Millions of people across the world suffer from headaches every day for a variety of reasons, and they’re often not sure what to blame! There are so many causes, which include stress, fatigue, allergies, hormones, nutritional deficiencies, constipation, poor posture, low blood sugar, and alcohol or drug consumption. Then, of course, there’s the wicked combination of a couple of those causes. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), headaches are the number one most common nervous system disorder. In fact, 47 percent—almost half of the population of the planet—had some form of headache in the past year. Most common in America are tension headaches—up to 80 percent of us experience them, some for up to three months at a stretch!
Fortunately, there are natural headache remedies for headache sufferers. Essential oils serve as headache treatments because they safely and effectively treat the headache trigger, getting to the root of the problem instead of minimizing the pain temporarily. Plus they are safe, effective, and can be used every day with no fear of side effects or rebound headaches. They are the best options, whether you deal with migraines or simply the effects of a stressful day.
Types of Oils to Use:Frankincense (Boswellia) Essential Oil : Boswellia is best known for producing frankincense oil, one of the gifts given to baby Jesus by the Three Wise Men in the bible. Boswellia is a plant with powerful anti-inflammatory properties that rival traditional medications and a popular use of frankincense is for migraine relief.
If you suffer from cluster headaches, boswellia is an herb you want in your corner. Not only does it fight inflammation differently from many other botanicals—inhibiting 5-LOX where others typically fight COX-2—but it has been shown to reduce the frequency and intensity of headache pain in individuals with chronic cluster headaches. (Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22767962)
You can also add a few drops to coconut oil and use it around the neck and face. This may reduce inflammation around the nerves that contribute to the triggering of migraine attacks. As a bonus, frankincsense is proven to increase skin elasticity and improve wrinkles or damaged skinPeppermint Oil : Peppermint oil is one of the most commonly used essential oils to treat headaches or migraines. It contains menthol, which can help muscles relax and ease pain. It’s thought that applying diluted peppermint oil directly to the temples can help relieve pain from both tension headaches and migraines. Its benefits include its long-lasting cooling effect on the skin, ability to inhibit muscle contractions and role in stimulating blood flow in the forehead when applied topically.
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.
Lavender Essential Oil : Lavender essential oil is commonly used for stress relief and relaxation. There’s also strong evidence that lavender can help treat headaches and migraines. According to researchers, aromatic and topical use of lavender oil affects the limbic system because the main constituents, linalool and linalyl acetate, are rapidly absorbed through the skin and are thought to cause central nervous system depression. It also regulates serotonin levels, which helps minimize pain in the nervous system that can lead to migraine attacks.
Breathing in the scent from lavender essential oil can help acute management of migraine headaches. One study found that people reported a significant reduction in pain after only fifteen minutes of inhaling the lavender oil.Rosemary Essential Oil : Rosemary oil has powerful anti-inflammatory and analgesic (pain killing) properties. It’s been used in folk medicine for hundreds of years for stress reduction, pain relief, and improved circulation, which can all help headaches. It also helps reduce insomnia and relax muscles, which can help with headaches. One study even found that rosemary oil helped with withdrawal symptoms. It reduced tension and muscle jerks, alleviated pain, improved sleeping patterns, and treated convulsions in patients experiencing withdrawal symptoms from opioid abuse.
Rosemary oil also reduces stress and emotional triggers that can cause headache attacks. It also aids digestion and soothes an upset stomach, which can be a symptom of a severe headache.
Eucalyptus Essential Oils : Eucalyptus works as an expectorant — it helps cleanse the body of toxins and harmful microorganisms. It also opens the nasal airways and eliminates sinus pressure that can lead to a nasty headache, all while promoting emotional balance and boosting mood. If the headaches are caused by sinus issues, eucalyptus essential oils can become your new best friend. This oil will open up the nasal passages, clear the sinuses, and can help relieve sinus tension that causes the headaches.
One study also found that a combination of peppermint oil, eucalyptus oil, and ethanol provided relaxing effects to both the muscles and the mind, which could help soothe headaches.
How to Use Essential Oils for Headache Relief:
Migraine Headache: Massage lavender or peppermint oil into the temples and back of neck to relieve migraine headaches and ease feelings of nausea and anxiety.
Tension Headache: 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
Sinus Headache: Use eucalyptus oil topically on the chest, top of nose and temples to open up the nasal passages and relieve sinus tension.
Cluster Headache: You can also add a few drops to argan oil and use it around the neck and face. This may reduce inflammation around the nerves that contribute to the triggering of migraine attacks.