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How to Use Essential Oils for Headaches

Using essential oils for headaches is a natural way to relieve tension and pain. Of course, check with your healthcare practitioner first to make sure your headaches aren't caused by a serious medical condition.

This article focuses on tension headaches. Also see Migraine Pain Relief.

Cartoon woman with red lightning rods pointing at her head and bubble saying

For a tension headache, most people can safely massage 2 drops of undiluted lavender essential oil on their temples, behind the ears, and across the back of the neck. Apply twice, if needed. If you are sensitive, dilute the essential oil using a carrier oil.

An alternative to lavender is Roman chamomile, which also soothes and relaxes. Dilute with a carrier oil.

Although many people swear by lavender for headaches, it never much worked for me. My personal experience is that rubbing a drop of peppermint essential oil into my palms and smelling it for a few minutes or rubbing it on the back of my neck usually does wonders for getting rid of a headache. Keep peppermint away from your eyes, as it will cause them to burn.

Blend: 3 drops lavender and 1 drop peppermint in one-half to one teaspoon carrier oil. Massage around neck and temples.

For sinus congestion headaches, eucalyptus and peppermint may help relieve congestion. Add 4 drops of each to a pot of steaming water and breathe in the vapors, being careful not to burn yourself.

For headaches during your menstrual period, marjoram may help.

This next suggestion works best if you use it at the first sign of a headache: Add 2 drops each of lavender, marjoram, and peppermint to a tissue. Sniff deeply three times. Or use the oils to make an aromatherapy inhaler that you can carry with you.

All-Purpose Headache Relief Oils

For the following blends, drop the essential oils for headaches and the carrier oil into a 1-ounce (30 ml) bottle. Cap, and then shake gently. At the first sign of a a headache, rub some of the blend onto your neck and shoulders. You can also massage a few drops into your scalp or sinus points. Be sure to avoid your eyes.

Oil #1:

  • 2 tablespoons jojoba oil
  • 10 drops frankincense essential oil
  • 6 drops rosemary essential oil
  • 1 drop patchouli essential oil

Source: Aromahead Newsletter

Oil #2:

  • 2 tablespoons carrier oil
  • 5 drops peppermint essential oil
  • 5 drops sweet marjoram essential oil
  • 5 drops eucalyptus essential oil
  • 2 drops lavender essential oil

Source: The Best Natural Cures Using Essential Oils

Essential Oil Blends For Headaches

You can use these three essential oil blends for headache relief or to help prevent headaches.

Make the blends using 2 teaspoons carrier oil. Massage a few drops onto your temples, forehead, neck, and shoulders.

Blend 1: Aromatherapy for headache caused by muscle tension

  • 5 drops peppermint essential oil
  • 4 drops lavender essential oil

Blend 2: Essential oils for headaches caused by negative emotions

  • 8 drops lavender essential oil
  • 3 drops Roman chamomile essential oil

Blend 3: Essential oil blend for headache caused by nervous tension

  • 5 drops marjoram essential oil
  • 3 drops neroli essential oil
  • 3 drops Roman chamomile essential oil

You can also use 15 drops of this blend in an aromatherapy bath.

Source: Healing With Aromatherapy

Computer Headache Relief

If computer eye strain makes your head hurt, use this blend:

  • 3 drops lavender essential oil
  • 3 drops peppermint essential oil
  • 3 drops geranium essential oil
  • 1 drop eucalyptus essential oil
  • 3 tablespoons unscented base cream or almond oil

Combine all ingredients and store in a small, dark glass jar with a lid.

Keep the jar by your computer. When you feel a headache coming on, massage a little of the mixture onto your temples and back of your neck.

Source: Massage & Aromatherapy: Simple Techniques to Use at Home

Bath Essential Oils For Headaches

For a bath to help relieve a tension headaches, add one of the following essential oil blends to your bath water:

  • 3 drops each of marjoram, Roman chamomile, and lavender
  • 1 teaspoon carrier oil 

or

  • 4 drops rosemary essential oil
  • 2 drops pine essential oil
  • 2 drops eucalyptus essential oil
  • 1 teaspoon carrier oil

Or use this foot bath and compress: 

  • 3 drops rosemary essential oil
  • 3 drops lemongrass essential oil
  • 5 drops lavender
  1. Mix the rosemary and lemongrass into a basin of hot water.
  2. Add the lavender to 1/2 cup of cold water.
  3. Soak your feet in the hot water for at least 10 minutes.
  4. At the same time, apply a compress that's been dipped in the cold lavender water to your forehead.

More Essential Oils For Headaches

If none of the above suggestions work for you, Aromatherapy: A Complete Guide to the Healing Art also suggests these essential oils for headaches:

  • Basil
  • Bay
  • Cinnamon
  • Clary Sage
  • Coriander
  • Geranium
  • Ginger
  • Melissa
  • Thyme
  • Ylang ylang

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