Essential Oils 101: Using Essential Oils for Headaches

This week instead of profiling an essential oil (read Neroli, Cinnamon, Frankincense, Lavender, and Tea Tree) we’re going to focus on a health issue like we did with the Muscle-Related Pain Relief post and see what essential oils can provide relief. I put up a poll in the Learning About Essential Oils Facebook group and “Migraine/Headache” was the topic with the most votes.

I want to remind you why I won’t be steering you towards a specific brand in this post. The reason is quite simple: I have no idea which essential oils are good quality and I don’t want to recommend one based on my ability to make commissions off of you. Thanks to the generosity of these donors, we have raised the $1,000 chemist fee for testing 5 essential oils. I am happy to report the Myrrh essential oils from Young Living, doTERRA, Mountain Rose Herbs, Aura Cacia, and Essential Vitality were shipped off yesterday!The chemist will receive them by the beginning of next week, and I will be hearing from him a week after he runs the samples I sent him. I anticipate having the results sometime during the second week of April, and will share those with you ASAP!

Using Essential Oils for Headaches

The types of headaches are listed below, along with the oils that are most helpful. These oils can be used either aromatically in a diffuser, inhaled directly from the bottle, or applied directly on the skin (dilute if called for). More information on how to use the oils is given at the end of the post.

General Headaches

The best general-purpose essential oils to have on hand for headaches are Peppermint and Rosemary followed by Basil, Clove, Eucalyptus, Frankincense, Lavender, Marjoram, and Patchouli. Often one drop of Peppermint over the spot that aches is enough.


This type of headache can come on when you eat bad food. Lavender, Peppermint, and Rosemary are most effective.


Migraine’s are most often produced by stress, lack of sleep, and/or dehydration, and can be combined with nausea and sensitivity to light. To treat migraine headaches you will find the following to be most helpful: Peppermint and Basil followed by Wintergreen and Ylang Ylang.


The most common type, tension headaches are caused by stress and feel like a dull pain on both sides of the head. Peppermint works best.

Make Your Own Essential Oil Blends

Under emotional stress? Prevent a headache by blending together 4 drops Sweet Marjoram, 4 drops Linaloe Wood, and 2 drops Neroli with 4 tsp carrier oil and massage into skin.

For prevention of a headache due to menstrual pain combine 4 drops Sweet Marjoram, 2 drops Valerian, and 4 drops Lavender with 4 tsp carrier oil and massage into skin.

For general headaches, combine 3 drops Lavender and 1 drop Peppermint. From this mixture take one drop and combine with one drop carrier oil, and massage over the area of your head that aches.

Applying the Blends

Headaches are best relieved with topical application. Essential oils are best used combined with a carrier oil, such as sweet almond, and massaged on the surface of the skin.

Headaches are most effectively dealt with by applying a single drop of Peppermint to the temples or area of your head that aches. However, blends diluted in a carrier oil can also be effective when massaged over larger areas of your head.

A good rule of thumb for frequent/daily massaging is a 1% solution. For occasional deep muscle aches, use 3% (and up to 5%).

1% solution would be adding 1 drop of EO to one teaspoon of oil; 2% solution would be adding 2 drops of EO to one teaspoon of oil, etc. To make a 1 ounce bottle use 5-6 drops for 1% solution; 10-12 for 2% and 15-18 for 3%.

Aromatic Use

You can also get headache relief by using the essential oils in a diffuser, or keeping drops on a nearby cotton ball.

Don’t Lose This Information!

Download this post as a pdf by clicking here: Using Essential Oils for Headaches (pdf). Many of my readers are printing my Essential Oils 101 series info off and sticking it in a binder for long-term use. Feel free to do the same!

What do you think? Do you have some information to add? Please leave your comments below :)

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proud contributor
Lea Harris founded Nourishing Treasures in 2006. A mom passionate about her family's health and well-being, Lea believes education is power. Encouraging others to take baby steps in the right direction of health for their families, Lea's goal is to raise awareness of what goes into our mouths and on our bodies, providing natural alternative information that promotes health and prevents disease by using traditional foods and nature's medicine.

Lea is a Certified Health Coach graduate from Beyond Organic University, and a Certified Aromatherapist graduate from Aromahead Institute.

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You can also find me on Learning About Essential Oils forum, and Fido Fermentation Facebook group.

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