Aromatherapy for Headaches — Tips for Using Essential Oil for Pain Relief

Aromatherapy for Headaches — Tips for Using Essential Oil for Pain Relief
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How Aromatherapy Can Help


Headaches are for some people a frequent problem and for others an occasional occurrence, but most people experience headache pain at some point. How can essential oils impact painful episodes and bring relief? While there are myriad causes of headaches, from a hangover to stress, tension headaches make up the majority of cases. Tension headaches are caused by anxiety, worry, depression, anger, and stress and tension in general. Poor posture and shallow breathing, which will reduce the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the brain, can also trigger this common type of headache pain.

Using aromatherapy for headaches is a way to bring natural relief by easing tension, stabilizing emotions, and improving blood circulation. This is actually an ideal remedy for headaches, which are often physical manifestations of psychological stress. Essential oils are well-suited for effecting the mind and mood, while also making subtle changes in the body.

Essential Oils for Headaches

The following essential oils all have a beneficial effect on headache pain:

  • Lavender has a very calming effect, lowering high blood pressure and relieving pain.
  • Ginger is very well known for relieving headaches. It stimulates blood flow and eases pain.
  • Rosemary is very good for stimulating circulation and it also has analgesic, or pain-relieving properties. It also has a mild antidepressant effect.
  • Peppermint has mild pain relieving properties, it stimulates blood flow and the brain, and has a calming effect on the nerves.
  • Lemongrass helps to clear headaches and mental exhaustion. It also improves circulation.
  • Neroli relives both headache and nerve pain. It improves circulation and relieves stress, depression, anxiety, and nervous tension.

These essential oils can be used on their own to relieve headache pain, or blended together. Excellent blends include lemongrass with lavender, neroli with ginger, and peppermint with rosemary.

Tips for Use

There are many effective ways to use aromatherapy for headaches. One of the most useful methods is to use either a cold or hot compress with the essential oils. Try soaking a clean cloth in cold water and add three drops of your choice of essential oils to the wet cloth. Lay over the painful area of your head for ten to fifteen minutes at a time. The cold compress will help by constricting blood vessels and easing


muscle spasms. A warm compress can also ease pain. Use the same method except use hot instead of cold water.

You can also rub essential oils diluted in a small amount of a carrier oil to the temples. Add two drops to one teaspoon of jojoba, olive, sweet almond, or apricot oil. While this is an effective method for use keep in mind that some of these essential oils tend to be irritating. Lemongrass, ginger, and rosemary can be irritating to sensitive skin.

While applying to the head with a compress or a carrier oil is ideal for treating headaches naturally, you can also benefit from simply inhaling the essential oils with a diffuser or by adding to bath water and soaking in a therapeutic bath. Follow the instructions for an essential oil diffuser. For a bath add eight drops of your essential oil or oils of choice to a cup of milk or water and add to the bath water right before getting in.

While aromatherapy is generally a safe natural therapy it is important to use caution if pregnant, if you have high blood pressure, or if you are susceptible to epileptic seizures or asthma attacks.


Balch, Phyllis A. “Prescription for Nutritional Healing.” Fourth Edition (Penguin Books, 2006).

Page, Linda. “Healthy Healing: A Guide to Self-Healing for Everyone.” Eleventh Edition (Traditional Wisdom, 2003).

photo by Audrey

photo by Wonderferret


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