The Top 5 Essential Oils for Headaches

There’s never a convenient time for a headache to strike. On your super busy, boss-lady, kid-juggling days, you need some fast relief. Luckily, there are some essential oils for headaches that can get the job done. The best part? This is an all-natural way to relieve your pain and stay alert throughout the day. The added bonus is that all these amazing essential oils for ailments smell pretty fantastic. So, there is sure to be a blend that you’ll love.

The next step is easy, just make your favorite combination and keep the mixture in your purse for a quick dab on your temples as needed.

What Are Essential Oils for Headaches?

Woman holding a wooden bowl with a dropper bottle of essential oil filled with dried lavender and the sign "Natural Medicine"
Some essential oils have chemical components that help to relieve headaches.

Okay, so what exactly are essential oils for headaches? Well, these oils all contain some chemical components that work to ease those nasty headache symptoms. In short, these oils come from a variety of plants that naturally relieve pain, reduce stress, provide skin-cooling effects, and more.

These oils work just like any other essential oil. Meaning, you can inhale them or apply them topically. However, for headache symptoms, the absolute best way to get fast results is by applying a mixture to your forehead, temples, and back of your neck.

Do They Really Work?

Woman putting an essential oil blend into a wooden essential oil diffuser.

Because essential oils are a form of alternative medicine, you might be skeptical as to their effectiveness. Have no fear — these oils get the job done.

Based on scientific research, we’ve put together a list of the best essential oils for headaches so you can test them out to find your perfect blend. They contain properties that impact your nervous system, anxiety and stress levels, and hormone output. Plus, some are analgesic as well, meaning they actually relieve pain similar to a commercial pain reliever.

But don’t take our word for it. Read on and try these oils out for yourself!

The 5 Best Essential Oils for Headaches

1. Peppermint

A bottle of peppermint essential oil with a dropper surrounded by peppermint leaves

A minty burst of energy for your senses! Peppermint essential oil’s aroma may initially seem overpowering when you need to relieve a headache. Yet, it’s been scientifically proven as a great natural remedy.

The menthol in the peppermint essential oil is a wonder worker for migraines specifically, as menthol is an analgesic when applied topically to skin.[1][2] In studies, peppermint essential oil was effective in treating headaches because of this analgesic function.[3]

Additionally, the menthol in the oil lends a cooling effect that eases pain and also draws blood flow to the area.[4] This can increase your cognitive function as it eases your pain from a headache or migraine.

One study even compared peppermint essential oil to a common pain reliever, paracetamol, stating that it works just as well.[5] As the oil seeps into your skin and then into your bloodstream, all the amazing benefits reach your head quickly and effectively.

2. Lavender

A bottle of lavender essential oil surrounded by dry lavender

Lavender essential oil is often praised as a one-and-done oil. Basically, that means it has so many benefits for health and beauty that it’s a great starter oil to use for a variety of purposes. Headache relief falls into that category too!

Lavender has a sweet and floral aroma, and is one of the best essential oils for anxiety. Additionally, when lavender essential oil was inhaled for 15 minutes by patients with acute migraines, there was a significant improvement in their recorded headache severity.[6]

Easing symptoms of migraines can be particularly tough. There are so many factors that cause discomfort during a migraine attack, such as light sensitivity, throbbing pain, and pressure. Thankfully, lavender essential oil can rescue you from most mild migraine symptoms via simple aromatherapy. You can try using lavender essential oil for headaches by diffusing it and rubbing it with a carrier oil onto your skin. This way, you’ll have double the headache-fighting power.

3. Eucalyptus

Eucalyptus oil next to freshly cut eucalyptus plant

This earthy and awakening oil is one of the few great essential oils for allergies, because it can benefit asthma and act as an anti-inflammatory agent.[7] That’s due to the menthol content, which helps headaches similarly to when you use peppermint essential oil.

However, not everyone is fond of peppermint, so we’ve given eucalyptus essential oil its own spot on our list of the top essential oils for headaches. Not to mention, eucalyptus has also been scientifically-proven to reduce headache symptoms.[8]

The other aspects of eucalyptus oil that benefit those suffering headaches are its abilities to combat inflammation and swelling.[9] In various studies on pain, eucalyptus essential oil proved effective in reducing pain levels after inhalation.[10]

In short, the oil triggers receptors in your olfactory system which, in turn, affect your relation to pain, stress, and more. You can use eucalyptus oil alone or in a blend to get some great pain-fighting benefits. This oil will help you get back on your feet in no time.

4. Rosemary

A bottle of rosemary essential oil net to freshly cut rosemary stems

Rosemary essential oil is herbaceous, fresh, and a little sweet. The aroma is unique and pleasant, plus it packs some great benefits too.

Rosemary is anti-inflammatory and has pain-relieving properties.[11] This makes it a winning oil for headaches caused by inflammation, such as when you have a mild fever. However, recent research has suggested it works well for all headache types. One study assessed the effectiveness of an essential oil blend featuring rosemary on middle-aged women with recurrent headaches.[12] It found that the blend helped treat their headaches significantly better than the control group, which had no benefit.[13]

On top of this, rosemary is one of the best essential oils for hair growth, because it increases blood flow to the tissues on your scalp, which in turn may help to stimulate hair growth.[14] So you can also add some rosemary essential oil into your shampoo or hair masks. That way, you can fight off headaches while keeping your hair lush and strong.

5. Chamomile

An open bottle of chamomile oil next to freshly cut chamomile flowers

The mild, sweet, and sedating smell of chamomile essential oil can calm many ailments and help you get to sleep. However, it’s also shown promise when it comes to reducing headaches and migraine pain. In Iran, it’s used as a form of traditional medicine against headaches.[15]

One study applied chamomile oil topically to migraine-afflicted people. The researchers found that chamomile worked primarily because of the chamomile flavonoids, due to their neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory abilities.[16]

It’s best to use this oil in the evenings when you want some sleep support as well. As headaches can interfere with sleep, chamomile makes for a powerful aid in both fields.

You can apply it topically or diffuse it to maximize the speed of its effects.

The Top 5 Essential Oils for Headaches


Scientific References: