Essential oils serve as headache treatments because they safely and effectively treat the headache trigger, instead of minimizing the pain temporarily. Essential oils provide relief, aid circulation and reduce stress. Plus, when using essential oils for headaches, there are no nasty side effects such as liver or kidney damage.
- 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.
- Changes in sleeping patterns can also lead to a headache.
- Headaches may also be the result of intense physical exertion, allergies, sinus pressure, certain foods and sensory stimuli. All of these triggers can be minimized or even eliminated with essential oils.
Peppermint oil has a long-lasting cooling effect on the skin, ability to inhibit muscle contractions and stimulates 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.
In order to improve blood circulation, reduce pain and relieve tension, dilute two to three drops of peppermint oil with almond oil and rub it into the shoulders, forehead and back of neck.
Lavender essential oil 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.
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.
A 2012 study published in European Neurology found that lavender essential oil is effective 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.
According to a study published in the European Journal of Neurology people struggling with migraine headaches saw a significant reduction in pain when they inhaled lavender oil for 15 minutes.
Probably the most effective natural treatment for headaches is combing lavender oil with peppermint oil and rubbing these oils on the back of the neck, the temples on the lateral side of the forehead along with inhaling it. Typically 2 drops of each oil in the palm of your hand then rubbed into the areas works perfectly.
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.
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 Medicinestates 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.
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.
The calming and soothing effects of lemongrass oil has the power to relieve the pain, pressure, or tension that can cause headaches. Try massaging diluted lemongrass oil on your temples and breathe in the relaxing lemony fragrance.
How to Use
Massage lavender or peppermint oil into the temples and back of neck to relieve migraine headaches and ease feelings of nausea and anxiety.
Use eucalyptus or peppermint oil topically on the temples, forehead and wrists to alleviate stress and reduce tension. Add 5–10 drops of lavender oil to a warm-water bath.
Use eucalyptus oil topically on the chest, top of nose and temples to open up the nasal passages and relieve sinus tension.
Applying the Blends
Headaches are best relieved with topical application. When using these essential oils for headaches, especially in sensitive areas like the nose and forehead, it’s best to combine with a carrier oil, such as sweet almond, and massage on the surface of the skin.