The Pain Issue
By Neelima Julia Baird
Some say we live in a world of pain. Others say that pain is simply our body’s way of telling us that something needs to change. I tend to agree with the latter, but I can also attest to this- living with chronic pain, day in and day out, takes a toll not only on the body but also the spirit, the relationships, and the “big life picture” of the person living with it.
Of course, not all pain is chronic, ongoing, life-changing pain. Some pains come and go- headaches, tummy-aches, bumps, scrapes, burns, bruises, sprains and pulls are some of the common pains that pepper our everyday existence.
And then there’s the type of pain that accompanies recovery from surgery and/or serious injury. This pain is in-between the worlds of the chronic and the day-to-day variety... we may understand it’s not permanent, but it often lasts longer than we anticipated and it certainly does impact us... most significantly, it can influence our capacity to keep a positive outlook while we are healing.
There’s a saying in Young Living (“there's an oil for that!”), and it definitely applies to any of the kinds of pain we’re considering here, especially when we look at the big picture!!
Since we are welcoming a new readership, it bears pointing out that this blog presumes the readers’ understanding that we are discussing Young Living Essential Oils. For reasons of purity and efficacy, they are simply the only oils I value enough to consider.
Pain is such a big issue we can’t do the topic justice in only one post. So, today we'll start with those day-to-day aches and annoyances, and next time we'll follow it up with considerations of chronic or long-term pain.
And of course, as I remind you that nothing in this blog is intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any condition, I will also add that the ideas below are not exhaustive or definitive; they are based on the personal experience of myself or real people whom I know. Use your common sense, your Essential Oils Desk Reference, and your own experience of the oils to guide you. You can use the current Product Guide as a roadmap as our discussion unfolds.
Everyday Pains and Everyday Oils
For a lot of our everyday pains, we need look no further than Young Living’s Everyday Oils kit. I think most of us start out with this kit, and is it any wonder? Its four singles and six blends can cover a wide array of our day-to-day concerns, and most of them deal with pain in at least one of its forms.
Lavender is a wonderful asset with any injuries, scrapes or bruises. It can help keep swelling within its useful level, while it minimizes pain and soothes the area. With burns, many people experience immediate relief. I’ve seen this used on many kinds of burns and know that there are firemen who use it.
Frankincense can help stop bleeding, and also brings a sense of calm and ease to what could otherwise be a panicky situation. In our house we've had fingertips cut nearly off, with nothing more than lavender and frankincense under the bandage, that healed completely without even a scar (at the risk of alarming the readers, at least one of these cuts went straight through the fingernail).
Peppermint is great for muscle aches, and also a go-to the occassional tension headache. I dab a little on my temples (being careful to avoid the eyes, the vapors do waft a bit), and on the “suboccipitals”, those tiny muscles at the base of the skull, whose clenching often contributes to the blood constriction that accompanies many headaches. As a final defense, I’ll put a drop on the tip of my tongue (I would only ever do this with YL oils), hold the tip of my tongue to the roof of my mouth with mouth closed, and inhale/exhale deeply through the nose.
Bug bites, stings, and scrapes respond quickly to Purification. Applied neat, directly on the area of concern, it helps the stinging sensation and helps cleanse those scrapes so we know they’re healing in the best way.
PanAway is the obvious choice for sports injuries or those twists/tweaks/tugs we never intend for our muscles, but which happen anyway... the helichrysum helps at the nerve level while the wintergreen and peppermint are both soothing.
Valor is a popular oil among the back-ache crowd. Originally formulated as part of the original Raindrop Technique protocol for energetic aligning with the healing process, it is nick-named “chiropractor in a bottle”- some chiropractors report that rubbing it on the spine first helps them get more complete adjustments, the benefits of which also last longer.
Thieves is high in clove, making it a valuable choice for dental pain. I’ve also used it on cuts and wounds when it was closer at hand than Purification.
Sometimes it’s our feelings or dignity that’s hurt- I love to snuggle up to Peace and Calming or Valor when this is the case!
And let's not forget Joy- new to the Everyday Oils kit since this post first went out in 2012. Joy's uplifting aroma helps elevate even the most difficult moments. It contains rose oil, which is recognized as having the highest vibrational frequency of any plant- so it is genuinely uplifting.
Everyday Pains, Beyond Everyday Oils...
While the Everyday Oils kit is beloved for the diverse uses in its repertoire, Young Living makes over 400 products, and it’s not just to show off! Now we expand our discussion to incorporate some of YL's other remarkable offerings.
For simplicity in a complex subject, I’ve categorized ideas according to Type of Pain.
