12 Best Essential Oils for Migraines and How to Use Them

Migraine headache affects up to 12 percent of the population in the United States [1].

It causes throbbing pain usually in one area of the head, which can last for a few hours to a few days [2].

However, headache is just one part of it, as it is usually accompanied by other unpleasant symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, and light and sound sensitivity [3].

A migraine alone is enough to make a good day turn into a rather stressful one. But worry no more because, in this article, we have a good number of essential oil remedies for migraines that will ensure you relief and comfort.

Interestingly, migraine pain is “three times more common in women than in men” [1].

RELATED: 12 Proven Ways to Get Rid of a Headache (with Step By Step)

What is a Migraine and What are the Symptoms and Triggers?

The researchers believe that you can inherit a migraine pain or at least its triggers from your parents. The triggers may activate the trigeminal nerve in your head and face.

This nerve releases some chemicals (serotonin, CGRP, etc.) and neurotransmitters to swell up the blood vessels in your head which causes a migraine headache. (2)

Symptoms of a Migraine:

If you are down with a migraine, you’ll experience the following symptoms:

Triggers of a Migraine:

Some of the triggers of activating migraine bomb include:

  • Stress and anxiety
  • Alcohol, food additives such as nitrates and monosodium glutamate
  • Missing your regular dose of caffeine from tea or coffee
  • A change of weather
  • Exhaustion from work
  • Exposure to hot sun for a long time
  • Missing a meal
  • A change in sleeping time

A migraine can last more than 3-4 days. It’s a natural tendency to grab painkiller tablets whenever you get a migraine pain. But these over the counter drugs are made of aspirin and acetaminophen. (4)

These chemical ingredients have adverse consequences on your health in the long run. It’s time you chose a natural remedy for your migraine problem using essential oils.

Although most cases of migraine are minor and are no reason for concern, this condition can take a toll on the quality of your life.

You should therefore get relief from migraine attacks using these beneficial essential oils.

RELATED: 12 Essential Oils for Sinus Infection, Congestion, & Headaches

Essential Oils for Migraines vs. Traditional Pain Relievers

Essential or volatile oils are the essence of various plants. They come from the leaves, fruits, flowers, barks, stems, and roots of the plants by the steam distillation process.

Essential oils are inseparable ingredients in aromatherapy, cosmetics, and perfume and medicine industries.   (5)

Essential oils are well known for their anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, analgesic, antidepressant properties.

These health-promoting components can bring immediate relief to your migraine by soothing the pains and reducing the stress level. The aroma of these herbal oils can transport you to a new level of calmness and relaxation.

RELATED: 11 Effective Home Remedies for Anxiety That Actually Work

The Best 12 Essential Oils to Get Rid of Migraine Pains

1. Lavender Oil

Lavender is one of the most popular herbal remedies and cosmetic ingredients that belong to the Lavandula genus [4].

For centuries, it has been used to treat anxiety, depression, and pain-related disorders [5].

This aromatic herb contains active compounds such as ketone and linalool that help tone down pain and inflammation, and induce relaxation [5].

In 2012, a group of researchers from Iran assessed the effects of lavender essential oil on some of the 47 patients suffering from migraine headaches [6].

Findings reveal that inhalation of this oil for 15 minutes resulted in a significant decrease in the severity of the headache [6].

Out of the 129 headache attacks, more than 90 responded well to lavender oil treatment [6].

This oil is not only effective but also safe to use, as long as you don’t use it in undiluted form.

What You’ll Need:

  • 8 drops of lavender oil
  • 4 drops of chamomile
  • 1 oz. sweet almond oil

Recommended Directions:

  • Blend oils in a jar.
  • Take a small amount.
  • Rub it gently on painful part of your head.
  • Massage for 10 minutes.
  • Repeat as needed.

RELATED: 11 Health Benefits of Lavender Oil That You Should Know

2. Rosemary Oil

The pharmacological effects of rosemary are highly valued in both traditional and modern medicine.

Oil extracted from this herb can help those who complain of migraine symptoms such as headache, nausea and vomiting.

According to a study published in the Journal of Korean Biological Nursing Science, aromatherapy with rosemary reduced headache and anxiety among middle-aged women with chronic headache [7].

This may be correlated to the herb’s antinociceptive and analgesic effects, which have been proven in various animal experiments [8, 9].

The way this oil works is that it numbs the pain receptors and at the same time, block signals of pain in the brain.

