Five effective essential oils for headaches

There are a number of studies that show specific essential oils may be beneficial for headaches. These include:

1. Lavender oil

Lavender is often used to help people get to sleep and to reduce stress, anxiety, or depression.

Many believe that it can help relieve headaches and migraines that are triggered by stress.

A 2012 study suggests that the inhalation of lavender essential oil can be a safe and effective treatment to manage migraine headaches.

2. Rosemary oil

Rosemary oil is traditionally used to treat headaches and improve circulation.

There are few studies that specifically support rosemary oil as an effective headache treatment. However, a 2008 study suggests that rosemary oil has anti-inflammatory and pain-killing properties.

Another study from 2013 found that rosemary oil helped to reduce pain and insomnia in people going through opium withdrawal treatment.

These research examples suggest that rosemary oil may reduce the pain associated with a headache. However, more studies on humans are required before this can be confirmed.

3. Peppermint oil

Share on PinterestPeppermint oil is stimulating and may relieve tension headaches when applied topically.

Peppermint has been used in alternative medicines for thousands of years. It is one of the most popular essential oils for treating headaches.

A recent 2015 review of published studies on essential oils states that applying peppermint oil to the temples and forehead provides relief from tension headaches.

The active ingredient in peppermint oil is menthol. Research published in 2015 shows menthol may be effective in treating migraines when applied to the head as a gel.

4. Chamomile oil

People traditionally drink chamomile tea to relax and unwind. Chamomile oil is commonly believed to have a similar effect.

Research from 2012 showed that chamomile oil might improve some of the symptoms of anxiety and depression.

As headaches are often caused by stress and anxiety, it follows that chamomile oil may help treat headaches.

There are anti-inflammatory properties in chamomile that may also reduce a headache, but more research is needed into its health benefits.

5. Eucalyptus oil

Eucalyptus is traditionally used to clear sinuses and reduce inflammation. People experiencing headaches due to blocked sinuses may find that inhaling eucalyptus reduces their symptoms.

One study found that eucalyptus oil was effective for relieving pain and lowering blood pressure when it was inhaled.

Peppermint oil can be used to treat respiratory problems, fever, and even indigestion.

But did you know it can also be used for migraine relief?

More than 37 million people suffer from migraines. From nausea to blurred vision, the side effects can be debilitating.

If over-the-counter medications haven’t worked, give peppermint oil a try! This all-natural treatment may be just what you need to put your migraine symptoms to bed.

Keep reading for 3 ways to use peppermint oil for migraines.

1. Add Drops to Your Bath

Taking a warm bath is relaxing and soothing. If you’re suffering from a migraine, spend 30 minutes soaking in the bathtub.

To get the most out of your bath, add a few drops of peppermint oil to the water.

Make sure that the environment doesn’t worsen your symptoms. If you’re sensitive to light, take a bath in the dark or with safely placed candles.

Take a bath to reduce migraine symptoms or to prevent a migraine from coming.

2. Create a Massage Oil

Before applying essential oils to your skin, they should be diluted in a carrier oil.

Create a massage oil using 1-ounce almond oil and 3-5 drops of peppermint oil. Mix the oils and let stand for a few minutes.

Dab drops of the oil mixture onto your fingers. Massage the oil into:

  • Temples
  • Chest area
  • Shoulders
  • Back of the neck

Muscle contractions in this area can cause migraines. Rubbing the massage oil can remove tension in the muscles. Massages have also proven to be useful for relieving tension headaches.

3. Fill the Air

Another way to use peppermint oil for migraines is to release it into the air. You can do this by using steam or an oil diffuser.

If you own a vaporizer, add 3-7 drops of peppermint oil to the appliance. The vaporizer should have a small area where you can add a few drops of oil.

Don’t own a vaporizer?

Fill a bowl with hot water and 3-5 drops of peppermint oil. Cover your head using a towel and breathe in the steam through your nose. Be sure to close your eyes to avoid injury.

An oil diffuser will also put peppermint oil into the air. Fill a bottle with almond oil and 10+ drops of peppermint oil. Use wood rods to diffuse the oil.

For better exposure, breathe in the smell directly from the bottle. If the smell is too strong, place the oil onto a cotton ball. Hold the cotton ball near your nose and breathe in.

Your Source for Peppermint Oil for Migraines

Are you ready to put peppermint oil to the test? If you want to use peppermint oil for migraines, you’ll want to purchase from a reputable supplier.

At Global Essence, we provide safe and high-quality peppermint oil. We also offer other essential oils that may be useful for treating other ailments.

Don’t suffer from migraines any longer!

Contact us to request a quote.

7 Best Essential Oils for Headaches (Our 2020 Review)

Last Updated on December 23, 2019

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I try to use as many natural remedies as possible for any health problems that come up.

Over the counter medications can be a fine headache solution. When you must go that route, you can’t beat their strength.

But I feel like treating my health in a more natural way is better for me unless the severity of the health issue is great enough to need only strong over-the-counter synthetic medicine.

This has led me to seek out the best essential oils for headaches.

Don’t have time to read the entire essential oils for headaches post?

Here are our top choices for essential oils for headaches (plus their Amazon links)!





Roman Chamomile

Clary Sage

Sweet Basil

Headache Relief Blend

Head Relief Blend

Migraine Support

Types of Headaches

Anyone (or everyone) who has suffered from headaches has an idea that not all headaches are the same. Some can be mild annoyances. Others can drive you to your knees with pain.

Here are the 10 different types of headaches:

  1. tension headaches
  2. cluster headaches
  3. allergy headaches
  4. sinus headaches
  5. migraine headaches
  6. hormone headaches
  7. caffeine headaches
  8. exertion headaches
  9. hangover headaches
  10. sinus headaches

If you suffer from headaches as I do, you want to be able to have a way to treat them without feeling like you are over-treating the problem. This is why I love to use essential oils instead of taking an over-the-counter pill.

Over-the-counter pills have a one pill fits all answer to headaches, but essential oils for headaches allow you to tailor the cure to the type of headache you actually have,

Additionally, I never feel guilty that I may be causing harm to another part of my body with the side effects of medication. Here, I will talk about the seven best essential oils for headaches, and how you can use them to relieve your pain.

How to get rid of headaches? What causes headaches, and how can aromatherapy and essential oils alleviate their effects?

Different things cause different types of headaches. For example, tension headaches occur when you have muscular contractions in your head and neck region. Several things can cause these contractions, such as various foods, stressors, and activities. In fact, some people even develop tension headaches after working on a computer for too long, or after driving a long distance.

Alternatively, sinus headaches are usually caused by an infection in the nasal passages that leads to inflammation. This causes congestion, which then causes pressure to build up in the forehead and underneath the eyes.

If you eat foods that are high in sugar, such as processed or prepackaged foods, your blood sugar will rise, leading to a sugar headache. Once your blood sugar spikes, your insulin follows suit to help excrete the excess sugar from your blood. Fasting, dieting too rigorously, and skipping meals can also trigger these types of headaches. In fact, delayed or irregular meals can lead to symptoms. This is typically due to people’s blood-glucose levels dropping below normal.

When it comes to migraine headaches, the exact cause is still unknown. However, they are thought to be caused by abnormal brain activity that leads to a temporary change in the nerve signals, blood flow, and chemicals in the brain.

Because all of these types of headaches have different causes, they also have different solutions. How to get rid of headaches is not a question with a single answer. Some essential oils are more effective for specific headaches than others.

Treat your headaches with the specific essential oils that will best alleviate the specific symptoms.

Seven BEST Essential Oils for Headaches

Essential oils are effective in the treatment of headaches because they are able to safely and effectively treat the trigger of a pain, meaning they get to the root of the problem rather than masking the pain temporarily. Also, there are no side effects when using essential oils for headaches, and you are able to remain in control of your dose depending on the type of headache you are having.

Unlike common pain relievers, essential oils are both effective and safe. They provide relief, reduce overall stress in the body, and aid in proper circulation. Essential oils also have a lot of other health benefits, such as boosting your immune system rather than causing damage to your vital organs.

