Nearly 50 percent of the world’s adult population suffer from chronic headache [1].

Also called cephalalgia, headache refers to pain in any part of the head, which may last for an hour to a few days [2, 3].

This pain can be sharp, dull, or throbbing, and may either start gradually or suddenly [3].

An headache can seriously hamper your productivity.

You need to seek medical attention to diagnose the reasons behind chronic headache.

Aromatherapy using essential oils is one of the natural methods for relieving headache and related symptoms [4].

Let’s find out which essential oils are safe and most effective for getting rid of headaches.


RELATED: Essential Oils for Migraines: 12 Effective Home Remedies

11 Essential Oils for Headaches Relief

1. Peppermint Oil

Peppermint oil is said to relieve headaches in several ways.

First, it provides a cooling effect on the skin by stimulating the cold receptor channels [5].

It then promotes blood flow in the forehead after topical application, preventing contractions in the smooth muscles [5].

The analgesic properties of peppermint oil make it a reliable treatment for headache and other types of pain [5].

As long as you use it properly, you can have peace of mind knowing that it won’t have any serious side effects on your health.

What You’ll Need:

  • 3 drops of peppermint oil
  • 1 tablespoon of almond oil

Recommended Directions:

  • Combine the peppermint oil and almond oil.
  • Use this mixture to gently massage your forehead.
  • Inhale deeply as you do.
  • Leave it on for several minutes.
  • Wipe dry with a clean towel.
  • Repeat as needed.

RELATED: 12 Uses and Health Benefits of Peppermint Oil

2. Eucalyptus Oil

Eucalyptus oil has almost the same minty aroma as peppermint.

It also has cooling effects on the skin when applied topically, which makes it highly useful for treating headaches.

In 1994, a team of German researchers probed the effects of eucalyptus oil on 32 healthy individuals [6]. An oil blend that included eucalyptus oil as one of the key ingredients was applied on the foreheads of the first group [6]. Three other groups were given other oil blends and a placebo [6].

The findings of this study which can be found in the Cephalalgia: An International Journal of Headache revealed that eucalyptus has a significant relaxing effect on the muscles and the senses, and at the same time improved cognitive functioning [6].

In a more recent study done in 2000 and featured in the Phyto-research Journal, these results were echoes, reporting that eucalyptol in eucalyptus oil had potent analgesic and antinociceptive properties that can successfully block pain signals [7].

All these are enough proof that this oil can be a reliable solution whenever your head starts to throb.

What You’ll Need:

  • 3 drops of eucalyptus oil
  • Cotton towel

Recommended Directions:

  • Put eucalyptus oil on the towel.
  • Smell the towel.
  • Put the towel on your forehead.
  • Press it gently on the temples.
  • Do this for a few minutes.
  • Repeat until headache subsides.

3. Basil Oil

For many years, basil oil has been widely recognized for its countless therapeutic purposes, one of which is its analgesic properties [8].

It’s no wonder many people turn to basil oil whenever they start to feel pain in any part of their bodies.

You must know that it works just as effectively for headaches, whether acute or chronic.

In a clinical trial that probed the efficacy of aromatherapy in relieving headaches, basil oil was one of the substances used [9].

To test its efficacy, Korean scientist divided 40 participants into two groups, 19 of which were made to inhale the aromatherapy blend three times a day for five days, and topically apply it on the neck and shoulders once a day [9].

Outcome shows that this blend is highly effective in relieving headache, anxiety and stress among the participants who used it through inhalation and topical application [9].

There were no adverse effects that have been reported after the study, which indicates that basil oil is not only effective but also safe.

Essential Oils for Headaches

What You’ll Need:

  • 5 to 8 drops of basil oil
  • 1 pot of water
  • 6 drops of basil oil
  • 1 teaspoon of olive oil

Recommended Directions:

  • Boil water in a pot.
  • Turn off heat.
  • Add five to eight drops of basil oil.
  • Transfer pot to a table.
  • Lean over the pot and inhale the steam.
  • Do this three to five times a day for at least five days.
  • Combine six drops of basil oil and one teaspoon of olive oil.
  • Apply a few drops of the oil mixture on the head, neck and shoulders once a day for five days or until headache is gone.

