Aromatherapy is considered an alternative medicine that involves the practice of using essential oils to enhance psychological and physical well-being. Essential oils are oils extracted from flowers, bark, stems, leaves, roots and other parts of a plant. The aroma of essential oils can be inhaled, poured into bath water or the oils can be diluted and rubbed on the skin so they are absorbed into the bloodstream. Applications include pain relief, mood enhancement and increased cognitive function. Essential oils can also be used as household cleaners and insect repellent.

How does aromatherapy work?

Some people believe that essential oils can stimulate nerves in the nose, which then send impulses to the brain to control memory and emotion to either calm or stimulate the body. Others think that the oils interact with the body’s hormones and enzymes to cause changes in blood pressure, pulse rate and other bodily functions. It is also believed that essential oils can stimulate the body to produce pain-fighting substances.

Aromatherapy as bulging disc treatment

The best way to apply essential oils for a bulging disc is with massage targeted at the affected area. A professional masseuse, a friend or a partner can apply the oils for you with massage, or you can massage the oils into your back on your own or with an aid such as a loofah or self-massage tool. Essential oils can also be applied using ice, cold compresses or warm towels. Essential oils that may benefit a bulging disc include:

  • Basil: anti-inflammatory and muscle relaxant benefits and can help to energize
  • Clove: assists in healing related to aging, arthritis and rheumatism and can improve memory
  • Eucalyptus: anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving benefits
  • Ginger: help with muscle spasms and tightness
  • Helichrysum: anti-inflammatory and nerve regenerating benefits
  • Idaho balsam fir: eases sore muscles and back pain
  • Lavender: anti-inflammatory benefits and can relax and balance the body
  • Majoram: helps with pain and muscular cramps
  • Palo santo: helps reduce inflammation
  • Peppermint: anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving benefits and can calm the mind
  • Roman chamomile: anti-inflammatory and relaxant benefits and can relieve stress
  • Rosemary: can help with muscle soreness and keep the mind alert
  • Spruce: soothes back pain
  • Wintergreen: pain-relieving benefits for neck and back pain and can increase attentiveness

As with any type of treatment, therapy or exercise, check with your physician to get clearance before starting an aromatherapy program and to make sure it is safe for your specific health and condition. Aromatherapy practitioners are not specially licensed in the United States and aromatherapy treatment and recommendations can be made by a variety of professionals such as massage therapists, nurses and counselors.

Conservative bulging disc treatment

In addition to aromatherapy, a bulging disc can also benefit from a combination of conservative treatment options. Conservative options that can be combined with aromatherapy include:

  • Rest
  • Pain medication
  • Exercise and stretching
  • Heat and ice therapy
  • Physical therapy

When conservative treatment options have been exhausted without providing adequate symptom relief, bulging disc surgery may be indicated.