Each type of headache has its own trigger. One common cause of headaches is hormonal imbalances. However, hormonal medications can actually worsen headaches, so opting to use essential oils is a much more gentle and natural treatment than more traditional medications.

Stress is another common headache trigger, which many people choose to treat with essential oils. A loss of sleep can also lead to headaches, but there are oils that work as a mild sedative to help people who are not able to get the sleep that their bodies need.

Headaches can also be caused by allergies, intense physical exertion, sinus pressure, and even certain foods. These triggers can be minimized and eliminated by using essential oils. For this reason, essential oils have been around for thousands of years, successfully treating people with health ailments.

Because there are a variety of causes that lead to different types of headaches, there are also a variety of solutions available to use for treatment. Here are the seven best essential oils for headaches.

1. Peppermint Oil

Peppermint oil is a common essential oil used to treat headaches for a variety of reasons.

One thing that peppermint oil is really helpful with is relieving sinus pressure, which can consequently relieve a headache. According to Dr. Axe, inhaling diffused peppermint oil can immediately unclog your sinuses and relieve pressure in your head.

Peppermint Oil

In this video, Dr. Axe shares some more tips on how to properly use peppermint oil to help relieve a headache.

Peppermint oil is also a great natural choice for helping migraine headaches go away. Peppermint is not only naturally calming, it is also numbing. Researchers believe that these properties make using peppermint oil beneficial for people who suffer from migraines. Applying the oil to the forehead and temples is an effective natural remedy for migraines.

Additionally, peppermint essential oil contains menthol, which can encourage muscles to relax, and ease pain.

As a slight anesthetic and numbing agent, using peppermint oil on any area of the head can help provide relief.

2. Eucalyptus Oil

Eucalyptus oil has many health benefits, including reducing headache pain. It is an anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, and decongestant, which can all help relieve pain. Additionally, it acts as a deodorant, antiseptic, and antibacterial.

Eucalyptus Oil

The antibacterial properties of this oil are beneficial for treating headaches because it can not only help prevent you from getting a cold in the first place, but it can also help cure a cold faster and help make sure that you don’t continue to be reinfected with the same cold after you have healed.

If you are suffering from a sinus headache, this is a great oil to use. Using eucalyptus oil in a vaporizer can help keep nasal passages moist to treat nasal congestion and sinus pressure. It also promotes the secretion of sputum, which will further relieve sinus pressure.

Here are a few great ways you can use eucalyptus oil to benefit your health.

3. Rosemary

Rosemary oil is commonly used to relieve respiratory problems and reduce pain. It is also used as a stress reliever, which can help cure tension headaches.

A 2007 study showed that inhaling rosemary oil for five minutes significantly reduces the levels of cortisol in saliva.

Rosemary essential oil for headache relief

Cortisol is a stress hormone that is released during times of stress, and having excess cortisol in the body can lead to many health problems.

Massaging the head with rosemary essential oil provides quick pain relief. Some people also choose to take a vapor bath with rosemary oil because it has certain anti-inflammatory qualities that make it effective for relieving pain. It is also known to increase blood circulation, which can help relieve pain and promote healing.

Rosemary oil is great when it is applied directly to the temples for headache relief. This can help relieve migraines as well as tension headaches.

4. Roman Chamomile

Chamomile is one of the oldest medicinal herbs that people have used to treat health ailments. There have been a lot of different preparations of oils using Roman chamomile over the years, and it is often used as a relaxation tool because it is a mild sedative. A lot of people drink chamomile in tea to help relax at night, but it is also a great herb to use in an essential oil format.

Roman Chamomile essential oil for headache relief

Roman chamomile is an effective oil to use for stress headaches. It is an anti-inflammatory with anti-stress and analgesic properties. Its analgesic properties effectively reduce pain in muscles and joints while also decreasing the severity of headaches, toothaches, sinus pressure, and even bone injuries. Roman chamomile can also help relieve pain by constricting the blood vessels around the cranial nerves, which relieves pressure in the head.

One study proved the effectiveness of using Roman chamomile for anxiety, pain relief, and sleep. The study concluded that using Roman chamomile in aromatherapy is a helpful independent nursing intervention to help reduce anxiety levels and improve sleep quality.

5. Lavender

Lavender essential oil is both therapeutic and curative.

It has properties ranging from inducing relaxation to treating skin ailments. There is growing evidence that suggests that lavender oil may even be an effective treatment for several neurological disorders. It also has the ability to decrease anxiety and stabilize moods.


Lavender is also a great treatment for both tension and migraine headaches. According to recent medical research, lavender oil causes a significant reduction in headache pain when it is inhaled for 15 minutes.

Many consider lavender oil to be the best “general” essential oil. It seems to have some sort of a positive effect on so many different health-related issues.

Specifically for headaches: Lavender oil is great when used in combination with other oils, such as peppermint, and applied to the nape of the neck and temples. Using just two drops of each oil is an effective pain-relieving remedy.

6. Clary Sage

When it comes to headaches, clary sage oil can help reduce blood pressure by relaxing the veins and the arteries, which in turn reduces stress and tension.

By reducing blood pressure, it also widens the blood vessels and encourages circulation, providing the body with more oxygen and boosting metabolic performance.

Clary Sage

It also reduces inflammation and has a calming effect that can reduce stress or anxiety and provide you with comfort.

Clary sage is also great for hormonal headaches. It helps to balance the hormones and decreases the pain that comes along with PMS and other hormonal causes of headaches.

This essential oil also has many therapeutic health properties, such as:

  • Antidepressant
  • Antispasmodic
  • Anticonvulsive
  • Sedative
  • Hypotensive
  • Antiseptic

7. Sweet Basil

Using sweet basil oil on strained muscles or an aching head can alleviate pain. You can also rub a few drops of this oil onto your forehead to help increase alertness.

Sweet basil oil can be used as a massage oil to help stimulate blood flow and soothe the headache pain.

Sweet Basil essential oil for headache relief

It is also a good tonic to help treat nervous disorders, stress headaches, migraines, and even allergies. It can be used to clear the mind and help people relax, while also promoting clarity and mental strength.

Basil is great to use for migraines, but it is also helpful in treating colds that are causing a headache. Here is a way that you can make sweet basil oil at home.

How to Use these Essential Oils

There are several ways in which you can use essential oils, and it really comes down to personal preference.

Topical Application

When applying essential oils topically, it is important to dilute them with a carrier oil so they do not come into direct contact with your skin. Some great carrier oils to use are coconut oil and almond oil. Using undiluted oils directly on your skin can cause damage and irritation.

To make a topical solution, simply mix three to four drops of your essential oil with your chosen carrier oil. You can then use this as a massage oil, or just put it anywhere on your skin where you can benefit from its aroma throughout the day.

Here is a great tutorial on making your own carrier oils.

Another way to apply essential oils topically is to use a roll-on bottle. Again, use a carrier oil and add a few drops of your essential oil of choice, and roll it onto your skin so you can smell it and benefit from its curative properties.

Using an Essential Oil Diffuser

Using a diffuser for your essential oils gets the oils into the air so you can breathe them and use them as aromatherapy. This is an easy and effective way to get the benefits from your essential oils in your home.

With a diffuser, you can add four to five drops of your essential oil of choice to the water and allow it to deliver its therapeutic aromatherapy throughout your house while also cleaning the air and making a fragrant environment. While there are other methods for using essential oils, using a diffuser is the easiest and longest-lasting way to reap the benefits.

Looking for a good essential oil diffuser?Find out more about these top 5 options!Find out more about these top 5 options! ESSENTIAL OIL DIFFUSERS REVIEW


Run a warm bath and mix five to six drops of your essential oil or essential oil blend into the water. You can add in bath salts or other bath oils if you would like as well. Adding essential oils to a bath is effective because you can inhale the oils while the bathwater evaporates them into the air.

Three Essential Oil Headache Blends (Pre-made)

Companies often make pre-made blends using many of the oils listed above. They create products with different concentrations and mixes of essential oils in their own titled blends.

These blends might be a bit more expensive, but they also have the ability to target multiple causes/effects oof headaches because they mix (and properly proportion multiple oils.


  • You don’t have to take the time to mix oils yourself or decide how much of which oil to use.
  • You only need to purchase one bottle if you only want to use essential oils for headaches.


  • You can’t do much trial and error or experimenting with your own blends.
  • It is more cost effective to create your own blends.
  • Purchasing specific blends does not allow you to use your essential oils for multiple purposes.

Here are some popular pre-made essential oil headache blends that people have found to be very effective. A great solution for those who don’t want to mess around with making their own essential oil headache blends.

1. Head Ease Blend

This minty blend helps to relieve headaches fast, and is very effective for both children and adults. It uses only top-quality ingredients in a superior cultivation to provide headache relief.

Head Ease Blend uses superior distillation and bottling care processes that make this oil aromatically superior to other oils on the market.

Head Ease Blend

If you want to know how to get rid of headaches in as simple a manner as possible. This might be the perfect choice.

2. Headache Relief Blend

This blend has a cool and minty aroma that contribute to a calming smell to help relieve headaches and migraines.

It works to soothe and calm the body and mind using only 100% pure, natural, undiluted oils with no additives, fillers, synthetics, or GMOs.

Headache Relief Blend

3. Migraine Support

This final essential oil headache blend has a sweet, minty, flowery scent that is both soothing and sharp. Its mild aroma doesn’t overpower, but it helps you feel calm while your headache melts away.

It also helps stimulate circulation and maintain a healthy circulatory system while soothing minor aches and pains that may result from the overuse of your muscles and joints.

Migraine Support

Did you enjoy this tutorial on using essential oils for headaches?

Going through a lot of trial and error myself to find the perfect natural relief for frequent headaches, these tips have helped me live pain-free without having to deal with the dangerous side effects of over-the-counter medications.

Hopefully you will be able to experience the same benefits and find the oil blend that works best for the type of headaches that you are experiencing.

In the comments below, please share your experiences on how to get rid of headaches. Particularly if you have your own experiences with essential oils for your headaches

The dull ache. The head throbbing. The pressure. If you’re one of the 78% of people who suffer from tension headaches, then you know what we’re talking about. Staying hydrated, eating regular meals, and sticking to a consistent sleep schedule can all help stop headaches naturally, but a lot of sufferers are now turning to another lifestyle remedy: essential oils.

But before you give it a try, know that the aromatherapy may not work for everyone. “Some people with migraines develop smell sensitivity and even pleasant odors can become unpleasant,” says Noah Rosen, MD, Director of Northwell Health’s Headache Center in Great Neck, New York. “However, for other people, scents have a very relaxing effect on them … I do think there can be a very individual effect.”

And you should always check with your doctor before using essential oils, especially if you have skin sensitivity.

If you are interested in trying essential oils, different ones may help depending on the kind of headache you have, according to Mindy Green, an aromatherapist and herbalist based in Colorado.

Here are her go-to essential oils and application methods for the most common types of head pain:

Tension Headache: Peppermint

Madeleine_SteinbachGetty Images

Feel like a clamp is tightening around your head? You’ve hit tension headache territory. Try hitting back with peppermint oil. Some research shows applying diluted peppermint oil solution may reduced the intensity of tension-type headaches after 15 minutes. Add 10 drops peppermint oil to 1-ounce carrier oil, like jojoba or coconut, and massage into the neck and shoulders, Green says.

Stress Headache: Lavender, Frankincense, Neroli, or Citrus

Amy_LvGetty Images

Scientific research supports the theory that stress can trigger headaches. Enter essential oils. Inhaling essential oils daily significantly lowered blood pressure, pulse, serum cortisol levels, and subjective stress in a 2006 study with 52 participants. But which one to choose? It depends on what you find personally relaxing, but Green likes lavender, frankincense, neroli, and citrus oils for unwinding.

“If an aroma is perceived as pleasant, we take a deeper breath; that in itself helps to slow the heart, align the nervous system, and help us to relax,” says Green. Pick an essential oil you love and inhale 1-2 drops from a tissue, add to an essential oil diffuser, or apply 1-2 drops to your palms with a carrier oil, rub together gently, and inhale deeply.

Migraine: Lavender

Amy_LvGetty Images

There’s a lot to love about lavender. Inhaling lavender essential oil for 15 minutes helped relieve migraine pain more than a placebo, according to a 2012 study published in European Neurology. Try inhaling straight from the bottle at the first sign of a headache or use it in a face massage: Add 1 drop lavender to a teaspoon of unscented face cream, massaging the jaw, temples, and forehead.

Hormonal Headache: Geranium

kazmulkaGetty Images

Fluctuating hormonal levels — especially a dip in estrogen right before and during your period — is associated with more frequent headaches, according to the Mayo Clinic. If you suspect PMS is behind your headache, Green suggests using geranium on the abdomen (add 1 drop to a teaspoon of carrier oil and massage in a circular motion) or in the bath (add 5-8 drops to a tablespoon of carrier oil and add to the tub).

Dehydration Headache: Peppermint, Orange, or Tangerine

Svetlana-CherrutyGetty Images

Dehydration can cause migraines and headaches, so start drinking water to catch up on what you’ve missed. While you’re replenishing your body, a cold compress spiked with essential oils may help, says Green. Add 1-2 drops peppermint, orange, or tangerine to a small bowl of cold water. Dip a face cloth, ring it out, and put it across your forehead while you chill out.

No-Name Headache: Custom Blend

Amy_LvGetty Images

“Headaches are shape shifters because they can be caused by so many things,” says Green, who uses a blend of rosemary, peppermint, and lavender as her general headache go-to. “A blend gives you a wider range of constituents that may help address a wider range of unknown problems.” Add the blend to a diffuser or make your own headache roller ball by adding 1 drop each of the essential oils to a 10 ml roller ball and fill with a carrier oil (like jojoba or sweet almond); shake well and store in a cool, dark place.

This story originally appeared on Rodale’s Organic Life in October 2017.

Is Lavender Essential Oil the New Migraine Essential?

Ever since taking a trip to Provence, France years ago, I’ve been smitten with lavender. It’s planted by my mailbox. It’s a staple in my favorite roasted chicken recipe. It’s tucked into my drawers to make clothes smell fresh. Now, a caring naturopathic friend tells me I’ve got to try it – it’s the new migraine essential. That begs for a little fact-checking first.

Indeed, recent research supports how it can help relieve migraine attacks as an alternative migraine treatment. A 2012 study conducted by Iranian and German scientists and published in the medical journal European Neurology concluded that “inhalation of lavender essential oil may be an effective and safe treatment modality in acute management of migraine headaches.”


We would all like to believe that something that smelled so very good would be the fix for our pain forever. Yet as mama always said, wishing doesn’t make it so. The study’s goals, funding sources and methodology all look legitimate enough. An excerpt:

Lavender essential oil has been used as an anxiolytic drug, a mood stabilizer, a sedative, spasmolytic, antihypertensive, antimicrobial, analgesic agent as well as a wound healing accelerator. We have studied for the first time the efficacy of lavender essential oil inhalation for the treatment of migraine in a placebo-controlled clinical trial.

They evaluated 47 patients with a definite diagnosis of migraine headaches, giving half a dose of 15 minutes lavender essential oil inhalation, and the other half liquid parrafin to inhale.

Patients recorded changes in attack severity over 2 hours for a total of 129 migraine attacks. Their findings are “statistically significant” but not overwhelming:

  • In the lavender group, 71% of patients’ attacks were resolved or partially resolved by inhalation of lavender.
  • In the placebo group, 47% of patients’ attacks responded to liquid paraffin.

So, lavender essential oil works better than the placebo as as alternative migraine treatment. Like every other treatment, it doesn’t work on every person or for every migraine, but it’s worth a try.

Based on my personal experience only, it tends to be more effective when used at the earliest stage of migraine symptoms, not a severe attack that’s well underway.

For me, it’s a wonderful product to pack in my bag, but not quite as essential as an ice pack and medicine.

You can roll it on your wrists and temples, spray it or drop a bit of oil into your bathtub. Not all lavender products or oils or essential oils; look for aromatherapy products marked “essential,” “undiluted” or “therapy-grade.”

Other essential oils that hold promise for headache sufferers include chamomile, cinnamon, clove, eucalyptus, ginger, jasmine, lemongrass, marjoram, patchouli, peppermint. (All are safe for pregnant women except peppermint).

A friend of mine gave me a bottle of Aveda’s Blue Oil, which apparently contains peppermint and blue chamomile oil, that I roll on my wrists on those edgy days.

It’s a small indulgence for those of us who have learned to steer clear of migraine triggers like perfumes.

Updated April 2019

MA Takeaway: Essential oils like lavender could help (and can’t hurt) as an alternative migraine treatment for some people.

Attributing Article: European Neurology

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17 Sep Reader’s Mail: What Does the Peppermint and Lavender Oil Do?

Posted at 17:02h in Ask the Expert, Reader’s Mail by fetch


What does the peppermint and lavender oil do? I’m assuming just inhaling them to relieve some stress?


While there is little academic research supporting the medicinal value of these and other essential oils, there is some clinical evidence that suggests peppermint and lavender may have therapeutic benefit beyond just smelling good. Peppermint oil is associated with anti-nausea, anti-inflammatory, anti-infective and pain-relieving properties due to its inherent content of menthol. Lavender has been shown to reduce labor pain, and is also recognized among aromatherapists as having anti-inflammatory and analgesic qualities. With any essential oil, it’s important to know the quality and purity of the source, and most aromatherapists advise against direct application of undiluted products. Instead, try adding several drops to a diffuser, your bathtub or a carrier oil like almond oil. The use of essential oils for therapeutic purposes is considered to be complementary therapy. It is not likely to cure, but may pick up some slack where other therapies are lacking.

For more information for consumers about aromatherapy, check out this publication from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, a branch of the National Institute of Health:

Dr. Heather McCoy
Adult Nurse Practitioner
Integrative Headache Care, LLC.

How to Use Lavender Oil for Migraine Relief

If you get migraines, you may be looking for new ways to treat them. Recent research suggests that lavender may alleviate migraines. There are several ways to use lavender, so you can choose the route that best suits your needs. Keep reading for more on how to use this home remedy.

Migraine Basics

Migraines are more than just a simple headache. They’re moderate to severe headaches that include multiple stages. Often, migraines are recurring. More than 12 percent of the population gets migraine headaches.

Migraines occur in people of all ages. Triggers can include:

  • light
  • smells
  • loud sounds
  • fatigue
  • stress
  • food
  • weather changes
  • medications
  • caffeine
  • hormonal changes in women

According the Cleveland Clinic, genetics may be at the root of your migraines. Inherited abnormalities in the brain may cause migraine headaches.

What Are the Stages of Migraines?

There are four stages of migraines:

  • During the prodromal stage, there are subtle changes in your body that indicate a migraine may be on its way. These vary by person and may include a twitch, ringing in the ears, or a strange taste in the mouth.
  • An aura can occur before or during a migraine. The most common symptom is loss of vision or other visual disturbances. Some people may not experience symptoms.
  • The attack phase is when you experience the migraine. It can manifest as throbbing pain on one or both sides of the head. This may last anywhere from four to 72 hours.
  • The postdromal phase is the end of a migraine. You may feel depleted or a sense of euphoria in some cases.

If you experience migraines, you should speak with your doctor. Together, you can determine the best course of action to alleviate your symptoms.

How to Treat Migraines

There isn’t one single treatment for migraines. You can do the following to reduce the frequency of migraines:

  • Reduce your stress level.
  • Get enough sleep
  • Try relaxation exercises.
  • Keep records of your migraines.

Over-the-counter pain relievers may help alleviate your symptoms. Those who experience frequent migraines may also look to medications that prevent migraines. These should be considered only if you experience migraines multiple times per month.

In addition to traditional medical treatments, there’s also recent evidence that indicates the use of lavender can help migraines.

Lavender is a plant that grows in the Mediterranean and other parts of the world, including the United States. It’s thought to calm, soothe, and work as a sedative. Lavender is available in a variety of forms, including essential oils and topical products, such as lotions. You can even drink lavender tea or purchase fresh or dried lavender plants.

How Lavender Can Help

There’s new evidence that the use of lavender oil can treat migraines. A study in European Neurology looked at the inhalation of lavender essential oils to treat migraines. The study concluded that inhaling lavender essential oil may be an effective and safe way to relieve migraine pain.

The use of lavender therapy on migraines was also reported in a study published in the Journal of Herbal Medicine. After a three-month period, participants in the group using lavender reported a reduction in the frequency and severity of their migraines.

How to Use Lavender for Migraine Relief

Before giving lavender to an infant or young child, you should speak with your doctor. They can provide further guidance on whether this is the best treatment.

Adults can inhale lavender essential oil for quick relief. To do this, add 2 to 4 drops of oil to 2 to 3 cups of boiling water. Then, inhale the vapors. You can also massage a few drops into the skin.

Make sure you consult with your doctor before trying any alternative remedies to relieve your migraines.

Read more: Migraine herbal home remedies from around the world “

The Takeaway

Talk to your doctor if you experience migraines and want to try lavender to alleviate your symptoms. Be careful about the administration of essential oils because they can cause side effects and interact with other medications. Together, you can decide whether this is the best course of action for you. You shouldn’t take lavender if you’re pregnant or breast-feeding.

The Best Essential Oils for Headaches and How to Use Them

Scents can be your best friend or your worst nightmare during a Migraine attack. Toxic smells like gasoline, perfume, or cigarette smoke can trigger or aggravate an attack, but some scents can be used to manage the symptoms of an attack. Essential oils for headaches and migraines are low-risk, over-the-counter tools that many people rely on for relief.

While they may not be able to abort an attack, some studies suggest essential oils for headaches and migraines may have power beyond smelling nice. Aromatherapy can be used to combat nausea, anxiety, sleeplessness, and even some of the pain that comes with an attack.

4 Best Essential Oils for Headaches and Migraines

According to a study published in Consumer Reports, one-third to one-half of people with Migraine do not get relief from triptans, the gold standard medication for Migraine treatment. Moreso, 23-40% of people who take triptans orally experience adverse side effects (1). Unlike medications, essential oils for migraines do not come with adverse side effects and can be safely used alone, in conjunction with other treatments, and by children and pregnant women. (Note: peppermint oil may not be safe for pregnant women.)

The data behind essential oils isn’t as robust as the evidence for triptans, but they are safe, affordable, and effective enough to be really valuable tools.

Dabbing lavender essential oil on your wrist may be the closest thing to being transported to a field of flowers while you’re battling pain.

Lavender Oil

One of my personal favorites, lavender essential oil is one of the few floral scents that doesn’t aggravate my Migraine brain. Lavender has been long been used as a calming, mood stabilizing herb, and a 2012 study in the journal European Neurology even tested lavender’s ability to abort a Migraine attack (2). Although the study was fairly small with 47 patients and 129 Migraine attacks, the findings were statistically significant. The study showed that 71% of patients’ attacks were resolved or partially resolved by inhaling lavender. “The present study suggests that inhalation of lavender essential oil may be an effective and safe treatment modality in acute management of migraine headaches,” the study concludes.

How to use it: Look for oils that say “essential,” “therapeutic,” or “pharmacy-grade.” Be sure to dilute the oil with a carrier oil like coconut oil. When you feel a Migraine attack coming on, or even just rising stress levels, place a few drops on your palms or on your wrists or smell directly from the bottle.

Peppermint Oil

Before discovering essential oils, peppermint tea was my go-to tool for battling Migraine nausea. Menthol has long been used to soothe digestive discomfort and nausea, and peppermint essential oil offers an easy and portable way to access the power of menthol. Although peppermint has been used in some form therapeutically for centuries, the scientific evidence behind it is pretty slim.

