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 get what are called tension headaches, which can be thought of us tightening around the head. While tension headaches can be painful, they will usually not keep individuals from going to work, school, or any of your 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 a headache. Some even argue that migraines should not be classified as a headache at all but rather a neurological disorder. They are usually described as an intense throbbing in the head that can occur on one or both sides.
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.
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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
Causes for Migraines
The causes for migraines are not completely understood. 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 a 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. It is thought that the Chinese first began to use fragrant oils. 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 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 Essential Oil
For a lot of people, a migraine can be triggered by stress, 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 Essential Oil
Rosemary is a pleasant-smelling herb that is 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 Essential Oil
Sandalwood is another great essential oil to use for migraines and has been used for centuries to improve mental clarity.
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
The essential oils mentioned above can be used topically or aromatically to provide migraine relief. 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 like Zen or Sleepy MONQ.
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 the oil you are using should be applied without a carrier 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 your migraines, it definitely has the potential to relieve many of the symptoms that come with, in addition to encouraging relaxation to avoid frequency and severity of migraines in the future.
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