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Migraine headaches make everyday life difficult. The pain, sensitivity to light, and nausea can make it hard to function.
Thankfully, with essential oils you can reduce the pain and get your day back again!
How do I know this? I have proven that essential oils for headaches really do work, by treating my own chronic migraines.
You can use essential oils for headache relief but it won’t be a cure. In the long-term you will want to find the root cause of your pain to eliminate it for good.
But until then, here is how to treat headaches and migraines naturally with the power of essential oils.
How to use essential oils for headache pain
11 best essential oils for headaches
When you are looking at the different options of essential oils for migraines, think about the reasons you need the oil.
Look for essential oils that provide relief from the pain and inflammation caused by headaches. Or use essential oils that provide a sense of calming and soothing or tension and stress relief.
You could also consider adding an essential oil that will provide nausea relief while calming any digestive upsets caused by severe headaches.
The best essential oils for headaches & migraines are:
Basil Linalool has a fresh, sweet scent with some balsamic undertones. It works great for pain and inflammation, and relieving tension and stress relief.
Roman Chamomile has an herbaceous green scent with hints of apple. It is used for pain and inflammation, while calming and soothing your headaches.
Who doesn’t love the calming and soothing effects of Lavender? It has a sweet, dry but light floral scent, and is good to use in combination with any of the oils on this list.
Peppermint has a nice fresh, clean and minty scent. It is used for nausea, pain and inflammation, while providing a refreshing, cooling feel.
It also helps increase blood flow to your head and neck to provide fast pain relief.
Marjoram has a nice herbaceous sweet smell with notes of citrus and a bit of a fresh medicinal scent. It is used for reducing pain and inflammation.
Rosemary essential oils have a powerful woody and herbaceous scent with a fresh feel. It helps stimulate blood flow, boost memory retention, and aids in digestion.
Eucalyptus has a nice soft scent with woody and green undertones. It is widely used for respiratory issues, but also reduces pain in muscles and joints.
With dry woody, smoky notes and a subtle hint of spice, Cedarwood has many great effects. It is used for pain and inflammation, and will calm and soothe your nerves and digestive system.
Copaiba comes from the Balsam plant and has a delicate, smooth and creamy wood-like scent. It is used for pain and inflammation, and can calm some digestive problems.
Frankincense smells green with lemon woody notes and a balsamic scent. It is often recommended to help with depression.
It can be used for muscle pain and inflammation from nursing, swelling, and sores with a calming effect.
Helichrysum has a sweet, warm but not too strong scent with notes of wood and herbs. It helps support stress, fatigue, and boosts the immune system.
Finding the right essential oil or combination of oils to treat your headache pain may take some time.
The essential oils listed above are commonly used alone or can be mixed with essential oil blends, to address a variety of headaches.
7 proven essential oil blends for migraines
There are many essential oils that work well for headache relief, especially when you combine a few to make a migraine headache blend.
These are some fabulous blends and oil combinations that are already formulated for targeted headache relief.
Instead of having to mix your own master blends, give these awesome essential oil blends a try.
Tranquil Stress Relief
This synergy blend will help you find tranquility and stress relief so you can finally find peace from your headache pain.
It is a combination of Pink Grapefruit Pink, Blood Orange, Patchouli, Bergamot, and Ylang Ylang essential oils.
Worry Free Blend
Reduce the worry and tension with this worry free blend of Lavender, Marjoram Sweet, Ylang Ylang Complete, Sandalwood Australian, Chamomile Roman, Peru Balsam essential oils.
Relax & Sleep
If you need help relaxing, try this relaxation & sleep mix of Lavender, Marjoram Sweet, Mandarin, Patchouli, Chamomile Roman, and Geranium Bourbon essential oils.
One of the best blends for migraine support, this combo mixes Basil, Marjoram, Lavender, Peppermint, Helichrysum, Roman Chamomile, and Helichrysum essential oils.
This combination has a fresh, sharp, menthol-like aroma to help relieve you. The oil combines Helichrysum, Wintergreen, Clove Bud, Cypress, Peppermint, and Marjoram essential oils.
Featuring Basil, Helichrysum, Peppermint, and Marjoram essential oils, this combination works for nerve support and has soothing effects.
If you just want to fast pain relief, try this blend of Lemongrass, Wintergreen, and Peppermint essential oils.
Pinpoint the type of headache or migraine
The first step to figuring out the best essential oils treatment for your pain is to pinpoint the type headache you have.
Then, you can choose the right essential oil combos to help with that kind of headache.
