Could Lavender Oil Help With The Pain Of Fibromyalgia?

Why Is This Important?

Some essential oils have been scientifically proven to help with pain relief – Lavender Oil is one of them.

At the same time, there is still little research into many of the potential treatments for Fibromyalgia.

In this article we look at the case for adding lavender essential oil to your ‘treatment toolbox’ and find evidence to suggest it just might work…

Could Lavender Oil Help The Days Pass With Less Pain?

Fibromyalgia is a fairly newly recognised condition in that, while it has almost certainly existed for generations, it is only recently that sufferers are being correctly diagnosed.

For this reason, there is relatively little data on the best treatments for fibromyalgia. Much like other forms of arthritis, much of the burden then falls to you to try different forms of pain relief and work out the best combination for you.

An image of a woman, made with words related to could lavender oil help with fibromyalgia

Lavender oil, on the other hand, dates back seemingly forever and is famous for it’s proven ability to induce a state of relaxation, with the many benefits that this can bring. Lavender essential oil comes from the evergreen plant by the same name, of which there are over 40 varieties.

‘Lavendula Angustifolia’ as is the technical name of the most commonly used variant of lavender has many uses. Pain management is potentially just one of them.

The question is though – can the benefits of lavender essential oil be used to help symptom control for fibromyalgia sufferers?

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Could Lavender Oil Really Help With Fibromyalgia?

In order to test this hypothesis I am proposing the following 3 criteria –

  1. Can lavender oil help with sleep?
  2. Can lavender oil help with chronic pain?
  3. Can Lavender Oil Reduce Painful Inflammation?

Testing Lavender Oil…

Given that there is no actual cure for fibromyalgia, I believe that it is reasonable to test purely the ability of lavender essential oil to achieve the above symptom controls.

A young woman in pain is struggling to sleep

1. Helping With Sleep? YES

Lavender oil is renowned amongst aromatherapists for it’s relaxing properties. This has also been proposed to help with both pain relief and sleep.

Sleep can be a particular problem for anyone with fibromyalgia, so I was especially interested to look at the clinical data behind the claims of lavender oil to help with this.

We know that lack of sleep not only makes you feel worse, but actively makes the pain signals more acute.

Hirokawa et al studied lavender oil and sleep patterns, and found that participants felt less sleepy on waking, having slept with an infusion of lavender oil. It can therefore be deduced that they most likely experienced a deeper, more effective sleep as the reason for waking up more alert.

Another study (Moeini et al) looked specifically at the sleep quality of patients in an ICU (intensive care unit).

These can be expected to require considerable pain relief and sleep is a real problem.

They looked specifically at those patients suffering ischemic heart disease and concluded

“Quality of sleep in ischemic heart disease patients was significantly improved after aromatherapy with lavender oil. Therefore, using aromatherapy can improve the quality of their sleep and health.”

Another small pilot study found improvements with lavender when it came to treating mild insomnia (Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine

Lavender oil was also found to improve quality of sleep in women suffering with depression (Lee et al) and also increase the time in ‘deep sleep’ (Chronobiology International).

So with 5 separate trials all coming to the same basic conclusion – lavender oil does help sleep. So if you suffer with fibromyalgia, lavender oil dispensed though an electronic diffuser while you sleep may be an excellent addition to your symptom control plans.

A woman suffering with fibromyalgia is slumped over her steering wheel.

2. Helping With Chronic Pain? YES

Again, there is a fair amount of data available to support this proposition too.

Lavender is known to provide a relaxing quality – but does this transmit in to pain relief? Well, yes it does.

As Da Silva et al concluded from their study,

“The results of this study reveal (in vivo) the analgesic and anti-inflammatory activities of LEO (Lavender Essential Oil) and demonstrates its important therapeutic potential.”

This study actually crossed both this question and the next one (around anti-inflammatory properties) and found positive results. (analgesic meaning pain numbing).

Furthermore, when lavender was mixed with another gentle oil and massaged into a sore knee joint (affected by rheumatoid arthritis which is similar in many ways to fibromyalgia), further improvements in pain relief were observed (Pain Management Nursing

So again it is probably fair to assume that lavender oil could also help with chronic pain relief from fibromyalgia.

A Fire extinguisher putting out the word inflammation signifying the possibility of treating the inflammation from your fibromyalgia

3. Reducing Painful Inflammation? MAYBE

This is the only area for which the data is really limited, but we still have the Da Silva trial that specifically measured inflammation and the Pain Management Nursing trial that quite possibly could have seen an anti-inflammatory effect in helping the RA-inflamed knee joints.

But in the interest of balance, let’s declare the inflammation debate a draw as there is insufficient conclusive evidence.

How Would You Use Lavender Oil for Fibromyalgia.

To promote sleep, the best way is to use an electronic infuser that slowly release lavnder in to the air while you sleep.

For chronic pain, this would also work well. However, another option is to massage the oil in to painful areas (lower back, muscles or joints) to make sure they also take effect on your most painful parts.

The Final Word –

Even with the anti-inflammatory properties of lavender oil being undecided, there is still plenty of evidence to support the benefits for sleep and for chronic pain management.

With this in mind, lavender oil can fairly be put forward as a legitimate potential treatment for fibromyalgia.

Obviously, nothing pain-related will work for everyone all the time, but on balance, lavender oil is likely to help with both sleep and control of your chronic pain.

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References Used –

1. Kumi Hirokawa, Takashi Nishimoto, Toshiyo Taniguchi. (Feb 2012). Effects of Lavender Aroma on Sleep Quality in Healthy Japanese Students. Perception and Motor Skills.
2. Mahin Moeini, Maryam Khadibi, Reza Bekhradi, Seyed Ahmad Mahmoudian, Fatemeh Nazari. (2010). Effect of Aromatherapy on the Quality of Sleep in Ischemic Heart Disease Patients Hospitalized in Intensive Care Units of Heart Hospitals of the Isfahan University of Medical Sciences. Iranian Journal of Nursing and Midwifery Research.
3. George T Lewith, Anthony Dean Godfrey, Philip Prescott. (Aug 2005). A Single-Blinded, Randomized Pilot Study Evaluating the Aroma of Lavandula Augustifolia as a Treatment for Mild Insomnia. Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine.
4. Inn-Sook Lee, Gyung-Joo Lee. (Jan 2006). Effects of Lavender Aromatherapy on Insomnia and Depression in Women College Students. Taehan Kanho Hakhoe Chi
5. Namni Goel, Hyungsoo Kim, Raymund P Lao. (2005). An Olfactory Stimulus Modifies Nighttime Sleep in Young Men and Women. Chronobiology International.
6. Gabriela L da Silva, Carolina Luft, Adroaldo Lunardelli, Robson H Amaral, Denizar A da Silva Melo, Márcio V F Donadio, Fernanda B Nunes, Marcos S de Azambuja, João C Santana, Cristina M B Moraes, Ricardo O Mello, Eduardo Cassel, Marcos Aurélio de Almeida Pereira, Jarbas R de Oliveira. (Aug 2015). Antioxidant, Analgesic and Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Lavender Essential Oil. Anais da Academia Brasileira de Ciências
7. Zehra Gok Metin and Leyla Ozdemir. (2016). The Effects of Aromatherapy Massage and Reflexology on Pain and Fatigue in Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Pain Management Nursing.

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