There is not a huge push to study peppermint, but there have been a few notable studies. An interesting study published in 2013 used an EEG to examine participants brains before and after using peppermint oil (3). The study found that for male subjects especially, peppermint has “actual emotional relaxation effects on the human brain.”

How to use: You can treat nausea with peppermint oil by applying diluted peppermint oil topically on the abdomen. Diluted peppermint can also be applied to the skin at various trigger points, like at the base of your skull near the occipital lobes or over your jaw muscle (4). The tingle produced by menthol helps stimulate the area and can help relieve pain. I like to slather the base of my skull in peppermint oil whenever I feel neck tightness, pain, or the beginnings of a Migraine attack.

Ginger Oil

Ginger and rosemary are both adaptogen herbs with anti-inflammatory benefits to treat headaches and migraine. Image: Unsplash.

Ginger has long been used in Eastern medicine for its anti-inflammatory and adaptogenic properties. Adaptogens are herbs that help protect the body from physical, emotional, and biological stressors. Ginger and rosemary belong to a class of adaptogens that specifically support the immune system of the cells, along with turmeric, green tea, grape seed, grape skin (5).

How to use: For topical use, ginger oil must be diluted with a carrier oil. Diluted oil can be applied to the belly for digestion relief or onto the neck and shoulders for a warming, easy way to soothe sore muscles. For more ideas on treating a Migraine attack with ginger, read this.

Don’t miss Dr. Tripti Gokani discuss ayurvedic medicine and the gut-brain connection on the Migraine World Summit –

Rosemary has been used traditionally to treat headaches, and there are a couple clinical studies that show pain-relieving results. A 2008 study examined the effects of rosemary essential oil on the brains of rats and found that rosemary successfully inhibited both inflammation and pain (6).

Another study from 2013 examined the use of rosemary essential oils in patients going through opium withdrawals and found that rosemary successfully decreased anxiety and insomnia (7). While a Migraine attack and a drug withdrawal are not the same, the findings speak to how effective rosemary oil is at calming and helping with sleep. If you don’t mind smelling faintly like a salad, rosemary can be an effective tool against more than one symptom of a Migraine attack.

How to use: For topical use, rosemary oil should be diluted with a carrier oil. Diluted oil can be applied to the temples, inhaled for aromatherapy, or added to a compress wet with warm or cold water, depending on your preference. Rosemary oil is FDA approved for human consumption, so you can eat or drink a few drops of the oil if you don’t mind the herby flavor.

I love using essential oils for headaches and migraines to help me relax while my body fights the many symptoms of an attack. Mixing up my bottles with carrier oils makes me feel like an apothecary – or at least someone taking an active role in her own healing. While something as simple as essential oils is not the only answer for a complex disease like Migraine, they can be effective and fun to use tools for relief from pain and stress.

Comments? Do you use essential oils for headaches or migraines? Which ones and how do you use them?

Image: Unsplash

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Putting Essential Oils On Your Temples & These 5 Pressure Points May Stop The Pain

I suffer from migraines, and I’ve dealt with them ever since I started going through puberty. Although it might not be the healthiest thing in the world, my usual go-to cure for an impending headache is three Advil pills and a Coca-Cola (it works, and I have no idea why). That being said, I’m always on the hunt for healthier approaches to battling these bad boys and potentially preventing them. Rumor has it putting essential oils on your temples and other pressure points might be one such remedy.

Essential oils are a holistic, natural approach to a variety of ailments that use the extracted essence of plants to trigger the olfactory system and improve circulation in the body. They’re often used as an addition to skincare products, but you can also enjoy the benefits by using a diffuser, or rolling them on with a “carrier” oil, like almond or coconut oil, to particular pulse points on your body. It’s recommended that you don’t put pure essential oils directly on your skin, so keep that in mind when you choose one for your head-pain-relieving experiments.

The most commonly used essential oils for headaches are eucalyptus, lavender, peppermint, chamomile, and rosemary. These oils are thought to relieve tension, as well as relax and uplift you while you’re trying to heal that pounding head.

And, just as a heads up, if you’re beginning to get periodic headaches for the first time, another good thing to try before experimenting with essential oils is to identify your potential “triggers,” or things that might be causing the pain to happen in the first place. Could it be stress, something you’re eating, a few two many brewskis, or lack of sleep? Are you drinking enough water? It’s always good to determine what’s actually going on in your body to help you find the best treatment. And of course, if none of your strategies seem to be working, it never hurts to consult with a doctor about what’s going on.

Otherwise, have fun experimenting with these essential oils, and try rubbing them on these six different spots on the body for a bit of relief from your headaches.

1. Rub It On Your Hairline


Peppermint Halo, $26.95, Saje

Sit back, relax, and roll on a little peppermint essential oil along your hairline, as this particular Saje roller recommends. The “halo” effect provides a kind of protective shield of essential oil that makes sure the refreshing scent continues to soothe your sore head all day long.

2. Put It On Your “Third Eye”


Right between the eyebrows and at the crown of your nose is a pressure point called your “third eye.” Place some of your essential oil on that point, (being careful to avoid your eyes, of course), and use your knuckles to press along your eyebrows, which actually tend to hold a rather surprising amount of tension.

3. Get Some On Those Temples


It’s a classic for a reason, my friends. Try placing a little eucalyptus oil on your temples and rubbing counter-clockwise. This is particularly effective for those achin’ heads that are caused by stress and tension.

4. Massage It Into Your Shoulders

Or better yet, have someone else massage these bad boys into your skin!

As for how to find the best point on your shoulders to relieve your tension headaches? According to the Explore Integrative Medicine blog from the UCLA Center for East-West Medicine, “it is located by feeling the mastoid (ear) bone and following the groove back to where the neck muscles attach to the skull.” Follow along, making sure to press and squeeze the shoulders, and enjoy as your pain melts away.

5. Press The Oil Onto Each Side Of The Nostril


On either side of the nostrils are pressure points that relieve tension in the head and neck. Dab on some chamomile oil on either side, and press gently. Don’t forget to breathe deeply, too!

6. Right Behind Your Ears


The Ritual of Hammam Massage Oil, $19, Rituals

Rub a little massage oil onto your hands and fingers, then fan out your fingers slightly about an inch behind your ear. If you have a headache and the pain is radiating throughout your upper body, you should be able to easily feel the spot where things feel a bit tender. Once you find it, breathe deep and place pressure, then guide along the back of your skull for a scalp massage, bringing it all the way up to the crown of the head.

Millions of people across the world suffer from headaches every day for a variety of reasons, and they’re often not sure what to blame! There are so many causes, which include stress, fatigue, allergies, hormones, nutritional deficiencies, constipation, poor posture, low blood sugar, and alcohol or drug consumption.

Then, of course, there’s the wicked combination of a couple of those causes. If you suffer from frequent headaches and struggle to find an effective treatment, there are no shortage of natural headache remedies out there. But perhaps you haven’t tried the one option, the one principle ingredient/s that can make the biggest difference? I’m talking about essential oils for headaches.

The most common headache treatment is a painkiller, but these pills come with a host of ugly side effects, like kidney and liver damage; plus they don’t deal with the root of the problem.

Essential oils serve as headache treatments because they safely and effectively treat the headache trigger, getting to the root of the problem instead of minimizing the pain temporarily. Plus, when using essential oils for headaches through a diffuser, there are no nasty side effects and you are in complete control of your dose — adjusting it for the type of headache you experience.

How Do Essential Oils Treat Headaches?

Unlike pain relievers that are commonly used to treat headaches and migraines today, essential oils serve as a more effective and safer alternative. Essential oils provide relief, aid circulation and reduce stress. They also have a ton of other health benefits and boost your immune system instead of wreaking havoc on your vital organs.

Really, there are few safer, more beneficial ways to soothe headaches than by using essential oils for headaches. It should come as no surprise considering aromatherapy has long been used to treat pain and headaches.

Every headache has a trigger. One major cause of headaches is hormonal changes in women. Fluctuations in estrogen can trigger headaches in many women, especially immediately before or during their periods when estrogen levels drop.

