best essential oils for migraines

Oh gosh. The fact that you are looking for the best essential oils for migraines can’t be good. We are so sorry to know that you are feeling it. We will try to be as succinct as we can while giving you some ideas into what oils might be able to help you. In this article, we’ll begin by listing the oils we think will help most, then do a deep dive into each oil we have chosen and why, to give you a bit more knowledge about how you can use them and anything you might need to be aware of. Then, after that, we’ll look at some other information that might help you to reduce your migraines, then finally we have put together some essential oils for migraine recipes for you. Please note, we also have another blog post that may be useful to you, about headaches. 


10 Best Essential Oils for Migraines

    1. Lavender essential oil 
    2. Chamomile essential oil 
    3. Sweet Basil Essential oil 
    4. Rosemary Essential Oil
    5. Vetiver Essential Oil 
    6. Rose Essential Oil 
    7. Geranium Essential Oil 
    8. Ylang Ylang Essential Oil
    9. Yarrow Essential Oil
    10. Helichrysum Essential Oil 

1. Lavender Essential Oil


We have put this at the top of the list of best essential oils for migraines because it is so brilliant a relieving pain, it is relaxing and sedative, whilst also being refreshing and it improves mood. 

Lavender essential oil is cheap and cheerful but holds the crown for being one of the most useful essential oils in an aromatherapist’s box. 

Lavender and chamomile are probably the best essential oils for migraines that catch you unaware. Normally, we would say use essential oils in a dilution of around 3%, but it’s safe to use up to 50% dilution of lavender essential oil for migraine attacks. We recommend carrying a pre-prepared blend in a rollerball for emergencies. It is great to rub onto the temples, the neck, and shoulders to release tension and hopefully start to reduce your headache.

Migraine is identified as a certain type of headache that takes place down one side of your head. Often, it can present with a kind of “nut” of pain that you can put your finger on. Using your rollerball to just put pressure on that specific spot can work wonders. 

There is also an acupressure point, that is located in the web between the thumb and the first finger of each hand, which is great for trying to reduce pain. Place some of your oil onto the web of each hand and use the thumb to massage it in.

2. Chamomile Essential Oil

We’ve been a bit lazy here because there are several chamomile oils, but actually, I think any or all of them could be classed as the best essential oils for migraines. Most people will buy Roman chamomile first, which has analgesic properties and is anti-inflammatory. Mixed with lavender it can be one of the best essential oils for migraine headaches.

German chamomile, sometimes known as blue chamomile, or chamomile Matricaria is rich in a constituent called chamazulene. Azulenes don’t exist in the original plant, which is white with a yellow center, but form when they are exposed to heat in the distillation process, turning the oil blue. Azulenes are like a liquid anesthetic, numbing the pain, so we can see how this could also make German Chamomile one of the best essential oils for migraines. 

There is another chamomile oil that often gets overlooked. Strictly speaking, it isn’t actually chamomile, although we refer to it as one. It’s called chamomile Maroc, or Moroccan camomile. Its Latin name is Ormenis multicaulis, and it is a terrifically soothing oil that is also a tonic to the digestive system and the liver (I’ll explain the importance of that in the section on rosemary essential oil.)

All chamomiles are digestive, so are great for calming nausea and stomach disruption that migraines often bring. 

3. Sweet Basil Essential Oil

On paper, and in practicality sweet basil comes high up on the list of the best essential oils for migraines but this is a great example of the importance of the right oil at the right time. 

Basil oil clears the mind and helps you focus, but has all the subtlety of a sledgehammer. She is loud, proud, motivated, and aggressive, so ask yourself “Is this the best oil for me today?”.

If you have to do a presentation, or take care of kids and need to be more alert, then she is great. If you just want to lie down in a dark room then she is not. 

Basil is rich in linalool which is proven to be an analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and antidepressant, so again, we can see why it would be so helpful. Incidentally, a great blend to help you focus a bit more and calm your head down is lavender, basil, and rosemary, but please check the safety of rosemary essential oil first. 

4. Rosemary Essential Oil

Rosemary is another very bossy oil. She can be difficult to use if you suffer from epilepsy, schizophrenia, any delusory illnesses, or high blood pressure. (if you do suffer from high blood pressure, the best essential oils for migraines for you might be ylang ylang and vetiver oils. Have a look.)

