Researchers: Bergamot essential oil is an effective and natural painkiller

Pain is important to survival, but if left uncontrolled, it can disrupt your daily routine and even impair your quality of life. According to a study, inhaling the scent of bergamot is effective at relieving pain without causing any of the side effects associated with chemical pain relievers, particularly opioids.

Pain is uncomfortable, but it has a very important purpose. It indicates the presence of a defect or injury in your body, telling you when to stop, rest, or get a cure. Pain, therefore, is crucial to your survival and health.

But prolonged and uncontrolled pain can have the opposite effect. Some people are so debilitated by pain that they find it hard to move or perform vital activities, like eat. Too much discomfort also leads to loss of sleep and is a cause of stress, depression, and anxiety. All of these effects can delay the healing process or prevent a person from obtaining treatment.

Safer pain relief with bergamot essential oil

Bergamot is a citrus fruit known not for its flesh, but for its fragrant scent. It is used in perfumes, cosmetics, food, and tea, among other applications. Bergamot essential oil is valued in aromatherapy for its refreshing and uplifting scent which, according to past studies, also possesses an antinociceptive effect. This means that the smell of bergamot essential oil prevents your brain from perceiving pain.

The study, published in the journal Fitoterapia, investigates if this antinociceptive property makes bergamot essential oil an effective pain reliever. The authors put mice under the formalin test, in which diluted formalin is injected, usually into one of the paws, to induce inflammation and pain. They then recorded the interval at which the animals licked or bit their injured limb in response to discomfort.

According to the authors, placing filter paper soaked in bergamot essential oil on the edge of the mice’s cage decreased the animals’ licking and biting behavior. Furthermore, the effect depended on the volume of essential oil used and the time the animals were exposed to it. (Related: Essential oils offer a natural, side effect-free way to address anxiety.)

As per the researchers, their findings are proof that bergamot essential oil may be used in aromatherapy for pain management.

The dangers of using opioids for pain relief

The importance of effective pain control cannot be emphasized enough. Among the chemical pain relievers offered in the market, opioids are the most notorious. These medicines are used for moderate to severe pain, especially those that conventional pain relievers cannot soothe. Although effective – to a fault – opioids have a huge drawback. They are highly addictive.

Opioids are typically prescribed for short-term pain management, but some patients receive them for chronic pain. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) estimates that 21 to 29 percent of patients prescribed with opioids for chronic pain come to misuse them. Four to six percent of those who misuse opioids eventually transition to heroin, an illegal opioid. In fact, 80 percent of heroin users got their start from misusing prescribed opioids.

Even when used properly, ceasing treatment with opioids can result in withdrawal symptoms not too different from those experienced by recovering addicts. All these contribute to the exponentially rising number of opioid overdose cases in the country every year.

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