There’s nothing like a headache to ruin your plans. Whether it’s a migraine, tension headache, sinus headache or stress headache, that terrible pain makes it nearly impossible to focus and execute basic tasks.
For most people, reaching for the bottle of pain pills is the first thing that happens when that familiar pain arises. However, many find that over-the-counter pain pills don’t work. Plus, countless studies are proving that we should exercise more caution when it comes to treating pain with anti-inflammatory pills. These medications have been linked to heart disease, liver failure and kidney dysfunction (source).
So, what’s the best way to treat a headache without putting yourself at the risk of serious side effects? We’re glad you asked!
Essential Oils for Headache Relief
For literally thousands of years, people have been using essential oils to treat many different health conditions. One of the most popular uses for essential oils is the treatment of headache pain. To this day, millions of people around the world use essential oils to eliminate headaches quickly, safely and effectively.
Essential oils treat pain in a variety of ways. For one thing, there is a variety of essential oils that are renowned for their anti-inflammatory properties. These oils can be applied topically to the skin. This allows their healing chemical compounds to enter the bloodstream through the skin’s pores, providing fast pain relief.
Essential oils also have the ability to eliminate stress. It’s a well-known fact that stress wreaks havoc on the body. Often, excessive stress results in chronic headaches (source).
Clearly, essential oils can treat headaches by tackling a variety of causes at once. In this article, you’ll discover which essential oils are best for treating headache pain. Plus, you’ll learn the best ways to apply them for complete pain relief.
Lavender Essential Oil
Of all of the essential oils commonly used to treat headaches, lavender is way up there. This oil boasts incredible anti-inflammatory abilities that make it an effective topical pain reliever. Plus, the oil is renowned for its amazing ability to combat emotional distress like anxiety, stress and depression, three conditions known for causing chronic headaches.
Lavender essential oil’s anti-inflammatory abilities are well-documented. One study proved that its pain-relieving abilities can help insomnia sufferers by reducing any pain that is preventing sleep. Simply applying the oil directly to the skin will allow its healing properties to permeate the muscles by absorbing through skin tissue. Once the oil is in the muscles, it will quickly reduce the swelling and tenderness that causes pain (source).
Lavender essential oil also has antispasmodic properties. In other words, when applied topically, lavender oil will eliminate tension in the muscular tissue. It allows the blood vessels to open up and prevents painful muscular spasms (source).
Additionally, lavender essential oil is extremely popular as an anxiety reliever. The oil has been studied extensively for its ability to eliminate stress and anxiety when inhaled (source). Many people use an oil diffuser in their home to fill their surroundings with the calming scent of lavender. The oil’s ability to combat stress is so powerful that it’s regularly used as a sleep aid for those who can’t sleep because their brain can’t relax. Because stress is often the cause of headaches, the inhalation of lavender oil can be used to both treat and prevent headache pain (source).
Peppermint Essential Oil
Like lavender essential oil, peppermint essential oil boasts powerful anti-inflammatory abilities in addition to other healing benefits that can eliminate headache pain. The secret to peppermint oil’s pain-relieving abilities has everything to do with menthol, the oil’s leading chemical compound.
Menthol is well-known for its anti-inflammatory properties. When applied to the affected area, menthol will absorb into the muscles through the skin quickly thanks to its unique composition. This gives you the ability to treat headaches quickly. Once the oil has entered the muscular tissue, it will reduce the pain that is causing the headache.
One study tested peppermint oil’s anti-inflammatory abilities by applying the oil to the affected areas of headache sufferers. Needless to say, the oil quickly eliminated headache pain (source).
Peppermint essential oil can also treat sinus headaches. These common headaches are caused by clogged sinus passages. Common causes for sinus headaches include colds and allergies. When the sinuses are inflamed, they become extremely swollen, causing tension in the muscles of the head.
Peppermint oil treats sinus headaches when inhaled by thinning out any mucus that is inflaming the sinus passages. Additionally, menthol is known to soothe irritation along the sinus passages. For this reason, most over-the-counter decongestant remedies contain high levels of menthol (source).
Eucalyptus Essential Oil
In many ways, eucalyptus essential oil is peppermint essential oil’s cousin. Although eucalyptus oil doesn’t contain menthol, it boasts many similar health benefits as well as a similar minty aroma. Eucalyptus oil is also commonly used as a headache treatment, mostly thanks to its powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
Eucalyptus essential oil contains two chemical compounds called linalool and eucalyptol that are both renowned for their potent anti-inflammatory abilities. These two chemical compounds work together to eliminate inflammation fast. When applied to the affected area topically, this oil gets to work quickly, making its way through the layers of the skin to permeate the muscular tissue.
Many studies have demonstrated eucalyptus oil’s pain-relieving abilities. In one study, the oil was inhaled by rats in an effort to determine the effectiveness of its anti-inflammatory properties in treating pain. The result concluded that eucalyptus essential oil can dramatically reduce pain (source).
Eucalyptus essential oil is also known for its decongestant properties. When inhaled, it loosens up mucus that is clogging the sinus passages and causing inflammation. As a result, sinus headaches caused by congestion go away in no time (source).
Frankincense Essential Oil
Although frankincense essential oil may not be a household product like lavender oil and peppermint oil, it’s just as effective and fast-acting when it comes to treating headaches.
Frankincense essential oil’s unique chemical composition gives it serious anti-inflammatory properties (source). In fact, many studies have tested this oil’s pain-relieving abilities. One study demonstrated the oil’s ability to act like a steroid thanks to its chemical composition (source). Another study proved that frankincense essential oil can treat pain just as effectively as over-the-counter pain medications (source).