What You’ll Need:

  • 5 drops of rosemary

Recommended Directions:

  • Pour rosemary in a cotton ball.
  • Inhale the scent.
  • Rub cotton ball on temples and forehead.
  • Repeat remedy two to three times a day until pain subsides.

3. Chamomile Oil

Many people enjoy drinking chamomile tea, loving its soothing effects.

Its oil extract meanwhile is a popular natural solution for pain and nausea.

In 2015, researchers from Australia and Malaysia analyzed the efficacy of chamomile as an anti-migraine treatment [10].

They discover that parthenolide and chamazulene in chamomile can inhibit migraine-related inflammation, and therefore can prevent and treat its symptoms [10].

As you know, headache is just one of the many symptoms of migraine.

Fortunately, chamomile oil can also alleviate vomiting, nausea and light sensitivity, among others.

A study that can be found in the Medical Hypotheses Journal echoes these results, adding that topical application of chamomile oil also impedes production of nitric oxide that in turn, helps reduce migraine attacks [11].

What You’ll Need:

  • 4 drops of chamomile
  • 4 drops of helichrysum
  • 1 oz. of jojoba oil

Recommended Directions:

  • Put all the oils in a glass jar.
  • Shake to blend well.
  • Apply a small amount on your head and scalp.
  • Massage gently for a few minutes.
  • Repeat everytime you have a migraine attack.

4. Eucalyptus Oil

An experiment performed by German scientists probed the effects of eucalyptus oil along with other oils in 32 individuals with migraine [12].

Results clearly state that the oil had a positive impact not only on mental and muscle relaxation but also in cognitive performance [12].

Its anti-inflammatory activity was proven in a rat paw edema test conducted by American and Brazilian researchers in 2003 [13].

It also has peripheral and central analgesic effects that justify its use in folkloric medicine as treatment for migraine and headaches [13].

It’s not hard to imagine how eucalyptus can help migraine sufferers.

After all, a quick application of eucalyptus oil on the skin instantly leaves a feeling of coolness that can refresh and rejuvenate your senses.

What You’ll Need:

  • 10 drops of eucalyptus oil

Recommended Directions:

  • Pour eucalyptus oil in a diffuser.
  • Fill the room with its scent.
  • Inhale deeply.
  • Do this remedy once a day.

5. Peppermint Oil

It was in 1753 when peppermint was first identified by Carolus Linnaeus [14].

At that time, it was considered a species but later on, it was discovered that it is actually a hybrid [14].

Peppermint oil is currently used as a flavoring agent in dental and pharmaceutical products, as well as a natural remedy for various ailments including migraine [14].

Menthol, the active compound in peppermint, is a known natural analgesic [15].

A study featured at the International Journal of Clinical Practice investigates how 10 percent menthol solution works as an “abortive treatment method” for migraine [16].

It was found that menthol in peppermint successfully alleviated symptoms of migraine including vomiting, nausea, light and sound sensitivity and headache without any observed adverse effects [16].

What You’ll Need:

  • 5 drops of peppermint oil
  • 1 teaspoon of jojoba oil

Recommended Directions:

  • Combine the two oils.
  • Apply a thin layer on temples and forehead.
  • Massage gently using circular motions.
  • Follow remedy each time pain sets in.

6. Helichrysum Oil

Helichrysum is widely used in Europe, particularly in Portugal, Spain, Bosnia and Italy, where people rely on it for colds, cough, allergies, and gallbladder disease [17].

In Turkey, it’s one of the herbal plants used to relieve migraine [18].

Most of the studies done on helichrysum extract confirm its pharmacological effects, attributed primarily to its active compounds [17].

Caryophyllen oxide, for example, has been found to have potent anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects that help tone down migraine-related pain and inflammation [19].

Because it has strong analgesic effects, it can also be used in other types of painful conditions such as arthritis, muscular aches, stomach pain, and lower back pain.

What You’ll Need:

  • 3 drops of helichrysum oil
  • 1 teaspoon of jojoba oil

Recommended Directions:

  • Mix jojoba and helichrysum oils.
  • Inhale the scent as you do.
  • Massage head gently.
  • Repeat two to three times a day.

RELATED: 11 Essential Oils for Back Pain to Provide Quick Relief

7. Spearmint Oil

Probably the most popular use of spearmint is for freshening up the breath and getting rid of halitosis.

Of course, that’s not all it could do.

Spearmint oil also works to improve the condition of those with chronic migraine attacks.

