Essential Oils for Headaches

Headaches are one of the most common health issues that everyone faces. With triggers like stress, allergies, fatigue, hormonal imbalance, poor diet, and poor posture, it’s hardly surprising that no one can really say they’ve never experienced some kind of headache. Pain killers are relatively inexpensive and most of us don’t think twice about taking Advil or Ibuprofen to get through the day, but what we don’t often think about is the negative side effects from frequently taking these pain killers such as kidney and liver damage.

Enter essential oils. Essential oils have been used to combat headaches since way before ibuprofen came around. These oils have been used since ancient times and are gaining popularity in recent years as a natural remedy for a multitude of health problems. If you suffer from headaches, check out these ways to help ease pain naturally.

  • Diffuse five drops of lavender oil to reduce muscle tension, relieve stress, boost mood and aid sleep.
  • A warm or hot compress over the eyes or across the back of the neck is my favorite headache reliever. It’s relatively easy to make a compress that is infused with essential oils (such as lavender or peppermint) using an unused sock or dishtowel, rice and a few drops of your choice essential oil. To make your own compress, check out this tutorial:
  • For some people a warm compress is the opposite of what they want. If you’d prefer a cold compress, soak a dishcloth in icy water with a few drops of your choice of oil and then apply. You could even throw it in the freezer for a couple of minutes to really cool it down.
  • Dilute two drops of rosemary (adding a drop of peppermint oil if you prefer) into a teaspoon of coconut oil and massage into your forehead, temples and back of the neck. (Warning: rosemary can cause severe irritation so use sparingly. Never use this oil internally)

If you have more serious headaches such as migraines, sinus or tension headaches, check out these specialized remedies.

Tension headaches:

These headaches are usually triggered by stress and the constant tension in your neck and shoulders it creates. You will usually experience a dull, constant pressure or pain with this type of headache.

  • Stress relief is a great way to counter these. Diffuse lavender in your home or try taking a bath with lavender oil.
  • If you’re in the midst of a tension headache, try eucalyptus or peppermint oil diluted in a carrier oil and applied to your temples, forehead and wrists.


Migraines are a severe type of headache that is associated with throbbing pain, nausea and light sensitivity. They’re triggered by stress, sleep deprivation and hormonal changes. To alleviate migraine pain try these essential oil remedies.

  • Massage lavender or peppermint oil, diluted in a carrier oil, into your temples or back of the neck.
  • Raising the temperature of your hands by 15 degrees Fahrenheit helps stop a migraine in its path. Add a couple drops of ginger and lavender to the water for an amplified effect.

Sinus headaches:

These headaches are caused by inflamed membranes of your sinus cavities. The pain will be located at your forehead.

  • Eucalyptus oil is a great option for clearing your airways. Add it to your carrier oil and apply to your chest, back of the neck, temples and forehead to help alleviate the pain.
  • Another great option with eucalyptus is to add the oil to a steaming pot of water and then breathe in the steam.

Whether you’re looking to cut back on your use of over the counter pain killers or you’re tired of the nasty side effects that can come from prescription medications, essential oils remedies are worth a try. For more info about essential oils and how to use them safely and effectively check out our article about the basics of using essential oils.