According to a report published by the World Health Organization in 2016, half to three-quarters of the world's adult population (18-65 years) had suffered a headache in the previous year. 30% or more reported having migraines. 1.7-4% of the world's population suffers headaches on 15 or more days each month1. Migraines are not only painful, but they are also disabling. As a matter of fact, they have ranked the sixth highest cause of years lost due to disability.
Finding a way to prevent migraines can avert other illnesses that migrainers are likely to suffer, such as depression and anxiety. One unique way to combat migraines is with natural magnesium supplements such as Migraine Stop. Using essential oils is another excellent way to prevent migraines or reduce pain, enabling you to go about your activities normally.
Essential oils are naturally occurring products in single plant species. They possess infection control, wound healing, hormonal effects, humidity control, and infection control qualities. It is important to note that not all plants produce essential oils. Despite their name, essential oils do not feel oily. They are called oils because they have oil-soluble chemicals. The content of oil-soluble chemicals ranges from 100 to 200 chemicals per essential oil in various plants2. This explains why different essential oils have different therapeutic effects.
These two terms refer to the same thing. However, aromatherapy is a misnomer because it implies that all essential oils smell nice, which is not always the case. Besides, not all essential oils are used through inhaling2.
Essential oils have a range of health benefits, one of them being the ability to treat your triggers and support the reduction of your migraines, rather than just minimize pain. Before you decide which essential oil to use, experiment first especially if scents are one of your triggers. Also, if you are applying the oils directly to your skin, test on a small area first before applying to a larger area. Here are the best essential oils for treating migraines.
It is vital that you choose essential oils from quality establishments with pure oils. The reason for this is that many company’s use scented oils instead of essential oils for the scented affect, resembling aromatherapy. Although this might smell nice, the fragrance is chemical and will not hold the benefits we are going to discuss next. One easy way to find out if it is a quality source is whether or not the packaging says “flammable”. Quality essential oils should not have this label.
Another important aspect is how to use your essential oils. Some essential oils can be used orally, topically, or diffused. The process of using essential oils correctly will determine their potency, as well as keep you from harm. Some essential oils for examples should not be digested or taken orally. Make sure you understand what you are purchasing.
Lavender is arguably the most popular essential oil. This oil has been used as a mood stabilizer, antimicrobial, analgesic agent, wound healing agent, antihypertensive, spasmolytic, and sedative. Due to its calming effects, it is often used to battle anxiety, depression, neurological disorders, and nerve related insomnia3.
Lavender oil is scientifically proven to be effective in naturally combating headaches and migraines. In 2012, Iran’s Mashhad University conducted a study on forty-seven migrainers. The migrainers were divided into two groups namely cases and controls. The cases inhaled lavender essential oil for 15 minutes while the controls inhaled placebo for the same amount of time. They would then record the results in 30 minutes intervals, for two hours. Out of 129 recorded headaches by the cases, 92 responded to lavender partially or entirely while only 32 out of 68 controls responded to placebo4.
From the study, it is evident that lavender can wholly or partially relieve the pain for a majority of migrainers; hence it is both therapeutic and soothing. Lavender essential oil is effective in soothing allergy triggered migraines. This essential oil can either be inhaled or topically applied to the area where a migraine is originating such as the temples.
Peppermint is a cross between watermint and spearmint, and this makes it a hybrid mint. It possesses calming and cooling effects which makes it ideal for treating migraines. This essential oil can be topically applied or inhaled. When inhaled, it can unclog your sinuses and get rid of pressure in your head. Peppermint essential oils contain menthol. Hence, when applied topically, it inhibits muscle pressure and eases pain. Also, it increases blood flow to the forehead when applied locally5.
According to research, peppermint is a slight anesthetic5. Thus, when applied to any area of the head, it acts as a numbing agent, providing migraine relief. Scientific evidence suggests that when peppermint essential oil is applied topically 15-30 minutes after the onset of a headache, it can provide relief without any side effects. It is important to note that when applied right before bedtime, this essential oil can cause sleeplessness.
Chamomile has been used to treat headaches since the ancient times. Chamomile is used in various ways today. Some people prefer to have it as tea because it calms the mind and acts as a mild sedative.
Roman Chamomile works excellently when used as an essential oil. It has analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-stress properties which can help cure or relieve stress-related migraines. Moreover, it helps reduce anxiety levels and aids in better sleep8. Hence, if your migraine trigger is insomnia or you just can’t get yourself to sleep well at night, inhaling this essential oil before bedtime will improve your sleep.
