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9 Effective Essential Oils For Relieving Headaches And Migraine

Essential oils are popularly used as home remedies for different types of ailments. Globally, they are traditionally used as an anti-inflammatory, relaxing and disinfection substance and popularly used in complementary and alternative medicine as well. In this article, we'll talk about what are essential oils and which essential oils can help in relieving headaches and migraine.

What Are Essential Oils?

Essential oils are highly concentrated plant extracts obtained from the bark, flowers, leaves, stem, roots, resin and other parts of the plant. Essential oil offers an array of health benefits such as easing stress, boosting mood, promoting good sleep, lowering inflammation, treating headaches and migraine and so on [1] [2].

Lemongrass, lavender, eucalyptus, peppermint, tea tree, clove, geranium, frankincense, etc are some of the types of essential oils.

Essential oils must never be applied directly to the skin and should be diluted with a carrier oil like olive oil or coconut oil before use.

If you are experiencing a headache or migraine, you can use these essential oils to help bring you relief.


1. Lavender essential oil

Lavender essential oil is commonly used for alleviating stress, however, studies have shown that this essential oil can also aid in treating headaches and migraine. According to a study published in the Evidence Based Complementary Alternative Medicine, inhaling lavender oil can help in the treatment of acute migraine headaches. During the study, 47 patients suffering from migraine inhaled lavender essential oil and reported a significant reduction in pain and other symptoms after 15 minutes [3].

Another study showed that lavender essential oil can effectively treat tension type headaches in students [4].

How to use: You can apply diluted lavender oil directly to the skin, use an oil diffuser or add it to your bathing water.


2. Peppermint essential oil

Peppermint essential oil has several uses including its treatment for headaches and migraine. The essential oil contains menthol, which can aid in relaxing the muscles and relieve pain. Studies have found that peppermint oil when applied topically resulted in pain reduction from tension type headaches [5] [6]. Other studies also showed that applying a combination of peppermint and ethanol mixture can help bring relief from headache pain [7] [8].

How to use: Dilute a drop of peppermint oil with a carrier oil like coconut oil and apply on the forehead and temples.


3. Eucalyptus essential oil

Traditionally eucalyptus essential oil is used to relieve sinus headaches. A study found that a combination of eucalyptus oil, peppermint oil and ethanol helped in relaxing the muscles and mind, which may further help in relieving headaches [9].

How to use: You can either apply a drop of eucalyptus oil combined with a carrier oil and apply it to the chest or you can inhale the essential oil.


4. Chamomile essential oil

Usually chamomile essential oil is used to relax your mind and improve mood, but it is also used to treat migraine headaches. As per a 2014 study, applying a mixture of chamomile oil and sesame oil may help in the treatment of migraine headaches [10]. Another study also pointed out the effectiveness of chamomile oil in relieving pain caused by migraine headaches [11].

How to use: Add a few drops of chamomile essential oil and a carrier oil to hot water and inhale the steam.


5. Rosemary essential oil

Rosemary essential oil has anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties and studies have shown that it can help bring relief from pain caused by headache [12].

How to use: Inhale a few drops of rosemary essential oil to help bring relief from pain.


6. Clove essential oil

Clove essential oil is used for treating infections, improving dental health, lowering itching on the skin and relieving pain. According to a study published in the Research in Pharmaceutical Sciences, clove essential oil can help bring relief from headaches [13].

How to use: You can inhale the aroma of clove essential oil.


7. Basil essential oil

In alternative medicine, basil essential oil is used to treat many health problems like anxiety, depression, bronchitis, cold and cough, indigestion and sinusitis, to name a few. As per a study published in the Complementary Medicine Research, the topical application of basil essential oil has been shown to reduce pain intensity and frequency of migraine attacks [14].

How to use: Basil essential oil can be blended with a carrier oil and applied topically.


8. Lemongrass essential oil

Lemongrass essential oil has antifungal, antibacterial, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. According to a research study, the infusions and decoctions of Australian lemongrass have been used traditionally in the treatment of headache [15].

How to use: Inhale the aroma of lemongrass essential oil.

Image ref: Medical news today


9. Frankincense essential oil

Frankincense essential oil relaxes and soothes the nerves and alleviates stress, which can prevent tension type headache. An animal study showed that frankincense essential oil may be beneficial in managing stress [16]. However, more studies are needed to show the effectiveness of frankincense essential oil on headaches in humans.

How to use: Use frankincense essential oil in an oil diffuser and smell the scent.


Things To Keep In Mind Before Applying Essential Oils

Essential oils are generally considered safe and have fewer side effects compared to headache and migraine medications. However, there are certain things you should keep in mind before you use essential oils. These include the following:

  • If you are allergic to essential oils, you may have an allergic reaction or irritation on the skin if you apply them directly on the skin. It is better to do a skin patch test first before using essential oils. Just apply a small amount of oil to a small spot on the skin, if there's no reaction in 24 to 48 hours, then the oil is safe to use.
  • You should always dilute essential oils with a carrier oil before applying to the skin as it can cause skin irritation if used undiluted.
  • If you have pre-existing health conditions it is advisable to speak to your doctor before using essential oils.
  • Infants, pregnant and breastfeeding women should not use essential oils.
  • When purchasing essentials make sure to buy it from a reputable company.

  • Common FAQs

    Q. How do you use essential oils for headaches?

    A. Take a few drops of essential oil and blend it with a carrier oil and apply it on the forehead and temples.

    Q. How do you use peppermint oil for headaches?

    A. Dilute a drop of peppermint oil with a carrier oil like coconut oil and apply on the forehead and temples.

    Q. Is frankincense oil good for headaches?

    A. Frankincense oil may help ease stress and tension which are often linked to causing tension type headaches.

    Q. How do you use lavender oil for headaches?

    A. You can apply diluted lavender oil directly to the skin, use in oil diffuser or add it to your bath water.

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