4. Lavender Oil

Lavender oil has been described many times as one of the most versatile essential oils.

It has been scientifically proven to have various benefits for the health.

Even before it was researched on by scientists, it has already been used by folk healers as a sedative, analgesic, anxiolytic and spasmolytic [10].

If you want to get rid of headache, try using lavender oil.

Several studies also show that it’s a promising treatment for headaches [10, 11, 12].

Lavender oil has been proven effective in reducing pain as well as the anxiety that might be causing the headache [10, 11, 12].

In one of these studies, 47 patients with migraine were made to inhale either lavender oil or paraffin for 15 minutes [10].

After the treatment period was over, 92 of the 129 headache attacks responded partially or completely to lavender oil [10].

In another study dated 2006, Korean researchers examined the effects of lavender aroma and other oils on 24 nursing students [12].

Those who used lavender oil had significantly lower levels of stress, depression and anxiety compared to those who inhaled other oils [12].


What You’ll Need:

  • 3 drops of lavender oil
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil

Recommended Directions:

  • Blend oils in a glass jar.
  • Pour a few drops on your fingers.
  • Use these to massage your temples gently for a few minutes.
  • Repeat several times a day.

RELATED: 11 Health Benefits of Lavender Oil That You Should Know

5. Rosemary Oil

Rosemary oil comes in a close second to lavender oil when it comes to soothing and relaxation effects.

It’s easy to fall in love with its sweet and enticing aroma that can immediately calm your racing mind.

In folk medicine, this oil was used to treat asthma, ulcer, heart disease, cataract and many other ailments [13].

Today, it remains a go-to solution for many minor health conditions including headaches.

Rosemary oil helps relieve headache by toning down inflammation, and at the same time, blocking pain signals in the brain with its antinociceptive effects [14].

Moreover, it helps get rid of headache pain by toning down stress and anxiety levels.

What You’ll Need:

Recommended Directions:

  • Add rosemary oil to cloth.
  • Inhale the cloth.
  • You may also press this gently on your forehead for a few minutes.
  • Repeat remedy until headache is gone.

Essential Oils for Headaches

6. Rose Oil

Rose oil doesn’t only smell nice, it can also help get rid of that stubborn headache you constantly complain about.

It is one of the essential oils used in a study that investigated the effectiveness of aromatherapy in reducing pain, stress and anxiety [9].

After participants applied this oil on their neck and shoulders, and inhaled it for five days, the team of scientists yielded positive results [9].

They confirmed rose oil’s ability to tone down headaches and other pains [9].

So far, no adverse reactions have been reported by people who use this oil as remedy for headache and other ailments.

What You’ll Need:

  • 3 drops of rose oil
  • 1 tablespoon of jojoba oil

Recommended Directions:

  • Add rose oil to jojoba oil.
  • Put in a glass jar.
  • Shake to blend.
  • Pour a few drops on your forehead and massage it gently.
  • Repeat as needed to get rid of headaches naturally.

7. Chamomile Oil

An ancient medicinal herb, chamomile has long been used in cosmetics and aromatherapy [15].

One of its main purposes is to calm and soothe the senses, which is why many people who are stressed out turn to this essential oil.

In 2014, researchers published a study that explored chamomile oil’s analgesic effects on migraine [16].

There are several ways by which chamomile works.

First, its apigenin and chamazulene inhibit the iNOS expression which in turn prohibits the production and release of pain-causing nitric oxide [16].

Second, its polyphenols tone down inflammation in the neurovascular units that can be found in the site of the migraine [16].

Third, it has “neuroprotective effects” that help in alleviating pain and discomfort [16].

