Rosemary essential oil has been used in folk medicine to treat headaches and poor circulation because of its stimulating, anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. It has a calming effect and improves personal orientation and alertness.
Rosemary oil also reduces stress and emotional triggers that can cause headache attacks. It also aids digestion and soothes an upset stomach, which can be a symptom of a severe headache. (7)
An interesting 2013 study published in Addiction and Health evaluated the efficacy of rosemary oil as a form of herbal therapy for the alleviation of withdrawal syndromes in patients with a history of opium abuse. Some opium withdrawal symptoms consist of dysphoric mood, nausea, muscle aches, headaches, fever and insomnia. Rosemary treatment proved to reduce these symptoms when taken internally for four weeks. It reduced tension and muscle jerks, alleviated pain, improved sleeping patterns, and treated convulsions. (8)
Take one drop of rosemary oil internally by adding it to tea, water or soup when experiencing headache or migraine attacks. To reduce headache pain, mix two drops of rosemary oil with two drops of peppermint oil and one teaspoon of coconut oil, and rub it into the temples, forehead and back of neck.
You can also blend these top four essential oils for headaches with chamomile essential oil, cineole oil, spearmint oil and other oil blends that include other hydrosol flowers.
How to Use Essential Oils for Headache Relief
A migraine is a severe and painful type of headache associated with throbbing pain, nausea and heightened sensitivity to light. Migraines can be triggered by stress, anxiety, sleep deprivation and hormonal changes. Massage lavender or peppermint oil into the temples and back of neck to relieve migraine headaches and ease feelings of nausea and anxiety.
These are called “stress headaches,” and they’re characterized as dull, constant pressure or pain. Tension headaches are typically brought on my feelings of pressure. Use eucalyptus or peppermint oil topically on the temples, forehead and wrists to alleviate stress and reduce tension. To ease the mind, add 5–10 drops of lavender oil to a warm-water bath, or follow this recipe for my Homemade Healing Bath Salts.
When the membranes of the sinus cavities become inflamed and swollen, you may experience pressure in the forehead area where these cavities are located, resulting in a sinus headache. Use eucalyptus oil topically on the chest, top of nose and temples to open up the nasal passages and relieve sinus tension.
This is pain that’s caused by low blood sugar levels. Combine equal parts lavender, rosemary and coconut oil, and apply topically to the back of neck, temples and forehead. Or take 1 drop of rosemary internally with a smoothie or cup of soup.
Possible Side Effects of Essential Oils for Headaches
When using these essential oils for headaches, especially in sensitive areas like the nose and forehead, it’s best to dilute the oil first. If you have never used an oil before, do a quick patch test on a small area of skin before applying to larger areas.
If you use these oils internally, remember that a little goes a long way — 1–2 drops should do the trick, and don’t exceed a four-week period without taking a week off from internal use.
Final Thoughts on Essential Oils for Headaches
- The top four essential oils for headaches are peppermint, lavender, eucalyptus and rosemary oil.
- The best way to use essential oils for headaches is by diffusing them with a high-quality diffuser to soothe headaches.
- You can also blend these top four essential oils for headaches with chamomile essential oil, cineole oil, spearmint oil and other oil blends that include other hydrosol flowers.