There are 5 main types of headaches or migraines.
1. Tension headaches
Tension headaches are the most common, everyday type. It feels like a constant pressure around the head, usually at the temples, or back of the head or neck.
A tension headache is often caused by stress, anxiety, bad posture (like sitting at a work desk all day), or lack of sleep.
The best essential oils for tension headaches include:
All of these essential oils help ease stress or tension headaches. (My favorite oil to use for tension-related headache relief is Rosemary!)
The scent from these oils is very relaxing, causing the pain from stress or tension headaches to go away naturally. But they can also be quite strong (especially Peppermint and Rosemary).
It’s smart to massage the diluted oils onto your neck and shoulders and even the scalp, but avoid the face as these oils can really make your eyes water.
Tension Headache Essential Oil Blend Recipe
Combine 4 drops Eucalyptus, 6 drops Rosemary Cineole, and 5 drops Frankincense in a 10ml roll-on bottle.
Fill with a carrier oil, like almond oil or coconut oil, before adding the roll-on top.
Apply to the neck and shoulders for nearly instant headache pain relief.
This is a 5% dilution that should work but for severe pain, you can double the amount. Just remember, it’s for short-term use only at these dilution rates.
This blend is fine for adults and kids 10 and over for short term use. For younger children stick with an inhaler blend.
2. Migraine headaches
Migraines are the most debilitating of all headaches, believe me I know. I have experienced migraines since I was a teenager, and they can be quite debilitating.
Migraines are very painful and typically prohibit normal daily functions. They are usually accompanied by nausea, vomiting, or sensitivity to light and sound.
The best essential oils for migraine headaches are:
The cause of migraines can vary from depression, stress, excitement, physical overexertion, dehydration, low blood sugar, and even jet lag.
Migraine Essential Oil Combo Recipe
Add 3 drops Frankincense, 5 drops Copaiba, 3 drops Marjoram Sweet, and 4 drops Roman Chamomile to a 10ml roll-on bottle.
Fill with a carrier oil, like fractionated coconut oil, before replacing the top. Apply directly to the location of the pain.
Like the previous headache blend, this blend is a 5% dilution that should work, but can be doubled for a 10% dilution.
Remember, it’s for short-term use only at these dilution rates. This blend is fine for adults and kids over 10 for short-term use.
3. Sinus headaches
Sinus headaches usually occur because of a sinus infection.
The cause of sinus headaches can be caused by an allergic reaction, like when the seasons change, or if you get the flu or a cold.
The best essential oils for sinus headaches include:
Essential oils for sinus headaches break up the congestion and clear mucus from the nasal passages so you can breathe better. They help clear up the infection that causes sinusitis.
When you clear up the cause of a sinus headache, the pain will go away.
Sinus Headache Essential Oil Relief Method
Steam inhalation is the best option for quick relief of a sinus headache.
Add 1 drop of any of the essential oils listed above, to a glass bowl. Eucalyptus and Peppermint oils, specifically, may help open your sinus airways and ease congestion.
Fill the bowl with hot tap water. Lean over the bowl, covering your head with a towel and keeping your eyes closed.
Take deep breaths until you feel some congestion relief.
For younger children avoid Peppermint and Eucalyptus essential oils as they may be too strong.
4. Rebound headaches
If you take medications for headaches, it can cause rebound headaches. The medications you use to treat the headaches can sometimes cause even more of them.
It’s a difficult situation, but essential oils can relieve the pain from rebound headaches naturally, without side effects. This will help you break the cycle of rebound headaches.
The best essential oils for treating rebound headaches are:
- Roman Chamomile
- Rosemary Cineole
- Cedarwood Atlas
- Marjoram Sweet
A combination of any of these essential oils listed will help reduce the pain from rebound headaches.
Rebound Headache Essential Oil Inhaler Recipe
For this type of headache, it’s recommended you use an essential oils inhaler.
Add 4 drops Eucalyptus, 6 drops Rosemary Cineole, and 5 drops Frankincense Carterii to the wick of an inhaler.
Reassemble the inhaler. Uncap the top and inhale the essential oils as needed to provide relief from your rebound headache.
5. Cluster headaches
Cluster headaches are different from tension headaches. Instead of general pressure, the pain is localized and is usually accompanied by watery eyes or a runny nose.
Here are the best essential oils for cluster headaches:
Since the cause of cluster headaches is unknown, these oils focus on relieving the stabbing pain and the congestion, watery eyes, and runny nose that often accompany cluster headaches.
