4 Essential Oils For Tension Headaches or Migraines

essential oils headaches migraines

By Dr. Scott Graves, Natural Blaze

One of the simplest things to help with a migraine or tension headache is essential oils.  Do you find yourself reaching for an ibuprofen, aspirin, Aleve or Excedrin as soon as you feel pain in your head or neck?  Why not try something all natural instead like an essential oil for headache or migraine?  They are very powerful and in many cases help with pain almost instantly.  

I remember one patient who came into the clinic with a strong tension headache.  I reached for the lavender and peppermint oil and applied it to the temples, occiput and neck regions and in as little as one minute the pain began to subside and eventually disappear.  This certainly is not the case for everyone, and in some cases essential oils seem to have no effect at all.  But this just means that everyone is different and has different needs and causes that are sitting behind their health issues.  Natural or Chinese medicine is not a one remedy works for everyone kind of thing.  The individuality and context of each person is taken into account.  Different things work for different people.  However, my rule of thumb is to try simple things first that have a history of being generally helpful and are very inexpensive.  Here is list below of some of the best essentials oils for migraines or tension headaches.

  1. Peppermint oil.  One study compared acetaminophen, a placebo and a 10% solution of peppermint oil and found that the peppermint oil was just as effective as acetaminophen in reducing tension headaches when applied to the forehead and temples.  Peppermint oil for headaches makes sense because from a Chinese perspective many headaches are from a pattern called Liver Yang Rising, which can be excess “heat” in the head.  Peppermint oil is very cooling, inhibiting muscle contractions and can help to stimulate blood flow.  I would recommend getting an organic oil, which is very inexpensive.
  2. Lavender oil.  Just smelling lavender essential oil seems to just have an instant relaxing effect on the body.  Lavender oil has been proven to have anti-depressant, anti-inflammatory, antibactierial, antimicrobial, antifungal and analgesic (pain relieving) properties.  Its many uses make it one of the most popular essential oils in the world.  It also is wonderful for helping many with the relief of pain due to migraine or tension headache.  As with peppermint, it can be applied topically to the skin with caution.  It can also be added to bath water (10 drops) or used on a compress for sore or aching muscles.  
  3. Eucalyptus oil.  This essential oil has been well known for helping with sinus headaches.  It has a way of opening up nasal passages while simultaneously relieving pressure that can build up in the sinus cavities.  It is a known to be a wonderful anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral, and antimicrobial.  In Chinese medicine we use a substance call White Flower oil, which is a mix of eucalyptus, lavender, peppermint, camphor and menthol.  It combines the above essential oils in a base of known pain relievers.  It is also very inexpensive and very safe to use.
  4. Chamomile oil.  Many drink this as a tea at night help relax the body and to induce a more restful night of sleep.  However, some don’t know that it is wonderful as an essential oil for tension headaches too.  Topically it calms the nerves and muscles, with notable relieving effects on the nervous system.  It is an antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antibacterial and analgesic.  

 Explore 40 Amazing Health Benefits Of Lavender Essential Oil

All of these essential oils for headaches or migraines can be purchased very inexpensively and should be used by people who have been known to suffer from this health condition.  It is not a cure for headaches, but these oils have been known to have an instant calming effect, seemingly reducing stress just upon inhalation, which points to a powerful interaction to the limbic brain.  An essential oil diffuser can be purchased for 20-30 dollars which can fill a home with these lovely fragrances very quickly.  Some great companies for oils are NOW and Majestic Pure, which can be purchased on Amazon.

Photo credit: Yourbestdigs FlickrVisual hunt / CC BY

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DISCLAIMER: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

This is part 10 of a series on headaches and migraines – read more from Dr. Scott Graves

Previous parts:

  1. 10 Keys To Healing Tension Headaches And Migraines Naturally
  2. 8 Triggers To Migraine And Tension Headaches
  3. Juicing And Electrolytes For Headaches And Migraines
  4. Shield Yourself From EMF And Electromagnetic Pollution Headaches And Migraines
  5. The Emotions and Consciousness Behind Headaches and Migraines
  6. Chinese Medicine, Headaches And Migraines
  7. Chiropractic for Migraines and Headaches
  8. Organic Whole Food Supplementation For Headaches And Migraines
  9. 7 Ways To Rehydrate To Reverse Headaches And Migraines

Dr. Scott Graves ND, MA is a Florida-based Naturopath and Intuitive who specializes in Nutrition Response Testing, NAET, EFT, and Psychokinesiology. He offers free 15 minute phone consultations and is available for radio and TV interviews. Read his Blog here. Like him on Facebook.

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