As the causes of Peripheral Neuropathy are quite varied, unless one already knows what the underlying cause is, it is a good first step to have it diagnosed by a primary health care professional. This information will allow you to make informed choices when it comes to including additional strategies into your plan of action.
There are a number of essential oils that have analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic and nervine properties but when it comes to blending for Peripheral Neuropathy my top 5 essential oils are Basil, Lavender, Marjoram, Peppermint and Yarrow. I also like to include St. John’s Wort or Tamanu in the carrier oil as both these carrier oils have excellent properties for dealing with nerve conditions.
Basil, Sweet – (Ocimum basilicum ct. linalool)
Chemistry: Esters (3%); Sesquiterpenes (1%); Oxides (4%); Monoterpenes (15%); Alcohol (50% a large proportion of which is linalool); Phenols (25%).
Properties: Analgesic; Anti-depressant; antispasmodic; relaxing.
Lavender – (Lavendula angustifolia)
Chemistry: Esters (45% mostly linalyl acetate); Aldehydes (2%); Ketones (4%); Sesquiterpenes (5%); Lactone, coumarins (0.3%); Oxides (2%); Monoterpenes (4%); Alcohols (36% with around 30% linalool). Both linalool and linalyl acetate have local analgesic and anesthetic effects.
Properties: Analgesic; anti-depressant; anti-inflammatory; anti-spasmodic; calming.
Marjoram – (Origanum majorana)
Chemistry: Esters (2% linalyl acetate); Aldehydes (1%); Sesquiterpene (3%); Monoterpene (40%); Alcohol (50% linalool)
Properties: Analgesic; anti-inflammatory; antispasmodic; nerve tonic.
Peppermint – (Mentha piperita)
Chemistry: Esters (6%); Ketone (30%); Sesquiterpenes (6%); Oxides (7%); Monoterpenes (6%); Alcohols (42% Menthol around 40%). Menthol causes a cooling sensation at the site of application.
Properties: Analgesic, Anti-inflammatory; anti-spasmodic; cooling.
Yarrow – (Achillea millefolium)
Chemistry: Sesquiterpenes (45%); Monoterpenes (28%); Ketones (9% Camphor); Alcohols (7%); Oxides (7%); Esters (2%).
Properties: Analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic and carminative.
There are a number of application methods that might be helpful when dealing with peripheral neuropathy including: hand or foot baths; compresses; topical application on the affected area. See Methods of Use in the Article Archives.
Some interesting research on using essential oils or essential oil components:
The effect of foot-bath with or without the essential oil of lavender on the autonomic nervous system: A randomized trial Y. Saeki Department of Anatomy and Physiology, Nagano College of Nursing, 1694 Akaho, Komagane-City, Nagano 399-4117, Japan
Objectives: This study was designed to investigate the effect of foot-bath with or without the essential oil of lavender on the autonomic nervous system.
Design: Randomized crossover controlled study.
Setting: Nursing college, Nagano, Japan.
Intervention: Young women sat with their feet soaked in hot water for 10 minutes with and without the essential oil.
Outcome measures: An electrocardiogram, fingertip blood flow and respiratory rate were recorded. Autonomic function was evaluated using spectral analysis of heart rate variability.
Results: The foot-bath caused no changes in heart or respiratory rates, but produced a significant increase in blood flow. Using spectral analysis, the parasympathetic nerve activity increased significantly during the both types of foot-bath. In the case of the foot-bath with the addition of essential oil of lavender, there were delayed changes to the balance of autonomic activity in the direction associated with relaxation.
Conclusion: A hot foot-bath and oil of lavender appear to be associated with small but significant changes in autonomic activity.
A Novel Treatment of Postherpetic Neuralgia Using Peppermint Oil; Davies, Simon J. F.R.C.A., B.S.C.; Harding, Louise M. Ph.D.; Baranowski, Andrew P. M.D., F.R.C.A.; Clinical Journal of Pain: May/June 2002 – Volume 18 – Issue 3 – pp 200-202
Background: Postherpetic neuralgia remains a difficult problem to treat. A number of therapies have been shown to be effective, but some patients have intractable pain.
Patient: The case of a 76-year-old woman whose pain had been resistant to standard therapies is described. The pattern of quantitative sensory testing results for this patient led the authors to believe that she had an “irritable nociceptor” type of pathophysiology.
Intervention: The patient was instructed to apply neat peppermint oil (containing 10% menthol) to her skin, resulting in an almost immediate improvement in her pain. This pain relief persisted for 4–6 hours after application of the oil.
Results: The patient was successfully treated with topical peppermint oil. During 2 months of follow-up she has had only a minor side effect, with continuing analgesia. The authors believe this is the first evidence of peppermint oil (or menthol) having a strong analgesic effect on neuropathic pain. The possible mechanisms of action of peppermint oil are discussed.
The Antinociceptive Effect of (-)-Linalool in Models of Chronic Inflammatory and Neuropathic Hypersensitivity in Mice Patricia Aparecida Batista; Maria Fernanda de Paula Werner; Erica Carvalho Oliveira; Leonel Burgos; Patricia Pereira; Lucimar Filot da Silva Brum; Gina M. Story;Adair R.S. Santos
We used multiple pain models to investigate the effects of (-)-linalool, a monoterpene alcohol present in the essential oil of plants, on chronic inflammatory and neuropathic hypersensitivity in adult Swiss mice. Inflammatory or neuropathic hypersensitivity was induced by intraplantar (i.pl.) injection of complete Freund’s adjuvant (CFA) or partial sciatic nerve ligation (PSNL), respectively. Twenty-four hours after CFA injection, we used Von Frey filaments and acetone-evoked cooling to evaluate tactile and thermal hypersensitivity, respectively. A single i.p. injection of (-)-linalool (50 or 200 mg/kg) administered 30 minutes before testing reduced CFA-induced mechanical hypersensitivity. Similarly, (-)-linalool reduced acetone-evoked hypersensitivity up to 4 hours after treatment. Compared with vehicle, (-)-linalool produced a marked reduction in CFA-induced paw edema. (-)-Linalool also reduced mechanical hypersensitivity induced by PSNL 7 days after injury. Multiple (-)-linalool treatments given chronically (twice a day for 10 days; 50 mg/kg, i.p.) significantly reduced mechanical hypersensitivity induced by CFA and PSNL. This multidose strategy did not cause tolerance. We also reasoned that (-)-linalool might reduce nociceptive behavior in response to direct administration of inflammatory mediators. Therefore, we injected the cytokines IL-1β (.1 pg/site) and TNF-α (1 pg/site) intrathecally. (-)-Linalool inhibited the biting response induced by IL-1β and TNF-α.
The article adds information about antinociceptive properties of (-)-linalool in chronic inflammatory and neuropathic hypersensitivity. It also indicates that (-)-linalool might be potentially interesting in the development of new clinically relevant drugs for the management of persistent pain.