Headaches are an extremely common problem that affect people all over the world. Almost everybody has had a headache before, and many people suffer from chronic headaches. Even worse is chronic migraines. The cause of headaches and migraines in most people is very difficult to diagnose. It could be brought on by fatigue, stress, hormones, diet and nutrition, allergies, alcohol, blood sugar problems, or even poor posture. The cause for your headache could be any one of those triggers, or a combination them.
We’ve all seen, heard, or read about headache treatments on the internet, on store shelves, from friends, etc. Some of these treatments are all-natural, while others are chemical based drugs. While I can’t speak to the effectiveness of every single headache remedy out there, I can assure you this much: essential oils are a very effective remedy for headaches, and they are natural with almost zero side effects. And after all, if you’re reading this article — you are probably still in search of a cure that actually works. Congratulations, you’ve found the right place.
Most people have tried painkillers from both over the counter as well as prescription sources. These painkillers will work to a certain extent, but it’s important to know that they come with some serious side effects: liver and kidney damage. Additionally, they are not treating the problem causing your headache, they are only masking the pain.
If you want to truly treat and cure yourself of headaches and migraines, you need to address the root cause. Essential oils allow you to treat the underlying cause of your headache, and using essential oils won’t damage your kidney or liver like painkillers will. There are no nasty side effects, and they will actually provide you a plethora of side benefits like a boosted immune system and more energy.
How Essential Oils Will Treat Your Headache
In comparison to pain relief medication and drugs common prescribed for headaches and migraines, essential oils are both safer and more effect. They will not only provide the same relief, but they will increase your blood circulation, reduce stress hormone, and activate your body’s natural healing mechanisms. Most importantly, they won’t be harmful to your body or internal organs.
Headache triggers can be difficult to pinpoint. A major cause of headaches and migraines in women is hormonal imbalance. For example, fluctuating estrogen levels can trigger a headache. This is especially the case right before, during, or after a woman’s period. Another example would be pregnancy and/or menopause as a source of hormonal changes that can cause a headache or migraine.
What a lot of women don’t know is that certain hormonal medications can actually make your headaches worse. Essential oils provide a natural, more gentle alternative. Lavender oil is a soothing oil which is known to provide pain relief, reduce stress, and promote hormonal balance. Rosemary oil can also be used. Both are effective ways to treat PMS and provide symptom relief, fix hormonal imbalances, and thus completely eliminating headaches altogether.
Stress is another major cause of headaches in both men and women. Diffusing peppermint oil and lavender oil over night is a great way to reduce stress the following day. Breathing the vapor / aroma from these oils while you sleep is a wonderful way to provide a more restful sleep and stop your body’s production of cortisol, the “stress hormone.” Lavender in particular is a mild sedative and will work especially well.
Other triggers, like allergies, sinus problems, and sensory stimulants can also be treated with essential oils. These amazing, natural plant oils have been used for literally thousands of years all over the world. Next we’ll take a deeper look at the best essential oils for treating your headache or migraine.
1. Peppermint Essential Oil
Using peppermint oil provides many benefits including a cooling effect for your skin and serves as a muscle contraction inhibitor. This is important because these two factors combined will increase blood flow to your forehead when peppermint oil is applied topically.
The topical application of peppermint oil to the forehead and temples is a proven way to alleviate tension headaches. A study conducted in 1996 examined the effectiveness of using essential oils to treat chronic headaches for 41 study participants. The double blind, placebo controlled, crossover study resulted in pain relief for almost every subject. The methodology was to simply apply peppermint oil topically to the forehead 10-15 minutes after the start of a headache. There are no side effects of using peppermint oil this way, and it costs less than using more traditional headache remedies.
An additional study, published in the International Journal of Phytotherapy and Phytopharmacology, was done in 1995. This study involved 32 participants who reported themselves as commonly experiencing chronic headaches. They were measured for baseline and followup physical status and self reported pain before and after a treatment involving peppermint and eucalyptus oil.
The participants were instructed to use a sponge for applying the essential oil blend to their forehead and temples. Peppermint and eucalyptus are both known to be muscle soothers and mentally relaxing. Unsurprisingly, the researchers discovered that this peppermint and eucalyptus blend significantly reduced pain and sensitivity in subjects experiencing a headache.
To take advantage of peppermint oil for headaches, make sure you create a diluted mixture of peppermint along with a carrier oil like coconut or jojoba oil. You can rub this not only on your forehead and temples, but also on your shoulders, back, and neck. This will not only provide direct relief for your headache, it will also improve circulation and residual pain relief, while reducing stress and tension at the same time.
2. Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender oil is one of the most popular essential oils because it’s so versatile. It’s therapeutic, healing, and gentle on the skin. When it comes to headache relief, lavender oil works particularly well. It has sedative properties and works as an anxiolytic agent, anticonvulsant, antidepressant, and calming agent. It’s also been shown in several studies to have the ability to treat and reduce symptoms for certain neurological disorders.
You might be asking, what does this have to do with headaches? Well, research has shown that both the topical and aromatic use of lavender oil has a profound effect on the limbic system. This is because lavender oil contains two compounds called linalool and linalyl acetate, which are easily absorbed by the skin and interact with the central nervous system once inside the body. This is why lavender oil works so well as a calming and sedative agent. Anxiety and stress are both major causes of headaches, and lavender oil can treat headaches brought on by anxiety, stress, and other related conditions.