Often, migraines are brought about by constricting blood vessels which decrease the rate of blood flow in the body and the head. Did you know that sometimes the blood vessels dilate and cause leakage which could trigger migraines? There are 12 cranial nerves on each side of the human head. These nerves are responsible for almost all internal and external pain sensations6. At times when these nerves are stimulated, a series of chemical events occur which leads to dilation and leaking of blood vessels resulting in a migraine7.
Roman Chamomile essential oil helps to constrict blood vessels around cranial nerves. This relieves pressure and migraine pain in the head.
The rosemary plant is often used to reduce pain and soothe respiratory problems. Did you know that it can also help with migraine problems?
A study conducted in 2007 showed that inhaling rosemary for five minutes reduces cortisol levels in the saliva significantly. Cortisol is a stress hormone that is released by the body as a response to stress. Excessive cortisol in the blood can cause hormonal imbalance and weak metabolism. An imbalance in hormones triggers migraines for some migrainers. Inhaling rosemary essential oil may reduce stress levels, balance hormones, and combat stress-related migraines9.
Rosemary essential oil is also a pain reliever which when applied directly to the temples, can cure regular headaches. More to that. It has antioxidant properties which fight off infections and disease, boosting one’s immune system and reducing susceptibility to regular migraine attacks.
Aside from being an antiseptic, clary sage has surprisingly calming effects to the brain and body. When applied directly to the temples, this essential oil widens constricted blood vessels, increasing blood flow and oxygen circulation in your head. Also, it reduces blood pressure in the head by relaxing veins and arteries, which offers relief to migraines.
Clary sage is also effective for hormonally triggered migraines because it helps balance hormones10. It can be especially useful for women who suffer migraines during their menstrual periods due to fluctuations in estrogen levels. Also, it can help those suffering migraines due to menopause, hormonal therapy, or birth control.
Clary sage essential oil is scientifically proven to be an antidepressant10 and hypotensive, and inhaling or applying it directly to the temples helps to reduce or entirely eradicate pain in stress-related migraines.
This is a pale yellow to red oily liquid which smells like honey11. It is native in the Mediterranean and Europe. In the USA however, it is little known therefore it tends to cost more than other essential oils.
This essential oil has been used for ages in Europe, as tea, to treat respiratory tract infections. In Mediterranean countries, it is applied against the head to relieve migraines and headaches. Helichrysum contains anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and wound healing properties and it helps migraines and headaches with no found side effects11. Also, it soothes cranial nerves, which is good for relieving head pains.
Sweet basil is best known for its ability to alleviate pressure on strained muscles. Rubbing a few drops of sweet basil essential oil can be used to clear your mind and increase your alertness. This essential oil is also an excellent tonic which is used to prevent symptoms of migraines, headaches, allergies, and nervous disorders.
Inhalation: smelling is one of the most popular ways to use essential oils. You can put a few drops of the oil on a cotton ball or tissue and place it under your nose for a specified period of time. The time varies depending on the type of essential oil. Alternatively, you can place a few drops of your essential oil on a bowl of boiling water then breathe in the steam. This method is great for migraines that are brought about by pressure in the sinuses.
Aromatherapy: add a few drops of your essential oil to a carrier oil or milk and add it to your bath water. When you add it directly to the water, it will evaporate faster and won't be effective. A nice aromatherapy bath helps you relax, and soothe migraine pain. Taking this bath along with magnesium supplements replenishes your magnesium levels, and this decreases your chances of getting future attacks.
Topical application: add few drops of the essential oil to a carrier oil and apply it at the back of your neck, at the temples, or on your forehead. Alternatively, you can directly apply essential oils to the back of your neck, forehead, or temples without using any carrier oil.
Part of figuring out which essential oil to use is understanding the root cause of your migraines. The best thing about essential oils is that unlike painkillers and other drugs, they treat migraines without causing harmful effects to your body. Excessive painkillers, for instance, can damage your kidney. Essential oils help your migraine by reducing stress, anxiety, spasms, inflammation, improving blood flow, and balancing your hormones. The essential oils we have discussed work well for almost any type of migraine, and you will find them indispensable. Using one of the essential oils mentioned above along with natural magnesium supplements could help you say bye-bye to your migraine days!