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The Best Essential Oils for Headaches and Ways to Use Them

Headaches are one of the most common health issues of the modern time. Every headache is characterized by pain in any head area, and this pain can often be extended to the neck.

Every person has experienced a headache at some point of their life. A headache can kill the mood.

Headaches can be of different kind and intensity.

  • Tension headache is the most common kind of headache that appears in people form time to time. It may be the result of lack of sleep, stress, hot and humid weather conditions or very noisy kids, and many more. The pain can extend from the head to the neck, lower back, eyes, and to other near muscles. Over 70 percent of the world population experiences occasional tension headaches, the WHO says.
  • Migraine headaches – they can be of moderate to severe throbbing intensity. This type of headaches is frequently accompanied by vomiting, nausea, and increased sensitivity to bright lights, sounds and distinct smells. They usually occur in people aged between 35 and 45, and usually start around puberty, the WHO reports
  • Cluster headaches – this type of headaches appears as a result of neurological conditions. They are characterized by pain on one side of the head and particularly around the eye, and severe and debilitating pain. They are recurrent, disruptive and usually most intense at nighttime. They are accompanied by nasal congestion, swelling and watering of the eyes.
  • Sinus headaches – this type of headaches are a by-product of a sinus disorder and lead to a deeply concentrated pain in the nose, forehead and in the cheekbones.
  • Hormonal headaches happen in women who are about to start their cycle or are already menstruating

If the symptoms of the headaches are severe, you should ask for medical help. However, you can try treating them at home, as essential oils are magical cure for headaches.

All people want to fix the headache in no time and reach for painkillers. But, the painkillers have numerous side effects and you should avoid them if you want to keep your long-term health.

Essential oils are the best natural treatment for headaches and they soothe and relax the entire body.

If your body is healthy in general, you can resist the falling prey to stress and other social and psychological factors.

The best essential oils for relieving headaches are the following ones:

  1. lavender essential oil

Lavender is abundant in stress reliving, analgesic and therapeutic features, a 2013 study shows. This study was published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

Lavender regulates the level of serotonin, a pain-regulating neurotransmitter, the study has revealed. People who often struggle with headaches have low serotonin levels.

This oil is very efficient in treating headaches linked to neurological disorders, like depression, anxiety or other stress disorders. Lavender can relax and sedate the people with these disorders.

Aromatherapy on the basis of lavender is really efficient in treating migraines, a 2012 study published in European Neurology states.

This study involved 47 migraine patients who were divided in two groups: the first group sniffed lavender essential oil for 15 minutes, and the second one was asked to sniff paraffin for 15 minutes as well.

The first group reported a 74 percent improvement in their condition, and had fewer incidences compared to the second group.

Note: lavender is very efficient for some people, but not for all people. Also, use it once the headache emerges and do not wait until it worsens.

Lavender is more efficient in the initial stages of pain than in the later ones, which usually seek medication.

  1. peppermint essential oil

This is one of the most refreshing, aromatic oils which reminds of summer breeze or a fresh lemonade, popsicles and cool beach waves. Sniffing this oil can invigorate the senses and calm your nerves.

When applied topically, it stimulates tingling and cool sensation; it relaxes the nerves and the muscles, improves the blood circulation and relieves pain.

Peppermint oil can be applied onto the temples and forehead and lower the pain and relax the muscles, a study published in Functional Neurology in 2005 shows.

The same effects are achieved when it is applied on the neck.

A 2007 study published in the American Family Physician has shown that peppermint oil and ethanol preparation, as well as a peppermint oil and acetaminophen preparation, was considerably effective in reducing pain intensity in patients with tension-type headaches.

  1. Eucalyptus essential oil

Eucalyptus essential oil is also known for its antibacterial effects and its benefits in relieving symptoms of respiratory illnesses, particularly chest, lung and nasal congestion.

This means that it is an adequate treatment for colds and bronchitis. It can particularly relieve sinus headaches which are the result of inflammation of the sinuses.

Nonetheless, it is also a tremendously effective analgesic, or pain-relieving agent. It is particularly effective in relieving muscle stress and for mental relaxation.

Even if the recent researches directly connect the pain-relieving properties of eucalyptus essential oils to headaches are lacking, studies that indicate the general pain-relieving effects of eucalyptus oil abound.

A 2013 study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine revealed that inhaling eucalyptus oil has a pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties.

Eucalyptus leaves have been found to display potent anti-inflammatory activity, according to a 2009 research published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry.

This gives hope that it is possibly effective in reducing headaches caused by an inflammatory response, such as a sinus headache.

