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Essential Oils

Top Five Essential Oils for Migraine Relief

Everyone has suffered from a headache at one time or another. Though they’re definitely not fun, they’re usually not debilitating. Migraines, on the other hand, are much more painful. Using aromatherapy for relief has the potential to alleviate the pain of a migraine, allowing you to continue productively going about your day.

Difference Between Headaches and Migraines

The pain from a headache usually comes from tight muscles, nerves, or blood vessels in the neck or around the head. Interestingly, there are many different types of headaches.

Adults most commonly experience a tightening around the head, more commonly known as tension headaches. While tension headaches can be painful, they will usually not keep individuals from going to work, school, or any of their other activities.

Tension headaches can be caused by a buildup of stress, as well as bad posture, mental or physical stress, anxiety, and exhaustion.

Migraines are a completely different type of headache. Some even argue that migraines should not be classified as a headache at all but rather a neurological disorder. An intense throbbing on one or both sides of the head is a common sign of a migraine.

Other symptoms of migraines include nausea and vomiting, fatigue, sensitivity to light and sound, sensitivity to smell, and some even feel numbness or tingling. They usually last anywhere from 4 to 72 hours.

Though some people get migraines as little as once every year or few years, for many people, dealing with migraines is a way of life and they experience them several times a week.

Most people who suffer from migraines usually have some sort of family history of migraines. However, doctors say that environmental factors can also play a role in causing migraines.

While migraines are extremely painful, they are usually not life-threatening. However, they can make it very difficult for people to function and normally go about their day. 1

migraines Causes for Migraines

It is unclear what causes migraines. Some doctors believe that it starts with an abnormal brain stem that causes spasms in the head that then leads to migraines.

Other individuals may get migraines because of certain triggers such as gluten, MSG, cheese, and even alcohol, while others find they are more likely to get migraines after missing a meal.

Researchers have also found that certain medications may trigger migraines. An example of this is birth control pills. Studies have shown that near the end of a woman’s cycle, she may suffer from an estrogen withdrawal that can cause a migraine. 2

Aromatherapy for Relief

Aromatherapy has been around for centuries. The use of fragrant oils first began in China. At the same time, Egyptians and Greeks also used these oils to boost mood and even embalm the dead.

Recently, aromatherapy has become much more popular, and for good reason. Aromatherapy is a great way to help relieve the symptoms of a migraine.

peppermint leaves for migraines

Peppermint Essential Oil

When applied, peppermint causes the skin to feel slightly numb and tingly. This is thought to be because the primary active ingredient in peppermint essential oil, menthol, has been shown to increase blood and oxygen flow. These two properties allow peppermint essential oil to effectively relieve pain.

Additionally, in a German study looking at using essential oils for pain management, peppermint essential oil was linked to a reduction in pain reception. 3

lavender flowers

Lavender Essential Oil

For a lot of people, stress triggers a migraine, and lavender essential oil promotes relaxation. Furthermore, it can act as a natural pain-reliever.

Recently, a study conducted and featured in European Neurology researched whether inhalation of lavender essential oil had the potential to remedy migraines. The study tested 47 individuals and found that lavender was significantly effective in alleviating the pain of migraines. 4

rosemary for migraines

Rosemary Essential Oil

Rosemary is a pleasant-smelling herb often used in aromatherapy. When applied topically, rosemary essential oil is said to help relieve muscle pain and improve circulation.

Since stress is a common migraine trigger, rosemary is a great way to keep stress and anxiety at bay. It also has the added benefits of increasing alertness and memory. 5

sandalwood for migraines

Sandalwood Essential Oil

Sandalwood is another great essential oil to use for migraines to improve mental clarity.

This essential oil is often used to promote relaxation, and while lavender can induce drowsiness, sandalwood essential oil provides non-drowsy relaxation and relieve migraine pain. 6


Chamomile Essential Oil

Chamomile essential oil has been shown to relax tense muscles, making it a great candidate for migraine relief. It has also been linked to relieving stress and improving sleep quality, both of which can also be contributing factors to migraines. 7

How to Use Essential Oils

For relief, trying using the essential oils mentioned above topically or aromatically. Mix some of the essential oils for double the benefits.

Try adding a few drops of the essential oils to a bath, in addition to Epsom salts for quick migraine relief.

A diffuser is another great way to experience all the benefits of these essential oils. To use, simply fill a room diffuser with water, then add 5 to 12 drops of one or a few essential oils. Alternatively, try using these essential oils in a portable aromatherapy diffuser.

Some great places to apply oils topically for migraines relief are right on the forehead, under the nose, and on the temples. Be sure to research whether or not to use a carrier oil with the selected oil. A carrier oil dilutes the potency of the essential oil to prevent an adverse reaction.


If you suffer from migraines, aromatherapy is definitely worth looking into as a source of relief. While aromatherapy may not cure completely cure them, it definitely has the potential to relieve many of the symptoms that come with it, in addition to encouraging relaxation to avoid frequency and severity of migraines in the future.

Photo Credits: fizkes/

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