One of the first things people want to find out when they discover what great allies essential oils can be, is what the best essential oils for headaches are.
However, a headache is one of the key ways our body chooses to communicate that something is wrong, whether on an emotional, mental, or spiritual level, so different situations require different oils.
So, in this post, we’ll try to identify the best essential oils for headaches in many different descriptions.
What Essential Oil is Good for Headaches?
If we want to get good results straight away, I would suggest that “What essential oil is good for headaches?” is not our best question.
Our first question is: Why might I have a headache?
Sometimes it will be a straightforward question because my sinuses are blocked, for example.
Perhaps because I haven’t been sleeping well…
Or maybe, because I am so worried about my exams or that there’s not enough money coming in...
The best oils for headaches are the ones that are chosen with care and attention to what's going on in your body. Aromatherapy, in its best form, is a holistic therapy, looking at every aspect of a person’s life to understand what is going on to create the disorder you are suffering from.
In this case, we are thinking about the best essential oils for headaches, but the same would be for eczema, hay fever, or even toenail fungus.
If yesterday you were well, but today you are not, we want to know what happened yesterday that might have changed things. It could be as simple as you caught a bug, got tired, or even ate something that disagreed with you, but in aromatherapy, we want to know what happened and why and try to address that root cause.
Also Read: Best Essential Oils for Cold Sores
How does Inhaling an Essential Oil Help to Ease a Headache?
When we inhale an essential oil (or smell anything), the volatiles (evaporated molecules) go up the nose and have high-speed access to the brain.
Essential oils like lavender soothe and calm us. Oils like peppermint and eucalyptus penetrate through sinus congestion to clear tension and blockages.
Inhalation can be helpful; however, we suggest the topical application of essential oils might be more effective for headaches. You can apply it in a massage oil form or a lotion cream. Any of these are easy to make.
With that said, let’s look at our list of the best essential oils for headache relief.
Also Read: Best Essential Oils for Sinus
Our List of the Best Essential Oils for Headaches
Each has its place and reason to be used. So let’s start with these and work outwards from here.
Depending on why you have a headache and what kind of headache it feels like will help you choose which one to use. So, our best way to decide which one to use, or understand anything about aromatherapy, is to know how each oil influences our bodies' energies.
We’ll begin by comparing peppermint essential oil for headaches with lavender.
A Comparison Between Lavender and Peppermint for Headaches
Lavender Essential Oil for Headaches (Lavandula angustifolia)
Lavender essential oil is soothing, calming, and relaxing. It feels like you are walking in fresh fields of purple flowers with no company except the warm sun gently kissing your face and the hum of the bees.
All troubles feel lifted away from you. You feel dozy, slow, and a bit lazy. For most of the walk, you’ll want to meander up and down the many rows of lavender plants, gently brushing your fingers through the flowers. Anything or anyone else feels far away in the distance.
Let’s compare that with–
Peppermint Essential Oil for Headaches (Mentha piperita)
Both Sweet Basil, Rosemary, and Peppermint oils are aggressive. I mean, get things done in your face now, right-this-minute-fast...bossy.
Peppermint essential oil has cold energy (think about how your lips feel cool after you’ve brushed your teeth. Where lavender oil makes it feel like you left your troubles somewhere on a picnic blanket in the following field, peppermint brings everything into a very sharp definition. You are alert, focused, motivated, and quick-witted. Your thoughts are clear, loud, and organized.
Lavender, Vetiver, and Roman Chamomiles all soothe and relax, easing the actual pain, whereas basil, rosemary, and peppermint help you think more clearly.
Opt for peppermint essential oil for headaches where you have to think clearer, be more upbeat (maybe you have a presentation to give), or actually, it is an excellent oil to choose for sinus headaches because it is so penetrating. The volatiles can cut through clogged sinuses and then open them out.
