Oh, headaches! We all get them, right? Maybe you are lucky and have never had a headache. Or maybe you get them regularly. Or even daily. Did you know that about 90 to 95% of us have headaches? The most common types are tension headaches, migraine headaches, and sinus headaches. While some people pop a pill to ease a headache, others use essential oil for headaches. Research shows that essential oil is both effective and safe in calming a headache.
In fact, people have been using essential oil for therapeutic purposes, like headache relief, for thousands of years. Yep, for thousands of years. While you can use a number of different essential oil for headaches, three of the most effective and popular essential oil for headaches are:
- Peppermint Essential Oil (for Migraine and Tension Headaches)
- Eucalyptus Essential Oil (for Sinus Headaches)
- Lavender Essential Oil (for Migraine and Tension Headaches)
What Cause Tension Headaches, Migraine Headaches, and Sinus Headaches?
Tension headaches are also called stress headaches. We get them when our shoulder, neck, jaw, face, or scalp muscles tighten up. Stress is the most common trigger. When we have tension headaches, we often experience dull aching head pain, and feel tension and tightness on our shoulder and neck areas.
Migraine headaches are usually more intense than tension headaches. Migraine headaches often come with other symptoms, like blurred vision, nausea, vomiting, or sensitivity to light and sound. Scientists haven’t figured out what cause migraine headaches, but they think imbalance in brain chemicals might be to blame. Migraine headaches have many triggers. Some of the common ones are hormonal fluctuation, allergies to certain food additives, and stress. When we have migraine headaches, we usually experience intense throbbing, pulsing or pounding pain in one area of our head.
Sinus headaches are caused by inflammation in the sinuses. Sinuses are hollow spaces in our cheekbones, forehead and behind the bridge of our nose. When irritated, often because of an allergic reaction or infection, our sinuses swell up and make more mucus. As a result, there is an increase of pressure around our eyes, cheeks and forehead. This then leads to sinus headaches. Sinus headaches frequently come with other symptoms, such as runny nose, fever, or swelling in the face. When we have sinus headaches we usually experience a dull, deep, throbbing pain in the front of our head and face.
Why Use Essential Oil for Headaches?
The use of essential oil for headaches, and for other therapeutic purposes, is called aromatherapy. The word “aromatherapy” combines the words “aroma” and “therapy.” Aroma means scent from plants, flowers, herbs, and other natural ingredients. Therapy refers to a method that relieves certain symptoms. When we combine these 2 words, we have “aromatherapy.”
Aromatherapy is the practice of using natural essential oil scent for wellness and restorative purposes. A number of respected organizations have recognized the effectiveness of aromatherapy. For example, the U.S. government agency, National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), calls aromatherapy “a complementary health approach.” The National Cancer Institute (NCI), another federal agency, also says that aromatherapy is “a form of complementary medicine.”
In general, when we use essential oil for headaches, and other restorative purposes, we inhale its scent. When we smell certain essential oil scent, the receptors from our nose send chemical signals to our brain. These signals improve our moods, which can minimize the intensity of our headache, and its triggers, like stress. Essential oil activates our sense of smell. As a result, our sense of smell then changes how our mind and body behave.
The idea that our senses can change how our mind and body react is not new. For example, when we smell and see our favorite dish, our mouth begins to water, and we feel hungry. That’s our senses of smell and sight at work. Our senses can also change our physical and emotional wellbeing. When you inhale essential oil for headaches, its scent works to calm your headaches, and lessen the intensity of their triggers.
Peppermint Essential Oil for Headaches (Migraine and Tension)
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Peppermint essential oil comes from the peppermint plant. It is one of the most effective essential oil for headaches. It works well for both tension and migraine headaches. Peppermint essential oil is known for its calming and numbing effects, because of its antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties. One study concluded that applying diluted peppermint essential oil across the forehead and temples, is as effective as taking acetaminophen (Tylenol) in easing tension headaches. In fact, using peppermint essential oil for headaches is better than taking an over-the-counter medication, because peppermint essential oil doesn’t cause “rebound” headaches that people who frequently use aspirin or acetaminophen experience.
