You can use several different essential oils for migraines, and you can use them in several different ways.
Although essential oils can’t actually stop the process of a migraine in the brain, they can help relive many migraine symptoms.
Migraine headaches are debilitating for many, causing intense pain often accompanied by sensitivity to bright lights, strong scents, and other environmental factors.
Tension headaches, while less severe than migraine attacks, still present a challenge to those who suffer from frequent headaches.
With the side effects and concerns surrounding over-the-counter medications and drug administration, many are turning to natural remedies for headache treatment, like essential oils for migraines, or using pressure points for stress headaches.
Essential oils have emerged as a prominent alternative and an effective treatment, offering potential pain relief for migraine and tension-type headaches.
Table of Contents
- Understanding Migraines And Tension Headaches
- The Science And Health Benefits Behind Essential Oils
- Best Essential Oils Used For Migraines
- How To Use Essential Oils For Migraines
- Storing Essential Oils For External Use
- Warnings And Adverse Side Effects
- More Essential Oils and Incense
Understanding Migraines And Tension Headaches
Tension headaches, on the other hand, result mainly from muscle contractions in the head and neck regions.
Both can be aggravated by environmental triggers, such as strong scents and bright lights.
The Science And Health Benefits Behind Essential Oils
The limbic system in our brain, which affects our heart rate, blood pressure, and nervous system, responds to the aroma of essential oils.
Some essential oils possess anti-inflammatory properties and analgesic effects that can aid in reducing headache pain.
Essential oils are made by steam processing roots, wood, flowers, leaves, berries or resins. You absorb them into your bloodstream when you inhale them, and they interact with your body chemistry. The use of essential oils is a form of aromatherapy, a type of healing first practiced in ancient Egypt.
Best Essential Oils Used For Migraines
You can use these essential oils to treat specific symptoms of migraines:
Peppermint or ginger for nausea
Basil for headache
Helichrysum for inflammation.
If your migraines cause you to be congested, eucalyptus oil can be helpful.
You can use chamomile, clary sage, or lavender to help you relax when a migraine occurs.
Sweet marjoram causes a slightly sedating effect to help you cope with migraines.
Use marjoram oil carefully, especially if pregnant, because it can stimulate menstruation.
Several types of chamomile essential oil can help alleviate headaches. Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) and German chamomile (Matricaria recutica) are both recommended by Julia Lawless in her book “The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils” for their ability to alleviate headache, including tension headaches and migraines.
Chamomile is extracted by steam distillation from the heads of the chamomile flower. It yields a pale blue watery liquid with a sweet, fruity-herbaceous fragrance.
Chamomile essential oil contains esters and terpenes, chemicals with anti-inflammatory and anxiety-reducing properties.
Chamomile oil can be inhaled or used in a bath or massage oil.
Adding a few drops of chamomile oil to a teaspoon of a carrier oil, such as grapeseed or almond oil, makes a soothing massage oil that can be applied to the forehead or temples.
2. Lavender Oil
Chamomile is often paired with lavender essential oil for their mutual calming effects, perfect for a stressful day.
There are mainly three types of lavender essential oil: true lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), spike lavender (Lavandula latifolia) and lavendin (Lavandula x intermedia). True lavender is the most expensive, and lavendin is the least.
Although lavender can be grown anywhere in the world, most of the oil comes from France. Italy and Bulgaria also produce lavender oil, although they are thought to be of lesser quality than French lavender.
Lavender contains more than 100 constituents, with those grown in higher altitudes containing more esters, which might account for French lavender’s headache-fighting abilities. Headaches because of stress and anxiety might benefit from lavender application or inhalation.
Related: DIY Lavender Sugar Scrub
3. Peppermint Oil
Peppermint essential oil (Mentha piperita) is extracted from the flowering herb that is easily recognized by its deep green leaves that yield a sweet, minty fragrance when pinched.
It contains a high concentration of menthol and menthone, alcohols that have uplifting properties. It also contains inflammation-reducing esters, which is great for treatment of migraine.
Valerie Gennari Cooksley, author of “Aromatherapy: A Lifetime Guide to Healing With Essential Oils,” says that peppermint is a mild analgesic.
She recommends blending peppermint essential oil with lavender essential oil in a base of vegetable oil for a soothing tension headache massage oil.
4. Rosemary Oil
Rosemary oil, renowned for its analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties, can serve as a natural remedy for migraines.
When massaged into the temples or inhaled, its invigorating aroma helps to alleviate headache symptoms, potentially by improving circulation and reducing muscle tension.
It is advisable to dilute it properly before application to avoid skin irritation.
While primarily known as a natural insect repellent, citronella oil can also aid in the relief of migraines.
Its fresh and lemony aroma may provide a calming effect, helping to reduce stress and anxiety, which are known triggers for migraines.
Consider using it in aromatherapy to help prevent or lessen the intensity of migraine episodes.
Related: DIY Citronella Candles
Cumin oil, with its earthy and spicy aroma, is not only a culinary delight but also harbors potential benefits in reducing the symptoms of migraines.
It is believed that its anti-inflammatory properties can assist in alleviating the headaches and nausea often accompanying migraines.
Inhaling the aroma of cumin oil in a diffuser might provide some relief during a migraine episode.
Eucalyptus oil is a potent ally in combating migraines. Its refreshing and cooling properties can potentially reduce inflammation and alleviate tension headaches, which often precede migraines.