Also Read: Best Essential Oil for Fever Blisters
Getting The Balance Right
But, be careful because there can be a temptation to use all stimulating oils if you are doing exams, for example. Or, if you are stressed about money generally, you might just want to leave the thoughts about those bills in the chamomile field.
However, suppose you are so excited about invigorating essential oils. In that case, it will be hard to sleep at night, making your foggy thinking worse, and of course, the bills don’t suddenly pay themselves just because you checked out on vetiver.
The secret to identifying the best essential oils for headaches is to use small amounts of invigorating oils during the day, then more significant portions of the relaxing oils to help you sleep or to calm the general panic you feel.
Remember, with aromatherapy, less is always more. When you think about how much essential oil to use, always try to tackle the root cause of the problem too.
Let’s look deeper into what each does because that will also help you identify which oils suit you.
For example, it's all very well if you know the best essential oils for headaches, but you have just found out you're pregnant. You can’t use any of them on your skin. It’s always important to consider everything an essential oil can do, not only to get the best benefits from it but also to ensure you are not accidentally causing something else to happen too.
Also Read: Best Essential Oils For Face Steaming
6 Best Essential Oils for Headaches: Natural Remedies to Get Rid of Headaches Quickly
1. Lavender Essential Oil
So soft, so gentle, so nurturing. Lavender should be on top of your list of the best essential oils for headache relief. It should always be your first choice if something hurts, you feel tense, or you can’t sleep.
You can safely use lavender up to 10% dilution on days when things feel terrible, but you usually would operate at a 3% dilution. That means in a teaspoon of carrier oil, which contains roughly 100 drops, you could go as high as 10% if you are in a lot of pain, but usually, you would just use 3 drops.
You might find the fragrance overwhelming at ten drops, worsening your headache if you apply your blend close to your nose.
Indeed, use lavender essential oil at bedtime and in the bath to allow your muscles to relax and soothe you generally. Stress often underlies headaches, and lavender essential oil is one of the best ways to tackle that.
2. Roman Camomile Essential Oil
Roman Chamomile is calming. It has a sense of lying on the grass and making silly pictures from the clouds. It is slow, gentle, and relaxing. Roman chamomile is not only one of the best essential oil oils for headaches and stress generally, but it also calms skin irritations and irritated tummies.
Choose Roman chamomile paired with peppermint as your best essential oil for headaches if you also have stomach issues. Irritable Bowel Syndrome and nervous diarrhea often accompany stress headaches, which also offer stomachic support.
Chamomile is a safe and gentle option for most people. Avoid using it in the first sixteen weeks of pregnancy; however, you could safely inhale this one in the early days of pregnancy when having so many digestive and stress niggles.
3. Vetiver Essential Oil
Where lavender and chamomile essential are the best essential oils for headaches, in that they make the troubles drift away, vetiver has a grounding feeling that makes you feel heavy, relaxed, and as if you have smothered them. A thick blanket of reassurance lies upon you.
Vetiver feels extremely slow and relaxed and is terrific for making the world around you feel slower. If you have been hoping the world would just stop so you could get off, vetiver is going to be up there with lavender, Roman chamomile, and perhaps mandarin or rose otto as the best essential oils for headaches.
Deeply soothing, it feels hypnotic and tranquilizing.
Again, safe to use except during the first 16 weeks of pregnancy. I would also avoid inhaling vetiver essential oil at this point in your pregnancy. Stick to roman chamomile.
4. Sweet Basil Essential Oil
If sweet basil could speak, she would shout in your ear like a Sergeant Major, “Get Out of Your Head.” Basil likes action, clear-headedness, decisiveness, and bold, decisive action.
If you avoid ringing the phone company about your outstanding bill or telling your nagging best friend where to get off, Sweet Basil essential oil has your back. Be aware, though; thoughts don’t tend to stay in your mouth when using Basil.
It is one of the best essential oils for headaches that come from you avoiding things or biting your tongue. Think of yourself strapped to a parachute doing your first skydive, peering out of a plane. Sweet Basil will be the one who pushes you into free fall, so just enjoy that great adrenaline rush of free fall.