This is probably the biggest "subset" of pain, so understandably there are a lot of options! I'll list single oils, oil blends, and a couple of supplement ideas. Don't feel like you need to use all the products listed- just start with the ones you already have on hand and let your interest/intuition dictate where you want to expand your collection.
Single Oils for Muscle/Joint Pain
Black Pepper can be warming to tired muscles and joints. It can also be a little warming to the skin in general, so be sure to dilute with a carrier oil like V6 until you know what your tolerance is like.
Frankincense makes an appearance in many health stores' joint-pain shelves, in capsule form. As an essential oil it’s much more absorbable than powdered-resin capsules, and Young Living’s oil is deemed appropriate for internal as well as external use.
Elemi- “frankincense’s cousin” - combines well with other oils, especially valued for its muscle soothing effects when rubbed on muscles and over the spine.
German Chamomile- contains compounds similar to what our bodies produce when we have over-exerted our muscles, as in gardening or (sigh) shoveling snow.
Wintergreen is high in a compound similar to that found in aspirin, only it is still in the symbiotic relationship with the other plant compounds.
The evergreen oils are also popular for muscular and joint pain- think Balsam and Douglas Fir, Spruce, Cypress, and Pine.
Copaiba - is used in it's native South America, for pain and inflammation... plus it seems to have a tendency to amplify the effects of whatever oils it accompanies!
Oil Blends for Muscle/Joint Pain
Pan-Away’s Turbo-Powered cousin, Deep Relief, comes in a roll-on form that is already in a coconut oil base and has Copaiba added. Deep Relief can have an intense cooling effect.
AromaSiez has a fresh, fragrant smell- I love the basil and cypress in combination. It has less of a cooling effect, though it definitely imparts a sensation of something beneficial going on in the tissue.
Relieve It has a slightly warming effect, probably due to the black pepper. I love the pine and hyssop aroma too. This leaves me feeling as if I’m wrapped in a blanket, with healing underway.
Supplements for Muscle/Joint Pain
BLM (short for bone-ligament-muscle) comes in capsules or powder, and contains MSM, Glucosamine, and other joint-specific nutrients, along with the essential oils of wintergreen, clove, and balsam fir.
Sulfurzyme is composed of MSM (an organic sulfur that has powerful anti-inflammatory effects) and Ningxia wolfberries. Dr. Ronald Lawrence MD, co-author of “The Miracle of MSM”, has stated that Young Living’s Sulfurzyme is the best MSM formula he’s seen, precisely because the nutrients in the wolfberry help increase the body’s utilization of MSM’s pain and inflammation reducing compounds.
What about those other day-to-day pains?
Remember what I said about Peppermint? It's our "go-to" for headaches (Everyday Oils Kit).
M-Grain is a favorite for headaches. Rubbed on the temples or used in “palm diffusing” (put a few drops in one palm, rub palms together then cup hands over nose), it not only helps the pain fade into the background, but instills a feeling of clarity and calm.
I've been known to use Clarity for headaches that come when I've been focusing really hard on something... it feels like relaxing the mental tension helps my muscles relax!
I've also been known to use Release and Brain Power.
Dragon Time! During a time when I had horrendous cramps, I was always amazed to actually feel the pain backing away within 10 minutes of applying to my abdomen and lower back. Prior to discovering this, I was taking Ibuprofen throughout the day, at levels I felt were risky-but the pain was really that bad... With Dragon Time I was able to take that burden off my liver.
Dragon Time also comes in a Shower Gel and Massage oil. Belly or Low back massage from someone who cares for you may go a long way toward helping that pain recede...
Clove! This is popular among parents with teething babies, too. Clove has a long history in dental care for pain and numbing, plus it boasts the highest antioxidant levels of anything tested so far. Clove can be warming. Dilute with a carrier oil like V6 until you know your tolerance, and especially for youngsters.
Lavender bears repeating! The “father” of modern aromatherapy was a chemist who dunked a badly burned arm into a vat of lavender oil (before there were methods to adulterate oils, so it was much like ours) and was so impressed with the healing that he left his career to study medicinal properties in essential oils.
Either as a first step or follow-up to lavender oil, LavaDerm cooling mist brings welcome relief. We keep a bottle in the fridge in case of kitchen accidents.
In my experience, our Lavender Hand & Body Lotion helps soothe the after-effects of a day in the sun, by keeping the skin hydrated and saturated with the healing benefits of YL's unmatched lavender oil.