There are many peppermint essential oil on the market. Here are 4 popular peppermint essential oil for headaches (migraine and tension):
- Now Foods Peppermint Essential Oil
- Plant Therapy Peppermint Essential Oil
- Radha Beauty Peppermint Essential Oil
- doTERRA Peppermint Essential Oil
Eucalyptus Essential Oil for Headaches (Sinus)
Like peppermint essential oil, many people use Eucalyptus essential oil for headaches. Eucalyptus essential oil comes from eucalyptus, a medicinal plant native to Australia. Studies have found that eucalyptus essential oil contains compounds that eliminate bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Inhaling eucalyptus essential oil is effective in reducing pain, swelling, and inflammation. Because of its ability to reduce inflammation and swelling, eucalyptus essential oil can alleviate sinus headaches and congestion.
Eucalyptus essential oil is found in many over-the-counter medicines that treat coughs and the common cold. Here are 4 popular and effective eucalyptus essential oil for headaches (sinus) that are on the market.
- Now Foods Eucalyptus Essential Oil
- Plant Therapy Organic Eucalyptus Essential Oil
- Sun Essential Eucalyptus Essential Oil
- doTERRA Eucalyptus Essential Oil
Lavender Essential Oil for Headaches
Finally, we have lavender essential oil, another popular essential oil for headaches. Lavender is a useful medicinal plant. Since ancient time, people have been using lavender for headaches, and other health issues, including inflammation, depression, stress, and insomnia. Lavender essential oil can reduce anxiety, stabilize moods, and alleviate pain. Studies have confirmed that when lavender essential oil is inhaled, it produces “calming, soothing, and sedative effects.” In a 2012 published study, scientists observed 129 headache attacks, and concluded that inhaling lavender essential oil for 15 minutes can be an “effective and safe treatment” for migraine headaches.
Lavender essential oil, because of its therapeutic effects, is found in many natural body and personal care products, like soap, shampoo, and lotion. Here are 4 popular and effective lavender essential oil for headaches (migraine and tension).
- Now Foods Lavender Essential Oil
- Sky Organics Lavender Essential Oil
- Radha Beauty Lavender Essential Oil
- doTERRA Lavender Essential Oil
How to Use Essential Oil for Headaches
You can use essential oil for headaches by inhaling the essential oil, or applying diluted essential oil topically on your skin. There are a few different ways you can inhale essential oil. You can add a few drops in a diffuser, or to a cotton ball and place it near you. You can also mix a few drops of essential oil with distilled water, and use a spray bottle to spray the mixture into the air. Be sure to shake the spray bottle well before spraying.
In addition, you can use essential oil for headaches by applying diluted essential oil directly on your skin. People often rub diluted essential oil on their neck, shoulder, forehead, and temple areas. Your temple is the soft spot on each side of your head, between the corner of your eye and ear. To dilute your essential oil, add 3 to 5 drops for every one teaspoon of liquid carried oil. Some popular liquid carried oil includes jojoba oil, argan oil, avocado oil, and sweet almond oil. You can store your diluted essential oil in a roller bottle (my personal favorite) or a glass container with a orifice reducer.
Precautions on Using Essential Oil for Headaches
Many people have safely used essential oil for headaches for thousands of years. But some people should not use essential oil, especially undiluted essential oil, unless they are under the direction of a trained professional and have consulted with their doctor. For example, pregnant women, women who are breastfeeding, infants and toddlers, people with severe asthma or high blood pressure, people with a history of allergies, or who are under a doctor’s care should check with their doctor before using essential oil. Also, it’s best to avoid applying essential oil, especially undiluted essential oil, near your eyes, inner ears, or other sensitive parts of your body.
So have you ever used essential oil for headaches? If so, which one have you tried? If you haven’t, you really should give it a try. Essential oil works wonders for tension headaches, migraine headaches, and sinus headaches. I’d love to know what you think about using essential oil for headaches. As always, please share and pin this post if you like it!