February 23, 2012
Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Study Confirms Pain Relief from Essential Oils
Straight up! Essential oils shown in a double-blind, placebo controlled study to reduce painful symptoms of one's menstrual period. Now, we (the store staff and friends) have been using essential oils to reduce pain and inflammation, and speed healing of all sorts of injuries for some time - yet for whatever reason, validation of this type of action is rare (can we just donate a kilo of Helichrysum, and work with anyone to fund a study of human subjects? Let us know...we're serious :)
SO in this study, published in the March 22nd Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology Research, a blend of Lavender, Clary Sage and Marjoram, in a 2:1:1 ration was based in an unscented cream at a 3% concentration. Participants receiving a placebo had synthetic fragrances in the cream base rather than essential oils.
Results indicated a significant difference in both duration and severity of symptoms of dysmenorrhea in the group receiving treatment with true essential oils. The authors conclude: "Aromatic oil massage provided relief for outpatients with primary dysmenorrhea and reduced the duration of menstrual pain in the essential oil group.
To make one ounce of this formula yourself is very simple. There are 4 parts total of essential oil used (2 lavender, 1 clary sage, and 1 marjoram). The total concentration in 1oz, which is 30milliliters, was 3%, the same as saying 1ml per 30ml, so there is one ml total essential oil, and about 29ml of cream base in the formula. According to our measurements, there are ABOUT an average of 44 drops per ml of these essential oils (this is using our standard 3ml pipette, which is rate at 22 drops per ml of water...remember, water and essential oils have different viscountcies, hence the difference in these numbers...you can always test this yourself...we did three tries with each oil: fill the pipette to the 1ml mark, and count the number of drops as the essential oil is expelled - here are the results of our measurements for the number of drops of essential oils per ml from our standard pipettes).
THE POINT BEING, by simply using 11 drops per 'part' of the formula, you can make the blend like this: 22 drops lavender, 11 drops clary sage, and 11 drops sweet marjoram essential oils, into an empty 1oz bottle, then fill the bottle with ANY carrier oil, or an unscented cream such as our organic Jojoba/Coconut cream base. Shake well...and there you have it!
SO THE BIGGER QUESTION is what about the scientific validity of pain relief provided by other essential oils? We know that wintergreen and birch are both virtually 100% 'liquid aspirin' (methyl salicilate) and have been used for ages for pain and inflammation relief (however, we really only recommend their use on a temporary, not ongoing basis, as elimination of methyl salicilate from the body is hard work for the liver).
But what about our all-time favorite: Helichrysum italicum? Almost every user who uses it at above a 20% concentration finds relief almost instantaneous. For many injuries, healing seems more than just the relief of pain, but stimulation of regeneration and inflammation relief, as is consistent with knowledge of the oil's chemistry (for example, a knee was hurting after a long trail run in new shoes the other day...about 10 drops of the oil massaged on location, and the pain was gone...a subsequent run in the same shoes two days later did not result in the pain returning -- this type of relief, on different injuries, seems fairly consistent).
Why did Lavender, Clary Sage and Marjoram work? Because MANY essential oil constituents (as found in these three oils) show inflammation-reducing properties. Only a few, however, show safe, ketone-mediated potentially regenerative properties, one of these being Helichrysum, another being Lavender. Sage and Rosemary Verbenone also contain regenerative ketones, but these have not been proven safe for continual use as those in Lavender and Helichrysum.
Regardless, this is one of the few studies directly investigating the pain relieving properties of essential oils, in controlled research, using a formula that has been specifically called for for treatment of this particular condition in the aromatherapy literature...not because it had been 'proven' to work before, but because those with the knowledge of essential oil chemistry EXPECTED it to work, and it did.
Our final point? That this is one small validation for the entire spectrum of healing potential suggested by the aromatherapy literature...much of this has been written by practitioners and Ph.D.'s with YEARS of research and observation under their belts. Two thumbs up for the researchers taking the chance, and kudos to the aromatherapists whom suggested this type of blend should provide this result in the first place!