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The 411 On Essential Oils for Headaches

Businesswoman having headache at work

If you suffer from frequent headaches or migraines, the good news is that essential oils can help…a lot! There are different types of headaches, and different essential oils should be used to treat each one. These essential oils can be applied topically to the forehead or head, inhaled directly from their bottle, or used aromatically in a diffuser.

Best Essential Oils For Different Types Of Headache

First, let’s learn more about the different types of headaches and what essential oils should be used to treat them:

General Headaches

For general headaches, the best types of essential oils to have on hand are rosemary and peppermint oil. In most instances, a single drop of peppermint oil topically applied to the aching head will be sufficient to treat a general headache. If these are not readily available, clove, basil, and eucalyptus oil are also effective at treating general headaches.

Gastric Headaches

Gastric headaches often arise after a person has eaten bad or spoiled food. The most effective essential oils for treating gastric headaches are rosemary oil, peppermint, and lavender essential oil.

Tension Headaches

Tension headaches are brought on by stress. They are readily identifiable because of the dull pain or ache that appears on either side of the head. For tension headaches, peppermint oil is the best essential oil to use for treatment due to its anti-inflammatory properties. 


Of all types of headaches, migraines are often considered the worst. Migraines can occur for a wide variety of reasons, but some of the most common reasons include dehydration, lack of sleep, and stress. Migraine pain is often accompanied by symptoms of light sensitivity and nausea. The four most effective and best essential oils for treating migraines and their symptoms are basil and peppermint essential oils, followed by ylang-ylang and wintergreen.

Applying Your Essential Oil Blends

When it comes to using essential oils to treat headaches, the most effective method of treatment is topical application. Ideally, the essential oil you use should be mixed with a carrier oil and massaged onto the surface of your forehead. If you prefer to use undiluted oil to help relieve a headache, then you should use no more than a single drop applied directly to the source of the pain. Undiluted essential oils are quite powerful, so only a minute amount is needed to get the job done.

An excellent general rule of thumb for daily or frequent massaging is the 1% solution. For muscle aches that occur only on occasion, a 3% solution is recommended.

An example of a 1% solution would be adding a single drop of the chosen essential oil to the carrier oil, a 3% solution would be adding three drops of essential oil to the carrier oil, and so forth. If you are making a one-ounce blend, use 6 drops for a 1% solution and 15-18 drops of essential oil for a 3% solution.

Headache relief by using essential oils can also be obtained by using an air diffuser or keeping the drops near you by placing them on a cotton ball.