By diluting it with a carrier oil and applying it topically to the forehead or temples, individuals may find significant relief.
The citrusy aroma of grapefruit oil can act as a refreshing tool in the battle against migraines.
Its uplifting properties might help to reduce the stress and anxiety often associated with migraines.
Using grapefruit oil in aromatherapy can possibly help to lift mood and ease tension, thus potentially reducing the frequency and severity of migraines.
While better known for its role in beer production, hops oil can also be a potent agent for migraine relief.
Its calming and sedative properties may help to soothe the nervous system, potentially offering relief from migraine symptoms.
Incorporating hops oil in a massage or a warm bath might assist in reducing the discomfort associated with migraines.
Lemongrass oil is celebrated for its potential to soothe migraine symptoms. Its analgesic properties might provide relief by reducing inflammation and promoting relaxation.
On top of that, the fresh and lemony aroma can have a calming effect, potentially aiding in the prevention of migraine triggers such as stress and anxiety.
Linden oil, derived from the flowers of the linden tree, can serve as a gentle remedy for migraines.
Its soothing properties might help to calm the nervous system, potentially reducing the severity of migraine symptoms.
Consider using linden oil in a calming tea or aromatherapy to harness its potential benefits.
12. Sweet Marjoram
Sweet marjoram oil is known for its warming and relaxing properties. Its potential analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects can provide a comforting relief from migraines. Utilize it in a massage oil blend or in a diffuser to potentially ease muscle tension and promote relaxation during a migraine episode.
Rose oil, distilled from the petals of roses, carries a soothing and harmonizing effect which might be beneficial in treating migraines.
Its calming properties may help to reduce the anxiety and stress that often precipitate migraine attacks. Incorporate rose oil in aromatherapy to possibly experience a sense of relaxation and relief from migraine symptoms.
Rosewood oil, with its sweet and floral aroma, can be a gentle yet effective aid in the management of migraines.
Its potential analgesic and antispasmodic properties might offer relief from headaches and muscle tension associated with migraines.
Consider adding rosewood oil to your aromatherapy routine or topical applications to possibly ease migraine symptoms.
Sage oil possesses potential anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic properties, which can be beneficial in treating migraines.
It might help in relieving the tension and inflammation often associated with migraine episodes.
Utilize sage oil in a diffuser or as a part of a massage blend to possibly find relief from migraine symptoms.
Thyme oil, with its potent anti-inflammatory properties, can be a natural remedy for migraines.
Its potential to reduce muscle tension and alleviate headaches makes it a useful tool in managing migraine symptoms.
Incorporate thyme oil in topical applications or aromatherapy to possibly experience its beneficial effects.
Violet oil, derived from the leaves and flowers of the violet plant, can potentially offer soothing relief from migraines.
Its calming and anti-inflammatory properties might help to reduce the intensity of migraine symptoms.
Consider using violet oil in a warm bath or as a part of your aromatherapy routine to possibly find comfort during a migraine attack.
Remember, before using any essential oils, it’s always best to conduct a patch test to ensure no allergic reaction occurs. Moreover, consulting a healthcare provider is recommended, especially for individuals with pre-existing health conditions or those who are pregnant.
How To Use Essential Oils For Migraines
You can use essential oils for migraines in several ways–applied to the skin; in candles; in diffusers; inhaled from a bottle, tissue, or piece of cotton; put in your bath water; or added to hot or cold compresses.
If you want to use essential oils in your bath, add them undiluted to your bath water. Aromatherapy diffusers disperse the oils into the air in your room.
Aromatherapy candles made with essential oils introduce the oils and fragrance into the air.
Always dilute essential oils in a carrier oil before applying them to your skin. Essential oils are too concentrated to be safely applied to the skin without diluting them.
Sweet almond oil and apricot kernel oil are appropriate carrier oils for all skin types and help with soreness and inflammation.
Fractionated coconut oil is a clear, light liquid that keeps well due to its long shelf life. It also has the advantage of easily washing out of clothes and linens.
Choose the oils you want to use for your migraines and prepare them in advance. Fill your bottle three-quarters full with a carrier oil.
Then add essential oils one or two drops at a time until you have achieved the blend you want.
A few drops of essential oils are sufficient for a 15ml bottle.
You also can use small roll-on bottles to prepare blends that can be applied to the temples, hands or other spots during a Migraine.
Once oils have been blended with a carrier oil, you can put a few drops on your pillow to help relieve symptoms.
Storing Essential Oils For External Use
Use tinted glass bottles for blending and storing essential oils to protect them from light. To best preserve your oils, store them with the bottles tightly closed, in a cool room, away from light and heat sources.
Warnings And Adverse Side Effects
Avoid basil essential oil if you are pregnant or if you have a history or seizures.
If you’re pregnant, have an inflamed gallbladder or have gastroesophageal reflux disease, you should avoid peppermint oil. Also do not use peppermint oil for infants and small children.
If you are pregnant or nursing, or if you’re going to consume alcohol, avoid using clary sage oil.
More Essential Oils and Incense
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- Best Incense for Meditation: 11 Scents To Try
- 15 Best Incense Scents For Anxiety and Stress Relief
Anna is a Wales-based writer and graduate from SOAS University of London.
As the voice behind On Your Journey, she empowers women to embrace holistic well-being and spiritual growth through her expert insights into wellness and symbolism.
When she isn't writing thought-provoking articles, you'll find her busy crafting and raising her 4 children.