11 Best Essential Oils For Headaches: Relief, The Natural Way

We’ve all had headaches. Whether they come from banging it on that open cabinet in the kitchen, as a result of infected sinuses, an allergic reaction, or brought on by the common cold, there are a ton of reasons why we get headaches. But, honestly, when you have one after a long stressful day, do you care why that dull pain is filling your head and your neck is aching or do you just want to know how to fix it?

That said, if your choices of pain relief were between natural sources or fabricated chemicals, which would you choose? If you thought, “Well, [insert brand name here] works when I get a headache, then you aren’t alone. Many people rely on over the counter (OTC) remedies when dealing with head pain.

Still, essential oils are a great way to get some fast relief when you are waiting for those meds to make it into your bloodstream. If you are asking yourself, “What essential oils are good for headaches?” then stick with us. First, we will take a closer look at the menace and then give you a list of the best essential oils for headaches and migraines.

Best Essential Oils For Headaches Comparison

IMAGE ESSENTIAL OIL DETAILS
Doterra Peppermint in white background Doterra Peppermint
  • Fresh minty scent
  • ​Also relieves achy muscles and reduces fevers
  • Should be diluted well and do a patch test before using
CHECK THE PRICE
Young Living Eucalyptus in white background ​​​Young Living Eucalyptus
  • Unique, sweet and minty scent
  • ​Is also good for hair care treatments and boosts the immune system
  • Is strong and should be used with caution
CHECK THE PRICE
Plant Therapy Rosemary in white background ​​​Plant Therapy Rosemary
  • Unique somewhat minty scent
  • ​Also aids with oral health and eliminates bad odors
  • Should not be used by pregnant or nursing women
CHECK THE PRICE
Rocky Mountain Lavender Essential oil in white background ​​​Rocky Mountain Oils Lavender
  • Strong floral scent
  • Cures burns and eases stress
  • Have more risks than other oils so dilute well
CHECK THE PRICE
Edens Garden Roman Chamomile essential oil in white background Edens Garden Roman Chamomile
  • Light floral scent
  • ​Is also great for skin and your nervous system
  • No known risks
CHECK THE PRICE
Doterra Clary Sage in white background ​​​Doterra Clary Sage
  • Has a pungent scent of herbs with leather and amber
  • ​Lowers blood pressure and promotes healthy digestion
  • Should not be used by pregnant or nursing women
CHECK THE PRICE
Young Living Sweet Basil in white background Young Living ​​​Sweet Basil
  • Sweet herby scent
  • Also treats itching and is used for asthma
  • Should be avoided by pregnant and nursing women
CHECK THE PRICE
Young Living Lemongrass in white background Young Living Lemongrass
  • ​Light citrus, sweet, woody scent
  • Also works as a tonic and astringent
  • Pregnant and nursing women should avoid
CHECK THE PRICE
Plant Therapy Tension Relief in white background ​​​Plant Therapy Tension Relief
  • A mixture of many scents
  • ​Can relieve tension headaches
  • Should not be used by pregnant or nursing women and dilute well
CHECK THE PRICE
Eden's Garden Head Ease in white background Edens Garden ​​​Head Ease
  • Combination of floral, musky, and spicy scents
  • ​Created to fight tension headaches
  • Consult a healthcare professional if pregnant, nursing, or ill
CHECK THE PRICE
Migraine Support by Rocky Mountain Oils in white background ​​​Rocky Mountain Oils Migraine Support
  • Minty, sweet, floral scent yet sharp
  • ​Designed specifically to treat migraines
  • Consult a healthcare professional if nursing, pregnant, or ill
CHECK THE PRICE

What Is A Headache?

Beautiful young woman suffering from headache while working in office

In case there is someone out there who has never experienced a headache before, simply put, it’s a pain anywhere in your head that could lead all the way to your neck. In fact, they can get so bad that it can cause vomiting, impaired speech, and a fever. There are many types of headaches and reasons why you might have one. It’s important to know the way they are categorized.

Types of Headaches

In the medical world, headaches are placed in one of ten categories. I’ve listed them below with a brief explanation and possible causes.

Tension Headaches

This headache is described as “dull” without any “throbbing.” it can reach down to the neck and usually affects the entire head. The skin and muscles that support your head, neck, and shoulders will feel tender to the touch and unusually sensitive.

