Which Essential Oils Do I Use for Which Headaches?
What To Choose?
Everyone gets a headache at some point - some every single day, some only a few times a year. Most aren't sure where their headaches stem from, whether it be stress, fatigue, poor posture or spinal issues, allergies, or just because. And it hits you like a ton of bricks - no warning, no chance to prepare, and extremely debilitating! Who has time for a headache? Not me!
One thing is for sure: there is no shortage of headache remedies out there! And you need something that will counter attack FAST! Some people find that sleeping it off or taking a power nap helps, some get massages, and some go straight to the medicine cabinet. But the first two take up time and the painkillers come with ugly side effects, such as liver and kidney damage, and then there's the obvious: painkillers don't resolve the root of the problem!
Have you considered essential oils? If you answered yes, then allow me to provide you with some good tips on what to use and how to use them! You can apply these tips daily as a preventative measure, or apply them when that nasty headache rears its ugly horns!
How Do They Work?
Essential oils treat the headache trigger which gets to the root of the problem and best of all, they're safe and natural (considering you're using a reputable brand such as doTERRA). There are usually no side effects with the proper knowledge, and you're in complete control of your dosage, tweaking it to the type of headache you experience.
Top 6 Oils for Headaches, With Some Added Benefits
Lavender is an oil that can be used every day for a multitude of benefits. It is one of the safest oils to use, making its aromatic and scent properties enough to relieve any headache. It has a very relaxing, refreshing and aromatic scent and it has anti-bacterial, anti-depressant, and anti-inflammatory properties; there is also growing evident that lavender is an effective treatment for neurological disorders, which makes it a must in your home kit. One of the most sought after effects is its sedative effects, which helps with relaxation, stress reduction, and muscle tension, especially at bed time after a long day's work. Careful though - excessive lavender oil can actually cause a stimulating effect, so you want to make sure you know how to use it for the relaxation and sleep benefits!
The Science Behind It
Lavender oil's main constituents, linalool and linalyl acetate are rapidly absorbed through the skin which are thought to cause central nervous system depression. For this reason, when used aromatically or topically, the oil can be used to treat headaches caused by anxiety and related conditions by regulating serotonin levels, the hormone that triggers pain sensation.
In a study from 2012, it was found that 92 out of 129 headache patients responded entirely or partially to 15 minute lavender oil inhalation during their migraine flare up over a period two hours.
32 out of 68 of the participants responded to a placebo, which entails that the percentage of respondents was significantly higher in the lavender group than the placebo group. source
Diffuse five drops of lavender oil in the most commonly used space at home or work.
To apply topically, use 1-2 drops of oil to the back of the neck, temples and wrist. A carrier oil may need to be used for sensitive skin.
Add 5-10 drops of lavender oil to a warm-water bath and take deep breaths.
Peppermint is another oil that can be used on a daily basis. Its familiar scent, which can be very pleasing and comfortable, should be diluted at a low level of concentration due to its intense, powerful menthol sensation. Its cooling effect gives an uplifting feel that helps in relieving headaches, muscle pain, and body aches, and it also inhibits muscle contractions and stimulates blood flow in the forehead when applied topically.
Though peppermint oil's menthol property can feel very relaxing, you should avoid using it at bedtime due to its stimulating effect.
In a 1996 study, 41 patients (and 164 headache attacks) were analyzed in a placebo-controlled, double-blind crossover study. The peppermint oil was applied topically 15 and 30 minutes after a headache began.
Participants reported pain relief in their headache diaries, and peppermint oil proved to be a well-tolerated and cost-effective alternative to usual headache therapies. There were also no adverse side effects reported after peppermint treatment. source
Diffuse 2-4 drops of peppermint oil in the most commonly used space at home or work.
To apply topically, use 2-3 drops of oil diluted with a carrier oil of choice to the back of the neck, shoulders, and forehead.
If you like the feel, scent and effects of the peppermint essential oil but feel that it is too strong for you to handle, then the spearmint essential oil is a really good alternative to use. It is much more subtle in scent than the peppermint essential oil but it basically has the same calming and therapeutic effects.
Roman chamomile's anti-inflammatory properties makes it extremely effective in relieving headaches. It has an array of benefits, including relaxation, stress reduction, a feeling of calm, headaches, even loneliness and depression. It also helps calm you in feelings of anger or irritability, and this also applies to babies and toddlers!
Diffuse 2-4 drops of roman chamomile oil in the most commonly used space at home or work.
