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8 Best Essential Oils for Headaches & Migraines

woman placing essential oils into diffuser - best essential oils for headaches and migraines

Have you ever had a skull-splitting headache that just wouldn’t let up? Maybe you suffer from chronic tension headaches or migraines. 

Between the pain, pressure, light and sound sensitivity, or nausea, it can be difficult when you can’t find relief. Sometimes you can sleep it off, but even that can be a challenge when you can’t relax enough to doze off.

Aromatherapy with essential oils can help. The highly concentrated oils come from plants and flowers. As a result, they’re natural treatments without a laundry list of side effects. Plus, since you don’t ingest them, essential oils won’t interfere with other medications you take.

For those interested in aromatherapy to soothe your discomfort, we’ve created a list of the best essential oils for headaches and migraines. We’ll even explain how to use each one to find some relief.

Lavender Oil 


There’s a reason that many baby shampoos, soaps, spa treatments, and nighttime lotions include lavender. Its calming scent comes from the flowering part of lavender plants. The subtle, floral scent has a calming effect that helps bodies relax and even fall asleep. 

Lavender is well-known for stress relief, but it also soothes headache and migraine pain.  One study has shown that inhaling lavender for fifteen minutes can ease symptoms of migraine headaches. 

How to Use Lavender Essential Oils for Headaches 

There are a few ways to use lavender essential oils to help with a headache. 

  • Use an oil diffuser.
  • Add some essential oil to warm bath water and have a soak.
  • Boil water and add the essential oils, then inhale the steam.
  • Dilute the lavender essential oils with a carrier oil and apply a little to your temples and neck.

Many products, like lotions and soaps, include lavender essential oils. Also, Soothing Scents’ aromatic inhalers are expertly designed to provide relief on the go.

Peppermint Oil 


Peppermint essential oil comes from the leaves and flowers of the peppermint plant. It works well in the early stages of a headache or migraine. It also reduces the intensity during later stages. The menthol in peppermint has a cooling effect that helps relax muscles and ease pain. 

Some studies have supported the use of peppermint oil for treating acute migraine pain. It can lessen the effects and reduce related symptoms, including nausea.

How To Use Peppermint Oil for Headaches

One of the best ways to use peppermint essential oil is to dilute it in a carrier oil, like coconut oil. Then, apply it to your temples and behind your ears. This method works well for tension headaches and stress.

Some people like to add a few drops to hot water, cover their heads with a towel, and inhale the steam for a few minutes. If you suffer from sinus pain and pressure, this method can offer some relief.

Rosemary Oil 


Rosemary oil comes from an herb, Rosmarinus Officinalis, which is part of the mint family. Thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties, rosemary oil can improve blood flow to reduce headache pain. Rosemary oil also reduces stress and can help manage pain. 

Historically, rosemary oil served as a pain reliever and stress reducer. Additionally, at least one study demonstrated the benefits of using rosemary essential oil with other medications to reduce insomnia and pain.

How To Use Rosemary Oil for Headaches

Use diluted rosemary essential oil topically to relieve tension headaches. Alternatively, it works well in an oil diffuser or steam bath.

Eucalyptus Oil


Do your headaches stem from congestion and sinus problems? Eucalyptus oil works wonders on the sinuses by opening your nasal passages and relieving sinus pressure that triggers headaches. 

For an extra boost, blend eucalyptus oil with peppermint oil to further reduce tension and inflammation. The scents pair well and help you relax faster.

Eucalyptus plants were originally native to Australia. Now, they exist around the world because of their medicinal uses. Creating the oil involves an extensive process of drying, crushing, and distilling the leaves.

How To Use Eucalyptus Oil for Headaches

Eucalyptus oil works well in a misting oil diffuser or steam bath. Additionally, you can blend some eucalyptus oil into a carrier oil and rub it into your chest. 

Chamomile Oil 


Chamomile tea is a staple for relaxation so it makes sense that the essential oil would help to ease headaches. Since chamomile calms and soothes, it works well for insomnia, stress, anxiety, and depression. 

You can find two strains of chamomile with similar but slightly different properties. German chamomile has more chamazulene (the active ingredient in chamomile) than Roman chamomile.

If you are pregnant, you should not use chamomile. There is a potential link to preterm births and low birth weight.