Some women develop migraines during pregnancy or menopause due to hormonal imbalances. Hormonal medications can even worsen headaches, so using essential oils as a gentle and natural treatment is recommended. Lavender and rosemary oils, for instance, are soothing oils that relieve pain and ease tension. Both oils are used to treat PMS symptoms and hormonal imbalances, including headaches and migraine attacks.

Another major headache trigger is stress, which can be reduced by using lavender and peppermint oil aromatically. Changes in sleeping patterns can also lead to a headache — luckily, lavender works as a mild sedative that helps people suffering from insomnia or a lack of sleep.

Headaches may also be the result of intense physical exertion, allergies, sinus pressure (sinusitis), congestion, certain foods and sensory stimuli. All of these triggers can be minimized or even eliminated with essential oils. No wonder they have been used for thousands of years — these miracle oils have the ability to treat just about any health condition.

Top 4 Essential Oils for Headaches

  1. Peppermint oil
  2. Lavender oil
  3. Eucalyptus oil
  4. Rosemary oil

1. Peppermint

Peppermint oil uses and benefits include its long-lasting cooling effect on the skin, ability to inhibit muscle contractions and role in stimulating blood flow in the forehead when applied topically.

Applying peppermint essential oil topically across the forehead and on the temples effectively alleviates a tension headache. In a 1996 study, 41 patients (and 164 headache attacks) were analyzed in a placebo-controlled, double-blind crossover study. The peppermint oil was applied topically 15 and 30 minutes after a headache began.

Participants reported pain relief in their headache diaries, and peppermint oil proved to be a well-tolerated and cost-effective alternative to usual headache therapies. There were also no adverse side effects reported after peppermint treatment. (1)

Another important study was conducted in 1995 and published in the International Journal of Phytotherapy and Phytopharmacology. Thirty-two healthy participants were evaluated, and essential oil treatment was investigated by comparing the baseline and treatment measurements. One effective treatment was a combination of peppermint oil, eucalyptus oil and ethanol.

Researchers used a small sponge to apply this mixture, which has a muscle-soothing and mentally relaxing effect, to the participants’ foreheads and temples. When peppermint was mixed with just ethanol, researchers found that it reduces sensitivity during a headache. (2)

In order to improve blood circulation, reduce pain and relieve tension, dilute two to three drops of peppermint oil with coconut oil and rub it into the shoulders, forehead and back of neck.

2. Lavender

Lavender essential oil has a variety of therapeutic and curative properties. It induces relaxation and relieves tension and stress — working as a sedative, antidepressant, anti-anxiety, anxiolytic, anticonvulsant and calming agent. There is also growing evidence that lavender oil serves as an effective treatment of neurological conditions and disorders.

According to researchers, aromatic and topical use of lavender oil affects the limbic system because the main constituents, linalool and linalyl acetate, are rapidly absorbed through the skin and are thought to cause central nervous system depression. For this reason, lavender oil can be used to treat headaches caused by anxiety disorders and related conditions.

Lavender oil benefits include relieving feelings of restlessness and disturbed sleep, two symptoms of headaches. It also regulates serotonin levels, which helps minimize pain in the nervous system that can lead to migraine attacks. (3)

A 2012 study published in European Neurology found that lavender essential oil is an effective and safe modality in the management of migraine headaches. Forty-seven participants were investigated in this placebo-controlled clinical trial. The treatment group inhaled lavender oil for 15 minutes during a migraine headache. The patients were then asked to record their headache severity and associated symptoms in 30-minute intervals for two hours.

The difference between the control and treatment groups was statistically significant. From the 129 headache cases in the treatment group, 92 responded entirely or partially to lavender oil inhalation. In the control group, 32 out of 68 recorded that headache attacks responded to the placebo; the percentage of responders was significantly higher in the lavender group than the placebo group. (4)

To reduce muscle tension, boost mood, aid sleep and relieve stress, diffuse five drops of lavender oil at home or in the office. You can also apply lavender oil topically to the back of neck, temples and wrists to relieve stress or tension headaches. To relax your body and mind, add five to 10 drops of lavender oil to a warm-water bath and take deep breaths so the sedative properties begin to take effect and reduce headache tension.

3. Eucalyptus

Eucalyptus works as an expectorant — it helps cleanse the body of toxins and harmful microorganisms. It also opens the nasal airways and eliminates sinus pressure that can lead to a nasty headache, all while promoting emotional balance and boosting mood.

A clinical trial published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine states that inhaling eucalyptus oil can decrease a person’s pain and blood pressure. The study involved 52 patients who recently underwent total knee replacement surgery. Eucalyptus oil treatment promoted emotional stability in the patients, reduced edema formation and had anti-inflammatory effects. These pain-reducing and relaxing effects can be beneficial to people suffering from tension headaches. (5)

A 2011 study conducted in Israel evaluated the efficacy of eucalyptus oil when used on patients with respiratory conditions that can lead to cough, sore throat and tension headaches. Patients reported that eucalyptus oil improved breathing and reduced runny nose.

Researchers reported that the oil showed anti-inflammatory effects when used to treat respiratory conditions. It exhibited antibacterial, antiviral and antimicrobial properties that alleviate sinus pressure caused by an inflammatory response. (6)

Dilute two to four drops of eucalyptus oil with a carrier oil, and apply it topically to the chest, back of the neck, temples and forehead. This eliminates nasal buildup and clears your airways — alleviating the sinus tension that leads to a headache or migraine attack.

4. Rosemary

Rosemary essential oil has been used in folk medicine to treat headaches and poor circulation because of its stimulating, anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. It has a calming effect and improves personal orientation and alertness.

Rosemary oil also reduces stress and emotional triggers that can cause headache attacks. It also aids digestion and soothes an upset stomach, which can be a symptom of a severe headache. (7)

An interesting 2013 study published in Addiction and Health evaluated the efficacy of rosemary oil as a form of herbal therapy for the alleviation of withdrawal syndromes in patients with a history of opium abuse. Some opium withdrawal symptoms consist of dysphoric mood, nausea, muscle aches, headaches, fever and insomnia. Rosemary treatment proved to reduce these symptoms when taken internally for four weeks. It reduced tension and muscle jerks, alleviated pain, improved sleeping patterns, and treated convulsions. (8)

Take one drop of rosemary oil internally by adding it to tea, water or soup when experiencing headache or migraine attacks. To reduce headache pain, mix two drops of rosemary oil with two drops of peppermint oil and one teaspoon of coconut oil, and rub it into the temples, forehead and back of neck.

You can also blend these top four essential oils for headaches with chamomile essential oil, cineole oil, spearmint oil and other oil blends that include other hydrosol flowers.

How to Use Essential Oils for Headache Relief

Migraine Headache:

A migraine is a severe and painful type of headache associated with throbbing pain, nausea and heightened sensitivity to light. Migraines can be triggered by stress, anxiety, sleep deprivation and hormonal changes. Massage lavender or peppermint oil into the temples and back of neck to relieve migraine headaches and ease feelings of nausea and anxiety.

Tension Headache:

These are called “stress headaches,” and they’re characterized as dull, constant pressure or pain. Tension headaches are typically brought on my feelings of pressure. Use eucalyptus or peppermint oil topically on the temples, forehead and wrists to alleviate stress and reduce tension. To ease the mind, add 5–10 drops of lavender oil to a warm-water bath, or follow this recipe for my Homemade Healing Bath Salts.

Sinus Headache:

When the membranes of the sinus cavities become inflamed and swollen, you may experience pressure in the forehead area where these cavities are located, resulting in a sinus headache. Use eucalyptus oil topically on the chest, top of nose and temples to open up the nasal passages and relieve sinus tension.

Sugar Headache:

This is pain that’s caused by low blood sugar levels. Combine equal parts lavender, rosemary and coconut oil, and apply topically to the back of neck, temples and forehead. Or take 1 drop of rosemary internally with a smoothie or cup of soup.