To apply topically, use 2-3 drops of oil diluted with a carrier oil of choice to the back of the neck, shoulders, and forehead. (use only one drop with a carrier oil for babies and toddlers)
Not only is Rosemary effective in relieving headaches, but it also gives the feeling of calm, improves circulation, personal orientation and alertness, aids in digestion and soothes upset stomach with its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties.
A study was published in 2013 concerning the efficacy of Rosemary oil as a form of herbal therapy for the alleviation of withdrawal symptoms in patients with a history of opium abuse. Symptoms included dysphoric mood, nausea, muscle aches, headaches, fever and insomnia. When taken internally for four weeks, it reduced these said symptoms, along with reducing tension and muscle jerks, alleviated pain, improved sleeping patterns and treated convulsions. source
Diffuse 2-4 drops of rosemary oil in the most commonly used space at home or work.
To apply topically, mix 2 drops of rosemary oil with 2 drops of peppermint oil and 1 tsp of carrier oil and rub it into the back of the neck, temples, and forehead.
To take orally, add 1-2 drops of oil to tea, water, or soup.
Eucalyptus is best used for sinus headaches, with its anti-inflammatory and expectorant properties. It will help you cough up mucous, toxins, harmful microorganisms and other bad material in your lungs, and it opens the nasal airways and eliminates sinus pressure that can lead to a headache. It also balances emotions and boosts mood.
52 patients who recently underwent total knee replacement surgery were given eucalyptus oil. The oil proved to help with emotional stability, reduce edema [fluid] formation, and had anti-inflammatory effects. source
Another study in 2011 concluded that eucalyptus oil showed anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-microbial properties to alleviate symptoms such as cough, sore throat, sinus pressure, and tension headaches that patients were suffering with. The oil improved breathing and reduced runny nose when used to treat respiratory conditions.
Diffuse 2-4 drops of eucalyptus oil in the most commonly used space at home or work.
To apply topically, use 2-4 drops of oil diluted with a carrier oil of choice to the check, back of the neck, temples and forehead.
Possible Side Effects of Essential Oils for Headaches
When using these essential oils for headaches, especially in sensitive areas like the nose and forehead, it’s best to dilute the oil first. If you have never used an oil before, do a quick patch test on a small area of skin before applying to larger areas.
If you use these oils internally, remember that a little goes a long way — 1–2 drops should do the trick, and don’t exceed a four-week period without taking a week off from internal use.
If you're like me, thinking of all the essential oil possibilities and combinations can be extremely overwhelming! Don't worry, that's why I'm here! Take it a little at a time and utilize myself and Google to help you! Be careful which oils you choose to purchase however - a lot of oil companies claim they're pure when they're really not. I trust doTERRA, therefore I use and provide doTERRA for my friends, family, and patients.
Are you finding that these are a lot of individual oils to have just for one ailment? There's a solution for that too! doTERRA provides an array of blends for different ailments which contain a multitude of their 100% pure oils. These blends are available in 100% pure oil or as an already diluted topical applicator option as well. Though the topical applicator is convenient, I find that diffusing the oils is more effective for me and it allows for my family (including pets) to reap the benefits of the oils.
If you have any questions, call my office at 615.398.0148 during office hours or email me at any time! I am here to help!
In Summary: How to Use Essential Oils for Headache Relief
A migraine is a severe and painful type of headache associated with throbbing pain, nausea and heightened sensitivity to light. Migraines can be triggered by stress, anxiety, sleep deprivation and hormonal changes. Massage lavender or peppermint oil into the temples and back of neck to relieve migraine headaches and ease feelings of nausea and anxiety.
These are called “stress headaches,” and they’re characterized as dull, constant pressure or pain. Tension headaches are typically brought on my feelings of pressure. Use eucalyptus or peppermint oil topically on the temples, forehead and wrists to alleviate stress and reduce tension. To ease the mind, add 5–10 drops of lavender oil to a warm-water bath.
When the membranes of the sinus cavities become inflamed and swollen, you may experience pressure in the forehead area where these cavities are located, resulting in a sinus headache. Use eucalyptus oil topically on the chest, top of nose and temples to open up the nasal passages and relieve sinus tension.
This is pain that’s caused by low blood sugar levels. Combine equal parts lavender, rosemary and carrier oil, and apply topically to the back of neck, temples and forehead. Or take 1 drop of rosemary internally with a smoothie or cup of soup.
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