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Essential Oils
for Better Living


The 6 Best Essential Oils for Headaches: Scientifically Supported Remedies for Soothing Relief

Updated: Oct 6, 2023

Headaches are a common ailment that can range from mild discomfort to severe pain, affecting our productivity, well-being, and overall quality of life. While over-the-counter medications are widely used for headache relief, many individuals are seeking natural alternatives that are gentle on the body and provide long-lasting relief. In recent years, essential oils have gained significant attention for their potential benefits in managing headaches.

Woman suffering from headache at desk

6 Best Essential Oils for Headaches

In this comprehensive blog, we will explore the best essential oils for headaches, backed by scientific evidence. We will focus on six key essential oils: peppermint, lemon, grapefruit, lavender, rosemary, and basil. These oils have been studied extensively for their effectiveness in relieving headaches and are known for their distinct properties and aromas.

Peppermint essential oil is widely regarded as one of the most effective natural remedies for headaches. Scientific studies have shed light on the mechanisms underlying its effectiveness. Peppermint oil contains menthol, a compound known for its analgesic and cooling properties. Research suggests that peppermint oil can effectively relieve tension headaches by inhibiting pain receptors and reducing muscle contractions. In a study published in the International Journal of Preventative Medicine, the inhalation of peppermint oil was found to significantly reduce headache intensity and frequency. Another study reported that topical application of peppermint oil to the forehead and temples resulted in a significant reduction in tension headache symptoms. These scientific findings support the use of peppermint oil as a natural remedy for headache relief.

Lemon essential oil is known for its uplifting and refreshing scent, but it also offers potential benefits for headache relief. Scientific research has provided insights into its effectiveness. Lemon oil contains limonene, a compound with anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. Studies have shown that lemon oil inhalation can reduce pain and inflammation associated with headaches. In a randomized trial published in Pain Research and Treatment, participants who inhaled a blend of lemon and other essential oils experienced significant reductions in pain compared to the control group. Additionally, lemon oil has been found to have mood-enhancing effects, which can be beneficial for headaches triggered by stress or anxiety.

Grapefruit sliced in half top view

Grapefruit essential oil is not only known for its citrusy aroma but also for its potential benefits in relieving headaches. Scientific investigations have explored its analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. Grapefruit oil contains various compounds, including limonene and pinene, which have been shown to possess pain-relieving effects.

Grapefruit is also known to reduce stress, an important factor in managing headaches. A study published in the Journal of Physiological Sciences found that inhalation of grapefruit oil vapor resulted in a reduction of the stress hormone cortisol. Additionally, the study reported that grapefruit oil inhalation had a positive impact on mood and overall well-being. These findings suggest that grapefruit essential oil may offer natural relief for headaches, particularly those triggered by stress or tension.

Lavender essential oil is well-known for its calming and soothing properties, making it an excellent choice for headache relief. Lavender oil contains linalool, a compound that exhibits sedative and analgesic effects. Studies have shown that inhalation or topical application of lavender oil can reduce headache intensity, duration, and associated symptoms. According to a study published in European Neurology, inhalation of lavender oil for 15 minutes resulted in a significant reduction in migraine headache severity.

Wooden spoon with rosemary leaves

Rosemary essential oil, with its woody and herbal aroma, offers potential benefits for headache relief. Scientific investigations have explored its analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. Rosemary oil contains rosmarinic acid and camphor, compounds known for their pain-relieving effects. Research suggests that rosemary oil inhalation can reduce headache intensity and relieve tension. These scientific findings highlight the potential of rosemary essential oil as a natural remedy for headache relief.

6. Basil

Basil essential oil, derived from the aromatic herb, has been traditionally used for its potential benefits in relieving headaches. Scientific investigations have explored its analgesic and muscle relaxant properties. Basil oil contains linalool and eugenol, compounds known for their pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory effects. Research suggests that basil oil inhalation or topical application can provide relief from headaches. In a study published in Complimentary Medicine Research, the inhalation of basil oil vapor significantly reduced migraine intensity and frequency.

