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Essential Oils and Herbs for Migraines

What is a Migraine?

If you get migraines, you know the feeling. It’s an extremely painful headache, typically on one side of the head, often accompanied by nausea, blurred vision, and/or sensitivity to light and sound. Migraines can last up to 3 days or longer, and women seem to be particularly susceptible to them. Fortunately for women, they drastically improve or disappear after age 50.

While medical experts don’t know the exact cause of migraines, they seem to be related to genetics and changes in the brain and are commonly triggered by:

  • Foods – alcohol, especially red wine, aged cheese, food additives, MSG, aspartame, cured meats
  • Stress – your brain releases chemicals when you’re under stress causing blood vessels to change
  • Weather – changes in barometric pressure, storm fronts, even strong winds can trigger a migraine
  • Menstrual cycles – fluctuating monthly hormones
  • Caffeine – too much or even too little when your body is used to more
  • Sleep – too little sleep can trigger the onset of a migraine

Natural Migraine Relief

As always, consult your doctor about a migraine treatment plan that works for you. Prior to modern medicine, cultures worldwide developed their own methods of natural migraine relief.  That can include acupressure, yoga, biofeedback, massage, relaxation techniques, essential oils for migraines and herbs for migraines.

Essential Oils for Migraines

Highly-concentrated liquids made from various parts of plants: stems, leaves, roots, bark, or flowers, essential oils are hugely popular right now. Not only do millions love their scent, they also swear by essential oils’ ability to soothe frazzled nerves and comfort the soul.

Essential oils should never be ingested or applied directly on the skin. When used in massage, they must be diluted, typically in a 5 to 1 ratio, with a carrier oil like coconut oil, jojoba oil or sweet almond oil. To prevent irritation, after diluting, do a small test spot on your skin before applying to a larger area. Remember, when it comes to essential oils, a little goes a very long way – just one to three drops is sufficient.

Some of the most popular essential oils for migraines include:

Peppermint oil – One of the most commonly used oils, peppermint oil contains menthol, which is thought to help muscles relax. Apply diluted peppermint to the temples and gently massage.

Spearmint oil – If you find peppermint oil a bit overwhelming, its cousin may be just the ticket. It has a lot of the same properties, but with a gentle, subtle scent.

Lavender oil – Highly fragrant with a wonderfully sweet smell, lavender is the classic relaxation herb. To use lavender oil, breathe in for about fifteen minutes or apply a diluted solution to the temples.

Rosemary oil – While its ability to reduce migraine pain hasn’t been well studied, it has been used for centuries to ease stress, relax muscles and enhance circulation – all of which is good news for migraines. Dilute with a carrier oil and apply topically or inhale for aromatherapy benefits.

Eucalyptus oil – If your migraines are triggered by sinuses, it’s hard to beat eucalyptus oil. A common ingredient in lozenges and syrups, eucalyptus opens up the nasal passages and sinuses to clear the head. Dilute with a carrier oil and apply to the chest or add a few drops to your hot shower and breathe deeply.

Rose oil – Since so many headaches are tied to stress, this classic floral oil can help soothe frazzled nerves and ease tension.

Jasmine oil –Recent research on jasmine floral oil has shown its potential to energize, lift mood and heighten alertness.  This means it’s probably best to try jasmine oil when feeling lethargic from a headache as opposed to feeling stress or anxiety.

Top Herbs and Vitamins for Migraines

Various time-tested and researched herbs and vitamins have also shown promise including: Vitamin B2, Feverfew, Melatonin, Butterbur, Ginger, Magnesium, Willow Bark, Valerian, Coriander Seed to name a few. 

Get Started on Migraine Relief

If you’re serious about migraine relief, start by keeping a migraine journal to track your triggers, symptoms, pain level, duration and any treatments you’ve tried. Whether you choose a traditional pharmaceutical or natural approach for your migraine, you’ll have a record of your experiences to help you and your medical professional determine the best treatment option.

* Discuss with your healthcare professional before beginning or ending any medical or herbal treatment for migraines. Some herbs interfere with other medications.