You can definitely use essential oils for headaches. I know I do. With a few whiffs of lavender, my headaches usually ease up or sometimes disappear altogether. And I’m sure you’ve had similar experiences too. But which essential oils are good for headaches? There’s got to be a best essential oils for headaches list somewhere.
Well, I’ve got you covered with the list but before we check it out, let’s look into headaches and what cause them in the first place.
Headaches: Types & Causes
There are so many types of headaches. There are primary headaches like tension headaches, migraines and cluster headaches. There are also secondary headaches which are usually associated with more serious medical problems like influenza, sinusitis and ear infections, to name a few. And there’s a third type of headache caused by nerve damage.
And those are just the types.
Then there are the causes of headaches. And this list is incredibly long. Simply worrying and stressing about something can get your head throbbing. Anxiety, nervousness, depression, lack of sleep, hunger, skipping meals, and even bad posture are also potential causes of headaches.
Of course, loud, sudden noises, glare, eyestrain, strong smells, alcohol, and over-exerting yourself can also add to the pain.
And the main causes of my own headaches are food sensitivities, certain medications and allergies. Yep! And the above list are just some of the many causes of the less serious tension headaches!
It’s clear there are MANY headache triggers. So how do we know when to see a doctor? Well if you experience headaches with other symptoms like fever, body pains, nausea, chills, or even confusion, then it’s time to get a professional involved. Also the degree and duration of pain is another indication to get your doc on the phone.
In the interim, if you think your headaches are stress- or anxiety-related (which is incredibly common), then reach for essential oils!
Now which essential oil is best for headaches? Let’s find out.
Best Essential Oils for Headaches
There isn’t a lot of clinical evidence that specifically proves which are the best essential oils for headaches. However, there are still a few studies that demonstrate the positive effects of lavender, peppermint and german chamomile essential oils for headaches.
Lavender Essential Oil
There’s a widely referenced clinical trial published in 2012 that looked at using lavender essential oil as a treatment for migraine headaches.
The trial involved 47 patients diagnosed with migraines. Some were asked to simply inhale lavender essential oil for 15 minutes while others were given a placebo (liquid paraffin) to inhale. All patients then reported the severity of their headaches every 30 minutes for two hours.
The results showed that 70% of the migraines experienced were eased partially or entirely in the lavender oil group. This compares to only a 40% reduction in the placebo group.
These findings are significant since they suggest that inhaling lavender essential oil may be an effective and safe way to manage migraine headaches.
So which essential oil is best for headaches? Quite possibly lavender!
Peppermint Essential Oil
There is also evidence that proves you can use peppermint oil for headaches and headache relief.
This 1994 study provides the proof.
The study involved applying pressure to the heads of 32 healthy guys in order to induce pain and headaches. Essential oil preparations including a 10% mix of peppermint oil and ethanol were applied to the forehead and temples of the guys using a small sponge. The effects were then evaluated and recorded.
The results showed that peppermint oil significantly reduced pain and the severity of the headaches. The researchers suggested that peppermint oil worked by cooling and relaxing the muscles in the forehead, temples and jaw.
So you see? You can definitely use peppermint oil for headaches.
You should know that the same study also showed peppermint essential oil helped the participants feel less anxious, irritated, annoyed and depressed. And you may recall, some of these are causes of headaches.
So peppermint oil works in two ways. It can reduce headache triggers as well as cool and ease the pain from headaches.
So does peppermint help with headaches? You bet!
German Chamomile Essential Oil
Unfortunately, there is no clinical study that shows you can use german chamomile essential oil for headaches. Instead, there’s a 2014 study that hypothesizes how a chamomile and sesame oil mix (used in traditional Persian medicine) could be an effective topical remedy for migraines and headaches.
You may have seen from our German Chamomile Essential Oil post that the oil contains chamazulene and bisabolol oxide.
And, from the post, it is clear that these compounds have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and pain relieving properties.
Well, this was the argument put forward by the 2014 study. The study especially pointed to the anti-inflammatory benefits of chamomile essential oil as the main mechanisms behind the potential effectiveness of chamomile for headaches and migraines.
So, what essential oils are good for headaches? Well, definitely lavender, peppermint and German chamomile essential oils!
If you experience frequent headaches and do not get fast relief from these essential oils then you should consider contacting your health care professional.
Remember headaches (like secondary headaches) are associated with more serious health problems. That’s why it’s so important to be proactive when it comes to your health.
Furthermore, while simply inhaling the essential oils will do the trick, you can apply an essential oil-carrier oil mix to your skin. But always use blends with a concentration of 5% or less to prevent skin irritation or possible skin damage.