Rosemary operates on three very important levels. 

She comes so high up on the list of best essential oils for migraines because Rosemary is what we call a specific for nerve pain. That is if there is a question relating to nerve pains we would always think about her first. Rosemary is very good for trigeminal neuralgia and sciatica and she is one of the best essential oils for migraines. 

Nerve pains have a very specific type of pain. You feel them as if they are sharp and shooting. Somehow rosemary seems to take the electrical edge off them. 

Next, she has what is called a cephalic action. She clears the mind, helping you to focus and concentrate better. Rosemary is excellent for memory, so rosemary can often be useful for things that concern the brain. 

Last, Rosemary has hepatic qualities. 

Research shows that long-term stress depletes many of the organs in the body, including the liver. When this happens, it doesn’t work as well and can accumulate toxicity. Some of the best essential oils for migraines are ones that help the liver to work better, not only supporting digestion but helping tackle long-term stress-related flare-ups (which might just as likely be eczema or psoriasis as migraine.)

This liver disturbance can often present as seeing floaters before your eyes. Although it does not make it onto the list of best essential oils for migraines, marjoram can be very good for helping this too. 

5. Vetiver Essential Oil

Now vetiver essential oil does not have particularly strong pain-killing properties when compared to some of the others, but it is one of the best essential oils for migraines that may be stress-related. 

Something that can often be overlooked when you visit the doctors is that migraines can sometimes be caused by referred pain. Sometimes our muscles store tension in something called trigger points that are tightness in the taut bands of the muscle fibers. These trigger points are strange things. Sometimes they can be active, other times they can be latent or dormant. Several things can activate them, but most particularly stress. 

Oddly, these trigger points can have satellites that radiate pain to predictable areas. For example, there is one point in the muscles on the shoulder mantle, that when pressed in the right way, for long enough can replicate the pain of a migraine, proving that the point was the cause all along. 

When we combine this with the way the stress can impact on our livers, we can see how taking care of ourselves with something like vetiver, between our migraine outbreaks can really help. 

Vetiver is tranquilizing and deeply relaxing, but you might note that we refer to many of the essential oils as “She”. Vetiver has a masculine, yang energy to it, making it wonderful if you need that resilience or more forceful action without the aggression. Vetiver is a great choice if you feel bullied, for example.

6. Rose Essential Oil 

The next three oils rose, geranium and ylang ylang are the best essentials for migraines that are hormone-related. Many women find their headaches seem to be connected to their menstrual cycle in some way, or to menopause. 

Rose is quintessentially female. It is passive, receptive, and cool. It’s a great choice for migraine with aura disturbances too. Somehow, it helps you draw yourself back into your physical body rather than feeling out of your head, like some of these attacks can do. Vetiver is very good in that way too. 

As ever, rose comes with a warning for pregnant ladies. This should not be used until after the 37th week of your pregnancy. Perhaps use geranium essential oil as an alternative.

7. Geranium Essential Oil

We’re here again, marketing geranium as a substitute for rose essential oil as if she is just some kind of cheap alternative, when in fact nothing could be further from the truth. 

In fact, geranium is probably superior to rose essential oils in dealing with stress. Again, if you can use geranium more regularly, between migraine attacks, you might see a really big difference. It has a tonic effect on the adrenals, the glands that govern our Fight and Flight responses, so if you have had to deal with a lot of stress lately (ironically suffering from migraines is stressful in its own right, isn’t it?) then geranium can really build your body up again. It is the adrenals becoming exhausted that begins the cascade that then affects the liver. 

Recent research also suggests that migraine maybe have some connection to the hormone oxytocin. Oxytocin has many functions including sexual activity, bonding, and feelings of love. 

Oxytocin naturally drops when women go through menopause, which also has ramifications on their bone density. So, there are a number of clinical trials that have been done into the effects of essential oils on oxytocin as a means of protecting them postmenopausal women against osteoporosis. However, there is also a suggestion that supporting oxytocin might also affect migraines. 

Research shows that inhaling essential oils for five minutes each day can improve oxytocin, and we would suggest that geranium essential oil might be one of the best oils to use for this. 

8. Ylang Ylang Essential Oil

Hopefully, you are beginning to see a trend here now. We want to reduce pain, the outward symptoms of stress, balance hormones, and blood pressure as best as we can. 

