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How to relieve backache with essential oils?

84%, that is the percentage of people who suffer from backache during their lifetime!

These pains that spoil your daily life can be relieved with essential oils that are analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and muscular relaxant.



Lumbago is a type of pain more or less intense localised in the lower part of the spine, more specifically in the lumbar region. It is often the result of poor posture or the result of a sudden sharp movement. About 90% of lumbagos will get better spontaneously in a period of 4 to 6 weeks.



There are three types of lumbar pain that correspond to the way the pain evolves over time.

  1. chronic: when the lumbago has been present for over 3 months
  2. acute: of a duration of fewer than 7 days
  3. recurring: several acute episodes in succession, reappearing in a more or less frequent fashion over a duration of time.

Pain linked to lumbago can go down into the buttocks, the back of the thighs and even behind the knees.



lumbago illustration

Lumbago is one of the backaches that is the more common. It can therefore be the result of several factors:

  • a very big physical effort when carrying out a particular professional activity
  • lifting something heavy
  • a wrong movement following a bad posture that can happen when bending down to catch something
  • repeated physical efforts involving the lower back
  • practising a physical activity without previously doing a warm-up
  • stress, worry, anxiety (these are psychological causes of lumbago)
  • muscular weakness

Pregnancy too can be a factor of lumbago occurring. This can easily be explained by the increase in weight of the uterus and the lengthening of the muscles at the level of the abdomen resulting in a tilting of the back.





Is it normal to have backache as one ages?

FALSE. The back is not like an object that wears out with time. The frequency of lumbago in people who suffer from it does not increase with age. It is more or less constant with the exception of adolescence and halfway through adult life. Changes linked to menopause may contribute to an increase in all chronic pain in women (joints and back).

The pain could be related to stress

TRUE. Stress is a psychological reaction that makes the body react when feeling threatened. However, the body cannot forever live in a state of contraction, muscles tensed, ready to pounce. This is when stress can be at the root of the backache, even more so if there is a problem with posture or a lesion. This doesn’t mean that you have a backache because you are stressed or vice versa.

To avoid having a backache you need to stand straight

FALSE. There is no ideal posture against backache. The back is not meant to be either straight or slumped all the time. The body’s main role is to move.

It is preferable to avoid wearing high heels

FALSE. Some women will suffer from backache wearing flat shoes, others when wearing high heels. This question is therefore left to each individual to assess intelligently: one should wear shoes adapted to each activity. In addition, studies have shown that wearing orthopaedic soles had hardly any benefit as to backache.

You could displace a vertebrae

FALSE. Displacing a vertebrae doesn’t exist. The role of a vertebrae is to protect the bone marrow in the spine. Only a violent choc can cause a displacement and this would need a surgical intervention. In addition, every person has legs that are of different lengths, and backache cannot be explained generally because of a crooked pelvis.



The EOs the most used for treating backache are the ones that have anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties.

Recommendation: a local application by massage or in a bath. If you choose a massage, do not use purely the EO, but mix them with a VO to avoid burning. In general, 30 drops of EO  will be sufficient in 50ml VO.

4 EO to soothe backache


99 % of wintergreen essential oil is made of methyl salicylate, a natural molecule very similar to aspirin. Its properties are muscle and joint relaxing as well as analgesic.

Properties:  analgesic, anti-inflammatory

Usage: Dilution at 10% max in local application 4 times a day.

Precautionary usage:Carry out a skin test before application. Do not apply on the skin pure. Is not suitable for pregnant or breast feeding women, or for children under the age of 6, people suffering from epilepsy or who are allergic to aspirin. Do not use this essential oil if you are taking anticoagulants. It is toxic by oral route, do not swallow this EO. Do not use pure.


Eucalyptus citriodora  EO is a warming and soothing oil. It has the ability to soothe as well as reduce effectively pain, aches and muscular stiffness.

Properties:  anti-inflammatory (thanks to the citronellal), analgesic effect.

Usage: in a teaspoon of oily arnica maceration, mix 2 drops of eucalyptus citriodora. Apply to painful areas 4 times a day.

Precautionary usage: : Carry out a skin test before application. Do not apply on the skin pure. Is not suitable for pregnant or breast feeding women, or for children under the age of 6


Menthol, the main component of this oil has an anaesthetic effect on pain. It instantaneous icy feeling allows the inflammation to be isolated.

Properties: refreshing and anaesthetic

Usage: in a teaspoon of oily arnica maceration, mix 1 drop of peppermint EO. Apply by massage to the painful areas 4 times a day.

Precautionary usage: Carry out a skin test before application. Never apply on a large section of skin (risk of hypothermia). Is not suitable for pregnant or breast feeding women, or for children under the age of 8, elderly people, epileptic sufferers or patients with neurological troubles, patients with or without cancerous hormone-dependent troubles, patients suffering from gall bladder inflammation, severe liver trouble, hypertension and if there are important cardiovascular problems.


Organic lavender EO has the property of bringing effectively relieve to strained muscles: it will reduce spasms in a significant manner and as a result, it will prepare the body for treatment with other oils in synergy.

