Effectiveness of Piper nigrum essential oil in the treatment of back pain

Essential oils are the pure “essence” of a plant, composed by a complex mixture of chemical compounds that have been studied over the years. The oils have been found to provide both psychological and physical benefits when used correctly and safely.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Piper nigrum is considered to be pungent and hot. Although its chemical constituents and respective pharmacological properties have been described by several authors, the volatile fraction is still underestimated as a therapeutic agent. The aim of this study was to evaluate the analgesic properties of the volatile fraction of Piper nigrum essential oil, in patients presenting back pain.
Fourteen patients presenting back pain, were included in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, in May of 2015. The patients were randomly divided into two groups, and asked to inhale a vial containing Piper nigrum essential oil, or a vial containing a placebo (sesame oil), for 15 minutes. A numerical pain scale was applied before and after the inhalation.
Results showed decrease of 49,91% in back pain intensity in the patients that inhaled the Piper nigrum essential oil, while the placebo group patients showed 2,33% of small change in back pain intensity.
Although the results are preliminary due to the limited sample size and short inhalation time, the volatile fraction of the Piper nigrum essential showed promising results in reducing back pain.

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