When frankincense oil is applied directly to the affected area, it quickly gets into the muscular tissue through the pores of the skin. It then relieves pain by reducing swelling and tenderness associated with inflammation.
Frankincense essential oil is also a powerful decongestant that can treat sinus headaches. Inhaling this oil will open up the sinus passages and soothe inflammation caused by an overabundance of mucus within the sinuses (source).
Frankincense essential oil is also used to relieve stress. Studies show that this oil can slow down the nervous system, alleviating stress and anxiety quickly. Because stress is a common cause of headaches, this oil can eliminate the underlying cause of your chronic pain (source).
Clove Essential Oil
Clove essential oil is yet another amazing product that tackles headaches in a variety of ways. Like the essential oils listed above, this oil is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Clove essential oil contains a chemical compound called eugenol. This compound can treat inflammation quickly and effectively. In fact, one study tested clove oil’s pain-relieving abilities on rats in order to prove just how potent this product is (source).
Eugenol also has analgesic properties. In other words, it can disrupt the pain receptors in your brain, allowing you to cease feeling pain. The oil has a numbing, tingling and cooling effect when applied directly to the affected area (source).
Clove essential oil is also known for its stress-relieving properties. Linalool, a leading chemical compound in clove essential oil, relieves stress quickly when inhaled by slowing down the nervous system and uplifting the mood (source).
Sandalwood Essential Oil
Yet another essential oil with profound anti-inflammatory properties is sandalwood essential oil. The oil’s potent pain-relieving abilities are well-researched. One study tested the oil’s anti-inflammatory abilities on rats. The study concluded that the oil can quickly alleviate pain caused by inflammation (source).
Sandalwood oil relieves headache pain by entering the muscular tissue through the layers of the skin. Once the oil has been fully absorbed, it opens up the blood vessels to stimulate circulation to the area. This process quickly reduces tenderness and swelling, bringing pain relief quickly.
Another study demonstrated the powerful anti-inflammatory properties of sandalwood essential oil by testing it on psoriasis patients. Psoriasis is a skin condition caused by severe inflammation. When applied to the skin, sandalwood essential oil quickly alleviated the inflammation causing the condition (source).
Rosemary Essential Oil
Rosemary essential oil is unique in that it has high levels of both anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. In other words, this oil can simultaneously reduce the inflammation that is causing the pain while blocking the brain’s ability to receive pain. Needless to say, this product is a must-have for headache sufferers.
One study tested the oil’s analgesic properties by using it alongside codeine to treat pain in mice. The study concluded that rosemary oil’s incredible analgesic properties can effectively treat pain (source).
Another study tested rosemary oil’s ability to treat pain with its anti-inflammatory properties. According to the study, the oil can quickly reduce inflammation when applied topically to the affected area (source).
Cedarwood Essential Oil
Cedarwood essential oil can treat a variety of types of headaches thanks to its incredible list of pain-relieving properties. The oil has anti-inflammatory, analgesic, expectorant and sedative properties. In other words, it will simultaneously reduce inflammation, prevent the brain from receiving pain signals, break up congestion in the sinus passages and alleviate stress and anxiety.
One study tested the oil’s anti-inflammatory properties by applying it to rats. The study showed that this oil can effectively reduce pain when applied to the skin (source).
The same study also concluded that the oil has powerful analgesic properties. Analgesics treat pain by disrupting the pain receptors that travel through the nervous system to the brain. In other words, by applying the oil to the skin, you’ll be stopping the brain from knowing that the body is in pain.
Tension headaches are often caused by stress and anxiety. When we experience these feelings, we unconsciously tense the muscles in our jaw, neck and shoulders. As a result, a headache develops. Fortunately, cedarwood essential oil acts as a sedative, slowing down the nervous system and reducing negative thoughts (source).
Lastly, cedarwood oil acts as an expectorant. In other words, it loosens up mucus that clogs and irritates the sinuses. When the sinuses are inflamed with excessive mucus, a headache often occurs. By inhaling cedarwood essential oil, you can experience relief from clogged sinuses and sinus headaches.
Lemongrass Essential Oil
Lemongrass essential oil combats headaches by eliminating stress and permeating the muscles with its powerful anti-inflammatory properties. One study tested the oil’s anti-inflammatory properties on mice. The study determined that the oil is a potent pain-reliever that can eliminate inflammation. By applying the oil directly to the skin of the affected area, your headache will be history (source).
The oil is also used for its stress-relieving properties. It acts as a sedative, calming the mind while slowing down the nervous system. If you’re experiencing a tension headache caused by stress, you can simply inhale lemongrass essential oil and feel your headache dissipate (source).
Clary Sage Essential Oil
If you find that you tend to get headaches around the time of your period, you may suffer from a hormonal imbalance. While mild discomfort right before or during your period is normal, intense pain is not.
Fortunately, clary sage oil can treat the underlying hormonal issues causing your menstrual headaches. The oil has been used for centuries to treat irregular and painful periods. For one thing, the oil’s anti-inflammatory properties relieve pain when applied topically to the affected area (source).
More interestingly, clary sage oil can actually balance out the hormones, resulting in easier periods. When inhaled, the oil mimics the effects of estrogen, a female sex hormone that can become depleted during one’s period, resulting in pain and irregularity (source).
Essential Oils Remedy For Headache Infographic
There’s nothing like a headache to destroy your entire day. Fortunately, there is a variety of essential oils that can quickly eliminate your headache without any side effects whatsoever.
Have you ever used essential oils to treat a headache? Share your experience with us in the comments below!