Essential oils are powerful natural medicines that truly shine when it comes to addressing headaches. And, unlike many headache medications that are replete with horrible side-effects, including liver damage, essential oils are much safer. Here are some of my top picks for headaches:
One of the most potent anti-pain remedies available, everyone I’ve ever recommended copaiba to has been astounded with the quick and highly effective results. It works on the body’s endocannabinoid system, which is a little-known but powerful system in the body that controls pain, brain functions, immunity and many hormones. Copaiba contains a powerful compound known as beta-caryophyllene (BCP) that works on the endocannabinoid system, but does not have psychoactive effects (unlike the cannabinoids in marijuana). In other words, it won’t make you high but will help with pain. It can be used directly on the temples, back of the neck or other places involved in headaches. I also use it internally for headaches or migraines, using 3 drops about 3 times a day.
If your headaches are linked to sinus congestion, sinusitis or a cold that involves sinus pressure, you’ll want to try eucalyptus since it works to clear the sinuses, thereby relieving the pressure that’s causing the headache. A few drops can be diluted in a carrier oil like fractionated coconut and applied to the chest. It can be used straight, which is known as “neat” in aromatherapy, in a diffuser. I find adding a few drops to a tissue or handkerchief and leaving on my pillow before sleeping quickly alleviates sinus pressure and the headaches linked to it. Do not use internally.
Highly effective at reducing tension and stress, as well as the headaches or migraines caused by stress, lavender is a great choice. Research in the medical journal European Neurology found that lavender was highly effective at alleviating migraines. Whether you’re suffering from an occasional headache or debilitated by migraines, lavender, particularly combined with copaiba, is a great choice. Rub lavender oil on your neck, head and forehead as well as diffuse it in a diffuser.
If your headaches are linked to stress and tension, marjoram is an excellent choice to apply directly to the neck and shoulders, since tight muscles in these areas can often cause headaches. I find the combination of marjoram, copaiba and peppermint particularly effective for this purpose.
One of my favorite headache remedies of all time, I have sent many clients home with a bottle of peppermint essential oil to roll on or apply directly to their temples, sore spots on their forehead, head and back of the neck, particularly where the head meets the neck. Be careful not to use too much or the fumes will cause your eyes to water. Avoid getting the oil in your eyes and be sure to wash your hands immediately after use to prevent rubbing the peppermint oil into your eyes.
Research in the medical journal Complementary Therapies in Medicine found that rose essential oil applied to sore areas of the head and neck may be helpful in the treatment and management of migraine headaches. It is an expensive oil but worth every penny as it offers profound healing, particularly when used alongside copaiba essential oil. If the rose essential oil you select is inexpensive, it is almost guaranteed to be diluted or cut with cheap or synthetic oils that are of no value. You really do get what you paid for when it comes to essential oils (rose oil in particular).
There are many ways to use essential oils, including diffusing them or mixing them with water and spraying into the air for the purpose of inhalation, applying topically or ingesting. In my more than 25 years of experience, I have found that topical and ingestion of one or more of the above oils tends to yield the best results for headaches. However, not all oils are suitable for ingestion. Actually, most are not. So, use only oils that clearly indicate their suitability for internal use. Oils like copaiba and peppermint tend to be good choices for this purpose.
Regardless which method you choose, make sure you select high quality, pure, undiluted essential oils. While you may end up diluting the oils yourself, most of the oils on the market are diluted in less-than-desirable oils. High quality oils cost more than the cheap varieties on the market but are worth the increased price. Many cheap varieties can also contain synthetic versions of the oils, which offer no therapeutic value and may actually be harmful. But, worse than that, many cheap oils are adulterated with solvents used during the extraction process or toxic pesticides used in the growing process of the herbs from which the oils are extracted.
After diluting the oil in carrier oil, always conduct a 48-hour patch test on a small inconspicuous part of your skin to determine whether you have any sensitivity to the essential oils. Do not discontinue any prescribed medications without the guidance of your physician. Use essential oils with caution and the advice of a qualified natural health practitioner during pregnancy.
Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM shares her food growing, cooking, preserving, and other food self-sufficiency adventures at FoodHouseProject.com. She is the publisher of the free e-newsletter World’s Healthiest News and an international best-selling and 20-time published book author whose works include: The Cultured Cook: Delicious Fermented Foods with Probiotics to Knock Out Inflammation, Boost Gut Health, Lose Weight & Extend Your Life. Follow her work.