Which essential oils can be used for headaches and migraines?

Essential oils are the compounds which are extracted from plants. The oils capture the scent and flavor of the plant, also termed its “essence.” Unique aromatic compounds are present in plants which give each essential oil its characteristic essence.

Essential oils are highly concentrated liquids which are made from the leaves, flowers, stems, bark, roots, or other plant elements.

Aromatherapy is a healing treatment which uses natural extracts of plant to promote well-being and health. It is called also called essential oil therapy. It uses aromatic essential oils therapeutically to improve the health of the body, spirit, and mind. Aromatherapy improves physical and emotional health and can also offer other benefits such as reducing stress and improving circulation.

Essential oils can even help to treat certain conditions, like headaches or migraines. There are different oils which offer different benefits. They provide benefits without any hostile side effects. Some essential oils can also help reduce stress, which can lessen tension headaches, or soothe the pain.

However, to use essential oils, they must be diluted in any carrier oil like olive oil, coconut oil, or sweet almond oil. For this dilution, add 5 drops to 1 ounce of carrier oil. Furthermore, essential oils must never be directly applied to the skin or ingested.

1. Peppermint oil

It is one of the most commonly used essential oil to treat headaches. Peppermint oil contains menthol, which can help in the relaxation of muscles and ease the pain. Moreover, it also has a powerful cooling effect. It is believed that it can help relieve pain from both tension headaches and migraines.

The scent of peppermint oil can calm your nerves and clear nasal passages, which may help if a headache is caused by stress or sinus pressure. You can find peppermint oil;

  • in gel capsules
  • as a liquid oil
  • in incense sticks
  • in candy or other chewables

How to use it

Peppermint oil is used by first diluting it with another carrier oil, like coconut oil. Then, it is applied to temples.

2. Rosemary oil

Rosemary oil has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. It’s been used in folk medication for years for pain relief, stress reduction, and improved circulation. These all can help relieve headaches. One study even found that rosemary oil help reduce insomnia and relax muscles, which can help with headaches.

How to use it

Firstly, mix a few drops of rosemary oil with a carrier oil like coconut oil. Then, massage the affected area. It’s also believed that the scent of rosemary oil, like breathing in the scent from your skin or in a hot bath, can offer pain relief.

3. Lavender oil

Lavender oil is commonly used for relaxation and stress relief. There is also a strong indication that lavender essential oil can help treat headaches and migraines.

Moreover, breathing in its scent can help acute management of migraine headaches. One research found that individuals reported significant relief from pain after only 15 minutes of inhaling the lavender oil.

How to use it

Lavender oil can be used in many ways. Like, you can apply diluted lavender oil to the skin. You can also use an oil diffuser, or add the diluted oil to a warm bath to get its benefits.

4. Chamomile essential oil

The chamomile essential oil relaxes the body and calms your muscles. Due to this reason, it can be a great help in treating tension headaches. It can also treat anxiety and insomnia, which are the most common causes of headaches. However, pregnant women should not use chamomile oil as it carries a risk of miscarriage.

How to use it

It can be used by adding a few drops of chamomile essential oil diluted in a carrier oil to a bath, or to hot water, and breathe in the steam.

5. Eucalyptus

If headaches are caused by sinus issues, eucalyptus essential oils can be very useful. This oil will open the nasal passages, clear the sinuses, and can relieve sinus tension which causes the headaches.

One research found that a combination of eucalyptus oil, peppermint oil, and ethanol provided to the muscles and the mind could help soothe headaches.

How to use it

It can be used by adding a drop of eucalyptus oil to carrier oil. Then, apply it to the chest to help clear the sinuses, or you can also add a few drops to hot water and breathe in the vapor.

Risks and other complications

Generally, essential oils are regarded as safe and have much fewer side effects than traditional migraine and headache medications — including both prescription and over-the-counter medicine.

The major risk associated with the use of essential oils is the risk of irritation or allergic reaction. Sometimes, direct application of oils to the skin can cause irritation, including a burning feeling, redness, stinging, or a rash.

Therefore, make sure to dilute all essential oils, including eucalyptus and peppermint oils, with a carrier oil before applying. To prevent irritation, do a small test by applying a small spot on your skin before applying a large amount. If there is no hostile reaction in 24 to 48 hours, it should be safe.

Furthermore, there are very few essential oils which are recommended for infants under 1 year, or for breastfeeding and pregnant ladies. However, lavender and rosemary oils should be avoided as they can be dangerous.

Essential oils can also cause problems if you have preexisting conditions such as asthma or heart problems. Ask your clinician before using any essential oils so that they won’t intensify any existing health complications.

It is also important to remember that essential oils are not observed by the FDA for purity, quality, or safety. Therefore, while purchasing, be sure to buy it from a trustworthy company.


Essential oils have been used for thousands of years for medicinal and health purposes. Because of their antidepressant, stimulating, and calming properties, they are recently gaining fame as a safe and cost-effective therapy for many health concerns. Essential oils can have several therapeutic benefits when used properly and can help relieve headaches and migraines.

Furthermore, if your migraines or headaches are severe and interfere with your life, see your doctor. For severe or frequent headaches or migraines, essential oils may work best as a complementary treatment to prescription medicines.

Areeba Hussain

Areeba is an independent medical and healthcare writer. For the last three years, she is writing for Tophealthjournal. Her prime areas of interest are diseases, medicine, treatments, and alternative therapies. Twitter @Areeba94789300

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