It has proven analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties, reports a 2013 study [20].

In addition to these, spearmint can also alleviate other migraine symptoms such as nausea and vomiting with its antiemetic effects [21].

Whatever migraine symptom you’re suffering from, you can get quick relief by using spearmint oil.

What You’ll Need:

  • 5 drops of spearmint oil

Recommended Directions:

  • Pour oil in a tissue or cloth.
  • Inhale the aroma.
  • Do this a few times a day.

RELATED: 19 Spearmint Tea Benefits for the Health You Should Know

8. Basil Oil

There are over 150 plant species that belong to the genus Ocinum but basil is the most cultivated around the world [22].

Many people love it for its unique spicy flavor with a hint of clove and mint [22].

Apart from its rich taste and enticing aroma, basil is also touted for its array of benefits for the health.

Its therapeutic properties include pain relief from migraine attacks.

Clinical data from a Korean study shows that it is highly effective in reducing headache and anxiety, thereby providing relief to those who suffer from migraine [7].

In this experiment, some of the forty middle-aged women with recurrent cases of headaches were given a blend that makes use of basil oil as one of the ingredients [7].

The aromatherapy blend was inhaled three times a day, and applied on the neck and shoulders once a day [7].

By the time, the trial was complete, it was reported that the aromatherapy blend reduced pain, stress and anxiety [7].

What You’ll Need:

  • 3 drops of basil oil
  • 1 cup of hot water

Recommended Directions:

  • Pour oil in hot water.
  • Drink concoction once a day.

9. Ginger Oil

Like garlic and turmeric, ginger is also a root crop famed for its countless therapeutic purposes.

It is mostly used for pain and anxiety relief.

For migraine sufferers, ginger oil can help tone down pain and dizziness as well as ease feelings of wanting to throw up.

Various studies have long verified of its analgesic, antinociceptive, anti-inflammatory and anti-emetic properties [23, 24, 25, 26, 27].

In one clinical trial, the effects of ginger were compared to those of metoclopramide and placebo [26].

The participants consisting of 120 women had reported reduction in pain and nausea after using ginger and metoclopramide [26].

In another study conducted in 2005, it was revealed that ginger oil reduced nausea by at least 20 percent [26].

What You’ll Need:

  • 5 drops of ginger oil
  • 1 cup of hot water

Recommended Directions:

  • Add ginger oil to hot water.
  • Drink the mixture.
  • Do this when you have headache or when feeling nauseous.

10. Rose Oil

For hopeless romantics, a rose is considered a symbol of love.

For medical practitioners, it is a potential remedy for many types of ailments [28].

Oil extracted from rose has been found to have significant analgesic effects that can be a boon for those who have recurrent cases of migraine.

A study reports that aromatherapy with this oil can efficiently reduce headache pain and anxiety, commonly felt by those who have this condition [7].

Whether inhaled or applied topically, this can do so much in alleviating migraine symptoms.

What You’ll Need:

  • 5 drops of rose oil

Recommended Directions:

  • Put rose oil in a handkerchief.
  • Smell the handkerchief whenever you feel pain.

11. Lemon Balm Oil

A highly valued medicinal oil, lemon balm is extracted from a plant that’s native to western Asia and eastern Mediterranean regions [29].

Contributing to its vast pharmacological effects are its active compounds namely citral, geranoil and citronellal [29].

Apart from being a potent tonic, carminative, and antispasmodic, lemon balm is also a proven hypnotic and sedative agent that can do so much for you if you suffer from chronic migraine [29].

A 2008 study performed by researchers from Brazil also confirms that lemon balm oil has antinociceptive effects [30].

What this means is that this oil has the ability to disrupt pain signals in the brain so you don’t feel as much as pain as you usually do.

Lemon balm can also help induce sleep, which is another way migraine sufferers can benefit from this oil.

As you know, migraine can make it difficult for you to get a good night’s sleep.

What You’ll Need:

  • 3 drops of lemon balm oil
  • 1 teaspoon of almond oil

Recommended Directions:

  • Put the two oils in a bowl.
  • Transfer oil mixture to a glass jar with a lid.
  • Seal the lid, and shake to blend.
  • Pour a few drops of oil blend on your fingers.
  • Massage forehead and temples gently with your fingers.
  • Do this for 15 minutes.
  • Repeat remedy three times a day for one to two weeks.

12. Clove Oil

Clove oil is among the botanical medicines considered effective and safe for the treatment of various types of headaches—tension headache, cluster headache and even migraine headache [31].