Headache Support Blend

Headache Support Essential Oil Front View

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How to Use Essential Oils for Headaches

When it comes to using essential oils for headaches, there are several methods of application to consider. Each method offers its own advantages and may be more suitable depending on the situation and personal preference. Here are some effective ways to use essential oils for headache relief:


Inhalation is one of the most common methods for using essential oils. It allows the aromatic compounds to enter the body through the olfactory system, reaching the brain and providing quick relief. There are several ways to inhale essential oils:

Direct Inhalation: Place a few drops of the essential oil on a tissue or cotton ball and hold it near your nose. Breathe deeply and inhale the aroma. This method is convenient when you're on the go or need immediate relief.

Steam Inhalation: Boil a pot of water and remove it from the heat. Add a few drops of essential oil to the hot water and cover your head with a towel, creating a tent. Lean over the pot, keeping your eyes closed, and inhale the steam for several minutes. This method is effective for sinus headaches and congestion.

Diffusion: Use an essential oil diffuser to disperse the aroma throughout a room. Follow the manufacturer's instructions on the number of drops to use. Diffusing essential oils creates a calming and therapeutic atmosphere, promoting relaxation and headache relief.

Topical Application

Woman pouring essential oils into hand

Applying essential oils topically can provide localized relief for headaches. However, it is crucial to dilute the essential oils with a carrier oil to avoid skin irritation. Common carrier oils include coconut oil, jojoba oil, and sweet almond oil. Even with dilution, some essential oils may cause irritation so it is important to research each essential oil you plan on using. Here's how to apply essential oils topically:

Temple and Forehead Massage: Dilute a few drops of the essential oil with a carrier oil and gently massage it onto your temples and forehead using circular motions. This technique can help alleviate tension headaches and promote relaxation.

Neck and Shoulder Massage: Dilute the essential oil with a carrier oil and massage it into the muscles of your neck and shoulders. Tension and stress often manifest in these areas, leading to headaches. Massaging with essential oils can help relieve muscle tension and reduce headache symptoms.

Pulse Points: Apply a diluted blend of essential oils to pulse points such as the wrists, behind the ears, or the base of the neck. This allows the oils to be absorbed into the bloodstream, promoting systemic relief.


Taking a warm bath infused with essential oils can be a soothing and relaxing experience, especially for tension headaches. Add a few drops of essential oil to a carrier oil or bath salts before adding them to the bathwater. Relax in the bath for at least 20 minutes, allowing the aromatic molecules to provide relief and relaxation.


For targeted relief, you can create a compress with essential oils. Fill a basin with warm water and add a few drops of essential oil. Soak a washcloth in the water, wring out the excess, and apply the warm compress to your forehead, temples, or the back of your neck. This method can help ease headache symptoms and provide a comforting sensation.

Thera-Clip Inhaler

Thera-Clip nasal inhaler with essential oil plants

One of the easiest ways to use essential oils for headaches is by using a Thera-Clip nasal inhaler. Thera-Clip is a personal, portable essential oil inhaler that allows you to target your symptoms by providing a direct, continuous flow of aromatherapy relief. You can use Thera-Clip with any of your favorite therapeutic essential oil blends to target nausea, headache, stress and more.


When using essential oils, it is important to take precautions to ensure safe and effective use.

Always dilute essential oils before applying them topically, as they are highly concentrated.

Perform a patch test to check for any allergic reactions or skin sensitivity.

Avoid direct contact with the eyes and mucous membranes.

Use caution during pregnancy, breastfeeding, and with children, as some essential oils may not be suitable.

If you have any concerns or medical conditions, consult with a healthcare professional before using essential oils.

Final Thoughts

Headaches can significantly impact our daily lives, and finding effective remedies is crucial for relief. Essential oils, including peppermint, lemon, grapefruit, lavender, rosemary, and basil, offer potential benefits for headache management. Scientific research has provided insights into their mechanisms of action and supported their use as natural remedies. The analgesic, anti-inflammatory, muscle relaxant, and calming properties of these oils contribute to their efficacy in relieving headaches. Whether through inhalation, topical application, or a combination of methods, these essential oils offer a holistic approach to headache relief. It is important to note that individual responses to essential oils may vary, and it is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional before incorporating them into your headache management routine. By understanding the scientific evidence behind these oils' effectiveness, you can make informed decisions and find soothing relief for your headaches.

The 6 Best Essential Oils For Headaches Infographic

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