When you look at ylang ylang against that checklist, probably it should be higher up the list than it is, because it can do all of those things. 

The problem that puts Madagascar’s beautiful “Flower of Flowers” further down is its sickly fragrance is just too nauseating for most people to use it in an attack. 

However, ylang ylang’s ability to balance is second to none. So if you have blood pressure issues, combine it with clary sage and you, like many people before you might be astonished at how your body reacts to it. Blend it with rose or geranium to help support your hormonal balance a bit, and to reduce stress. By all means, use it for its analgesic properties during an attack if you can bear it, but it doesn’t usually go well with already feeling nauseous. 

As ever, do not use ylang ylang essential oil in the first 37 weeks of pregnancy. 

9. Yarrow Essential Oil

The secret to understanding why we use yarrow essential oil for migraine relief lies in its Latin name Achillea millefolium. Achilles plant of a thousand leaves refers to the lovely feathery softness of the leaf texture and the great ancient Greek hero Achilles. Achilles had been born the mortal son of a Zeus and a water nymph. Worried for him, his mother dipped him into the River Styx to make him indestructible, but her plan backfired. Where she had held him, had not been enchanted leading us to the expression of someone’s “Achilles Heel”, their weakness. 

Yarrow is one of the best essential oils for migraines because it specifically deals with areas that seem to be persistent weaknesses, like tendonitis where there is a pain in the Achilles tendon, but also in migraine. 

Yarrow, like German Chamomile, has these azulenes that are great for their anesthetic properties too. Yarrow is soothing, calming, and healing. It is great for cuts and bruises, but really, wounds of any description, and so we can say stress-related migraines or indeed food-related ones too. 

10. Helichrysum Essential Oil


Again, not strictly an oil for headaches, per se, but it makes it onto the list of the best essential oils for migraines because it is such an overall fortifying oil. It does have analgesic properties, is brilliant for digestive issues, and especially for the liver. 

You should avoid the use of helichrysum if you are on blood-thinning medications, have some kind of platelet disorder, or are about to have major surgery in the next 48 hours or so.

Before we go into the essential oils for migraine recipes, it’s worth just mentioning food journals. Often migraines can have vitamin deficiencies underlying them, as well as food allergies or intolerances. 

It can be difficult to see what these are unless you document them carefully. Sometimes you might only have a low level of intolerance to them, but if you combine a few, then the liver can't cope. It complains by throwing up a migraine. 

This, as well as our notes on vitamins and minerals, is outlined clearly in our article for headaches. 

Finally, if you visit an aromatherapist with migraine issues (and we would suggest this as a good plan since migraines are such complex beasts, and respond very well to massage) they may also refer you to a chiropractor to look at your spine. Often migraines occur because one of the vertebrae in your neck is slightly misaligned. It could be resting on a nerve sending pain signals to your brain. Again, we talk about this in the headache post.

DIY  Essential Oils for Migraine Recipes

10 best essential oils for migraines

Combination Of The Best Essential Oils For Migraine Attacks 

Method of use: This blend has borage carrier oil that is also a tonic for the liver, and an incredibly high volume of essential oils. We would not ordinarily use this much, but this is an emergency protocol. Rub the oil into the temples, the back of the neck, and across the forehead, as well as using on the hand acupressure point outlined in the lavender section.

Safety: Not suitable for use in the first 16 weeks of pregnancy.

Combination of the Best Essential Oils for Migraine and Stress Relief

Method of use: This blend has borage carrier oil that is also a tonic for the liver. It can be used as and when you would like to on ordinary days. It’s a great blend to use for stress generally.

Safety: Not suitable for use in the first 37 weeks of pregnancy.

Combination of the Best Essential Oils for Migraine Attacks Connected to Hormones

Method of use: This blend has borage carrier oil that is also a tonic for the liver. It can be used as and when you would like to on ordinary days. It’s a great blend to use for stress generally.

Safety: Not suitable for use during pregnancy.


To be completely candid, if you rely on using even the best essential oils for migraine attacks, you won’t get anywhere. It will soothe the pain, but the best way to tackle this is holistically, think about stress, nutrition, and hormones, and perhaps consult a professional aromatherapist too. If you experience migraines very frequently please consult your physician.

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