Aromatherapy and heat can be a wonderful combination for pain relief, so before you reach for a pain killer, you may want to give rice packs a try. Rice packs can provide relief from aches and pains, and menstrual cramps, they can even be used to warm up a cold child seat in your car or placed under the sheets of your bed to warm your feet.
There are numerous advantages to using a rice pack, the first is that you don’t have to be worried about any harmful chemicals. The second is that it’s incredibly safe and easy to use.
Rice packs are easily found in health food stores and online. But for anyone who likes to craft or is a DIY’er you can easily make these at home in a matter of minutes.
How to make a rice pack with socks
To make a rice pack you need only a few basic supplies; organic white rice, a long sock ( tube socks work great) or baby leg warmers, needle and thread, and essential oils.
If using a sock, you can decide if you want to cut the foot section off or keep it. If you cut it off you will have to sew that end up tightly, to prevent any rice from escaping. When filling the sock with rice, you want the sock to be full, but pliable, so you can mold it around problem areas such as knees, elbows or your neck. If it’s too full it will be hard and uncomfortable to use.
If you cut off the foot end of the sock, you will need to stich it closed first. After filling the sock or leg warmer, simply stitch the open end of the sock completely so no rice can escape.
That’s it. You know have a rice pack for whenever you need it. You could also buy new decorative socks or leg warmers and make these rice packs as gifts.
Don’t sew? No problem. Simply fill a long clean sock (a tube sock would work great) with white rice. When it’s as full as you like, tie the end tightly with a piece of string or yarn.
The obvious advantage of this method is that you can empty the rice out and wash the sock as needed. This also gives you the option of replacing the rice if it becomes stale smelling.
How to use
Place your rice pack in the microwave for 45-60 seconds. Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to the sock after you have warmed it. Apply to the sore area.
When to use heat or cold therapy
Heat increases blood flow, which can help to relax tight muscles and relieve aching joints. Heat is generally a great option for arthritis and injuries that have lingered for six weeks or more.
Ice or cold therapy constricts blood vessels, which can help to numb the pain, relieve inflammation and will also help to limit bruising. In general, cold therapy is a better choice for acute inflammation, pain and swelling.
Choosing essential oils
Essential oils are a healthy safe alternative to manage common aches and pains. They are easily found in health food stores and online. Aside from being used on a rice pack, essential oils can be used in numerous applications such as dilution with a carrier oil and applied to pressure points, massaged into painful areas or added to water and used as a compress.
Chamomile is well known for its anti-inflammatory properties. This is wonderful for muscle pain, lower back pain, headaches and neuralgia.
Ginger is beneficial for back pain, arthritic and rheumatic pain, muscle pain and sprains.
Juniper has anti-spasmodic and anti-rheumatic properties. This can help with muscle spasms, as well as muscle aches and pains.
Peppermint works great for headaches and migraines as well as muscle and joint pain.
Learn more about how to choose essential oils for pain relief.
Be sure you’re using 100% pure essential oils
Do not use “fragrance” or “scented “oils. When choosing essential oils, be sure that what you are using is pure. Some brands use a petroleum base solvent which can be neuro toxic, while other brands use synthetics. These types of oils are a source of volatile organic chemicals that can negatively impact your health and your indoor air quality.
So how can you tell if your oil is pure? Put a few drops of oil on blotting paper. Pure essential oils will not leave any residue when it evaporates, while petroleum and synthetic oils will.
Look for these signs:
Essential oils should not feel greasy on your skin.
Will not smell like alcohol.
Disappears on blotting paper.
Will not dissolve in water.
Won’t smell rancid.