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In this article we discuss the use of essential oils for headaches treatment. We will focus on which oils are the best to use, and how to use them.

No matter who you are, the pain of a headache is far from ideal. Headaches can result from multiple causes and pain can occur in different areas of the head or neck region (check out our headache location chart). Likewise, they have an array of headache treatments – including essential oils.

Overview of What Essential Oils Are

Essential oils are a concentrated liquid extracted from leaves, stems, barks, roots and other parts of plants.

In recent years, they have been popularized for their health benefits including the treatment of anxiety to insomnia and even headaches. While there is some scientific evidence as to why the essential oils have the results they do, a lot more research needs to be done.

Getting to Know Aromatherapy

The healing method that these oils use is known as Aromatherapy. This type of therapy works through the activation of sensory stimuli – predominantly smell.

From ancient days, these essential oils (by way of aromatherapy) have been used for numerous health benefits such as improving blood circulation and reducing stress, including headaches and migraines.

5 Best Essential Oils For Headaches

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Unlike some medications that you can get from your local drug store, essential oils, when used correctly, can yield the same benefits without any harmful side effects. The main way they do this is by reducing stress, which alleviates the onset of tension headaches.

You should never apply or ingest essential oils directly. Always dilute them in a carrier oil prior to use. To dilute the oil correctly, you should add 5 drops of the essential oils for every 1-ounce of carrier oil. Some of the most common carrier oils include coconut oil, olive oil, sweet almond oil, and jojoba oil.

Although there are various oils that induce relaxation which may help reduce head tension, when it comes down to it, there are generally 5 best oils that are recognized specifically as the best essential oils for headaches.

Peppermint Oil

The main ingredient of this oil is menthol, which is extremely effective in helping with muscle relaxation and easing of pain. Because of this, peppermint oil is probably the most popular essential oils for headaches and/or migraine treatment.

The diluted peppermint oil is often placed topically on the surface of the skin, usually on the temples and the forehead, to reap the desired results for tension headaches and pain relief.

How To Use It

For the best results, dilute the essential oil with a carrier oil (such as those mentioned above) and then gently apply the mixture to the temples.

Rosemary Oil

Rosemary oil has been used in folk medicine for centuries owing to its anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties. It has been used to aid anything from pain relief and stress reduction to improving blood circulation and essential oil headache treatment.

Other benefits include muscle relaxation and its effective use in combating the symptoms of insomnia, which may help to prevent the onset of headaches.

How To Use It

After mixing the Rosemary oil with a carrier oil, like olive oil, you can apply it by lightly massaging the substance into the skin of the affected area. This, after a hot bath, may help to provide you with a perfect anti-inflammatory remedy for pain.

Lavender Oil

The scent of lavender essential oil typically helps to relieve stress and induce relaxation in the body. It has been used to treat symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression. A 2012 study suggests that lavender is one of the essential oils for headaches and migraine treatment.

If used for the management of acute migraine attacks, applying lavender essential oil has shown to have pain-relieving effects after only 15 minutes, according to a study from 2013 on lavender and the nervous system.

How To Use It

One of the ways to use the diluted (using a carrier oil of choice) mixture is to administer it directly to the skin. Alternatively, you can diffuse the scent of the oil into the air through a diffuser or by adding droplets to a warm relaxing bath.

Chamomile Oil

Chamomile isn’t just found in “bedtime teas” that help you relax and unwind before falling asleep. It also comes in the form of an essential oil. It maintains its reputation of being an agent for relaxing the mind and muscles of the body, especially when used as an oil.

Using it may help reduce the effects of insomnia, anxiety, and tension, and possibly symptoms of anxiety and depression. This treatment may help to alleviate some of the common causes of several types of headaches.

It is important to note that Chamomile oil is not safe to take while pregnant, as the oil may increase the risk of miscarriage.

How To Use It

One of the best ways to enjoy the benefits of chamomile oil is to place a few diluted (with a carrier oil) essential oil droplets into a warm bath and breathe the scent in through the steam. In a way, the bath acts as a gigantic diffuser, however, you get to enjoy the relaxing sensation of soaking in the hot water.

Eucalyptus Oil

Those who suffer from allergies and sinus issues will know that often it feels like seasonal headaches and prescription medication are locked in as a way of life. However, when it comes to sinus-related headaches, eucalyptus oil may be the key.

When inhaled, the eucalyptus oil has the magical effect of opening up nasal passages. Clearing sinus congestion relieves pressure on the sinuses, which can help soothe your headache.

How To Use It

The best way to administer it is to apply the eucalyptus essential oil to a carrier oil and rub it onto the chest to help clear the airways. The oil’s scent can also be administered by breathing it in via steam produced from a diffuser.

5 Best Essential Oils For Headaches and other Treatment Options

If there isn’t a specific symptom that you are set to target to soothe your headache, the most effective method might be to apply a blend of the essential oils for headaches.

Applying a blend not only allows you a more holistic aromatherapeutic experience, but it might be the best way to ease your headache if you are experiencing multiple causes or if you are uncertain of the cause.

How To Use Essential Oils For Headaches In General

Although we have spoken about the common ways to use essential oils, often (not always) they can be used in interchangeable ways. Each of these methods will briefly be explained below:

  • Application to the temple and forehead: Once the oils are diluted with a carrier oil, you can apply them to the skin. Apply the diluted mixture to the temples by lightly rubbing it in using a circular motion and across the forehead.
  • Inhalation: The scent of the oil can be inhaled directly. To do this, place oil droplets on a tissue, place the tissue over your nose and inhale deeply. Alternatively, oil diffusers do a similar job over a larger area.
  • Bathing: Introducing some droplets of essential oils into a warm bath can be relaxing and effective in treating headaches.
  • Use of a compress: You can create a compress by applying a few drops of oil to a wet cloth or towel. Then, place the compress to your forehead or to the back of your neck to help alleviate the headache.


In a similar fashion to other alternatives to medication, essential oils are not regulated by the U.S. Food & Drug Association (FDA). Because of this, it is important to make sure that you buy and use a reputable brand.

While these essential oils are generally safe to use and using them may have numerous health benefits, it is vital to use them properly. Always dilute them before applying to the skin. If this is not done, they may cause skin irritations. Never ingest essential oils!

Allergic Tests

Some people may be allergic to the ingredients found in specific essential oils. Because of this, you should always do an allergy test by applying a small amount of the oil to the inside of your forearm before your first use.

If your skin does not react after 48 hours, you can consider it safe to use. When applying the essential oil, always do so in small amounts. 1 to 3 drops are usually enough to get the job done.

As with any new medication, if you have any existing health conditions you should speak to your doctor before you start using essential oils.

Key Takeaways

Essential oils have numerous health benefits. If used correctly, they may provide the answers to the majority of your headache problems without any nasty side effects. At this stage, when considering your health, essential oils for headaches should be an option to consider for treatment.

When stressed, your muscles tense up – resulting in tension headaches. So, to help you relax, using essential oils treatments may be worth a try.

If your headaches or migraines persist despite correctly using the oils, it’s always a good idea to book an appointment with your doctor. If you suffer from severe head pain, you can easily use the oils as a complementary treatment if your doctor has approved it.

Take a look at more treatment options. We provide some of the common solutions for people who suffer from these painful conditions.

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