How To Use Chamomile Essential Oil for Headaches

Do not ingest chamomile essential oil. Instead, use a diluted essential oil on your skin or add some to your bath or an oil diffuser.

Geranium Oil 

Geranium essential oil

Some women experience hormone-related “period headaches” every month. Menopause can also lead to similar issues with headaches and migraines.  

Research suggests that geranium essential oil could support women dealing with hormonal issues caused by PMS or menopause. Since headaches remain tied to hormonal shifts, geranium essential oil could offer relief.

Geranium oil comes from the plant Pelargonium graveolens. To make geranium oil, manufacturers use a steam distillation method to pull oil from the leaves. 

How To Use Geranium Oil for Headaches

Geraniums are popular flowers that often lend their scent to perfumes. The essential oil, however, should only be applied to the skin if diluted. It can also be used in a steam bath or misting oil diffuser if you prefer.

Tip: Geranium and lavender compliment each other. Use a few drops of each in a diffuser to create a soothing blend.

Frankincense Oil 


Frankincense oil has long served as a disinfectant and a home remedy for inflammation and digestive issues. For headaches, it works wonders in treating cluster headaches.

Due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, some researchers studied the effects on cluster headaches and insomnia with some success. Of note, frankincense has the most impact when used at the onset of a headache.

How To Use Frankincense Essential Oil for Headaches

Frankincense oil works best when inhaled through a steam bath or oil diffuser. However, you can mix it in a carrier oil and apply it to your temples and forehead. 

Ginger Oil 


Many people use some form of ginger to soothe an upset stomach and combat nausea. You should not ingest ginger or any essential oil. However, when used for aromatherapy, it is highly effective in relieving migraines.

Commonly used as a spice, the essential oil comes from the ginger plant’s stem, a part known as the rhizome. It takes an experienced distiller to extract the oil from a ginger rhizome properly. 

How To Use Ginger Oil For Headaches

Ginger essential oil comes from pieces of distilled ginger. It’s highly concentrated, but you can use ginger oil like other essential oils.

How To Use Essential Oils For Headaches 

bamboo essential oil diffuser

When you have a splitting headache, there’s probably not much you wouldn’t try to gain some relief. Using aromatherapy can relieve at least some of your pain within minutes. There are several convenient methods to use.

Topical Application 

Before applying essential oils to your skin, it’s critical to dilute them. Some products, like a rollerball or lotion, arrive pre-blended and ready to use. You will need to dilute pure essential oils yourself, though.  

Generally, people dilute essential oils for topical applications by blending a few drops with a carrier oil. Common carrier oils include coconut oil, olive oil, and avocado oil. It’s best to choose a carrier oil that doesn’t have a strong odor.

Where to Apply

When using essential oils to relieve headaches, it’s best to apply it directly to the temples and gently massage it into your skin. You could also massage some behind your ears, on your neck, or at the base of your skull. For sinus-related headaches, rubbing them into your chest is helpful.

What To Do If You Have a Skin Reaction

Some people may experience skin irritation or tenderness when trying a new oil or blend. You may want to test new products on your forearm and monitor it for a reaction before using them on your face.

Diffusing Essential Oils

Topical application isn’t the only way to use essential oils. You could try diffusing them, which means converting them into steam or mist. 

If you have an oil diffuser, simply combine a few drops of essential oil with water in the basin. Turn the diffuser on and enjoy the scented mist. 

There are other ways to use essential oils for aromatherapy.  Heat water in a pot or draw a hot bath for yourself, then add the essential oils and relax. 

Alternatively, many aromatherapy products on the market are easy to use and convenient. We offer scent blends that you can take on the go which combine several helpful oils in one!

Don’t Use Fragrance Oils For Headaches & Migraines 

Be careful not to mistake pure essential oils for fragrance oils. Essential oils are carefully steam-distilled from plants. Fragrance oils usually contain artificial ingredients that mimic scents. Pure essential oils are more effective for aromatherapy.

Closing Thoughts

Living with chronic headaches or migraines can be miserable, but essential oils may provide some relief. They are a safe option for people seeking relief that won’t interact with other medications. 

Soothing Scents has products designed to target and relieve specific ailments. Hospitals and medical providers across the United States utilize our products every day. Explore our site to learn more!

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