Why? Because these oils also have analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. They’ll enhance the effects of the essential oils.
You can mix 20 drops of essential oils for swelling or inflammation with a cup of salt. The salt can be pink, regular, Mediterranean, Epsom, etc. The salt will help the oil molecules dissolve in the hot bathwater. Soak in for as long as you like.
Compresses are easy to make and apply only to the affected area. A massage can do that too, but if you prefer a compress, you can go for it. Moist a soft cloth in some hot or cold water. Add a few drops of an essential oil on it and then apply it to the affected area.
Of course, you can also diffuse your essential oils. They will act fast but on the entire body. The anti-inflammatory and anti-edema effects might take some time until you feel them.
Direct application is more useful when it comes to reducing inflammation.
Essential Oil Recipes for Swelling and Inflammation
Now, you have all your facts and details about inflammation and swelling. It’s time to get practical! Take your pick from the following recipes and try them next time you need one.
Concentrated Anti-Inflammatory Essential Oil Recipe
- Peppermint essential oil: 6 drops
- German Chamomile essential oil: 7 drops
- Wintergreen essential oil: 1 drop
- Bergamot essential oil: 7 drops
- Olive oil: 1 ½ Oz (45ml)
Mix and shake the blend well before each use. Apply a moderate amount on the affected area several times a day. You can apply this oil blend recipe on joints, muscles, and skin. You know how to use essential oils for inflammation, which should make this one very easy.
Essential Oils Recipe for Swollen Face
- Frankincense essential oil: 6 drops
- Cedarwood essential oil: 4 drops
- Carrier oil for your skin type: 1 Oz (30ml)
Shake the blend well and apply on the whole face before bed and in the morning. If you use an anti-aging carrier oil, the recipe will also help with wrinkles and scars.
Wound-Healing Aromatherapy Recipe
- Lavender essential oil: 5 drops
- Bergamot essential oil: 2 drops
- Helichrysum essential oil: 3 drops
- Argan or Macadamia oil: 1 Oz (30ml)
Apply on the wound several times a day and continue until there is no scar left. These are all great anti-inflammatory essential oils that can also help with swelling and pain.
Reducing inflammation and swelling can be pretty easy. Still, you’ll have to consider the cause to find the proper treatment. Also, don’t forget to let a new wound follow its own healing process for a day or two.
That inflammation is necessary for your tissue. If it hurts too much, you can always take a pain reliever to help you feel better.
You have lots of essential oils for inflammation and swelling to choose from. Which one will you go for and why? Have you ever watched the stages of a healing wound? When the inflammation starts to decrease, it means the healing has advanced.