Tension is typically caused by stress, anxiety, or emotional strain. Of course, if you do all you can to relieve external pressures and are still getting headaches, then it’s important to consult a healthcare professional.

Cluster Headaches

These types of pains are not dull but sharp and biting. They group together behind just one eye or to the side of the face. Severe headaches like this can cause redness and swelling. The eyes might also tear up.

Cluster headaches are more likely to occur in the spring and fall, but the medical community is still puzzled by what might cause them. Men are more likely to suffer from this type than women.

Migraines

Arguably the most popular and unpopular headache known to man, the migraine is the kind of pain that everyone has heard of and fears. These are characterized as pains that are intense and deeply rooted in your head. People who get them might also experience “visual disturbances”, which can include flashing lights, stars, and dark spots.

You might even have trouble speaking and felt a tingle on a single side of your face. These are also symptoms of a stroke so be aware of that, and if you suspect a stroke, contact a medical professional immediately. Migraines can be prompted by dehydration, chemical exposure, hormone fluctuation, and lack of sleep.

Allergy/Sinus Headache

Young man having trouble with sinus pain

A strong pressure and pain on the forehead toward the top of the nose that sometimes reaches behind the eyes and downward, this the best way to describe this type of headache. I am a sufferer of this infliction every time the weather starts to change.

Sinus infections also cause these types of headaches, but those are sometimes caused by allergens, so it really is just one vicious circle of pain. Doctors prescribe antibiotics for infections so it’s important to take your probiotics when you are on those to balance everything out.

Hormone Headache

Women are typically the sufferers of this pain, particularly when they are menstruating, pregnant, or going through menopause. Fluctuating hormones are the cause of this type of head pain.

Caffeine headaches

If you are a coffee drinker like me, then you know what this kind of pain feels like. It’s a dull pain that fills your head. It can be brought on by too much caffeine or when you decide to give it a break for a while. These headaches happen because the blood flow to your brain is compromised by caffeine.

Exertion headaches

This is when you push yourself too hard physically and get a headache from it. Typically, it happens to athletes and those who push their physical limits. They don’t last very long.

Hypertension headaches

old man with white hair wearing a polo having a headache in white background

High blood pressure has a lot of side effects and one of them is a splitting headache. If you are experiencing one of these, you need to contact a medical professional right away. You only get these types when your blood pressure is at dangerous levels.

It is characterized by pain on both sides of your head that gets worse when you try to move or do something. Vision can be altered, and you might experience a bloody nose, shortness of breath, chest pain, and numbness or tingling.

Rebound headaches

When you overuse medication, this can be the result. The pain could be dull and resembles a tension headache or it could be sharp like a migraine. People who frequently use OTC pain relievers might suffer from this type of headaches.

Post-traumatic headaches

This is the type of headache you get when you hit your head on something. If the head injury is severe, the headache can last months. In fact, chronic headaches resulting from a head injury have been known to happen.

How To Treat Headaches with Essential Oils

Woman with short hair closing her eyes while smelling an essential oil bottle in blurry background.

When it comes to all the types of headaches we’ve listed above, the commonality between them is the sufferer’s desire to get rid of it. When it comes to using aromatherapy and headaches, there are two main ways to use essential oils to relieve your pain.

Breathing Them In

Sure, you can open the little brown bottle your essential oil came in and smell, but diffusers are another great way to inhale the benefits of the oil you choose. There are several devices that can be used as a diffuser from cotton balls to machines created by top essential oil companies. However you choose to do it is up to you, the important thing is to get the most out of your oils and to disperse their scents into the room you are sitting so you can breathe them in.

Put Them On

Topical applications can be effective when it comes to relieving a headache, but you need to be sure to dilute your essential oils with carriers well and do a spot check on your arm before applying to make sure you don’t break out into a rash.

The best places to apply diluted oils topically to relieve a headache is the back of the head, under the hairline, on the neck, shoulders, and at the temples.

This is a good time to point out that the temples are very close to the eyes and that can be unsafe if not applied with care. It’s also another good reason to know and utilize the proper dilution methods.

What Are The Benefits Of Treating Headaches with Essential Oils?

