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5 Essential Oils for Headaches and Migraines

Head throbbing, mind splitting, nauseating. We’ve all been there when we have a crippling headache. In fact, almost three-quarters of North Americans suffer from tension headaches, making it a real pain for many people. 

Over-the-counter medication can help alleviate tension headaches and migraines, but if you’re looking for a more natural approach you can consider aromatherapy. Aromatherapy is a technique using the essential oils from plants to manage pain and discomfort that’s been practiced for centuries. 

In addition to managing pain, essential oils can also be used to alleviate stress and anxiety, and can even be an effective sleep aid. 

If you suffer from migraines, sometimes scents can trigger an even worse pain, so using essential oils to manage headaches isn’t for everyone. We recommend consulting your MD before incorporating aromatherapy into your wellness routine, especially if you have sensitive skin. 

Essential Oils for Headaches and Migraines 

Peppermint Essential Oil 

Peppermint essential oils come from spearmint and water mint plants and have been used for centuries to treat headaches and muscle pain. 

“Peppermint has menthol in it, and menthol has long been used to soothe pain, it numbs the pain by triggering the pain fibres,” says Yufand Lin, MD, an internal medicine doctor at the Center for Integrative Medicine. Triggering the pain fibres “supersedes the actual sensation of the headache pain,” she explains.

With that being said, peppermint essential oil is best for treating tension headaches, which typically stem from back or neck pain.  

Geranium Essential Oil

Many things cause headaches, like fluctuating hormone levels for example. If you suspect this may be the case, then geranium essential oil might just be your new best friend! Geranium essential oil is derived from the gorgeous geranium flower which is very popular here in California.



It is recommended to dilute the geranium oil with a carrier oil, like avocado oil or olive oil, and apply it to your abdominal and temple using a roller. You could also add a few drops to your bath for the ultimate relaxing experience. 


Ginger Essential Oil 

If you’re one of the 15% of people who experience migraines, you know that they have a tendency to eventually make you feel nauseous. This is when ginger essential oil comes in handy. 

It’s not a secret that ginger helps aid nausea and indigestion- the root has been used in plant medicine practices in Asia for centuries, and people all over the world still use it today. Although ginger is most commonly used in tea and food, you can use ginger root essential oil for a less invasive approach if you aren’t fond of the flavor. 

Ginger oil can be used as a massage oil to relieve joint and muscle pain as well, though there is no scientific evidence to support its effectiveness.

Rosemary Essential Oil 

Yes, rosemary is a delicious herb that goes great with potatoes! But did you know it also helps with stress headaches? 

 Rosemary has stimulating properties and has been used in fold medicine for hundreds of years to improve circulation and reduce stress, making it an effective aid for headache relief. Add a few drops of Rosemary oil to your essential oil diffuser, put a warm cloth over your eyes, and try to relax without any tension or negative thoughts. As long as the rosemary oil is high grade andUSDA-certified organic you can add a couple of drops to your tea or water as well. 


Lavender Essential Oil 

As a natural anti-inflammatory, lavender oil is most commonly known for its calming properties and is often used before bed to promote sleep.  So if your headaches are caused by stress and anxiety, lavender essential oil may be your answer for some quick relief before you go to sleep.

Although there isn’t an overwhelming amount of evidence to support aromatherapy for headaches, lavender is the exception. A clinical trial in 2012 showed that 71% of patients’ migraine attacks were resolved or partially resolved by inhaling lavender. 

So the next time you feel a headache creeping on, lavender essential oil may be your best weapon to combat the pain. Mix it with a carrier oil in a roller, and apply it to your neck and temple for soothing relief. 


How to Choose the Best Essential Oils 

  • Organic oils are typically better than nonorganic; make sure the product has a USDA-certified organic label.
  • Read the label. It should include the country of origin, where the plant came from, the Latin name, as well as how the oil was extracted. Safety data should be included as well.
  • The oil should be sold in a dark blue or amber bottle because the darkness protects the aromatic and therapeutic properties of the oil.
  • Shop at a local business you trust.

 Zinnia's Gift Boutique in Scotts Valley, California carries a curated assortment of USDA-certified organic essential oils. Choose from a wide variety of aromas to suit your wellness regimen. Whether you're looking to manage a headache or migraine, or desiring a more relaxing self care technique, essential oils are a natural way to improve your wellness routine.