This oil, which is extracted from the dried flower buds of the clove plant, has long been used to promote healing and alleviate pain [32].

That’s because clove oil possesses pharmacological properties that can curb pain such as anesthetic, analgesic and antinociceptive [32, 33].

Carvacrol, eugenol, cinnamaldehyde and thymol are just few of the many active compounds that can be found in this essential oil [32].

These chemicals are responsible for its beneficial effects [32].

What You’ll Need:

  • 3 drops of clove oil
  • 1 teaspoon of coconut oil

Recommended Directions:

  • Combine the two oils in a bowl.
  • Put the oil blend in a glass jar.
  • Pour a few drops of a piece of cloth.
  • Put the cloth on top of your forehead.
  • Press gently.
  • Massage the temples for a few minutes.
  • Inhale deeply as you do.
  • Repeat procedure each time you feel pain setting in.

Some Tips and Lifestyle Hacks to Prevent Migraines

Have you identified what triggers your migraine pains? If you have, then you can prevent a migraine attack by keeping a check on your lifestyle and avoiding those migraine triggers. Below listed are some lifestyle hacks to prevent migraines.

Manage Your Stress:

Modern life is stressful. A routine schedule, multiple responsibilities, family and relational problems, emotional breakdowns, competition at the workplace, etc. can leave you with stress and growing anxieties. Such a hectic life has a direct connection with your migraines issue. (18)

Take it easy. Your life is more important than your work. Be good to yourself and find some time to relax. You can indulge in some physical activities, light exercise, swimming, yoga, meditation, gardening, etc. to calm yourself.

RELATED: 12 Essential Oils for Stress Reduction & How to Use Them

Drink Enough Water:

Dehydration is one of the primary causes of migraines. Among many other important functions water regulates the cortisol hormones in your body. Thus a lack of water in the body may result in fatigue, stress and severe a migraine.

Drink a lot of water on a daily basis to keep away from exhaustion and headaches. You can also have lime juice or any other fresh drinks to fill the lack of liquids in your body.

Sleep Well:

You should maintain a routine sleeping pattern.  Don’t be awake until late all of a sudden or have a long siesta in the afternoon. Both of these conditions can bring on a migraine attack.

The quality and quantity of your sleep have a lot to do with your migraines. Make sure that your sleeping environment is comfortable and noise free. A light and early dinner can also help you with sound sleep.

Eat Magnesium-Rich Foods:

Magnesium has a wide range of contributions to your body. It regulates the functions of muscles and nerves, promotes healthy heart and bones. A study shows that deficiency of magnesium in your diet has adverse effects on the brains blood vessels.

Thus, raise magnesium intakes to keep away migraines. Add these magnesium-rich foods to your diet today: offal, pumpkin seeds, yogurt, black beans, spinach, figs, banana, etc.

Avoid Food Allergies:

Food allergies happen when your body doesn’t agree with certain food items and creates adverse reactions or inflammations. Inflammations inside your body can give you a migraine or throbbing headache.

It’s advisable that you identify the offending food items that trigger an allergic response and avoid them. Some of the common allergic foods include dairy products, cereal, peanuts, etc.

Avoid MSG mixed foods:

MSG or monosodium glutamate is a food additive especially in fast foods and soft drinks. A high level of glutamate can affect the hypothalamus region of your brain and bring on inflammations. So, avoid consumption of such foods on a regular basis.

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

Q. What scents are best for anxiety?

A. Some of the best essential oils for anxiety are lavender, bergamot, ylang-ylang, rose and chamomile essential oils.

Q. What are the foods that will help a migraine?

A. If you are looking for food items that will help your migraine, you need to consume food rich in magnesium such as avocados, almonds, cashew nuts, bananas, and seeds.

Bottom Line

A pounding A headache can make your life miserable. It’s hard to find a person who has never suffered a headache.

Migraine can prevent you from performing your daily tasks efficiently. It can also make it difficult for you to enjoy life.

A migraine is one of the severe forms of a headache. This pounding headache is so common that in the USA more than 36 million people suffer from migraines annually. (19)

Using essential oils are a great way to cure your migraine attacks naturally. However, you should make sure to use these potent oils as per the recommended directions.

We hope that the remedies mentioned above will help you deal with your painful migraines issue.

Give us your feedback by leaving a comment in the comments section below. Also, if you have any queries or confusions, you can ask us.

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