Young woman inhaling from inhaling machine, essential oil bottles in white background

Breathing in scents to relieve pain in your head has a few benefits.

  • It’s natural. You won’t be adding to the other chemical solutions and toxins you have in your body.
  • It’s fast. Depending on the situation, breathing or topical application of scents can bring relief quickly.
  • It’s fun. Who doesn’t like to smell good stuff? We all do, so this is an added benefit.
  • It comes with more. When you are breathing in some scents on this list and/or applying them to your body topically, you are also reaping other benefits that come along with that oil.

How To Choose The Right Essential Oil For Me

The best way to start your selection of oil or oils to treat your headaches is to start smelling them. If you are familiar with the essential oils on this list, then you know which ones you like and which you don’t. You might even have a bottle or two in your drawer as you read this and you are hoping it’s on this list as you read these paragraphs.

If you aren’t familiar, then check out our odor descriptions and see if there is a store in your neighborhood that sells oils so you can sniff their testers. If you like a few of the scents, you can always choose a good carrier oil and create a nice blend.

11 Best Essential Oils For Headaches

Now that we covered all that headaches are and what you can do to stop them, let’s go over some of the essential oils that are your best choices when it comes to alleviating them.

Doterra  Peppermint

Doterra Peppermint in white background
  • Fresh minty scent
  • Also relieves achy muscles and reduces fevers
  • Should be diluted well and do a patch test before using
Check The Price

The first oil on our list is pretty powerful not only when it comes to relieving headaches but also in battling the things that might cause the nuisance in the first place. As for the relief part, peppermint oil works as an anti-inflammatory and has cooling effects. This oil also helps stave off sinus issues like congestion.

Allergies are also no match for peppermint oil because it makes your nasal passages “relax”, which helps keep them clear of allergens. Other benefits include reducing fevers and lifting energy levels.

Who Should Purchase This?

If you are into cooling sensations, then this oil is a great choice for your collection. And if you love the smell of mint, the nice thing about this extract is it can be used for so many other things as well, like muscle relaxation.

Cautions

This oil should be diluted well. For some people, it can cause headaches and it could give you a rash so doing a patch test first of the dilution or blend you make is a good place to start.

​​​Young Living Eucalyptus

Young Living Eucalyptus in white background
  • Unique, sweet and minty scent
  • Is also good for hair care treatments and boosts the immune system
  • Is strong and should be used with caution
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Next, we have an oil that is derived from a tree that is native to Australia. Koala bears know their worth because the leaves make up the majority of their diet. When those leaves are distilled, the essence that is left behind is one of the most powerful essential oils on the market.

This oil fights headaches by getting to the source. It fights sinus infections and works on allergens in the same way peppermint oil does. On top of that, eucalyptus has a positive effect on cognitive functioning, eases mental fatigue, and alleviates muscle pain.

Who Should Purchase This?

Eucalyptus is a good choice for the person who is looking to get the most out of the oil. While all essential oils have some benefits, there are a few that have a roster of uses that outnumber the rest. This oil is one of them.

Cautions

This oil can cause an allergic reaction topically and should not be ingested. This oil is strong so be sure to consult a medical professional before using.

​​​Plant Therapy Rosemary

Plant Therapy Rosemary in white background
  • Unique somewhat minty scent
  • Also aids with oral health and eliminates bad odors
  • Should not be used by pregnant or nursing women
Check The Price

I have a rosemary plant in my front yard at the moment. I love to use it in potato dishes. When you cook with rosemary, you only need a little bit because it’s aroma is powerful. This is the same when it comes to the essential oils that are distilled from it.

Rosemary oil is a known pain reliever. It not only eases the agony in your head, but it also helps with muscle aches and arthritis. In addition, this extract enhances cognitive function and relieves stress. It also helps get the blood moving and gives the immunity a boost.

Who Should Purchase This?

Someone looking for an oil that has a unique scent of its own and/or that can also aid in digestion, this is it. It also works as a dental aid and deodorizes.

Cautions

If you are pregnant or nursing, you should avoid using this oil. It can also cause allergic reactions if it isn’t diluted well, and we suggest that you never ingest it.

