Headaches might seem to be an intensely personal problem.
In reality, they are a global epidemic.
As many as 50% of all adults report suffering multiple headaches during the last year.
And many of those people are in such pain that they wind up in the emergency room — headaches are the 3rd leading cause of emergency room visits.
But isn’t there something you can do about headaches besides suffering or using pharmaceutical pain-killers?
The fact is, an increasing number of people are discovering an effective way to deal with headaches completely naturally. I’m talking about essential oils.
Read on to find out exactly how you can use essential oils for powerful headache relief, and how essential oils can help you eliminate some of the most common headache triggers.
First-aid for headaches: Peppermint and lavender oils
Several scientific studies have looked at essential oils as a treatment for headaches.
Another study confirmed this, and found that a peppermint oil solution was as effective as acetaminophen (the generic name for Tylenol) in reducing headaches within 15 minutes of application.
In the study, 47 migraine patients inhaled lavender oil or a placebo. 71% of lavender oil subjects reported a decrease in migraine, while only 47% of placebo felt any decrease. The intensity of the headache also decreased more in the lavender case.
So how can you use peppermint and lavender oils to treat a headache once it starts? Here are the ingredients you’ll need for a simple topical recipe:
- 18 drops peppermint essential oil
- 18 drops lavender essential oil
- 1 ounce fractionated coconut oil
And here’s what to do:
- Mix the oils together
- Apply the blend to your forehead, temples, and the back of your neck
- Repeat 15 and 30 minutes later
If you need immediate pain relief and don’t have time to prepare the blend, simply inhaling the oils can also work well.
Backup plan: More pain-relief oils
Not everybody’s headache will disappear with lavender and peppermint.
That’s because there are different headaches causes and mechanisms — and also different reactions to eos.
The good news is there are additional essential oils that have been shown to have pain-relief properties in other contexts, and might offer relief for headaches as well.
Here are a few you can try:
if you are trying to relieve a headache that’s already started, simply diffuse a few drops of these oils in your home diffuser. Alternately, you can use a 2% topical dilution:
- 18 drops eucalyptus essential oil
- 18 drops ginger essential oil
- 9 drops clary sage
- 1 ounce fractionated coconut oil
As in the first recipe, apply this blend to your forehead and temples, and reapply after 15 and 30 minutes.
Preventing headaches #1: Reducing stress
For many people, headaches are brought on by a specific trigger. A few triggers are particularly common, and there are great essential oil recipes to help you avoid them.
The first (and biggest) headache trigger is stress. Tension headache (headaches caused by stress) are the most common type of headache — and over 40% of the total population suffer from them regularly.
The good news is essential oils are fantastic at relieving stress, calming your nerves, and helping you improve your mood. Here is a simple diffuser blend involving 3 uplifting oils:
Simply put a few drops of each of these oils into your home diffuser, and diffuse at those times when you expect or notice increased stress. If you haven’t got a home diffuser, simply inhaling from the bottle of one of these oils should also offer you some immediate stress relief to ward off headaches.
Preventing headaches #2: Balancing hormones
Did you know that women experience migraines three times as often as men do?
This strongly suggests that female hormones can contribute to migraines. In fact, it seems that, for many women, migraine is caused by a drop in estrogen that precedes their period.
So how can essential oils help?
Well, a few essential oils have traditionally been used to balance female hormones. Specifically, essential oils containing a compound called trans-anethole — such as sweet fennel and dill — seem to posses an estrogenic effect, and can be a good treatment in cases of monthly estrogen drops. Here’s what you’ll need:
Simply diffuse these oils on those days when you expect hormone imbalances might cause you headaches.
Preventing headaches #3: Better sleep
Another common headache trigger is poor sleep.
In fact, Dr Stasha Gominak, a neurologist who works with headache patients, found that the majority of her patients suffer from sleep problems. Once the sleep problems are resolved, the patients find their headaches vanish.
Here’s Dr Gominak herself on the topic:
Several essential oils have been studied scientifically and shown to help improve sleep. Here are the top 4 essential oils to help you get to sleep more easily and stay asleep more deeply:
There are several easy ways you can use these oils to improve your sleep and ward off headaches.
You can put a drop on a cotton ball next to your bed.
Or you can diffuse a few drops of each of the oils before you go to sleep.
You can even make your own relaxing night-time bath. for more instructions on how to make a safe bath with essential oils, check out this article.
Preventing headaches #4: Clearing up sinus congestion
Cold, allergies, or any kind of inflammation can cause congestion.
Your sinuses get stuffed up, your entire forehead seems to balloon out, and headaches inevitably follow.
Fortunately, a couple of essential oils can help relieve congestion and therefore prevent headaches.
The following recipe uses steam inhalation — which should additionally help you clear up your airways:
- 5 drops peppermint essential oil
- 5 drops spike lavender essential oil
- a pot of water
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Allow it to cool slightly, and then add the essential oils to the water. Lean over the pot and inhale deeply. You can also use a towel to cover your head and the pot for more concentrated effects.
Can essential oils also contribute to headaches?
Many migraine sufferers reported a “perfume or an odor” as a trigger to their migraines.
Also, over 40% of migraine sufferers reported an aversion to smells during an attack.
The fact remains that many people get significant headache relief from essential oils.
But if you are just starting out with essential oils, do so slowly, and be aware of how your body is reacting.
In addition, it is possible to overdose on essential oils, and this can certainly lead to headaches. For example, a prolonged inhalation of 30 minutes or more can cause such a reaction in some people.
That said, if you follow the recipes above, you should certainly be safe, and odds are, essential oils will be a help rather than a trigger for your migraines.
This article has given you a lot of information about essential oils and headaches.
Here’s a quick summary of the next steps you should take.
First, prepare the peppermint and lavender oil blend in advance, so you can use it when headaches next strike.
If those oils aren’t proving effective for you, try out the ginger and eucalyptus blend.
And if you have an idea of what’s bringing on your headaches, follow one of the prevention recipes above.
Essential oils can help you significantly reduce your headaches – both in how frequently they occur and how intense they are.
Try out a couple of the recipes above and witness their power for yourself.
Which recipe are you going? Let me know in the comments below.
I’m Lauren. Just a new mom trying to share her love for essential oils. Follow me on my journey to learning how I use EO’s daily in my home.