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If you suffer from regular headaches and migraines, you might be considering any option at this point. According to studies, more than 38 million people in the US alone suffer from migraines and headaches - up to 12% of the population. These numbers are scary, and even worse, they are rising.
Migraines and headaches can be completely disabling and can last up to three days. They can happen multiple times a week or only a few times a year. Symptoms include severe head pain, dizziness, nausea, vertigo, and so much more. Imagine for days straight having a crushing sensation or stabbing pain in your head and not being able to do anything about it. Luckily, a method used for thousands of years, essential oils can help alleviate these symptoms and can even possibly prevent future migraines. Keep reading - you’ll discover the 5 best essential oils for headaches and migraines, as well as how to use them.
Essential oils are compounds that are extracted from plants, and their ‘essence’ is composed of unique aromatic compounds. The chemicals are extracted and are usually combined with a carrier oil (which is how many oils are purchased). So, how exactly do they work?
These plants contain chemicals that are easily absorbed, inhaled, and even ingested. The limbic system in the human body actually plays a huge role in controlling the way these essential oils are used and even remembered. The limbic system controls multiple unconscious physiological functions such as your blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing. It can also help with forming memories, which is why certain smells trigger emotions and thoughts. Due to the fact that essential oils can stimulate the limbic system, it’s easy to understand why they have the ability to easily help the body heal.
Essential oils are used in many ways, such as through aromatherapy or inhalation, ingestion, and massage. For migraines, people usually rub their preferred essential oil on to their forehead or temples - this method provides both absorption and inhalation at the same time.
1. Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender essential oil is one of the most commonly used and studied essential oils, with tons of research-proven benefits. There is actually new evidence that shows exactly how lavender oil can treat migraines. European Neurology composed a study with lavender oil inhalation for treating migraines, and the results showed that lavender may be a safe and effective migraine treatment - over half of the study group reported that symptoms were reduced after inhaling the oil.
Also, another study on a group reported that after three months, severity and frequency of migraines were greatly reduced after using lavender aromatherapy. On top of that, lavender is generally used for stress and anxiety management. Therefore, tension migraines may be greatly reduced by use of aromatherapy as well.
2. Rosemary Essential Oil
Acting as a natural analgesic and anti-inflammatory, rosemary is used by millions to treat related issues. In fact, it has actually been used for hundreds of years in folk medicine for pain reduction, circulation improvement, and stress reduction - all of which contribute to headaches and migraines.
Rosemary helps to relax the body which can also play a huge role in reducing migraines. Though there is little research on rosemary essential oil for treating migraines, many people use it on a daily basis for that very reason.
3. Peppermint Essential Oil
Peppermint essential oil is one of the most widely used oils to treat migraines and headaches. But does it actually work? There are a bunch of heavily researched studies on positive claims, and many researchers suspect that it helps with many symptoms that can lead to migraines. For example, peppermint essential oil has the ability to open sinuses by controlling the body’s blood flow. It also has a cool and tingling effect which can cause a slight skin numbing feeling, which is why many people apply it to their temples and forehead. Peppermint oil contains menthol, and when applied to the temples, it can also help reduce tension migraines. Used in alternative medicine for thousands of years, peppermint oil has an incredible migraine-soothing reputation.
4. Chamomile Essential Oil
Chamomile essential oil has many uses and it has been used for hundreds of years in folk medicine to relax the body. When you think of chamomile, you might think of drinking a cup of it in tea form to unwind - its essential oil is said to have similar effect. Research in 2012 showed that chamomile essential can help relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety. These two are huge triggers for tension migraines, headaches, and other migraines in general. Headaches are commonly caused by anxiety and stress, therefore, chamomile essential oil is a potentially quick solution to all of the above as well as accompanied symptoms.
5. Eucalyptus Essential Oil
Working as a natural inflammation reducer and sinus clearer, eucalyptus oil is used to reduce these blockages and relax the airways. If you ever see someone who hangs eucalyptus plants in their shower, don’t question it. The steam mixed with the natural aroma in the plant does wonders for sinuses. And, as you might already know, sinuses and sinus blockage can be the reason why your migraines stick around.
This is explained by a compound called cineole. This compound has been shown in studies to be both an effective and safe treatment for sinus issues. Studies also compare eucalyptus oil to work in the same ways that peppermint oil does for sinuses and migraines, and people use it religiously for the hardy benefits.
Essential oils can be used in many ways including massage and aromatherapy. Another very popular way of getting the most out of essential oils is by adding drops into a carrier oil (such as shea butter or coconut oil) and applying it directly to the skin. If your choice is aromatherapy, you have plenty of options. It’s easy to find oil diffusers at almost any store and everywhere online. Aromatherapy also comes in many other forms - think bath bombs, soap, shampoo, etc. Either way, as long as you are inhaling the wonderful essences, you are reaping the benefits.
For those of you that don’t know, using essential oils as a rub or a lotion is a very popular option - the oils seep directly into your pores and your skin soaks them up. A carrier oil is a type of oil used to hold a few drops of essential oil, you do not want to potentially inflame your skin by applying the oil directly.
If you're low on time, but have heavy head full of unbearable pain, shockingly enough, you can even eat your essential oils! There are great herbs that are delicious in cooking or even in a nightly cup of tea such as lavender, rosemary, cinnamon, mint, and much more. The essence compound is part of the plant or herb you obtain through ingestion, as we mentioned previously. Ingesting your essential oils will cause it to take a little longer to start working compared to aromatherapy or massage, but it’s a delicious way to benefit from them! Always check to make sure the herbs you are eating or drinking are safe for your body.
Before taking a holistic approach to healing yourself, you should always talk with a doctor or licensed professional before hand. Though migraines and headaches are a common annoyance that millions of people deal with on a daily basis, you should always be seen by a doctor if they are that severe. While migraines and headaches are usually just that - migraines and headaches...they can still pose as a threat for underlying issues. Always check with your doctor to make sure your migraines aren’t something more serious before using essential oils as a treatment.
Migraines and headaches are incredibly difficult conditions to live with and in turn, is so exhausting trying to find solutions that will help control them as well as lingering symptoms that they bring to finally be remedied. Luckily, it only takes a little bit of time to find the products mentioned above. Also, you don't have to be using them for very long before you are able to reap the benefits they have to offer.
Essential oils have been used for thousands of years so they have the credibility and claims from millions of people. On top of that, research has backed up many of these claims.
Though this may not be the absolute and final remedy to what you deal with on a daily basis, it sure can help your body through the process. Don’t forget to always check with your doctor before taking a holistic medicinal approach to ensure there are no underlying issues that are causing your migraines. If you are at your wits end, you should definitely not be afraid of trying something new!