Rocky Mountain Oils Lavender

Rocky Mountain Lavender Essential oil in white background
  • Strong floral scent
  • Cures burns and eases stress
  • Have more risks than other oils so dilute well
Check The Price

I love writing about lavender oil because it’s one of my favorites. As I’ve written in the past, this oil was the scent that introduced me to essential oils, and it healed a burn on my thumb that could’ve been pretty bad. But we aren’t here to talk about that, we want to know about headaches.

Lavender combats headaches with a combination of benefits including pain relief, reduction of anxiety and stress, a boost in blood circulation, and also relaxes us to sleep. This popular oil also helps with digestion and repels insects.

Who Should Purchase This?

People who love floral scents should give this oil a try. It’s pleasing to many of the senses and always gives me a warm sense of calmness.

Cautions

Even though lavender is wonderful, it does have its risks. It can increase headaches in some people and induce vomiting or cause nausea if ingested. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not use this oil because it is a hormone disruptor. Diabetics should also avoid this oil as well as prepubescent boys. So if you have any teenage sons, don’t use lavender oil on or around them.

Also, this oil should not be ingested.

Edens Garden  Roman Chamomile

Eden's Garden Roman Chamomile essential oil in white background
  • Light floral scent
  • Is also great for skin and your nervous system
  • No known risks
Check The Price

This oil smells like the tea, which is lightly floral and refreshing yet calming. Distilled from the flowers of the plant, Roman chamomile has a wealth of benefit that comes in handy when you have a headache. It not only relieves pain, but it also works as an antidepressant and as an anti-inflammatory.

Roman chamomile comes with other benefits as well including skin care, anger reduction, and promotion of digestive and nervous system health. It can help with infections and remove toxins.

Who Should Purchase This?

Anyone who has never used essential oils should consider this be their first go around because it is pretty safe to use. Also, if you are a fan of light floral scents, then this is the extract for you.

Cautions

Unless you have an allergy to chamomile, then there are no known risks. It belongs to the Ragweed family so if you are allergic to that strain, be sure to do a spot check first.

​​​Doterra Clary Sage

Doterra Clary Sage in white background
  • Has a pungent scent of herbs with leather and amber
  • Lowers blood pressure and promotes healthy digestion
  • Should not be used by pregnant or nursing women
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Distilled from the herb that goes by the same name, clary sage is another one of those oils that has more benefits than it knows what to do with. When it comes to headaches, this scent is type specific, since it primarily relieves hormonal headaches in women. Pains associated with menstruation or menopause can be relieved when clary sage balances your hormones.

It also works against anxiety and fights depression, which can cause headaches as well. Added benefits include the promotion of a healthy nervous system and reducing blood pressure. It may also work on other types of headaches because it is an anti-inflammatory.

Who Should Purchase This?

Clary sage is another smart choice for the person who is looking to get more for their money. It also helps with stomach issues, works as an antioxidant, and fights bacterial infections.

Cautions

With great power comes risks, and this oil is no different. The scent is powerful and can make a headache worse for some. Pregnant and nursing women should avoid it, and it shouldn’t be used on children.

Young Living Sweet Basil

Young Living Sweet Basil in white background
  • Sweet herby scent
  • Also treats itching and is used for asthma
  • Should be avoided by pregnant and nursing women
Check The Price

Being of Italian-American descent, my mind goes directly to marinara sauce or Caprese salads when I think of basil. It’s a staple in my cooking, and I have three plants of this herb in front of my house as well. That said, there are amazing benefits to eating basil and utilizing the essential oil that is distilled from its leaves and seeds.

Sweet Basil works as a natural pain reliever. It not only eases headaches, it works well on burns, bruises, sprains, and arthritis. It will also come in handy when you have a cold, are stressed, or are suffering from digestive issues.

Who Should Purchase This?

I think this oil is another one that should be considered by the person looking for more than just headache relief. Basil is good for your eyes and can be used to make dull looking skin shine.

Cautions

This is another oil that pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid.

Young Living Lemongrass

Young Living Lemongrass in white background
  • Light citrus, sweet, woody scent
  • Also works as a tonic and astringent
  • Pregnant and nursing women should avoid
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Among the many other benefits this oil brings, relieving pain is one of them which means it’s a good headache fighter. Particularly the headaches that are caused by a cough, cold, or the flu. It also battles fevers and eases pain anywhere in the body, not just the head. Lemongrass also fights infection and works as a sedative, which can be nice for tension headaches.