Possible Side Effects of Essential Oils for Headaches

When using these essential oils for headaches, especially in sensitive areas like the nose and forehead, it’s best to dilute the oil first. If you have never used an oil before, do a quick patch test on a small area of skin before applying to larger areas.

If you use these oils internally, remember that a little goes a long way — 1–2 drops should do the trick, and don’t exceed a four-week period without taking a week off from internal use.

Final Thoughts on Essential Oils for Headaches

  • The top four essential oils for headaches are peppermint, lavender, eucalyptus and rosemary oil.
  • The best way to use essential oils for headaches is by diffusing them with a high-quality diffuser to soothe headaches.
  • You can also blend these top four essential oils for headaches with chamomile essential oil, cineole oil, spearmint oil and other oil blends that include other hydrosol flowers.

Read Next: The Top 7 Essential Oils for Anxiety

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Using essential oils to relieve migraines is being aggressively promoted online, but there is little research to show that they work reliably. I could find only one limited study that involved lavender essential oil. It observed that most of the patients participating who inhaled the scent of lavender while suffering a migraine reported that their headache subsided entirely or partially.

According to the the American Migraine Foundation, a non-profit organization supported by the American Headache Society, using soothing scents like lavender, peppermint and tangerine can be comforting for people suffering migraines and are safe for children. Aromatherapy options the Foundation recommends are Badger Headache Soother and Lather Clear Head Balancing Balm. The Foundation warns that if you choose to use pure essential oils to relieve migraines, be aware that with the exception of lavender, they should never be applied to the skin undiluted because they can irritate and burn. Be sure to dilute them first in a carrier oil, such as fractionated coconut oil.

I would be cautious using other essential oils promoted for migraine relief, including eucalyptus, rosemary, bergamot and sandalwood. If you think aromatherapy will help relieve your headaches, I suggest consulting a qualified aromatherapist. For information on certification courses approved by the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy visit

I should mention that some scents, including perfume, cleaning products or secondhand smoke, could set off a migraine. If your headaches can be triggered by scents, you might find that exposure to essential oils could worsen rather than ease them.

Many migraine treatments are available, but there is no cure and none of the available treatments work reliably for everyone who suffers from these headaches. The most effective drugs are triptans, which are not free of side effects. Alternatives include the herb butterbur (Petasites hydridus), shown to reduce migraine occurrence by an average of 48 percent compared to 26 percent in patients who received a placebo. Choose butterbur extracts guaranteed to be free of pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PA), which are toxic to the liver. Take butterbur with meals. Taking 400 mg of vitamin B-2 daily (you’ll need a prescription for that dose) can help reduce both the frequency and duration of migraines. Biofeedback training and Botox may also help.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Sasannejad et al, “Lavender Essential Oil in the Treatment of Migraine Headache: A Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial.” European Neurology, May 2012, DOI: 10.1159/000335249

How to Use Essential Oils for Migraines

Peppermint Essential Oil for Migraines

Peppermint reigns supreme when it comes to using aromatherapy for migraines. Why’s it so magical? From the second you apply it, you’ll feel a tingling feeling-“it simultaneously relaxes tension and stress, while stimulating circulation and healing,” explains Gillerman. After all, “the menthol contained in peppermint is used in almost all topical pain relievers,” she says, noting that “a 2007 study comparing peppermint to Tylenol showed there was no significant difference in effectiveness between peppermint oil and acetaminophen, and no adverse effects were reported. (Related: 7 Essential Oils for Anxiety and Stress Relief)

Note that peppermint oil is very strong so be sure to keep it away from your face (and babies and pets) and hold off on using it if you’re pregnant.

Lavender Essential Oil for Migraines

Like peppermint, “lavender is a highly versatile oil to use topically for pain and to relax muscles and inhale or diffuse for stress and anxiety,” says Gillerman. It has a long history of blending well with peppermint for migraines.

“Some studies have found that the use of aromatherapy, particularly lavender essential oil, reduced pain levels,” says Dr. Broner. Though it’s unclear why it helps, it is possible “that the connection between fibers in the olfactory system (which regulates our sense of smell) and the trigeminal nucleus, which is one of the main regulators of migraine activity, may account for lavender’s effectiveness,” she adds.

Guidelines for Using Essential Oils for Migraines

It’s a good idea to consult your physician before incorporating essential oils into your routine, but Dr. Broner recommends several ways to ensure that you’re playing it safe when using these treatments.

  1. “Stick to pure essential oils, without added chemicals, as harsh or even artificial chemical odors can trigger migraines,” says Dr. Broner.
  2. While lavender and peppermint are the most popular migraine options, it’s important to find a scent you like since “not everyone responds positively to the same odors.” And since migraine sufferers often have a heightened sensitivity to scent, introduce aromatherapy cautiously-and skip it if the smells are too strong for you, she says.
  3. “When using a topical agent, make sure it’s something gentle that won’t harm or burn the skin,” advises Dr. Broner. There are a number of ways to use essential oils, but many are not intended for direct application to the skin. (Related: You’re Using Essential Oils All Wrong-Here’s What You Should Be Doing)

The Best On-the-Go Aromatherapy Treatments to Buy for Migraines

As a writer, I’m often hunched over in a chair staring into the harsh light of my laptop, sometimes mid-migraine-sound familiar? I’ve tried countless aromatherapy options, and here now have a carefully curated collection for when a migraine hits. Here are some expert-approved remedies I stuff in my bag. (Related: The Best Essential Oils You Can Buy On Amazon)

1. Hope Gillerman Tension Remedy (Buy it, $48)

Hope Gillerman’s products are informed by their creator’s private practice in which she combines aromatherapy with essential oil to help clients treat pain. The key ingredients, unsurprisingly, are peppermint and lavender. (She recommends combining this with her Muscle Remedy, a roll-on that goes across your shoulder and down the nape of your neck.)

How to use: Reach behind your ear lobe and locate the bumpy ridge. Then, move your fingers below that and towards your spine. If you put pressure on the spot, you’ll notice it’s a sensitive one. Tap the Tension Remedy there three times to allow the peppermint to help relieve pain, Gillerman says.

2. Saje Peppermint Halo (Buy it, $27)

Canada’s most beloved aromatherapy brand is growing stateside and their top seller-Peppermint Halo-has held prime real estate in my bag from the moment I discovered it almost a year ago. Again-peppermint and lavender are key parts of the remedy, though rosemary (another stress reliever) is too. The peppermint in this one is not playing around-which is precisely why it’s become one of my favorites.

How to use: I carefully roll it on at my hairline and down my neck-something you sort of need to commit to because you’ll smell minty and feel its tingle for a while after applying.

3. Sagely Relief & Recovery Roll-On (Buy it, $30)

The key differentiator here is not an essential oil-it’s CBD. This most zeitgeisty ingredient supports its aromatherapy co-stars. In addition to peppermint and rosemary, this formula also includes one of my personal favorites-eucalyptus.

How to use: A major plus is that it’s gentle enough that you can apply to tense temples without the fear of burning your eyes! It can also be used on the neck, forehead, and shoulders for cooling and relief.

4. Naturopathica Re-Boot Alchemy (Buy it $29)

Unlike the others, it’s meant for inhalation-a simple, quick aromatherapy ritual. While there’s peppermint in this formula, it also has a strong zing from lemongrass and ginger. But the true hero ingredient here is Holy Basil, which is yet another natural topical muscle relaxer, with a long history in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Look for it in pre-diluted formulas.

How to use it: It comes in a dropper bottle, which you use to dispense about three drops into the palm of your hands. Cup your hands to your face (as if you’re about to sneeze) and take at least five slow deep breaths.

The Best At-Home Aromatherapy Treatments for Migraines

Like with Western medicine, you can use aromatherapy differently based on whether you’re aiming to treat preventively or in the throes of pain. Creating a wellness-oriented environment might not be a miracle cure, but as frequent migraine-sufferers know all too well-sometimes it’s the little things that help the big picture.