“Get out of Your Head” and deal with it, which is why she is one of the best essential oils for migraine headaches.
5. Peppermint Essential Oil
The ice queen. Loud, proud, intelligent, bright, and strong, peppermint essential oil for headaches gives you clear thinking, bold action, and an invigorated outlook.
It will, however, keep you awake at night.
Use peppermint essential oil for headaches in the morning till lunchtime, then start relying upon the more relaxing ones, like vetiver (which is also suitable for helping you concentrate) and start investing in the evening’s sleep.
However, do not use peppermint essential oil for headaches in children. Leave it until they hit the challenging exams. Peppermint has large amounts of menthol, which can slow respiration, so only use peppermint essential oil on children's backs. To be honest, though, who wants invigorated toddlers. Peppermint of two-year-old's guarantees nothing left in cupboards and no sleep at all.
6. Rosemary Essential Oil
Rosemary essential oil has an affinity for nerve pain. So not only is it one of the best essential oils for headaches, aromatherapists choose it for conditions like neuralgia, in particular trigeminal neuralgia, in the jaw, and sciatica.
But when an essential oil is good for the nerves, it also emotionally relates to the nervous system. Often, headaches are a symptom of our bodies speaking our minds, but sometimes, we also speak our bodies.
Consider the phrase, “I wish she’d stop going about it. It’s starting to get on my nerves.”
This is a perfect example of when you would choose rosemary as one of your best essential oils for headaches.
Like peppermint and basil, rosemary essential oil focuses the mind and clears thoughts.
However, rosemary essential oil can be a bit unpredictable with blood pressure, epilepsy, and also for people who have psychosis. Under any of these conditions, I would give rosemary a wide berth unless you are working with a qualified aromatherapist and stick to one or more of the others.
Again, safe after 16 weeks of pregnancy, and energetically, like peppermint might not be an excellent fit for children.
Using Essential Oils for Sinus Headaches
Sinus headaches must be treated slightly differently. While essential oils like lavender and chamomile will ease sinus pain, they don’t deal with the actual problem of congestion.
Peppermint, rosemary, and basil essential oils are all strong enough to send volatiles up the nose to penetrate through the congestion; however, this is a temporary release.
With consistent problems, the best essential oils for sinus headaches are potentially Myrrh (Commiphora myrrh), Benzoin (Styrax benzoin), and Frankincense essential oils.
Frankincense acts similarly to Lavender and Vetiver in that it is soothing. It slows the breath and releases stress. However, it also opens the chest and nasal cavity airways to reduce sinus congestion.
Myrrh and benzoin essential oils are both wonderful decongestants. They break down the blockages in the sinus passages, making the nose run and removing the congestion inside the head.
To use these essential oils, one is best to make a massage treatment to be rubbed over the forehead and the sinus tracts. Also, consider massaging it into the upper back, the neck, and the top of the head, where there is easy access to the sinuses, which run through the entirety of the skull.
Also Read: Best Essential Oils for Coughs
Using Essential Oils for Migraine Headaches
Migraine headaches are slightly different because they can have many triggers.
Migraine Headaches and Food Triggers
You can try using the list of essential oils for headache relief; however, consider making a food diary to log down everything you eat each day to see if there is a pattern that could be causing the migraines.
Often it might be a combination of different foods that might be causing a problem, so document carefully.
For example: perhaps a person has a 30% intolerance to sausages, 30% intolerance to tomato ketchup and 30% intolerance to the flour improver in white bread.
If they have bangers and mash for tea, potentially, they will escape the headache.
However, if they have a sausage sandwich with red sauce on a different day, all of their allergens come together to create a 90% intolerance reaction and thus a mega migraine.
It's worth documenting carefully for a month to see where the headache triggers may be.
Skeletal Misalignments and Migraines
If you visited an aromatherapist for your migraines, they would likely also send you to see a chiropractor.