What You’ll Need:

  • Boiled water
  • Basin
  • 5 drops of chamomile oil

Recommended Directions:

  • Put boiled water in a basin.
  • Add chamomile oil.
  • Inhale the steam.
  • Repeat three to four times a day.

8. Lemon Balm Oil

Lemon balm oil is much loved for its refreshing lemony aroma that seems to have an invigorating effect on the system.

It’s interesting to know that the first use of this oil as a medicinal remedy dates back to 2,000 years ago [17].

During that time, ancient Greek and Roman herbalists used it to treat insect bites and uterine pain [17].

At present, many still rely on it as remedy for a wide range of ailments including body pains [17, 18].

Brazilian researchers conducted a study in 2009 and found that lemon balm suppresses both neurogenic and inflammatory pain, as well as acts as a sedative and muscle relaxant [19].

What You’ll Need:

  • 5 drops of lemon balm oil
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil

Recommended Directions:

  • Mix the two oils.
  • Put the combination in a clear glass jar.
  • Pour a few drops on your fingers.
  • Massage your head with the oil.
  • Repeat until pain goes away.

9. Marjoram Oil

According to WebMD, marjoram oil is used for treating various ailments like digestive problems, stomach pain, cough, dizziness, nerve pain and runny nose.

It is also commonly used for nervous headaches.

Marjoram’s soothing properties make it a quick and instant relief from pain, whether acute or chronic.

What You’ll Need:

  • 4 drops of marjoram oil
  • A bowl of hot water

Recommended Directions:

  • Pour marjoram oil into hot water.
  • Move your face close to the bowl.
  • Take in the steam.
  • Do this several times a day to relieve headaches.

10. Frankincense Oil

 Many studies have proven frankincense oil to be an efficient home remedy for headache [20, 21, 22].

Frankincense has potent analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties [20, 21, 22].

Most of these studies made use of animal subjects, employing writhing tests and paw edema tests.

There is enough scientific data to support the use of frankincense oil for pain relief in traditional medicine.


What You’ll Need:

  • 4 drops of frankincense oil
  • 1 cotton ball

Recommended Directions:

  • Pour oil on cotton ball.
  • Press cotton ball on your temples.
  • Smell the cotton ball afterwards for a few minutes.
  • Repeat twice a day.

RELATED: 12 Health Benefits of Frankincense Oil + How to Use It

11. Ginger Oil

Many know ginger as a pungent spice that adds depth and richness to Asian dishes.

However, its place is not confined in the kitchen.

Its essential oil, for example, has been verified to have plenty valuable uses for the health.

For those who are constantly in pain because of headache or migraine, they can make use of this oil to feel better.

Its ability to curb pain has been mentioned in many studies [23, 24].

It has long been used to treat many different kinds of pain, and these include headaches.

If you can no longer tolerate the pain, try using ginger essential oil for headaches.

What You’ll Need:

Recommended Directions:

  • Add ginger oil to olive oil.
  • Pour a few drops on a cotton ball.
  • Apply oil mixture on the temples.
  • Press the cotton gently on your forehead.
  • Do this for three to five minutes.
  • Follow this remedy twice a day.

When to See a Doctor

Generally headache isn’t a life threatening condition. However, you should be concerned if you experience headache after a head trauma. Besides consult a doctor if you experience the following symptoms along with headache:

  • High fever
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • A throbbing or pulsating pain
  • Extreme sensitivity to light
  • Extreme sensitivity to sound
  • Nausea
  • Pain on one side of the head
  • Vision changes or blurry vision
  • Aura
  • Sensitivity to smell
  • A stiff neck
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness

Bottom Line

A headache is usually not a cause for alarm unless it indicates an underlying medical condition.

However, if you want to get quick relief from the pain and discomfort that it brings, make use of the essential oils for headaches such as the ones mentioned here.

See to it that you follow the instructions to the dot so as not to experience any adverse side effects such as skin irritation.

Remember, essential oils are too strong and potent to be used in their pure form.

READ NEXT: 10 Home Remedies for Sinus Headaches & How to Use Them

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