Other benefits include fighting depression, treating wounds, killing insects, and deodorizing. Lemongrass has a ton of benefits, and the scent is light so it’s not too overwhelming.

Who Should Purchase This?

Lemongrass essential oil is another good choice for the person who is not too familiar with extracts because it has a lighter scent and the risks are minimal.

Cautions

As with so many other oils, this one should not be used by pregnant or nursing women.

​​​Plant Therapy Tension Relief

Plant Therapy Tension Relief in white background
  • A mixture of many scents
  • Can relieve tension headaches
  • Should not be used by pregnant or nursing women and dilute well
Check The Price

Plant Therapy is a long time producer of essential oils, and they create blends for specific purposes. This particular one was designed to battle tension head and neck aches. It is a combination of peppermint, eucalyptus globulus, rosemary, spearmint, lavender, basil linalool, ravensara, cinnamon leaf, ginger root, and roman chamomile. As you can see, a lot of the heavy hitters we’ve already discussed are in this blend.

The addition of the other oils like cinnamon and ginger root just add another level of power that can’t be found in a single. Plant Therapy recommends diluting it and massaging it into the temples. Their suggested dilution ratio is 3%.

Who Should Purchase This?

Someone who wants to get all the benefits of the single oils above without having to buy seven individual bottles and a carrier substance should get this blend because all the mixing work is done for you, except when you dilute it as suggested.

Cautions

This oil should not get ingested, and you should avoid it if you are pregnant or nursing.

Edens Garden ​​​Head Ease

Eden's Garden Head Ease in white background
  • Combination of floral, musky, and spicy scents
  • Created to fight tension headaches
  • Consult a healthcare professional if pregnant, nursing, or ill
Check The Price

Next, we have a blend designed by Edens Garden and includes quite a few of our singles above to create a mixture intended to relieve headaches. This one combines lavender, peppermint, rosemary, frankincense, basil, chamomile, ginger, spearmint, and helichrysum to bring you a product they feel should make those head pains go away.

As you can see, this blend is also a combination of some of the oils that we’ve discussed and it has ginger like the last blend. The new addition in this is frankincense which is a favorite scent of mine as well. It is relaxing when you need it to be, which make it a nice ingredient in this product.

Who Should Purchase This?

As with the last, this blend is a great choice for someone who doesn’t want to go through the steps of creating their own combination. If you like musky scents then this would be a good selection for you too since it has frankincense.

Cautions

Edens Gardens suggests that pregnant and nursing women consult a healthcare professional before using. That also includes people who are suffering from a serious health condition. Dilute it well and keep it out of children’s reach.

​​​Rocky Mountain Oils Migraine Support

Migraine Support by Rocky Mountain Oils in white background
  • Minty, sweet, floral scent yet sharp
  • Designed specifically to treat migraines
  • Consult a healthcare professional if nursing, pregnant, or ill
Check The Price

Our final choice for the day is also a blend. This one has been created by the fine people at Rocky Mountain Oils. It was designed specifically for those who are dealing with the mother of all headaches, the migraine. With sweet, floral, and minty scents mixed within, this bottle aims to relax the user with hopes of relieving their pain.

Combining basil, marjoram, lavender, peppermint, helichrysum, and Roman chamomile, this company suggest that it be diluted in a good carrier and massaged on your head. They also have a recipe on their site for a shampoo you can create with this mixture.

Who Should Purchase This?

Migraine sufferers should give this blend a try. It has some powerful ingredients and was created with them in mind.

Cautions

Since some of the oils we see listed in the ingredients have been covered above, we think it’s always best to play it safe and consult a healthcare professional before using, especially if they are pregnant, nursing, or dealing with a serious illness.

Conclusion

Headaches are one of the most intolerable pains. They exhaust us and make it hard to complete simple day to day functions. While it’s easy to take some aspirin, it’s more fun to smell some great scents while fighting the pain a natural way. Combining both types of treatment is the best choice of all.

If you have frequent headaches and use essential oils to fight them, let us know your story in the comments section below.

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