Essential Oils For Migraines

Essential Oils For Migraines

Migraine headaches can be extremely painful and those who suffer from the condition – known as migraineurs – often struggle to manage the condition and find relief from pain. Although pain is a cardinal symptom, migraine headaches are a neurological disorder that can mimic symptoms of a stroke.

There is also a vascular component which can cause swelling and/or narrowing of the blood vessels in the brain. Migraines can be triggered by sensory stimuli such as bright sunlight and certain scents. Food intolerance and allergies can also contribute to the condition. Essential oils were one of the earliest known remedies for migraines.

While there is research to support the use of some essential oils, in many cases, traditional use based on centuries of clinical experience has identified the best essential oils for migraines.

Among the essential oils that may be effective are lavender, ginger, rosemary, peppermint and chamomile. These are distilled from the bark, roots, leaves, stems or flowers of a plant. They may be inhaled, rubbed on the skin or – rarely – taken in a tea or tonic.


Essential Oils For Migraines

Lavandula Angustifolia Cherished for over centuries, lavender essential oil is renowned for its unmistakable aroma as well as myriad benefits. With topical, internal and aromatic applications, the oil definitely has a lot to bring on the table. Applications: Aromatic, Topical, Internal  
Mentha piperita Peppermint is one of the world’s oldest medicinal herbs, and we are learning more every day about all of the amazing things that this oil can do!* Applications: Aromatic, Topical, Internal
Zingiber officinale Long known for its ability to soothe and aid digestion when taken internally, it also has potent properties when diffused or used topically. Applications: Aromatic, Topical, Internal  
Rosmarinus Officinalis Being amongst the most aromatic essential oils on the market, Rosemary is a constant participant in almost all sorts of aromatherapy sessions. It also brings a lot of other benefits. Applications: Aromatic, Topical, Internal
Roman Chamomile Essential Oil - 100% Pure Essential Oil, Best Therapeutic Grade - 10ml
Chamomile Essential Oil
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1. Lavender Essential Oil

Lavender Essential OilLavender (Lavandula angustifolia) includes a number of different species. The essential oil, called lavandin oil, is most often obtained from the flowers of a species known as Lavandula hybrida, a cross between Lavandula angustifolia and Lavandula latifolia. The essential oil seems to have sedative effects and might also help to relax muscles.

Antibacterial and anti-fungal effects have also been identified. It is typically used in the treatment of migraines, as well as anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, pain and depression. In one study, researchers reported those migraineurs treated with lavender essential oil by inhalation had significantly less pain 15 minutes afterward.(1,2)


How to Use

The two primary methods to use lavender essential oil are to apply it to the skin or to inhale it. 


Skin – To apply to the skin, dilute the essential oil in a carrier oil. Olive oil, coconut oil and jojoba oil are often used as a carrier oil. Add five to 12 drops of lavender essential oil to one ounce (30 milliliters) of the carrier oil. Mix well and remix by shaking well prior to each use. Always perform a sensitivity test before using for the first time; apply a few drops of the mixture to the skin, rub in well and wait 24 hours to see if symptoms appear. To treat a migraine, apply up to three drops on the upper lip or temples.

Inhalation – You can simply inhale the essential oil directly from the bottle (hold the bottle several inches away and inhale only once). Lavender essential oil can be added to a diffuser (follow manufacturer’s instructions). You can add one to three drops to a tub of warm water and bathe in it. Finally, mix up to 10 drops in an eight-ounce spray bottle containing six ounces of distilled water. Shake well before using and spray on linens, clothing or as an air freshener.

Other Relevant Information

One of the common effects of an acute migraine is to increase sensitivity to scents. Use lavender cautiously the first time and pay careful attention to its effects. The skin test is also very important, as direct application of lavender can cause dermatitis.


2. Peppermint Essential Oil

Peppermint Essential OilUsed in the treatment of several kinds of headaches in addition to migraines, peppermint oil is obtained from leaves and stems of Mentha piperita and Mentha haplocalyx by steam distillation.(3)

The high temperatures and pressures generated by the steam treatment cause oil to evaporate from the plant. This is collected from the vapor as it cools and condenses. Peppermint oil’s primary constituent is menthol, which gives it the characteristic scent.

How to Use

Peppermint oil is typically inhaled or applied to the skin. 


Skin – Always dilute peppermint essential oil in a carrier oil such as olive oil, jojoba oil or coconut oil. Five to 10 drops of peppermint oil in one ounce (30 milliliters) of a carrier oil is the usual formulation. Mix well and always shake well prior to use. Before using peppermint oil on the skin, perform a sensitivity test. Apply a few drops of the mixture to the skin and wait 24 hours. If you have any irritation or itching, don’t use peppermint essential oil on your skin. For migraines, massage one to three drops on the upper lip or temples.

Inhalation – hold the bottle several inches from your nose and inhale slowly, one time. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to add it to a diffuser. You can also add one to three drops to a warm bath or to a bowl of hot water and inhale. An air-borne spray can be made from adding up to 10 drops to six ounces of distilled water.