Young Living has a full complement of digestive enzymes, as well as the softgel capsule called Digest and Cleanse, which can support a return to normal function when things are “off”. Also, the oil blend Di-Gize has gotten rid of my rare tummy aches within minutes of application- and taken internally during instances of food poisoning it can hasten the process along so your discomfort is short-lived.
A new blend was just released in July 2014, called AromaEase. This is for stomach upset that's related to stress. Don't you love it? Gary thinks of everything.
Post-Surgical and other Extreme Pain
The Young Living community-at-large has popularized a homemade capsule nick-named the "morphine bomb" that has been used by people who don't want the pain meds even after surgery, childbirth, and other extreme situations. Not only does their pain go away, but the compounds in the oil are actually anti-inflammatory and healing, and not toxic to the liver and other organs like meds may be. What they do is, put 5 drops each of Frankincense, Copaiba, and Balsam Fir into a capsule and swallow. That's that.
If you look at the names of Young Living’s blends, it will soon become clear to you that a number of them are suited to a wide range of emotional experiences (Joy, Forgiveness,Acceptance, Inner Child, to name but a few...)!
The Feelings Kit comprises a selection of oils to be used in a protocol that can even be self-administered to help clear emotional blockages that hold us back from our full potential. I encourage you to have a look at all the other blends too, and to always have a selection of those most intriguing to you.
My personal favorites include Present Time, White Angelica, Inspiration and Gathering.
A recent addition (July 2014) to the Young Living line-up includes a two-part kit that's specific to helping people who've experienced trauma to find balance in daily living: Freedom Sleep and Freedom Release have had a very welcome reception.
Choosing and applying the oils for physical pain-
I’ve heard Gary Young say that if you try an oil and 20 minutes later it hasn’t worked, then the problem is that you haven’t tried the right oil. Vicki Opfer helped this make sense to me when she explained that our bodies use the oils the same way they use food. So when we eat what our body needs, it uses those nutrients right away to help build health. If we eat stuff our body doesn't need- well, it still gets used up but it doesn't have the same beneficial impact on our health.
Using German Chamomile as an example, Vicki said that when we overexert our muscles our bodies respond by producing a certain compound. It we fail to produce enough, muscle aches are the result. Well! It happens that one of the compounds in German Chamomile is similar enough that our body will use it to help reduce pain from over-exertion.
I understand this to be the essential oil equivalent of when we eat something and say, “oooh, that hit the spot!” If the oils you choose are different from what your body is craving, it may hold out to see what else you offer it. Gary once jokingly said, “Just keep trying oils until you get the right one”. What this means in practical experience, is... layer.
In layering oils, you rub one oil in, wait a few minutes, and rub another oil in over the same area. Some oils can be applied “neat” (undiluted), and others will require dilution with a carrier oil. For a carrier, I like to use Young Living’s V6 Oil because it combines so many great “fatty” oils and is non-staining. They also make other great massage oils with essential oils built in, like Ortho Ease, Ortho Sport, Relaxation and Dragon Time (mentioned above).
A general guideline is that you can layer up to about 4 oils in any one application. Have I layered 6 or 7 in an emergency, just trying to increase the chance of finding the one that was needed? Of course. Just bear in mind that the more oils there are, the more information there is for the body to process and the longer it may take to sort out what’s working. Remember also that your body will metabolize the oils (use them up) within a couple of hours, so you can repeat or adjust the oils for the next round according to the results you achieved.
Sometimes it is impractical or impossible to put oils directly on the area of concern (for instance, if surgical incisions are still fresh, or in the case of amputation, bandaging, or if the person simply can’t tolerate touch in the area). If this is the case, remember that the soles of the feet and the palms of the hands serve as maps of the entire body. Placing the appropriate oil on the “map” location of feet or hands will serve that part of the body, especially in conjunction with your loving intention. Your Essential Oils Desk Reference has pictures of these maps to guide you, whichever edition you may have. Some editions also include guides for Auricular application (using the outsides of the ears).
When dealing with any physical issue, it is important to consider and address the entire experience of the person who is going through it. On the physical level, this means to deal not just with the obvious physical manifestation, but also related body systems (for instance, with a broken bone there may also be skin, muscle, and nerve involvement; while there's no "broken bone" oil, we certainly can help with the other three!).
It's also paramount to offer support for the emotional and spiritual experience of the person and, depending on the seriousness, for their family as well. Body/Mind/Spirit are not separate entities, but aspects of a whole. Is it any wonder that the words "health", "holistic", and "holy" share the same root- the meaning of which is "whole"? This integrative approach will be at the core of the next blog post- dealing with chronic or ongoing pain.