Other benefits of lavender oil include the regulation of serotonin levels, which directly affects headaches. Serotonin levels that are abnormally high or low can trigger a chain reaction in the central nervous system that leads to headaches and migraines. If you ever suffer from restlessness or sleep disturbances, lavender oil will also help you sleep soundly throughout the night. This also indirectly reduces your likelihood of developing a headache.
The journal of European Neurology published a study in 2012 which concluded that lavender essential oil is a safe and effective treatment for managing migraines and headaches. The study consisted of 47 subjects who participated in a placebo controlled clinical trial. The subjects were split into two groups: one group inhaled lavender oil for 15-20 minutes immediately following the onset of migraine symptoms, while the second group used a placebo. For the span of their entire migraine, participants were instructed to record the severity of pain and related symptoms every 30 minutes.
A statistically significant difference between the two groups was found. During the entire length of the study, there were a total of 129 headaches in the lavender oil group. A total of 92 were successfully treated either partially or fully from inhaling lavender oil. In the placebo group, a much smaller percent of subjects experienced symptom relief. Only 32 out of 68 total headaches were responders to the placebo. This shows lavender oil is a proven way to reduce headache and migraine symptoms.
Diffusing lavender oil at home is a great way to both fend off headaches as well as treat them if one begins. You can diffuse it in open areas such as your living room or kitchen, as well as diffusing it over night while you sleep. Topically, you can apply lavender essential oil to your neck, back, temples, and wrists. Another great method is to use 5-10 drops of lavender oil to a warm or hot bath. Sit in the water and breath deeply, letting the lavender aroma completely envelop your body and mind.
3. Eucalyptus Essential Oil
Eucalyptus oil is usually known for being a great aid for the respiratory system, but it can also help with headaches. Eucalyptus cleanses your body and removes harmful toxins and microorganisms. You see, closed nasal airways and even minor sinus pressure (which you may never notice) can actually trigger a headache. Eucalyptus oil works as an expectorant. Treating these nose, airway, and lung symptoms will indirectly relieve you of headaches.
The Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine journal performed a study which examined the physical affects caused by inhaling eucalyptus oil. Their conclusion was that inhaling the aroma of eucalyptus oil reduces blood pressure and relieves pain. The study involved 52 participants who had recently received total knee replacement surgery. The inhalation of eucalyptus oil ended up reducing post-surgery edema formation, lowered inflammation, and increased emotional stability in the majority of participants. The same pain relief effects are what enables eucalyptus to provide headache and migraine relief.
Another study done in 2011 determined that eucalyptus oil improved breathing ability, reduced sinus pressure, and promoted a feeling of clarity of the mind. Researchers also noted that there were measurable anti-inflammatory effects, along with antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antiviral properties. This corroborates results from other studies.
Symptoms such as coughing, sore throat, and sinus pressure wreak havoc on your body. When your immune system must devote itself to removing these symptoms on its own, a headache is triggered from the temporary imbalance of chemicals in your blood and brain. With the help of an external healing agent like eucalyptus oil, your body chemicals can remain balanced. Combined with lavender oil, this duo of essential oils is a fantastic way to fight off migraines.
You can easily take advantage of eucalyptus oil by diluting it in a carrier oil such as coconut oil or jojoba oil, and applying it topically to your forehead, neck, back, and chest. This will help keep your airways clear and avoid nasal buildup and sinus pressure, helping to avoid the onset of a headache.
4. Rosemary Essential Oil
Rosemary oil is a wonderful natural headache remedy. It also improves circulation and has analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. Similar to lavender oil, rosemary is also known to be a calming agent, while promoting mental clarity and alertness. Stress and emotional triggers which can often lead to severe headaches are eliminated by rosemary oil before they become a problem.
A publication called Addiction and Health performed a study in 2013 to examine the effectiveness of rosemary oil as a natural therapeutic agent for patients experiencing opium withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms experienced by the study patients included insomnia, fever, nausea, muscle aches, and of course headaches. Using rosemary oil alleviated only some of the symptoms, but the most significant affect was found in its ability to remove headaches from the list of reported withdrawal symptoms.
In order to reduce pain from headaches, a good blend is using two drops of rosemary oil along with two drops of peppermint oil. Dilute these into one teaspoon of a carrier oil like coconut or jojoba, and massage this into your forehead, temples, and back of your neck.
Before turning to prescription drugs or over the counter pain relief medications, try using essential oils to get rid of your headache. They’re all-natural with zero side effects, and have been proven to be effective. Below are the best ways to treat each type of headache.
Migraines: this is the most severe form of headache which includes throbbing pain, nausea, disorientation, and light sensitivity. They are often triggered by stress, anxiety, lack of sleep, or hormonal imbalances. Use two drops each of peppermint and lavender oil diluted in a carrier oil, and rub this into your temples, forehead, and neck.
Tension headache: often referred to as “stress headaches,” they are described as a dull but constant pressure and pain. Eucalyptus and peppermint will work well, simply dilute either of these oils into a carrier oil and massage into your forehead, temples, neck, back, or chest.
Sinus headache: brought on by inflamed and swollen sinus cavities, these headaches can be eliminated by removing the pressure caused by inflammation. Topical application of eucalyptus oil will work best. After diluting it in a carrier oil, apply to your chest, top of nose, and temples. Inhaling the aroma of eucalyptus oil from the bottle or using a personal steam inhaler is also very effective.
Sugar headache: low levels of blood sugar can bring on a debilitating headache. Use equal amounts of rosemary and lavender oil, then dilute in coconut oil. Apply this to the back of your neck, temples, and forehead.