The latest articles to help you maintain mental, physical and spiritual wellness.

What are the Best Essential Oils for Headaches?

There are few things as frustrating as a persistent headache, you know, the ones that drag on throughout the entire day.

What can start as a twinge in the morning, can develop into a continuous dull throb, which can impair our concentration and stop us getting stuff done. Nightmare! Stress, anxiety, lack of sleep, and dehydration are just a few common triggers.

While most headaches eventually subside on their own, some episodes require the assistance of pain relievers. While over-the-counter medications can provide relief, relying on them too often may also cause further problems. No-one wants to pop pills all day, so to avoid unnecessary complications, it is always best to seek a natural remedy, which is what essential oils are here for!

Essential oils may help not just in relieving minor headaches but also in improving your mood, which can be a real bonus if the pain is getting you down. They are popularly used to treat pain in several ways. You can apply them directly to your skin or simply inhale them from a bottle or piece of cotton. Putting a few drops into your bath water or to a hot/cold compress can also provide a great, soothing experience.

Below are some of the best essential oils for headaches that you may want to try:

Eucalyptus Essential Oil

Great for: It’s fresh, cleansing aroma. Perfect for sinus headaches.

Apart from being a great natural way to maintain good oral hygiene, eucalyptus is also known as an anti-inflammatory and an analgesic. The fact that it can ease congestion and treat inflammation in the throat and respiratory tract, means that it can help to relieve that clogged-up feeling that can classically accompany a sinus headache. Try adding a couple of drops to a bowl of hot water, and inhaling the steam under a towel.

Applying eucalyptus oil to the neck and forehead can also help ease tension headaches, by soothing and relaxing the muscles while clearing the nasal passages. It can be used in combination with other essential oils such as lavender and peppermint to achieve excellent results.

Lavender Essential Oil

Great for: It’s mood boosting, sedating properties. Good for dull, throbbing headaches.

Thanks to the fact gentle action of lavender essential oil,  its perfect as a safe headache-beating alternative for your kids. While many essential oils have to be mixed with carrier oils such as olive of jojoba before direct application, you can safely use lavender on its own.

As with eucalyptus, lavender has anti-inflammatory as well as sedative properties. Its scent has a potent effect on the nervous system. This makes the oil effective in treating anxiety and sleep problems, which can trigger headache attacks. It is also said that lavender is one of the most effective essential oils for headaches as it can help ease even the worst attacks, including migraines.

Lavender essential oil is perfect for relieving a headache during nighttime, especially before you sleep. To use it as a natural headache remedy, you can either place a few drops of the oil on your pillow or apply it directly to your temples, before massaging it in. If the scent is too strong for you, just mix 20-30 drops in about ½ cup carrier oil (such as grape seed or sweet almond oil) before use.

Another way you can use lavender essential oil for headaches is by placing a few drops into a hot bath. A tablespoon of this essential oil should be enough for you to enjoy a soothing and great-smelling soak.

Peppermint Essential Oil

Great for: It’s fresh scent and muscle soothing effects. Perfect for tension headaches.

Because of its cleansing, sweet scent, peppermint is one of the most common essential oils for headaches that you’ll find in medicine and kitchen cabinets throughout the world.

Peppermint essential oil is not just useful for headaches; it can also help ease muscular tension and pains. It’s even been shown to be a great oil for weight loss. It can also be used to relieve symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light – making it the perfect natural remedy for migraines. If your headache is due to stress or congested nasal passages, the powerful scent of peppermint essential oil can help calm your nerves and clear your airways.

By combining it with a small amount of carrier oil such as almond, a few drops of peppermint oil applied topically will leave a cooling sensation that eases headaches and muscle tension. To feel the effectiveness of peppermint essential oil, simply rub a few drops on your temples and let the soothing sensation relax the muscles in your head and the back of your neck.

Rosemary Essential Oil

Great for: Pain relief. Perfect for sharp, stabbing pains.

Rosemary it is a shrubby evergreen bush with green needle shaped leaves and small lilac flowers. Though it is originally from Asia, it is now cultivated all over the world, thanks to it’s hardy nature.

Due to the abundance of natural alkaloids, rosemary essential oil has many impressive qualities, including pain relief properties which are not just limited to soothing headaches but also in treating muscle pains, rheumatism, and arthritis. Studies have also indicated that it’s an effective treatment for  Alzheimer’s disease and that it improves cognitive function.

To ease your headache, simply rub a few drops on your temples. You may combine it with a carrier oil such as sweet almond or avocado and apply it directly to the skin. It is also an excellent addition to soothing, hot baths.

Ylang Ylang Essential Oil

Great for: Hangovers and congested headaches.

Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata)is a tropical tree, originating from the Philippines, tough it is now cultivated in Java, Sumatra and Madagascar. The name means ‘flower of flowers’ and the sweet and exotic smelling essential oil is used as a perfume, as well as for its myriad therapeutic properties. Apart from being an antidepressant, it can also help in stimulating circulation, easing muscle spasms and lowering blood pressure.

The sweet, floral scent of the ylang ylang essential oil should be enough to relieve your headache though you may want to take a bath with this oil for best results. Massaging it on your temples can also create a serene, calming experience.

The great thing about these oils is that they don’t just relieve the pain; they also ease your anxieties, promote relaxation and treat some of the root causes of headaches.

Just one reminder: While they can be effective for many medicinal uses, essential oils can be very strong. Some of them can increase or lower blood pressure and cause allergic reactions. To be sure, learn about any possible contraindications before using them. This is especially recommended if you suffer from any previous medical conditions.

Frances Masters

Frances Masters is a BACP accredited psychotherapist with over 30,000 client hours of experience. Follow her @fusioncoachuk, or visit The Integrated Coaching Academy for details about up coming training.