Essential Oils for Headaches and Migraines
Headaches usually start with an awful pounding in your head. For some it’s a dull, constant pain and for others it can be a sharp, throbbing pain that lasts for hours.1 Regardless, everyone has experienced some sort of headache in their life. While some may only get the occasional headache, others can suffer from head pain regularly, experiencing tension headaches, cluster headaches, and migraines.
There are many different ways to get rid of headache pain, usually by taking over the counter drugs like ibuprofen or acetaminophen, however, aromatherapy for headaches has proven to be very helpful in relieving a variety of symptoms. You can use essential oils for headaches, and essential oils for migraines, to provide pain relief in a more natural way.
Essential Oils for Sinus Headache
You can use essential oils for sinus headaches to provide temporary relief of nasal symptoms and head pain. This type of headache causes pain in the sinus areas such as the eyes, cheeks or forehead, and is classified as a headache with nasal symptoms.1
This type of headache is not very common, and can sometimes be mistaken for a migraine.1 You can use eucalyptus or camphor essential oil for sinus headache relief as both are a natural decongestant that relieves tension. If you’re wondering what essential oils are good for sinus headaches, turn to eucalyptus or camphor. Their natural decongestant properties can help relieve tension.
Essential Oils for Cluster Headaches
Using essential oils for headache relief provides a natural way to cope with intense pain. This is particularly helpful when dealing with cluster headaches, which cause reoccurring, short-lasting waves of excruciating pain on one side of the head.
Cluster headaches can last anywhere from fifteen minutes to three hours. Reoccurring cluster headaches often last weeks and typically affect young males, and can be very painful. These headaches are usually accompanied by other symptoms such as forehead or facial sweating, nasal congestion, drooping or swelling of the eyelid, or eye redness.2
The best essential oils to use for cluster headaches are peppermint or rosemary, as they will provide soothing relief for intense pain.
Essential Oils for Tension Headaches
While people typically reach for ibuprofen to deal with a tension headache, essential oil blends can provide great pain relief within minutes. Tension headaches are the most common type of headache and causes head pain that can last anywhere from thirty minutes to seven days. Tension-type headaches cause muscle tenderness, along with a tightness in the forehead, and neck.3
Using aromatherapy for tension headaches can be an easy way to provide relief without having to use pain killers. To provide relief for tension headaches, rosemary, peppermint and lavender essential oils are good choices.
Essential Oils for Headaches During Pregnancy
Essential oils can be used during pregnancy, however it is strongly suggested that you consult with a health care professional before using any aromatherapy products, as each person is different. Eucalyptus and lavender essential oils have been used safely in clinical trials for headaches during pregnancy.4 However, BHO recommends speaking with your health care professional before starting any essential oil treatment while pregnant.
Essential Oils for Hormonal Headaches
Hormonal headaches only affect women, and are often caused by changes in hormones brought on by menstruation, pregnancy or menopause.5 Menstruation is known as one of the most common reasons to experience a migraine for women.5 Women can use aromatherapy for migraines to relieve typical symptoms that occur by applying essential oils, such as peppermint or rosemary oil, to the nerve endings on the scalp, temples and neck.
What Essential Oil is Good for Headaches?
Using natural oils for headaches can provide relief to those who experience chronic headaches, and are an affordable and convenient alternative. Essential oils are also a great choice for anyone who struggles to swallow pills, or simply does not like taking over-the-counter drugs. By now, you may be wondering what essential oils are good for migraines, and how to properly use essential oils for a headache. While the best oil for headache relief will depend on your symptoms, eucalyptus, peppermint, lavender, rosemary and camphor essential oil are considered the top essential oils for headaches and migraines.
Eucalyptus Oil for Headaches
Extracted from the leaves and branches of the eucalyptus tree, eucalyptus essential oil’s benefits include being able to help clear the sinuses, relieve tension and improve inflamed nasal cavities. Use eucalyptus essential oil for migraine relief by inhaling the essential oil when experiencing symptoms of a headache, or add 3-4 drops to a diffuser with water and let circulate.
Peppermint Essential Oil for Headache
Peppermint is often considered the best essential oil for headache relief. When applied topically to the skin, peppermint essential oil’s properties provide a cool or tingling sensation.