Other essential oils than can be of help

Precautionary usage: Never apply on the skin pure. Is not suitable for pregnant or breast feeding women, or for children under the age of 6. Stop the use of essential oils in the case of a cough, tears or irritation of mucous.


It can be beneficial in the care of back ache by application to the inflamed muscles when diluted in a VO.

Properties: anti-inflammatory (thanks to its concentration of sesquiterpenes)


It is effective in soothing several types of pain such as inflammations, rheumatism, arthritis, osteoarthritis and muscular pain, including back pain.

Properties: analgesic (thanks to eugenol)


For all back pain related to stress, repeated contractures pain, roman chamomile EO is one of the most effective. Its soothing effect calms the pain while also limiting nervous fatigue. As a result its usage is particularly recommended in periods of stress. Apply locally by massage in a circular motion and insisting on the most painful zone.


Thanks to its invigorating and stimulating properties, it helps in putting a brake to the start of back ache while also contributing in invigorating the entire body.

Properties: anti-infectious, analgesic

recipe Some recipes to ease back ache




Usage for both formulas: Mix the EOs with the oily maceration

Pour 10 drops of the mixture on the painful area 2 to 6 times a day as needed. For relief from inflammatory pain, you can repeat 4 to 6 times a day.

pregnantFORMULA FOR PREGNANT WOMEN (+3months – ask for medical advice)


Usage:  Mix the EOs with the oily maceration

Pour 6 drops of the mixture on the painful area 3 times a day. Maximum 5 days.


1 g of italian helichrysum EO + 1 g of wintergreen EO + 1 g of peppermint diluted in 10g hypericum VO. Muscular relaxant effect and analgesic guaranteed! Use 3 to 4 times a day in massage.

Added advice

To maximize the penetration of essential oils, before a massage, the pores of the skin will be dilated by going over the area with a hairdryer.



back massage

There are other natural reflexes you can adopt to soothe lumbago and you can use especially as an addition to the synergy of EOs, such as:

  • Osteopathy: manipulation technique that consists in bringing back the global alignment of the body through manipulation aiming at unknotting tension and ease pain.
  • Acupuncture: this therapy consists in inserting fine needles in the body tissues of the lumbar region.
  • Phyto-therapy: this treatment uses the analgesic and antispasmodic virtues of plants (white willow for ex.), and thus ease the lumbago. It consists of making up infusions to be drunk throughout the day. It is allowed to add honey for a little more taste.
  • Ginger: natural anti-inflammatory, the latter is known for its analgesic properties.
  • Thalasso-therapy: natural treatment that calls for the benefits of marine resources (sea water, algae, mud) to ease pain. This particular therapy is practised in a specialised centre under the care of a medical practitioner.



Lumbago is not one of the back problems hard to treat. This of course is if you do the right thing:

  • To reduce inflammation and lessen the pain: reflex cold (ice, gel, spray) for 15 minutes three times a day
  • Once your skin has regained its normal temperature, use a synergy of EOs
  • Vary the positions of your body because to remain in the same posture for hours will only make things worse
  • Sleep on your side with a cushion between your knees




Physical activity is already a natural pain relief. The practice of a regular physical activity is strongly recommended in case of lumbago because it will strengthen the muscular capacity and prevent the return of this back ache.

  • Swimming: the body remains afloat whereas the movements are working the back muscles with no danger of compressing the vertebrae.
  • Abdominals: the body tends to take on the right posture when the abdominal muscles are more flexible
  • Walking: this type of exercise, especially if the walking is fast, will reinforce the muscles at the pelvic level and of the back, making sure you are wearing the right footwear.
  • Yoga: postures carried out in classes will render the spine more supple, especially in the lumbar region. By doing the different postures in a row, you will reinforce the deep muscles by stretching them while working on your breathing.
  • Pilates: this type of gymnastics is based on a linking of exercises done on the floor with or without equipment. The focus point is the lower abdomen or pelvic floor. Breathing is strongly linked to the movements and it favours the work done on the deep abdominal muscles.



To avoid getting lumbago, it is important to take great care of one’s back, and of the lumbar region. It is therefore advised to:

  • Do exercises that strengthen the muscles
  • position yourself in front of the object when lifting it from the floor and to maintain a straight back when doing it.
  • Move frequently and vary your position
  • Carry out a short warming exercise before getting into a physical activity, especially if the exercise involves the lumbar region.
  • Try to manage stress as well as possible: stress creates pressure on the back muscles.
  • Not force when there is pain. You should listen to pain.
  • Avoid the prolonged use of analgesics: they only offer momentary relief and may end up causing real illnesses (ulcers, some can increase the risk of cardiovascular problems or destroy cartilage)
  • Don’t stop exercising. Don’t stay inactive (fear of movement). Staying immobile will not improve the situation.
  • Practice well-chosen and relevant sporting activities


The case of the lumbar belt: it is not THE solution against back ache. It could be a temporary solution but, long term, it will make you lose confidence in your back and make you believe that it is really fragile. The best treatment is movement!



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