Other Relevant Information

Peppermint essential oil can make migraines worse if you are sensitive to scents. Always pay close attention to symptoms. Don’t apply undiluted essential oils to the skin and always perform a sensitivity test. If nausea accompanies your migraines, you may find peppermint oil is helpful for this symptom.


3. Ginger Essential Oil

Ginger Essential OilGinger is well-known as being helpful for nausea and digestive upsets. If nausea and vomiting are the first sign of your migraine or if they accompany your attacks, you may find this oil helpful.

An herbaceous flowering perennial, Zingiber officinale is native to Asia, but can be grown in many other parts of the world. Distilled from the root, ginger essential oil is known to have anti-inflammatory effects, which may make it helpful in treating migraines.


How to Use

Ginger essential oil is one of the few essential oils that can be taken internally. It is also used topically and as an inhalant. 


Internally – You can make a tea by adding one to three drops of ginger essential oil to a cup of boiling water; allow to cool slightly before drinking. 

Skin – As with any essential oil, add up to 10 drops of ginger essential oil to a carrier oil; try olive oil, almond oil, coconut oil or jojoba oil. Mix well and always shake prior to use. Apply up to three drops to the inner wrists or the diaphragm area.

Inhaled – Add ginger essential oil to a diffuser following the manufacturer’s directions, mix up to three drops in a bowl of hot water and inhale the steam, or mix up to 10 drops into 30 milliliters of distilled water to use as a room spray

Other Relevant Information

Ginger can be irritating to the skin and stomach. Always perform a skin test prior to use. Use the smallest dose possible, especially when you first try ginger for migraines.


4. Rosemary Essential Oil

Rosemary Essential OilRosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) is a shrubby perennial found in many gardens, where it is valued for its drought resistance and pale blue flowers, which are very attractive to honeybees. The essential oil is either cold-pressed or steam-distilled from the leaves.

A popular culinary herb, rosemary also has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Rosemary promotes circulation, which may be why it is helpful in migraines, as they often have a vascular component. (4, 5)


How to Use

Rosemary essential oil can be applied to the skin or inhaled. 


Skin – mix up to 10 drops of rosemary essential oil with a carrier oil. These mild, neutral oils include almond, olive, coconut and jojoba oils. Shake well before applying. You can massage this into the temples or scalp, or pat a little on the upper lip to use as aromatherapy for a migraine. 

Inhaled – if you choose to use a commercial diffuser, be sure to follow manufacturer’s instructions. You can also mix up to three drops in a bowl of boiling water and inhale the steam. Drape a towel over your head to contain the vapors. Try adding one to three drop of rosemary essential oil to a warm bath and soak in it while breathing the vapors.

Other Relevant Information

Rosemary essential oil is not for internal use; it can cause gastrointestinal irritation. It has more than 30 constituents, many of which may be helpful in migraine relief.


5. Chamomile Essential Oil

Chamomile’s soothing properties are well-known, and it may be this effect that helps in migraine treatment. Stress, anxiety and sleep disorders can all contribute to migraine severity and frequency.

Matricaria recutita, also known as true chamomile or German chamomile, and Chamaemelum nobile, or Roman chamomile, are the source of the essential oil. The oil is usually steam-distilled from the flowers and other aerial parts. Both have sedative and muscle relaxant properties.


How to Use

Like other essential oils, chamomile can be applied to the skin and inhaled. Like ginger, it is an essential oil that can be taken internally in small amounts.


Skin – Since the skin absorbs most substances applied to it, a carrier oil should be used for chamomile essential oil to help keep the application dilute. Use 30 milliliters (one ounce) of olive oil, almond oil or coconut oil. Jojoba oil is another alternative. Always shake well prior to use. Massage up to three drops on the temples or scalp when the first signs of a migraine occur. Always perform a sensitivity test prior to applying it and wait at least 25 hours to ensure there is no irritation. 

Inhaled – One of the best ways to use chamomile essential oil for aromatherapy is to put it in a commercial diffuser. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Another option – add up to three drops to a boil of boiling water, cover the head with a towel and inhale the steam. Mix 10 drops into 30 milliliters of distilled water and use it to spray linens or as a room freshener. 

Internal – Some people use chamomile tea rather than the essential oil; standardized tea bags are commercially available. You can also add one or two drops to a cup of boiling water; let cool slightly before drinking.

Other Relevant Information

As long as you are not allergic to it, chamomile has few side effects when taken in correct doses. Do perform a skin test before using it externally, as it can cause skin irritation.



The use of essential oils for migraines has a long history in herbal medicine. Each person is different and you may need to experiment to discover what works best for you. A combination of essential oils might be most effective for some. While others do better with a single essential oil.

If you use essential oils for self-care, always be sure to tell your medical provider, as some can interact with medications or each other. Always begin with a skin test prior to topical applications. Use the smallest dose possible and increase if there is no effect. Never exceed the maximum recommended dose. You should always buy your essential oils from a reputable source to ensure purity and high quality