A few months ago I was shoveling my walk, hacking away at a stubborn bit of ice, and I hurt my wrist. Sprained it, strained it, whatever. There was an immediate “ouch!” followed by a lingering pain that comes back whenever I go to yoga—especially when the pose requires a large amount of weight to be supported on that wrist. Aren’t I too young for this kind of stuff? Apparently not.
I no longer recommend making this due to the very high essential oil concentrations.
Emu oil is one of the first natural ingredients I invested in—at least partly because of its Australian origins and my long-standing love of the land down under. But, love of Oz aside, emu oil is pretty darn cool. It’s been used by Australian Aboriginals for centuries to treat everything from sunburns to bug bites to wound healing.
It’s gained popularity lately for it’s ability to help heal stubborn soft tissue injuries, to soothe arthritis, and to help skin conditions like acne, psoriasis, and eczema. It is low-scent, absorbs into the skin easily, and is a great anti-inflammatory. In short, it’s pretty darn useful (though not vegan friendly… and not really vegetarian friendly, either, though I’m ok with it as it is generally a byproduct of the emu meat industry [check your supplier]).
So, I decided to combine all-awesome emu oil with some painkilling and circulation boosting essential oils to create a topical roller that would soothe the aching and help accelerate healing.
The first essential oil in the blend is wintergreen, a painkilling classic thanks to its high levels of Methyl Salicylate. Up next, peppermint, for the cooling, pain-soothing blast of menthol. Helichrysum is a long-standing favourite for bruises and other wounds. Clove is another classic favourite for aches and pains, especially toothaches. Cinnamon bark essential oil stimulates circulation to encourage healing, and camphor oil is another pain killing favourite for everything from general muscular aches and pains to arthritis.
The resulting mixture is quite strong. After it sinks in (I don’t recommend using your hands to massage it in to avoid getting the blend all over) you’ll quickly notice a warming sensation, followed by chilly, numbed sensation that really helps with aches and pains.
I no longer recommend making this due to the very high essential oil concentrations.
Pain Killing Emu Oil Roller
One 5mL roller bottle
15 drops wintergreen essential oil
5 drops peppermint essential oil (USA / Canada)
1 drop helichrysum essential oil
5 drops clove bud essential oil
3 drops cinnamon bark essential oil
6 drops camphor essential oil
Emu oil, to top off (substitute andiroba oil for a less expensive plant-based alternative)
Measure the essential oils out into the bottom of the roller bottle. Top off with the emu oil, and cap. Shake to combine.
To use, roll the mixture directly on sore muscles or joints and let absorb.
this almost killed me: “Emu oil… (substitute andiroba oil for a less expensive plant-based alternative)”. Andiroba oil? I considered myself a beauty expert, but now I feel like a first grader – I never heard of Andiroba! Marie, you are so, darn, awesome! 🙂 Wonderful post, as usual 🙂 Now, I’ll go to google to find out what the heck is andiroba is … 🙂
Awww, thanks so much Veronika 🙂 I got my andiroba from NDA, where the reviews are positively glowing. I’m amazed everyone doesn’t have a bottle, it’s great stuff (if not a bit funny smelling, haha).
yeah, the googleing brought me right away to my fave NDA 🙂 Besides Andoriba I found few more exotic oils that I never heard about them before. NDA is unique about offering all these. I will definitely try them next time when shopping with them. Thanks, Marie!
Be sure to check out Saffire Blue as well—they’ve got some additional ones, like Turkey Red Oil and Olive Squalene, and they’re better at offering smaller sizes, which can make trying new oils more affordable 🙂 I just got my first Evening Primrose Oil from them as I could buy 125mL for $12 instead of being forced to buy 473mL for $27 from NDA.
Hi Marie.. I have a bit of a general essential oil question. I want to buy a few that I can use in headache remedies and massage oils (for aches and pains). I’ve seen your recipes for headaches and pains etc and I was wondering if you had any top essential oils that you’d suggest? Peppermint is a no-brainer, and I suppose wintergreen is too (do they smell similar, out of curiosity? no where stocks it where I live!) but for the warming effects i’m not sure whether to get cajeput, camphor, cinnamon or clove?!