Cluster Headache Essential Oil Master Blend
Add 15 drops Copaiba, 12 drops Fir Needle, 12 drops German Chamomile, and 10 drops Helichrysum to a glass bottle and close tightly.
Label the bottle as a “cluster headache master blend” for future use.
Fill your at-home diffuser as you would normally, or add 10-15 drops of this master blend to an inhaler.
There is no need to add a carrier oil as you will only be diffusing or using an inhaler for this master blend.
Essential oil methods to reduce pain
You can use essential oils in a few different ways for headache relief.
You can diffuse essential oils, use a personal inhaler, or apply them topically to your temples or the back of your neck to soothe your headache pain.
Many people find that one method works best for them, over another. You will only know what works best for you after trying each method.
Diffusing essential oils is a very simple way to get the relief you need.
Just add 8-10 drops to your essential oil diffuser along with some distilled water. Plug it in and turn it on for 30-60 minutes.
Many people find that diffusing is their favorite option for headache relief. It’s simple and works quickly!
Another great choice is a personal inhaler. You can get a glass inhaler or a plastic one depending on preference.
Simply soak the cotton wick in your essential oil blend (15 drops is more than sufficient). Then, insert the wick into the inhaler and replace the cap.
When you are ready to use the inhaler, remove the cap and hold the inhaler beneath your nostrils.
Inhale deeply a few times, repeating until your headache and other symptoms are relieved.
The aroma should last quite awhile as long as it’s closed when not in use.
Since the severity of headaches can vary, start with a 2-3% dilution. If this dilution does not work, you may need to go higher.
A general rule of thumb is that 6 drops creates a 2% dilution and 15 drops creates a 5% dilution.
A strong dilution is fine to use for short-term use only. But know that this strong of a dilution should not be used every day.
For especially difficult headaches & migraines, try applying a warm compress after you have massaged the oils topically.
I use a warm compress whenever I have a particularly bad headache and it always helps.
Where to apply essential oils for Headaches
There are a few things to consider when deciding where to apply essential oils for headaches.
As mentioned above, for tension headaches, massaging the oils into the neck and shoulders works well.
For migraines, you can do the same, as well as the temples, and add a hot compress for more effectiveness.
Cluster headaches, and sinus headaches are best addressed with steam inhalation.
I find that applying the diluted oils directly to my forehead or the back of the neck works best for traditional headache pain.
The second point to consider is the oils themselves. Very strong oils (like Peppermint or Rosemary) might irritate or watery eyes when applied to the face.
For this reason, strong essential oils are best applied to the neck and shoulders or used in inhaler blends.
A roll-on blend for fast relief anywhere
Roll-ons are a great choice for reducing headache pain on the go.
All you need to do is open the bottle and roll on the pre-diluted blend (no messy hands!).
This blend combines some oils to provide pain relief, reduce inflammation, and provide calming and soothing.
Depending on the severity of your headache, you can use 15 total drops for a 5% dilution, 30 drops of oils for a 10% dilution, or 60 drops for a 20% dilution.
Add the essential oils to a 10ml glass roll-on bottle and fill with a carrier oil to take with you on the go.
Add the appropriate number of drops to the bottle, add the roll-on top, cap, and a label.
Always use essential oils with care
Learning how to use essential oils for headaches is simple, as long as you handle them with care.
Essential oils can be very potent but are highly effective for relieving all types of headache pain.
No matter what essential oils you use, always dilute appropriately. Remember, that a little goes a long way with essential oils.
If you apply them topically be sure to use a carrier oil or cream to dilute them.
In addition, if you are diffusing essential oils, there’s no need to run the diffuser for more than 20-30 minutes.
Reapply oils as needed
Don’t be afraid to reapply the oils as needed!
If there is no pain relief after about 20 minutes, reapply the oils and use a warm compress. Then, repeat until the pain is gone.
Remember, we’re all different and one essential oil that I find helpful may not work as well for you. So keep trying different oils until you find one that works for you.
Choose high quality oils
It’s important to choose high-quality essential oils and not just fragrance oils (which are much more likely to cause a reaction).
Exercise some caution with essential oils as some of the scents can trigger headaches and other reactions when overused or applied undiluted.
Find long-term help
Finally, it’s important to consult a doctor to find a long-term solution for the migraines. It’s important to discover what triggers your migraines and find ways to avoid those triggers.
I used to suffer from migraines terribly when I was a teenager and young adult. However, since using essential oils I have migraines less frequently and they are way less intense.