  1. Feverfew Essential Oil

This oil is lesser known, but feverfew essential oil is fast emerging as a treatment for headaches in all of its types.

Feverfew oil is derived from tanacetum parthenium, a shrub with white and yellow flowers similar to daisies. At the moment it is being studied around the world for its efficacy in treating migraines, and the results of the studies are mixed.

It has been thought that feverfew is a helpful remedy for treating headaches, migraine headaches in particular. Yet, feverfew also works as an effective cure for cluster headaches, hormonal headaches (premenstrual and menstrual) and other types of headaches, according to a 2011 research published in Pharmacognosy Review.

There are studies, however, which remain inconclusive and reveal that feverfew does not surpass any other placebo medication when it comes to treating headaches.

The Clinical Drug Investigation has published a research in 2006 which revealed that a combination of feverfew and white willow (S. Alba) was able to decrease the frequency of migraines, as well as the intensity of pain, in patients who took it twice a day for 12 months. The same research also confirmed that feverfew is most likely stronger in combination with white willow than it is by itself.

The final conclusion is still uncertain, but if anecdotal evidence is anything to go by, one thing we know for sure: Feverfew works like a magic in curing some people of their migraines, while it is not as helpful for others.

This means that everyone will just have to find out for themselves!

  1. Rosemary Essential Oil

The rosemary essential oil presents abundance of anecdotal evidence for its analgesic and relaxing effects, but not enough scientific evidence.

This essential oil is well-known for its ability to relieve muscle stress and pain. It is also popular for improving the blood circulation.

While its effectiveness in reducing pain in headaches and migraines has not been sufficiently studied, or even individually, there are certain proofs to illustrate it is useful combination oil in aromatherapy for treating headaches.

Rosemary plant has been conventionally used as medicine for relieving headaches thanks to its anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties, according to a 2013 research published in Food Chemistry.

A 2010 study published in the Journal of Korean Biological Nursing Science showed that the mixture made of rosemary, lavender, basil and rose essential oils considerably lowered headaches and anxiety in subjects.

Ways to Use Essential Oils for Headache Relief

Topical Application

Note: applying any essential oil directly onto the skin is recommended to be done by mixing the oil with some carrier oil, as the direct application can cause damage to your skin.

Using your hands or cotton balls

  1. take a bowl and add two tablespoons of some carrier oil to it (it is recommended that you use coconut, almond, or jojoba oil as carrier oil)
  2. add eight to ten drops of the essential oil you have chosen to use
  3. using a spoon, mix the ingredients well
  4. Soak a cotton ball or your fingers into the oil mixture and then apply the mixture onto your forehead and temples. Make sure you use more oil in the areas that hurt more. Furthermore, you can rub a little part of the mixture on your scalp and on the back of the neck

If you do not use up the whole amount, you can save the mixture for later use.

Cold Compress

  1. add eight to ten drops of some essential oil in a cup of cold water
  2. soak a clean muslin or some cotton cloth into the water, dry out the excess liquid and then apply the cloth onto the aching regions
  3. Go on doing the same thing until the cloth becomes warm. You can repeat the whole procedure


Essential oil steam

  1. Take a saucepan of medium size and add some water in it. Put the saucepan on heat and bring the water to a rolling boil
  2. Once the water comes to a boil, remove the saucepan off the heat and add 12 drops of your favorite essential oil. Mix well
  3. put your face over the saucepan at a safe distance and then put a towel over your head so that you prevent the steam from escaping
  4. keep breathing in the steam of the essential oil-infused water for about ten to fifteen minutes or until the water cools down

Direct inhalation

  1. take a bottle of your favorite essential oil and open it
  2. Put the bottle under your nose and sniff it for about ten to fifteen minutes. Also, you can apply a little bit of the oil mixed with some carrier oil above the upper lip and sniff it this way

Additional Tips

  • It is recommended that you lie down in a dark and quiet room for about 30 to 45 minutes once you have used one of the abovementioned application methods and wait for the pain to subside. That is the best and the quickest way to eliminate a headache
  • You can squirt several drops of your favorite essential oil on your pillow using a dropper and try to get some sleep after using one of the application methods described above. You will sleep better and relieve the pain at the same time
  • Make sure you avoid light and electronic devices noise while you are in pain. Do not use your phone as well.
  • You can tie a black cloth or a cloth in some dark color over your eyes to enhance darkness and relaxation

After using one of the application methods described above try to get some sleep. Try to avoid thinking and to release your mind so that you heal faster and better. You will most likely wake up refreshed and without pain.



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