Best Essential Oils for Headaches

Essential oils are extensively used in aromatherapy to relieve various medical conditions.

Some health benefits of essential oils are now backed by science while some are yet to be proved or they are used empirically since ages.

Essential oils are highly-concentrated compounds extracted from the various parts of plants. Usually, they are extracted from the leaves, bark, flowers, and stem of the plant.

This article will explain the role of essential oils in the treatment of headaches and migraine.

How essential oils help to reduce headache?

Essential oils help to reduce the stress headache, migraine and body pain by increasing the blood flow to applied area and exhibiting the muscles and mentally relaxing effect rather than acting directly as an analgesics. [01]

A meta-analysis of several studies shows that aromatherapy can significantly have a positive effect on body pain caused by various problems. [02]

Essential oils are cost-effective, easy and safe to use when applied externally. They can be used along with current pain management procedures to yield better results.

Headache: Overview

A headache is a common health condition characterized by the discomfort and pain in the head, neck, and scalp.

It is so common that almost 70% of the population experience at least one headache every year.

Headaches can be mild, moderate or severe, making it difficult for a person to concentrate and hampers daily activities.

Usually, most headaches are triggered by muscle stress, tension or other trivial causes and can be managed with lifestyle changes and medications.

Though stress is a prominent cause of headache, many other ailments can trigger headaches such as hypertension, hypoglycemia, excessive alcohol intake, hormonal changes, dehydration, constipation, allergy, and fatigue.

Many people struggle to get instant relief from these pain, either due to lack of treatment or not able to find out the root cause of a headache.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs that help to reduce the pain comes with lots of side effect and regular consumption of these pills can harm the kidney & liver. In such a condition, natural alternatives like essential oils can help to get rid of a stress headache. [03]

useful TipTaking 7 hr sleep each day, enough hydration, reducing the screen time, exercising daily, and using essential oils can help to reduce the tension headache. If it is severe in nature or comes daily, consults the healthcare provider.

Commonly used essential oils for ​headaches are Peppermint, Lavender, Eucalyptus, Chamomile & Rosemary.

List of essential oils for headaches

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

1. Peppermint Oil

Peppermint Leaves from which essential oil is extracted

Peppermint essential oil is extracted from the herb ‘Peppermint’. It is is one of the most useful essential oil that can help to heal multiple medical problems.

It has the antimicrobial, analgesic, anti-nausea, and energy-boosting properties along with the ability to calm down the nerves & soothing the digestive tract.

It has the ability to relax the tight muscles and create cooling sensation across the skin which helps to relieve the tension headaches.

How to Use Peppermint Oil for Headache?

To use peppermint oil to relieve a headache, you can directly inhale the aroma of oil from the bottle or apply a few drops of essential oil on the forehead.

You can rub this oil at temples or forehead to get maximum results.

To speed up the pain-relieving process, you can blend this oil with few other pain-relieving essential oils like Lavender essential oil & Lemongrass essential oil.

Peppermint oil recipe for headache:

  • Add 8 to 10 drops of Peppermint essential oil in a clean bowl.
  • Then add 5 drops of Lavender oil
  • Add 4 to 5 drops of lemongrass oil
  • Mix all them with few drops of fresh coconut oil.

Once the mixture is ready, you can rub it over the forehead to get rid of headaches and migraine.

Also, it can be applied to temples, back of the neck and over the sinus area to get maximum benefits.

Fresh coconut oil will work as a carrier oil while the rest of the essential oils will bring the analgesic properties.

Why does it works?

Menthol is one of the most active ingredients of the peppermint that brings the calming effect on nerves by creating the cooling sensation.

Menthol has proven pain-relieving properties that reduce chronic & neuropathic pain significantly when applied topically. [04]

A clinical study of 41 patients, shows positive effects of peppermint oil on headache. The peppermint oil solution was applied after headache began and findings are documented every ​15 minutes for 1 hr.

The study clearly sh​ow’s that the topical application of peppermint essential oil is useful to relieve pain. [05]

Shop for the peppermint essential oil on Amazon.

2. Eucalyptus Oil

Eucalyptus Leaves from which essential oil is extracted

Eucalyptus essential oil is derived from the fresh & green leaves of ​the eucalyptus tree.

The eucalyptus tree is native to Australia and most of the eucalyptus species are believed to originated in Australia.

The soil and climate conditions from the Australian continent is perfect for the growth of eucalyptus.

Eucalyptus has anti-inflammatory, analgesic, mucolytic and anti-microbial properties.

It can liquefy the mucus and help to clear the chest. Analgesic and anti-inflammatory action of eucalyptus oil can help to reduce the pain. [06]

How to Use Eucalyptus Oil for Headache?

Eucalyptus essential oil prominently used to relieve the sinus headache.

To use the eucalyptus oil to relieve the sinus headache, you need to inhale the steam that contains the essence of eucalyptus oil.

Rubbing the few drops of essential oil on forehead, temples, and chest may help.

To maximize the analgesic and mucolytic effects of eucalyptus oil, mix it with a carrier oil.

Eucalyptus oil recipe for headache:

  • Add 2 to 4 drops of eucalyptus oil in a spoonful of coconut oil.
  • Mix them together & apply to temples, the front side of the chest and back of the neck.
  • Add 2 to 3 drops of this oil to hot water & inhale the steams to clear up the nasal passage.

Why does it works?

Eucalyptol​’, the main ingredient of this oil has been widely used in cough suppressant & mouthwash liquids. [07]

It primarily works as cough expectorant and liquefies mucus. Thus it helps to relieve the nasal blockage & reduces sinus pressure.

