Aging is never easy. I have started to see some telltale signs in my joints in the past year, but of course, I know I’m my own worst critic. I love using my Lemongrass essential oil for some back and neck pain that I experience from time to time but recently, I started having some stiffness and numbness in my fingers in the mornings, to the point where I couldn’t pick anything up with my hands, in fear of dropping it. It was painful, feeling that I could hardly bend my fingers, but then it went away fairly quickly.
I ignored it the first time it happened, thinking my joints were just sore from working long hours, but then it started to frequently happen in the mornings. What was happening to me? Something wasn’t right and I didn’t want it to get worse. I researched my symptoms and surprisingly found that I had all the symptoms of mild to moderate CTS, otherwise known as carpal tunnel syndrome.
What is CTS? It is a medical condition caused by compression of the median nerve, located at the wrist. The main symptoms are pain, numbness, and tingling in the thumb, index, middle, and the thumb side of the ring fingers. In the United States, the condition occurs in between 4 to 10 million people. So, of course, I needed to see if there were any alternatives to treating carpal tunnel syndrome naturally, instead of using anti-inflammatory drugs and because I love using all-natural, plant-based essential oils for their many benefits, I was happy to find an essential oil that helps with CTS.
Effectiveness of Lavender Essential Oil for CTS
Lavender essential oil has been used for a variety of ailments, including relieving pain, improving mood, improving blood circulation and digestion, and aiding in rest and relaxation. Due to lavenders anti-inflammatory properties, it has shown to help in the treatment of CTS. In 2018, a trial study was conducted and published in the Journal of Hand Therapy. The results were promising, showing improvement in CTS symptoms, severity, and functionality and suggested that topical lavender oil may be beneficial in the treatment of mild to moderate CTS, as lavender oil is a rich source of anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antinociceptive agents.
I recently started adding a few drops to my body lotion, while using it on my hands and wrists. I’m hoping this will be something I can do long term to prevent CTS from returning. You can also mix a few drops of lavender essential oil to a carrier oil, such as jojoba oil (which also has anti-inflammatory properties and is deeply hydrating), and rub gently over your hands and wrists. Everyone should have a bottle of lavender essential oil at home due to being the most versatile essential oil with its multitude of uses. I use and personally like Edens Garden 100% pure lavender essential oil. It’s also affordable and not as pricey compared to Doterra and Young Living essential oils.
Why Was I Waking Up With Numb and Tingling Hands?
I learned that the pressure on my hands from my sleeping posture was also a likely cause of waking up with numb hands. It can happen while you sleep on your arm or hand or in a position that puts pressure on the nerve. I noticed that I was doing this, as I frequently sleep with my arm or hand under my pillow while resting my head on top. The temporary lack of blood flow can often cause numbness or that pins and needles feeling. Changing your sleeping position can help relieve these symptoms.
Lack of Vitamins and Nutrients
As we age, it isn’t uncommon to have deficient levels of certain vitamins and nutrients that the body needs for proper nerve function. I learned that Vitamin B-12 is essential to the functioning of your brain and central nervous system, and is needed to make red blood cells. Vitamin B-12 deficiency symptoms may include numbness and tingling in the feet, muscle weakness, and decreased appetite. I’m definitely including this now in my diet.
Other vitamins to consider taking as we age:
Calcium – Plays a role in making bones stronger and can help prevent osteoporosis
Vitamin D – For healthy bones and teeth. Can help prevent bone loss and broken bones
Folate – Helps prevent anemia
Vitamin B-6 – Helps your metabolism and immune system
Vitamin C – Helps wound healing and possibly lowers your odds of certain kinds of cancer
Magnesium – Helps keep your blood pressure and blood sugar levels steady and good for your bones. It has also been known to help with bloating
Omega-3 Fish Oil – Supports heart health, bone health, and lowering bad cholesterol
Probiotics – (living organisms like those found in yogurt) are important for your immune system and gut health. Can also help prevent diarrhea and ease symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.
*Note – Always talk to your doctor about what vitamins may work best for you.
How Do You Know if You Have CTS?
Symptoms usually start gradually and can include tingling or numbness in your fingers or hand. You may also experience weakness in your hand and drop objects. The sensation may travel from your wrist up your arm. Symptoms often occur while holding a steering wheel, phone, or book, or may even wake you from sleep. Many people (which I have done myself) try to “shake out” their hands to try to relieve their symptoms, but the numb feeling may become a constant occurrence over time.
Carpal tunnel syndrome often affects the hands and fingers. Changing your sleeping position, using lavender essential oil on your wrist and hands, and adding Vitamin B-12 may help, however my symptoms are mild compared to anyone that suffers from the pain of severe CTS. In severe cases, surgical intervention is normally recommended.
Studies have shown that the active ingredient in lavender has anti-inflammatory properties and when used for mild to moderate CTS, this wonderful oil was shown to be beneficial in the improvement in CTS symptoms, functionality, and pain intensity.
If your symptoms start to occur regularly, interfere with your daily activities, or you feel you are in a significant amount of pain or discomfort, please see your doctor.
Permanent nerve and muscle damage can occur without treatment. It is also recommended to consult your doctor or healthcare professional before starting any new regimen (or if you are new to using essential oils) to avoid any allergic reactions or interactions with medications.
If you have any questions about treating carpal tunnel syndrome naturally, please leave a comment or share this information with someone you know who may be suffering from CTS.