In your opinion which EOs would you say are the most effective and necessary to have in order to make pain relieving remedies? I have read your EO guide, but figured you’d have a pretty fair opinion on the effects of pain killing oils since you’ve made so many different remedies!
Hmm. I’d probably say peppermint (cooling, refreshing, distracting), wintergreen (numbing), and cassia (warming/circulation boosting). Other add ons would include menthol (basically supercharged peppermint) and chili essential oil (more warming). There are other essential oils recommended for specific types of pains, like juniper berry, but for generic aches and pains, those would be my recommendations 🙂
Wintergreen does smell minty, and very similar to birch essential oil, if you’ve ever smelled that. It’s sort of like a cross between peppermint and spearmint.
I am interested in Fatima’s response from you also. I’m sure all the EO’s contribute something wonderful, but I don’t imagine I’d use them for anything else. Just trying to keep my costs down for now. I do need something for my hand though. Just under my thumb (the fleshy part) gets pretty sore and lasts for days. I was tempted to try mustard oil on it as I had read it’s great for aches and pains. I’ve also be warned against using it on my hands. Apparently it burns if it gets on any sensitive parts of your body…so I’ve heard.
Hi Mary! If you made this roller without the helichrysum, clove, and camphor essential oils it should still work well enough. Peppermint and cinnamon are also quite useful for other things, like lip balm and making your house smell like fresh baking 🙂 They’re also both great in soap!
I’ve never worked with mustard oil before so I can’t comment on that, but emu oil is wonderful for pain (especially soft tissue), and doesn’t burn on sensitive bits 😉
This stuff is amazing! Thank you from the bottom of my aching back! Marie, you are officially my hero! Worth every penny of my investment.
I’m so glad this roller is helping your back, Deana 🙂 And thanks so much for letting me know, I always love to hear if my concoctions are helping people 😉 Thanks so much for reading & DIYing with me!
Hi, I love your blog, everything about it appeals to me.
Must admit I can’t come at using emu oil (and I’m not vegan, just don’t like the thought of using animal fats like tallow and emu oil). I am intrigued though at all the great products available from NDA US that aren’t available in Oz, even though they are an Aussie company.
I am, however, about to make some products with Argan oil, thanks to reading your blog. Am a midwife and want to try it in a belly oil. Fingers crossed!
Hi Fiona! Thanks so much for reading, and for your kind words 🙂 The NDA envy goes both ways—the Aussie NDA has lots of things we can’t order here in Canada, too. The UK one is also different, leaving me to wonder if there’s some import laws or something preventing each branch from having the same items.
Enjoy that argan oil! Cocoa butter and shea butter are also divine for dry, itchy skin 🙂
Been a fan of yours for about a year. I was wondering about your recipe for red tiger balm, and if I could blend in clove oil and wintergreen to get an even stronger effect for painkilling?
Thanks for all the wonderful info you give us, and for the hard work that goes into researching.
Hi Steve! Thanks so much for reading and supporting me 🙂 You definitely can add some clove and wintergreen essential oils to tiger balm, I’d just be careful to keep the percentage of essential oils in the overall product to no more than 50% to prevent irritation 🙂
You are a rock star! Thank you so much for the quick response.
No worries! Have fun with it 🙂
I finally received my final products to make this great sounding, and much needed pain reliever. But my first mix didn’t yield the warmth or penetrating relief I was hoping for. The aroma is fantastic, a bit oily on the finish, but not yet a keeper for me.
What would suggest I alter? I have some menthol I could add or increase one or more of the ingredients? I think it just needs some small tweak, but not sure which ingredient to alter.
Hi Jess! The focus of this roller is more numbing, and while I notice a quick hit of warmth at the initial application, it’s more numbing from there on. If you’re looking for heat, that’ll be cassia or chilli seed essential oils, both of which pack a pretty serious warmth hit. Menthol and peppermint do exactly the opposite, making the skin feel very cold. For this one I’d add some more cassia (work up to it, it can surprise you with its strength!), and in the future check out my hot tiger balm massage bar—yipes, that one is HOT 🙂
Thought you would want to see the feedback I received this morning on the original formula…so I was impatient and didn’t need to tinker
“You need to know this.. I’ve been laying in bed- back and shoulder on right side bothering me. So I whip out my little rolling tube of your oil and apply- I swear I don’t know if it’s my imagination or what but my pain went away within 60 seconds- that is SO WEIRD!! I was gonna try it before I went to my steady but very smelly Biofreeze.. and now I don’t need the Biofreeze! What’s in this stuff?
