and Debbie Guzzi

Treat Sciatica with Massage and Essential Oils, MASSAGE MagazineLow-back pain, often called sciatica by the general public, is an extremely common but painful problem. The sciatic nerve is deep, and its impingement causes a burning, tingling pain through the glutes, continuing into the upper leg on either side. Massage combined with essential oils helps alleviate one of the causes: sprains and strains of the muscles.

When a client presents with acute pain, the best thing to do is reduce the tension in the area, and thus the swelling, which adds to the irritation of the nerve. Hot or cold compresses with essential oils before gentle stretching and light lymphatic drainage techniques should help. If the client is prone to this issue, maintenance through increased exercise would be suggested.

In addition, daily self-massage with the essential oils diluted in a carrier oil, such as apricot kernel oil, can be an adjunct to professional treatment. Massage modalities, such as Thai massage, scheduled consistently, where all the surrounding muscle groups are stretched, will help keep the pressure off the nerves.

Recommended essential oils:

  • 50 percent celery seed (apium graveolens). Properties: carminative, analgesic, stimulant. Clears fire toxins, drains dampness and increases blood flow to localized area.
  • 20 percent rosemary (rosmarinus officinalis). Properties: antiseptic, antispasmodic, stimulant, carminative, antitussive.
  • 30 percent myrtle (myrtus communis). Properties: nervine, clears heat, antibacterial

Recommend dilution:

1 quart of water, place five to 10 drops of essential oils above or one to three drops of essential oils directly onto the compress.

A hot compress does increase blood flow to a particular area of the body. A compress is when a cloth or towel is soaked in cold or hot water and applied directly to the skin. Compresses, hot or cold, are used in treatment of a localized area. Cold compresses can be used for relief of recent sprains, strains and bruising; after a few days, hot and cold can be alternated.

To make a compress:

Fill sink or large bowl with 1 quart of hot or cold water. Place five to 10 drops of the above essential oils. Place a clean cotton cloth in the water and swish around. Wring out cloth to the desired moisture and place on the treated area. You can also add at this time one to three drops of the above essential oils directly to the compress, then apply the compress to the localized treatment area.

A hot compress should be left on until it has cooled to body temperature, then repeat application for soaking and reapply. Repeat three to four times. A cold compress can be refreshed more often, after several minutes.

Jacqueline Bloom is a licensed clinical social worker with more than 20 years of experience, and maintains a private practice in New York and Connecticut. She teaches certification courses on aromatherapy with the East West School of Aromatic and Herbal Studies. Also, she incorporates aromatherapy applications of essential oils in psychotherapy, when appropriate with clients, as an adjunct to primary treatment for emotional issues, stress-related problems, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and mood disorders. She is certified in Chinese Medicine: 5 Elemental Treatment Theory with Gems and Stones, and medical aromatherapy and dietary therapy. She can be contacted at

Deborah Guzzi is a graduate of the Connecticut School for Massage Therapy. She supplemented her training in Swedish massage with classes in chakra balancing, and polarity therapy, as well as Master Level Usui Reiki. She can be contacted at or through