A study published in the journal of Phytomedicine successfully used peppermint essential oil for headaches. The study found that by applying peppermint essential oil to the temples, patients experienced increased blood flow to the head, reducing overall headache pain. Peppermint essential oil can also help clear congestion when inhaled, making it a great choice for those who suffer from sinus headaches.
For those wondering how to use peppermint essential oil for headaches, the most effective method is to combine 4-6 drops of peppermint essential oil with 2 Tbsp. of carrier oil and massage into temples, avoiding the eye area.
Lavender Essential Oil Headache
Since lavender is generally used as a sleeping aid, essential oil users often wonder, is lavender oil good for headaches too? For headache and migraine relief, lavender essential oil’s benefits include helping control pain, reduce stress, and increase relaxation. With lavender oil, headache relief is possible in a few different ways. A 2016 study found that lavender essential oil helped reduce headache severity and frequency. Over a three-month period, patients drank a mixture of the lavender essential oil and water daily. At the end of the trial, patients reported that headache severity was reduced by approximately 50%.
Note: Essential oils should not be ingested unless directed by a health care professional.
For users wondering how to use lavender essential oil for headaches, diffusing is one of the easiest and most popular methods. Add 2-4 drops of lavender essential oil to a diffuser with water. Lay down comfortably and let the aroma circulate throughout the room.
Rosemary Oil for Headaches
The benefits of rosemary essential oil stem from its pain-relieving and decongestant properties. Studies have shown that the bioactive compounds in rosemary essential oil may help reduce physical pain and how one perceives pain. Traditionally used to heal respiratory infections, rosemary essential’s oil natural decongestant properties can be useful when used in aromatherapy for migraines.
Use rosemary essential oil for migraine relief by mixing 1-2 drops with a carrier oil, and massage gently into temples. Or, add 1-2 drops of rosemary essential oil into a diffuser and let circulate.
Camphor Essential Oil for Headache
A main ingredient in Vicks VapoRub, one valuable benefit of camphor essential oil is its natural pain-relieving properties. A study published in Biomedical Chromatography found that the feverfew plant was made up of 50.5% camphor. Oils produced from the plant had great pain-relieving properties for headaches and migraines. Camphor essential oil may also provide relief for sinus headaches as it is a known decongestant.
To use camphor essential oils for a headache, combine 5 drops of camphor oil with 1 Tsp. of grapeseed, hazelnut or olive oil and apply to the forehead and temples. To use for congestion related headaches, bring 2-3 cups of water to a boil. Add 4-5 drops of camphor essential oil and inhale.
Essential Oil Blend for Headache
Use the following essential oils for migraine headaches, or for headaches that occur regularly. When applied topically, this essential oil recipe for headaches will provide a cooling, soothing sensation. Packed with the best essential oils for migraines, this at home remedy will be your new EO for headache and migraine relief.
- Peppermint essential oil
- Rosemary essential oil
- Eucalyptus essential oil
- Add 1 drop of each oil to 2 Tbsp. of a carrier oil of your choice.
- Mix together and apply the migraine essential oil blend to the forehead or temples.
- Wash your hands thoroughly after use and avoid contact with eyes, nose, mouth or inner ears.
Scientific Research Referenced in this Article
- Mehle, M. (2017). Sinus Headache, Migraine, and the Otolaryngologist: A Comprehensive Clinical Guide. – View Reference
- Leroux, E. Ducros, A. (2008). Cluster Headaches. Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases, Volume 3(1), Page 20, DOI: 1186/1750-1172-3-20
- Loder, E., & Rizzoli, P. (2008). Tension-type headache. British Medical Journal, 336(7635), 88–92. http://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.39412.705868.AD
- Clark, D. (2015). Aromatherapy and Herbal Remedies for Pregnancy, Birth and Breastfeeding. Retrieved from https://books.google.ca/books?id=dFVjCgAAQBAJ&dq=essential+oils+and+pregnancy+book&source=gbs_navlinks_s – View reference
- Sacco, S., Ricci, S., Degan, D., & Carolei, A. (2012). Migraine in women: the role of hormones and their impact on vascular diseases. The Journal of Headache and Pain, 13(3), 177–189. Retrieved from http://doi.org/10.1007/s10194-012-0424-y