1. Naturopathica Nebulizing Diffuser (Buy it, $125)

If you’re not too sensitive to fragrance (obviously, many migraineurs are, so don’t use anything you think could only make you feel worse!), try diffusing EO’s to help reduce migraine-eliciting stress or trouble sleeping. This fancy diffuser (an investment at $125) is a new obsession of mine. While ordinary diffusers are lovely (and effective too), the power of EOs is diluted they’re when mixed with water, which also makes them harder to actually inhale if you’re congested! The nebulizing diffuser dispenses with the water chamber altogether (also a perk if you’re too lazy to get out of bed) and takes straight, single essential oils and converts them into tiny particles that can reach up to 800 square feet. (Related: Bestselling Essential Oil Diffusers, According to Thousands of Five-Star Amazon Reviews)

2. The Essential Oils

You can use the same migraine-approved oils for scenting a room too, or experiment (there are tons of single-origin, pure scents, which are far less likely to trigger a headache than a department store floor fragrance). I swear by Vitruvi’s Organic Eucalyptus Essential Oil, which is revitalizing and one of the best oils to inhale to decongest sinuses and reduce sinus pressure (yet another migraine trigger), Gillerman says.

Of course, you can use the famous peppermint, too-try Naturopathica’s Organic Peppermint Essential Oil. You can blend either with lavender (like Vitruvi’s Organic Lavender Essential Oil) for a simultaneously zen but energized vibe, or just use lavender on its own to keep things calm. While you can drop the aforementioned Vitruvi Eucalyptus oil in the shower, you can also add a diluted (safe for contact with skin) aromatherapy blend to your body lotion or oil-like Bath & Body Works Lavender 3-in-1 Aromatherapy Essential Oil. You’ll feel it as soon as you breathe in.

  • By By Sara Spruch-Feiner

Aromatherapy for Headaches

Quick Links to Topics Within This Article:
• Essential Oils Commonly Associated With Alleviating Headaches
• How to Use Essential Oils to Alleviate Headaches
• Topical Application and Gentle Massage for Headaches
• Diffuser Blends for Headaches
• Cottonball or Tissue Diffusion for Headaches
• Beware: Ylang Ylang Can Cause Headaches When Used In Excess
• Seek Medical Advice
• For More Info

The onset of a headache can begin when you least expect it, and can turn even the easiest of tasks into seemingly more difficult and painful endeavors. Essential oils may help relieve minor headaches, improve your mood and may play a part in helping to reduce the need to ingest pain medication.

Essential oils should not be used as a substitute for proper medical care and it goes beyond the scope of this article to describe the details for each type of headache. A headache or migraine can be a symptom of something quite serious. This article is intended to give you tips and ideas that you might wish to consider under the guidance of a medical professional if you have infrequent, minor headaches. The tips mentioned here will not remedy or “cure” any underlying medical issues. If you experience headaches or migraines, discuss your situation with your doctor and ask for his/her guidance on treatment and pain relief.

Essential Oils Commonly Associated With Alleviating Headaches

Be sure that you refer to the safety information for each essential oil that you are considering using.

Eucalyptus Essential Oil

Eucalyptus globulus and Eucalyptus radiata Essential Oils contain a significant quantity of the oxide 1,8-Cineole. 1,8-Cineole is said to act as both an anti-inflammatory as well as an expectorant. Eucalyptus Essential Oil is said to help ease headaches, most especially those associated with sinus headaches.

Helichrysum Essential Oil

Helichrysum Essential Oil is considered by many in the aromatherapy community to be an especially powerful anti-inflammatory.

Lavender Essential Oil

Lavender Essential Oil has a high percentage of esters (linalyl acetate), and therefore, offers anti-inflammatory and sedative properties. Lavender Oil is a good oil to use if you are trying to alleviate a headache during the evening/nighttime hours.

Roman Chamomile Essential Oil

Like Lavender, Roman Chamomile Essential Oil has a high percentage of esters (isobutyl angelate), and therefore, offers anti-inflammatory and sedative properties. Roman Chamomile Essential Oil is also a good oil to use if you are trying to alleviate a headache during the evening/nighttime hours.

Peppermint Essential Oil

Peppermint Essential Oil contains a significant amount of menthol. Amongst its many uses, menthol is known to help relax and ease tension headaches and muscular aches and pains. Peppermint Oil is quite stimulating and may interfere with sleeping.

Spearmint Essential Oil

Although Peppermint Oil is typically the most recommended of the mints to use with headaches and contains significantly more menthol, I personally prefer the aroma Spearmint Oil. I often substitute Spearmint Essential Oil for some or all Peppermint Essential Oil in a blend.

How to Use Essential Oils to Help Alleviate Headaches

The following sections describe several ways that you can use the above essential oils to help ease a minor headache. I have personally found topical application to help me the most, but I have experienced relief using all the methods described below.

Topical Application and Gentle Massage for Headaches

When I have a headache, I have found that gently massaging several drops of the below recipe onto my forehead, back of my neck and/or temples (depending on the location of my particular headache) is especially soothing. Use the below recipe to create a topical headache blend.

Basic Aromatherapy Headache Massage Recipe:

  • 1 oz. Carrier Oil (example: Jojoba or Sweet Almond Oil)
  • 6-8 drops of your chosen essential oils from the above list of essential oils
  • 1 oz. amber or cobalt glass bottle with orifice reducer insert


Combine the your chosen carrier oil and essential oils into the bottle, and gently roll the bottle between your hands to mix the essential oils into the carrier oil.

To Use: Drop 1-2 drops onto your fingers and massage onto your forehead, back of your neck and/or temples. Avoid getting the oils near your eyes.

Suggested Essential Oils and Blends for Use in the Recipe

  • Blend #1: 4 Drops Lavender, 2 Drops Roman Chamomile, 1 oz. Carrier Oil
  • Blend #2: 3 Drops Spearmint, 3 Drops Eucalyptus Radiata, 1 oz. Carrier Oil
  • Blend #3: 2 Drops Helichrysum, 4 Drops Roman Chamomile, 1 oz. Carrier Oil
  • Blend #4: 3 Drops Spearmint, 3 Drops Lavender, 1 oz. Carrier Oil

Headaches can feel powerfully strong. It might feel that you need to use a lot of essential oil to remedy your painful headache. With essential oils, using less is safer and can often be more effective than using more. Even for headaches, remember to always dilute essential oils adequately in a carrier oil before applying them to your skin or scalp.

Read the Guide to Diluting Essential Oils to learn how to properly and easily dilute essential oils.

Diffuser Blends for Headaches

Select one or more of the above listed essential oils and add several drops to your diffuser by following the manufacturer’s instructions. Be sure to use Peppermint Essential Oil sparingly as its aroma is incredibly strong. Spearmint Essential Oil is also rather strong, but it’s typically not as tenacious as Peppermint Essential Oil. For more information on the different ways that essential oils can be diffused, read All About Aromatherapy Diffusers.

Cottonball or Tissue Diffusion for Headaches

Place 1-2 drops of your chosen essential oil(s) on a cottonball or tissue. Place the cottonball or tissue near your nose and inhale. When trying an oil for the first time, use only one drop to ensure that you do not have a sensitivity or reaction to the oil, especially while you have a headache.

Beware: Ylang Ylang Can Cause Headaches When Used In Excess

Ylang Ylang is commonly known to cause headaches when used in excess. I personally get headaches if I use too much Ylang Ylang Essential Oil in a formulation or if diffuse it for too long.

Seek Medical Advice

Important Note: A headache or migraine can be a symptom of something quite serious. This article is intended to give you tips and ideas that you might wish to ask your doctor about if you have infrequent, minor headaches. The tips mentioned here will not remedy or “cure” any underlying medical issues. If you experience headaches or migraines, discuss your situation with your doctor and ask for his/her guidance on treatment and pain relief.

For More Info

For more information, read Aromatherapy for Natural Head Ache Relief, a detailed and especially helpful blog post from Marge Clark of Nature’s Gift. (Marge has been a supporter of AromaWeb since its beginnings. She was a source of encouragement to me when I originally launched AromaWeb in 1997. Her passion and love of this fields shines through all that she writes on the subject.)

Essential oil for headache

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