First Posted April 2017
I have had headaches & migraines since I was a young teenager. Each year approximately 45 million Americans suffer from headaches. (That is 1 in 6 people). One of the reasons I got interested in Aromatherapy was because I was taking a lot of OTC pain relievers to help with my headaches and they weren’t working all that well; I was also concerned about the long-term effects of pain reliever usage on my stomach. I decided then, that I wanted to go a different route, to manage the ongoing pain that I was experiencing.
With our busy lifestyles, our daily stress can cause a lot of different physical symptoms which can include, you guessed it…Headaches. (Other causes of headaches may include certain foods, air pressure as well as anxiety, lack of sleep, and dehydration). It is important to take the time to manage your stress and to understand your headache and/or migraine triggers.
There are different types of Headaches:
With a tension headache, you tend to feel pain as well as the pressure across your forehead and at the back of your head. You may also find that your neck and shoulders muscles get really tight too.
If you have ever had a migraine, you know how painful they can be. The main symptoms are feeling the pain on one side of your head, seeing spots or having a sensitivity to light as well as nausea. The duration & symptoms may vary each time you experience one.
Migraines can be triggered by everyday things like stress, foods, too much or too little sleep, hormones, and certain smells.
If you have had a sinus headache, you will recognize how the symptoms differ from that of a tension headache. Usually, you have some form of sinus congestion, either from a cold, allergies or a sinus infection. While symptoms may vary (You may have a stuffy nose, a cough, or be sneezing) you will definitely feel some form of facial pain and/or pressure.
A lot of women have experienced hormonal headaches at some point in their reproductive life. Women who experience PMS may have headaches as one of their symptoms. Dips in hormone levels (Especially estrogen) may be the cause. Hormone headaches can also happen during pregnancy as well as perimenopause & menopause.
You can get a headache if you clench your jaws either when you sleep, are stressed or if you grind your teeth. There may be pain in your jaw, the Temporomandibular joint, as well as the side of your head. ( Talk to your dentist to get more info.)
Below is a list of things to try to manage your Headaches/Migraines:
- A hot pack that heats up in the microwave to soothe your neck and shoulders if they are tight.
- A gel eye mask that can be kept in the fridge.
- Lemon Balm tea to ease any stress that you may be feeling
- Spearmint tea to calm any stomach upsets or nausea.
- Black Tea. (Everyone is different, some people find it a trigger, for me, I find it helpful)
- A hot steamy shower if you have a sinus headache. (You can also use steam inhalation)
- Blackout drapes in your bedroom, especially if the light is an issue.
- Essential oils to help ease the discomfort as well as the other symptoms of your headaches & migraines.
Ways to use essential oils are:
Diffusing: I like to diffuse a mild essential oil if I feel a headache coming on and to ease my stress. My favorite is Grapefruit, with honorable mentions going to Tangerine & Neroli. (For me, now is not the time for a stronger scent)
Personal Inhalation: Try using smelling salts or a personal inhaler. This is a simple way to use essential oils when you are at home or out in public without impacting others around you.
Topical Use: Dilute the appropriate essential oils in a roll- on or dropper bottle to apply to your temples, forehead & the back of your head if you have a migraine or a tension headache. (Also apply to your neck & shoulders for a tension headache)
Apply to your temples, your jaw, your temporomandibular joint (TMJ), under your ear, as well as the side of your neck if your headache is caused by clenching or grinding your teeth.
Apply a well-diluted blend to your forehead, temples, sides & under your nose if you have a sinus headache. (Best for older children & Adults)
Which Essential Oils to use:
For a Migraine, Tension, TMJ or Sinus Headaches in Adults & Older Children essential oils to consider: Peppermint, Eucalyptus Radiata, Frankincense, Cajeput, Rosemary, Sweet Basil, Niaouli, White Thyme, Lavender & Lemon.
For younger children or if you get triggered by the stronger scented essential oils consider: Geranium, Rosalina, Lemon, Grapefruit, Roman Chamomile, White Pine, Spearmint (If you are feeling Queasy) and of course, Lavender
For Hormonal types of Headaches consider adding: Bergamot, Clary Sage, Geranium or Sweet Marjoram.
I have used all of these essential oils at one time or another. I don’t use Peppermint essential oil because it can trigger a migraine, so I have been working on new blends to help me thru this new development. I find that the lighter scented blends that I make for children & the elderly are becoming my new favorites. Everyone responds differently to essential oils, & what works well for us now may change in the future
My Blog is for information only & is not meant to diagnose or replace medical advice. Essential oils should not be ingested & always need to be diluted before topical use.
- If you get a lot of headaches, you may want to consider seeing a healthcare professional to get a proper diagnosis to see what may be causing them.
- Always use proper dilutions when using essential oils topically. Check out my FAQ or my Essential Oil Safety pages for more info. Use caution if you take medication, are pregnant or epileptic.
- Battaglia Salvatore. (2003) The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy. 2nd edition, The International Centre of Holistic Aromatherapy, Australia,
- Worwood, V. A. (2016). The complete book of essential oils and aromatherapy: over 800 natural, nontoxic, and fragrant … recipes to create health, beauty, and safe home an. New World Library.
Photos by canstock – /rob3000, /inaquim,/ robinmac/ ARTS, /joloei,/batareykin