Inflammation is the body's natural immune response to infection, harm, or irritation. For acute conditions, like a cut or swollen tonsils, it protects by sending white blood cells or special proteins to the disrupted site. In these cases, you might experience inflammatory symptoms like swelling, redness, and heat. However, chronic inflammation is a different beast. It's here that the body has a steep reaction to a toxic buildup of substances, like cigarette smoke or plaque inside arteries, or other risk factors like too much sodium in your diet, which could lead to inflammation of the joints (otherwise known as rheumatoid arthritis), among several other conditions. The latter situations call for more serious medications and reactive measures and will need the attention of a medical professional. For less threatening inflammatory responses that can be treated topically (or inhaled via a diffuser) like acne, headaches, and pain, essential oils may serve as the perfect natural remedy.
One thing to note: Before applying essential oils to your skin, they should always be diluted first to avoid irritation. Try mixing them with a carrier oil like jojoba or sweet almond oil to diffuse them and actually help them work better, as carrier oils facilitate better absorption so that the essential oil won't evaporate. To figure out how to dilute your essential oils, try this handy guide.
Below, we've rounded up the essential oils that may help ease inflammation.
While more research needs to be done, encapsulated peppermint oil is thought to help relieve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. When mixed with ethanol, peppermint oil reduces sensitivity caused by tension headaches.
Dry, sensitive, scaly skin can be made smoother and stronger with flaxseed oil. It's enriched with fatty acids that help repair the skin's natural barrier and actually boost hydration levels.
While we often dribble lavender into our diffusers to get a restful night's sleep, did you know it also has anti-fungal and wound-healing properties? Two separate studies found that lavender essential oil is lethal to disease-causing strains in the skin and that it helps accelerate the closure of open wounds so that they heal at a rapid rate.
According to S.W. Basics founder Adina Grigore, tea tree oil is the nature's best pimple remedy. "It's renowned for its antibacterial, antimicrobial, and anti-fungal properties, making it an easy and effective spot treatment," she tells us.
Like flaxseed oil, rose oil is barrier-repairing for rough, sensitive, disrupted skin. It's also been proven to reduce pain from menstrual cramps when massaged into the abdominal area, as well as ease anxiety when inhaled, thus reducing inflammatory responses like water loss in the skin.
Chamomile has been used for centuries to treat inflammatory issues like eczema, sunburn, and rashes and even heal wounds. It also reduces symptoms of a sore throat when sprayed on the site.
Studies show that clary sage is effective at treating staph infections and healing wounds and rashes.
If you've ever applied Vicks Vapor Rub or diffused eucalyptus into the air when you were sick and congested, then you know how soothing it is. Science suggests that inhaling eucalyptus essential oil aromas is also great for reducing pain.
Next up: The ultimate essential oil guide.