Thank you thank you.. and it can go anywhere with me..!”
OOoooh, this is so fantastic! I love it 😀 WOO!
Perfect. I am not surprised with your suggestions after reviewing the Hot Tiger Balm.
I’ll play with it and let you know how it works out.
Voila! I switched Emu bottles to a different supplier and added 5 drops of Cassia, 2 more cinnamon bark which seemed to do the trick. This is ‘sneaky’ effective. The only outward sensation of using this roll-on is the smell, but the pain-relief is sure-fire!!
Thanks for the help Marie. With your capable help I have added another DIY product for my friends use.
Brilliant! Glad you ended up with something awesome 🙂 Have you tried my red tiger balm roller?
Not yet…but it is on my list to make. Right now the garden and yard is taking a lot of my time. Just finished the final veggy plantings and constructing three new mushroom gardens (logs and wood-chips) and now it is time to take the first of three harvests of our honey.
The bees have been busy and so have I.
Ooooh your garden sounds just amazing! Colour me envious 🙂 My plans to start a garden this summer were sidelined by a multitude of other responsibilities, but if I get a chance to at least get some beds up and perhaps plant a few herbs this season, I’ll be ready when next spring rolls around. So many things to do!
Now on to perfecting the Monoi de Tahiti lip balm. My first attempt wasn’t as aromatic as I had hoped for (tough to beat the chocolate/mint version for the winter)…so I am switching grapeseed oil for Kukuinut oil and using a Monoi oil I got from Saffire Blue. Fingers crossed..
If your nose is anything like mine, you’ll find you won’t need much monoi to carry through the lip balm 🙂 It makes a perfect swap for coconut oil in my naked lip balm recipe.
Hmm…now you have piqued my curiosity. I will have to try the original Monol De Tahiti recipe and your Naked Lip gloss too substituting in the Monol de Tahiti. I am guessing you suggested the “naked” recipe due to the inclusion of Cocoa Butter which I used successfully in your Chocolate Mint lip gloss? So many recipes, so little time. 🙂
Well, the naked one is a good place to start since it doesn’t smell of much else, allowing the monoi to shine through 🙂 I do love my cocoa butter, though! My newest bucket of it smells utterly divine, I just want to curl up with it lol!
Finally made up some lip balm using your “naked lip gloss’ recipe and substituted the Monoi de Tahiti. The first person I gave it to today really liked the chocolate and flower mix, although they couldn’t zero in on the specific flower. Also did the red tiger balm roller ball which works like a champ. Hard to decide which to choose between the “tiger” of the “Emu” versions.
Thanks and hope you are having a great summer. Took 150 lbs of honey this weekend with more to come…busy here!!
OOh fantastic! Glad everything is a hit 🙂
I am so jealous of your honey haul! Have you thought about making some mead with it?
The idea of making mead has passed my mind as we get about 500-800 lbs of honey each year which we gift and use ourselves instead of sugar. There are many recipes I have reviewed that have too much variability…so I have shied away from making it.
Do you have a reliable Mead recipe?
Last year I gave some honey to a owner of a nearby restaurant who makes small batch whiskey and he made a honey whiskey that had to be cut to bring down the alcohol level. It was pretty good.
Ooh, you have no idea how jealous I am of your honey harvest 😉 I’m afraid I haven’t ventured into mead making yet, but I’ll be sure to let you know if I do!
The emu oil I purchased seems to be solid-ish like coconut oil. How do you get it into the roller?
