Essential Oils for Headaches: Does It Work?

by Sebastian Niegowski


It was always the same, a crushing pain just on one side of your head that comes and goes. The pounding, throbbing, like a toothache in your brain. Localized right between your eyes, leaving excruciating, debilitating, soaring misery. Sound familiar? Essential oils for headaches may help.

Headaches are one of the most common health complaints. In many cases, you can find relief by getting more rest and staying well hydrated. But what about essential oils?

One holistic approach to headache relief is through the use of essential oils. Essential oils are often used as home remedies for a variety of ailments. But can you use essential oils for headaches? If so, which oils should you use and how should you use them?

In this article, we will explore which essential oils are the most effective in relieving and soothing headaches. Keep reading to learn how to make your headache massage oil blend at home. 

How Can Essential Oils Help Your Headache?

Essentials oils have been used for their mild anesthetic properties which can bring you relief to localized pain such as headaches and migraines. Some oils such as eucalyptus and bergamot have been shown to work on the body in a similar way to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen, by inhibiting the enzymes in the body that cause inflammation and pain. How does it work?

The quickest way to absorb essential oils is by inhaling their aroma, which has a direct effect on the brain. Oils can also be absorbed via the skin during a massage, in a bath, or a cream. Both routes allow oils to enter the bloodstream, where their healing properties take effect. 

Once essential oils have entered the body, they impart psychological and physiological benefits by working on the nervous system and entering the bloodstream. 

Here are some essential oils you should headaches.

Peppermint Oil (Mentha piperita

Bottle of peppermint essential oil for headaches

Applied to the skin, peppermint feels initially cooling and refreshing, then gently warming. Its stimulating and analgesic properties make it an effective remedy for neuralgia and muscular pains and headaches. Its also a high-quality antiseptic, and popular addition to all types of beauty products.

Peppermint essential oil is steam-distilled from the flowering herb. The thin, almost watery oil has a fresh, sharp, strongly menthol aroma with a sweet-smelling undertone and it is a clear to pale yellow color. 

Menthol is the active ingredient in peppermint oil which acts as an expectorant to help clear the sinuses and has long been recognized as a safe effective treatment for tension headaches and migraines when applied to the temples and forehead.

Rosemary Oil (Rosmarinus officinalis)

Rosemary plant on wooden floor

Rosemary is a popular aromatic herb with silvery-green leaves and pale-blue flowers. This ubiquitous herb has been used widely in food and medicine for years.

The virtually colorless oil that is extracted from rosemary is steam-distilled from the fresh flowering tops of the herb. The essential oil has a pungent, fresh, and pleasant herbaceous aroma. 

Toning and cleansing rosemary oil helps to clear the mind. A 2008 study found rosemary essential oil to have a warming anti-inflammatory action that helps relieve pain.

Eucalyptus Oil (Eucalyptus globulus)

This oil is steam-distilled from the leaves of the tree. It has a clear to pale yellow hue and has a strong, camphoraceous, woody smell

This warming and antiseptic oil is great for relieving aches and pains. Eucalyptus' sharp aroma helps refresh the mind, banishing headaches and improving concentration.

One study noted the blending peppermint and eucalyptus oils induced relaxing effects to both the muscles and the mind, which could help soothe headaches. 

Lavender Oil (Lavandula angustifolia)

Lavender flower field close up

A versatile and popular essential oil, lavender has a calming fragrance and is particularly renowned for its ability to relax and promote restful sleep. Lavender oil has a floral, slightly harsh, sweet aroma. 

Lavender can act as a pain reliever with mild analgesic properties making it a good treatment for headaches. 

Inhaling the lavender essential oil can help acute management of migraine headaches. One study found that people reported a significant pain reduction after inhaling the lavender oil.

DIY Headache Massage Oil 

Tension headaches caused by mental effort can be treated with rosemary. Eucalyptus is useful for soothing headaches caused by sinus congestion or allergic reactions. Here, the two oils are combined with refreshing peppermint and relaxing lavender.


Makes 1 fl oz (30 ml)

Almond oil 2 tbsp
Rosemary essential oil 3 drops
Peppermint essential oil 1 drop
Lavender essential oil 1 drop
Eucalyptus essential oil 1 drop

How to make

1. Combine all the ingredients together in a bowl. Transfer to a clean dark-glass bottle and seal with a cap or dropper.

2. Massage gently into the temples in a circular motion. Store the remaining oil in a cool, dark place. Keeps for up to 3 months.


Essential oils can help you avoid and reduce headaches by relaxing you physically and emotionally and by reducing stress. Essential oils like peppermint, rosemary, eucalyptus, and lavender oils are helpful in preventing or easing headache or migraine pain. So yes, you can use essential oils for headaches!

Tags: pain relief
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