Often there may be skeletal misalignments where neck bones rest on nerves in the neck, so regardless of which essential oils they choose, the pain will continue with that nerve being trapped.
Hormonal Imbalance and Migraines
One key catalyst for migraines is a hormone imbalance. Migraines often accompany menstruation and menopausal symptoms. If that’s the case, consider using rose, geranium, or ylang-ylang essential oils. These are not designed to be the best essential oils for headaches but to support hormonal imbalances.
Essential Oils and Vitamin Deficiency
Lastly, one of the main actions that stress causes in the body are to exhaust the liver. Many aromatherapists will suggest you take a supplement of vitamin B complex and vitamin C as well as a magnesium supplement to support the best essential oils for headaches.
The liver is fueled by vitamin B and needs vitamin C to absorb. If the body runs under stress for extended amounts of time, the body runs out of vitamin B, so supplementing with B and C helps to fuel the liver.
Rosemary, Peppermint, and Roman chamomile essential oils are all hepatic oils that support the liver. If you suffer from migraine, you should try to use these essential oils backed by something like eucalyptus or carrot seed essential oils, which also have hepatic qualities.
Magnesium balances glutamate and GABA. Glutamate is the body’s excitatory transmitter. If it gets out of control, you feel pain, anxiety, and jitteriness, amongst other things. GABA is the calming neurotransmitter that keeps it in check. Magnesium naturally forms in fruit that ripens on the trees and in green leafy vegetables. Since most fruit is picked early to avoid soiling on its way to the supermarket, very few of us now have the right amount of magnesium.
Magnesium can be taken as an oral supplement but is best absorbed through the skin. The best supplement is to add Epsom salts to the bath or add essential oils to magnesium. (Epsom salts are a magnesium supplement)
Also Read: Best Essential Oils for Congestion
How to Use the Best Essential Oils for Headaches Properly
You know what?
I’d be most inclined to blend a few of them into a rollerball and apply them together.
There are four great ways to apply whichever the best essential oils for headaches you choose.
- Use light pressure to massage them into the temples. This indentation at the side of your face, just to the sides of your eyes, is an efficient acupressure point and a quick way to get the oils into your bloodstream and brain.
- You can also massage them into your forehead and onto the back of the neck and the base of the skull.
- Lastly, there is also an acupressure point to your temples on your hand. This is a neat way to feel like you are taking control of your headache.
You can locate the union valley or hegu pressure point by pinching the loose skin between your thumb and index finger. Hold the union valley pressure points on both hands using the thumb and fingers of the other hand, then massage your oils by moving your thumb in small circles. You’ll be amazed how tender this can be, and the guideline for how long to do this is around two minutes or until it stops hurting, whichever is less. Be careful not to overstimulate this point. It’s better to do it for a short amount of time, several times than to do one long go that can make you feel quite odd.
Essential Oil Diffuser Blend for Headaches
Safety: Do not diffuse for too long. Turn off and take a break every two hours for half an hour.
Are There Any Side-effects & Concerns of Using Essential Oils for Headaches?
Essential oils do not have side effects, only many main effects. Ylang-ylang is a great example. It affects blood pressure and balances out combinations in the skin and hormones. When you use oil, you should expect everything to happen.
For this reason, we do not use essential oils in the first 16 weeks of pregnancy to protect the young fetus. On this list, one might want to take extra care with rosemary, which can be unpredictable if you have high blood pressure or epilepsy or live with delusory conditions such as psychosis or schizophrenia.
Also Read: Best Essential Oils For Asthma
Headaches are often another version of your inner voice. Perhaps they are reminding you there is something in your life you need to be dealing with, or maybe your nutrition isn’t quite proper.
If they are regular, try to ascertain if there is a pattern. Start a food diary, compare it with your menstrual cycle if applicable, and surround yourself with a collection of the best essential oils for headaches, so you are armed and ready to defend yourself the next time you come under attack.
Also Read: Essential Oils For Menstrual Cramps