Hmm. I’d put the bottle in a hot water bath until the oil is liquid, and then measure it out into a small dish and add the essential oils. Let it come to room temperature. If the addition of the EOs is enough to keep it at liquid oil you can pour it into your roller. If not, add a liquid carrier oil you have on hand until the entire mixture is liquid, adding more EOs as needed to keep the ratio of EO to carrier oil more or less the same 🙂
I just wanted to bring up something I stumbled upon just the other day in regards to the use of Wintergreen. I bought it, love the smell of it and was looking up it’s uses, etc and according to Tisserand it is an oil that should be avoided both internally and externally due to the fact that it is considered a toxic, irritating and sensitizing oil. I realise it’s history and why you are using it (I even put it neat on my foot the other day) and I believe that, as an external application, you would probably have to use a fair amount consistently before reaching any dangerous levels but I just thought that you and others might want to know and/or look up Tisserand (Essential Oil Safety).
Oh, but for sure don’t use this oil if on any blood thinners or if you are taking aspirin too!
Thanks for all your recipes and if you have any other information about Wintergreen and it’s uses, please correct/inform me!
Hi Andrea! I read this study on it, and if you take the numbers that applied to rabbits, a 130lb person would have to apply 236mL of methyl salicin to their skin every day to reach lethal amounts. That is a huge amount! This entire recipe does not even contain 1mL of wintergreen essential oil. So, from my research, this recipe is well within safe usage guidelines 🙂
Oh that’s great, i can use it without worry now! Thanks so much for the information!
This is a bit of a confession – I made this for myself originally, then liking the results offered some to my yoga teacher – in her 80s with arthritis but otherwise quite sprightly – she liked it very much and offered it to her brother who also suffers from arthritis. Well he liked it even better. So now I’m making it fairly regularly for them. We’ve tried other combos, but this is the winner.
So I have to confess that I quite like the thank yous and warm smiles and being told what a marvel I am. But, as I tell them, I merely follow the recipe of a rather clever young woman. So thanks Marie.
This does seem to do an awful lot of good for people with stiffness and arthritis.
Would this oil be at all similar to Tei Fu oil? It’s something we can’t get in the UK, and as the recipe is secret it’s hard to know. But I have read a lot of good things about this oil, but am unable to source it.
Hi Wendy! Thanks so much for sharing your story with me 🙂 I love knowing that I’m helping people! You’ve just put a big smile on my face 🙂
I’ve never heard of or used Tei Fu oil, but google tells me it generally contains menthol, wintergreen, and camphor (plus other things), and so does this, so they are likely somewhat similar 🙂
If I wanted to make this into a salve what volumes would you recommend of beeswax and cocoa butter?
Love your work I’m so excited to learn about essential oils and sharing and it really all started when I made a balm for my arthritis and I used emu oil and omega oil as a carrier. I am now able to do things I couldn’t do 2 weeks ago. I have also experimented with aloe Vera gel.
Thank you for sharing.
I would not recommend turning this into a salve—heating the essential oils as much as required to do so would damage them, especially given the high concentration required for this salve to work. You would be diluting the mixture by adding wax, and that right there will throw the entire thing off. Sorry! Happy making 🙂
I don”t have emu oil nor andiroba oil… can I use jojoba, argan, tamanu, coconut…?
Tamanu would be the best choice out of those 🙂
Thanks so much for your awesome and informative posts, I really appreciate them and have learned a lot! I have a couple of questions for you. First, I was just diagnosed with epilepsy and through my research have found that I should not use Camphor oil. What could I substitute for it in this recipe? Second, I have been suffering from alopecia for the last 6 months or so, and all the essential oil recipes that I find to help this condition start with using Rosemary essential oil. This is another oil that I have to steer clear of, and cannot seem to find a suitable replacement for. Do you have any suggestions? Thank you for sharing your knowledge, and for all of your help!
Hey Wendy! Cajeput is a good alternative to camphor 🙂 If you are wanting to learn more about EOs and finding alternatives, as well as avoiding specific compounds I’d really recommend Essential Oil Safety: A Guide for Health Care Professionals 2nd Edition by Robert Tisserand & Rodney Young. It’s an extremely thorough and valuable resource!
Marie, have you ever used arnica in an arthritis preparation like this? I’ve heard that it is effective. (I did search for arnica in your site and didn’t find any). I’ve heard wonderful things about both emu oil and arnica for arthritis…. I’ve also heard that arnica is great for bruising!…
This is probably the closest thing I have 🙂