Inhaling the vapors made using the eucalyptus essential oil can loosen mucus and help to clear your chest and blocked sinuses during the flu or common cold.

By opening the blocked nasal sinuses, it helps to relieve a sinus headache. It is also useful for muscular pain & mental exhaustion.

Shop for the eucalyptus essential oil on Amazon.

3. Lavender Oil

Lavender flowers from which essential oil is extracted

Lavender oil is a popular essential oil and is derived from the lavender plant. It is used widely in aromatherapy and can be applied topically or taken orally.

Lavender plant being used for hundreds of years. Egyptians used it for the mummification process. Since then it is being used for its numerous health benefits.

The record suggests that it has been used as bath additives in Rome and Persia and ancient Greece.

Today, aromatherapists use lavender oil for its anti-anxiety properties & calming effect on nerves. It helps to reduce restlessness, headache, and insomnia.

How to Use Lavender Oil for Headache?

The lavender essential oil can help to soothe the aches, lighten skin and reduce the wrinkles. It relieves the headache associated with anxiety disorders.

Adults can use the lavender oil vapors or can apply the few drops of oil directly over the forehead and temples to relieve the headaches.

Always consult a healthcare provider before applying alternative medicines to relieve the headache and migraines.

Lavender oil recipe for headache & migraines:

  • Boil 2 to 3 cups of water.
  • Add 3 to 4 drops of lavender essential oil to boiled water.
  • Inhale the vapors.

Why does it works?

As per the study conducted in 2012, almost 92 out of 129 cases of headache was responded positively to the lavender essential oil.

The researcher asked these group of people with a headache to inhale this essential oil for 15 minutes during the episode of headache and pain severity was documented after every 30 minutes. [08]

A study suggests that inhaling lavender oil can bring positive effect and can help relieve migraine and other types of headache, one should inhale this oil for 10 to 15 minutes.

Shop for the lavender essential oil on Amazon.

4. Rosemary oil

Rosemary leaves from which essential oil is extracted

Rosemary Officinalis is a widely used culinary herb that has analgesic as well as anti-inflammatory properties.

It is a shrub with a woody aroma and has needle-like leaves. Usually, rosemary essential oil is extracted using the cold-pressing and steam distillation method.

The early use of rosemary date backs to 5000 BC. The cuniform stone tablet has mentioned about rosemary. Egyptian used rosemary oil for their burial rituals.

Today, rosemary is cultivated in gardens for the decorative purpose as well as its leaves, twig and flowering apices are used for various other purposes.

How to Use Rosemary Oil for Headache?

Few drops rosemary essential oil can be applied locally to alleviate the headache.

It can also be used in a hot bath so that you can inhale its scent while taking the bath, which helps to reduce the pain.

Rosemary oil recipe for headache:

  • Take two drops of rosemary oil in a bowl.
  • Add 10 drops of carrier oil like coconut oil.
  • Add one drop of lavender & peppermint oil.
  • Mix all ingredients and apply over forehead & temples.
  • This mixture can be added to the oil diffuser.

Rosemary essential oil contains several chemical compounds like a-pinene, camphor, bornyl acetate, b-pinene, borneol, limonene, carnosol, camphene, and 8-cineole.

Carnosol, the main ingredient of rosemary have the anti-inflammatory effect and work as anti-oxidant. It also helps the body to fight cancer cells.​

​The most common use of rosemary is to boost memory, improve digestion & reduce muscular soreness and body-ache.

Shop for the rosemary essential oil on Amazon.

References:
Featured image via: Tiara Leitzman @tiaraleitzman
[01] Göbel H, Schmidt G, Dworschak M, Stolze H, Heuss D. Essential plant oils and headache mechanisms. doi: 10.1016/S0944-7113(11)80053-X
[02] Lakhan, S. E., Sheafer, H., & Tepper, D. (2016). The Effectiveness of Aromatherapy in Reducing Pain: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Pain research and treatment, 2016, 8158693. doi: 10.1155/2016/8158693
[03] Wongrakpanich, S., Wongrakpanich, A., Melhado, K., & Rangaswami, J. (2018). A Comprehensive Review of Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug Use in The Elderly. Aging and disease, 9(1), 143–150. doi: 10.14336/AD.2017.0306
[04] Sundstrup, E., Jakobsen, M. D., Brandt, M., Jay, K., Colado, J. C., Wang, Y., & Andersen, L. L. (2014). Acute effect of topical menthol on chronic pain in slaughterhouse workers with carpal tunnel syndrome: triple-blind, randomized placebo-controlled trial. Rehabilitation research and practice, 2014, 310913. doi: 10.1155/2014/310913
[05] Göbel H, Fresenius J, Heinze A, Dworschak M, Soyka D. Effectiveness of Oleum menthae piperitae and paracetamol in therapy of headache of the tension type. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8805113
[06] Yang Suk Jun, Purum Kang, Sun Seek Min, Jeong-Min Lee, Hyo-Keun Kim, and Geun Hee Seol. Effect of Eucalyptus Oil Inhalation on Pain and Inflammatory Responses after Total Knee Replacement: A Randomized Clinical Trial. doi: 10.1155/2013/502727
[07] Eucalyptol- MeSH Pharmacological Classification. Available from: https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
[08] Sasannejad P, Saeedi M, Shoeibi A, Gorji A, Abbasi M, Foroughipour M. Lavender essential oil in the treatment of migraine headache: a placebo-controlled clinical trial. Available from: 10.1159/000335249

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