The best essential oils for headaches

Essential oils have many benefits, one of which is believed to be reducing or abolishing headaches. “Essential oils can help alleviate headaches a few different ways,” chemist and pharmacist Dr. Lindsey Elmore told Well+Good. “They may relax certain muscles around the neck, face, and head to help relieve tension that can trigger headaches. They also may induce a significant increase of blood flow to the forehead after local application,” she added. Neurologist and headache specialist Dr. Sara Crystal agreed, noting that they can also “block pain transmission, desensitize pain fibers, and reduce inflammation.” But what the best essential oils for headaches?

Essential oils can affect people differently

When using essential oils and aromatherapy, it important to note that some people may react to smells differently. This is particularly the case for those who suffer from migraine headaches. “Some people with migraines develop smell sensitivity and even pleasant odors can become unpleasant,” Dr. Noah Rosen, Director of Northwell Health’s Headache Center in NYC, told Good Housekeeping. “However, for other people, scents have a very relaxing effect on them … I do think there can be a very individual effect.” Mindy Green, an aromatherapist and herbalist, added, “If an aroma is perceived as pleasant, we take a deeper breath; that in itself helps to slow the heart, align the nervous system, and help us to relax.”

These are the oils that work best for relieving headaches

According to Well+Good, peppermint, lavender, rosemary, oregano, thyme, and mountain savory oils work best for headaches. Both Elmore and Crystal agree that peppermint oil is effective due to its well-known cooling effect. “Menthol can generate a cooling effect on the skin, which can relieve some headaches,” Dr. Elmore said. “One small study showed that applying topical menthol 6 percent gel showed a significant improvement in headache intensity, which suggests that it could be an effective acute treatment,” Dr. Crystal explained. Lavender oil, on the hand, is said to relieve stress commonly associated with headaches, while rosemary, oregano, thyme, and mountain savory oils are believed to reduce inflammation and block pain signals.

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