Headaches and migraines are common health complaints. They may be caused by a number of factors such as stress, dehydration, poor posture, muscle tension or sinusitis. Often the trigger is unknown, but is likely to be caused by hormonal, dietary or environmental factors.
There is some evidence to suggest that essential oils may be helpful in the treatment of headaches and migraines. Peppermint and eucalyptus oils, known for their cooling effects, increased cognitive performance and demonstrated muscle-relaxing and mentally relaxing effects in a study of 32 healthy participants . The same trial showed that a combination of peppermint oil and ethanol had a significant analgesic effect with a reduction in sensitivity to headaches.
Lavender is also an excellent essential oil for headaches and migraines. In a clinical trial on the use of lavender for the treatment of migraine headache, forty-seven patients with were divided into cases and controls. The first group inhaled lavender essential oil for 15 minutes, and the control group used liquid paraffin for the same time period. Patients were asked to record their headache severity and associated symptoms in 30 minute intervals for a total of 2 hours. Of the 129 headache attacks recorded by participants, 92 responded entirely or partially to lavender. In the control group, 32 out of 68 recorded headache attacks responded to placebo. The percentage of responders was significantly higher in the lavender group than the placebo group .
Another helpful oil is chamomile, which has been suggested as a new treatment for the relief of migraine pain. Chamomile essential oil is thought to possess pain relieving effects for migraines due to its anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects .
In addition to peppermint, lavender, eucalyptus and chamomile, other essential oils that may be helpful for relieving headaches and migraines are basil, rosemary, marjoram, clary sage, citronella and lemongrass. The oils can be inhaled either by using an oil burner or sniffing from the bottle or a tissue, or they can be diluted in a carrier oil and massaged into the forehead and temples.
Other essential oils may also be used to address the cause of headaches and migraines, if known. For example, stress may be reduced by using calming essential oils such as neroli, rose, frankincense or bergamot, while oils such as ginger, black pepper or pine may help to relieve muscle tension. In these instances, aromatherapy massage may be beneficial.
1. Göbel, G Schmidt and D Soyka, Effect of peppermint and eucalyptus oil preparations on neurophysiological and experimental algesimetric headache parameters, Cephalalgia, Volume 14, Issue 3, pages 228–234, June 1994.
2. Sasannejad P, Saeedi M, Shoeibi A, Gorji A, Abbasi M, Foroughipour M, Lavender Essential Oil in the Treatment of Migraine Headache: A Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial, Eur Neurol 2012;67:288–291.
3. Zargaran A, Borhani-Haghighi A, Faridi P, Daneshamouz S, Kordafshari G, Mohagheghzadeh A, Potential effect and mechanism of action of topical chamomile (Matricaria chammomila L.) oil on migraine headache: A medical hypothesis, Med Hypotheses. 2014 Nov;83(5):566-9.
Fatigue and exhaustion are common health complaints, no doubt due to the busy and stressful lifestyles that are seen as the norm these days. When you feel like you've overdone it, it is important to take time out to de-stress and recharge your batteries, but what can you do when you need a pick-me-up to get you through the day?
When most people think of aromatherapy, the first thing that probably springs to mind is calming, relaxing essential oils such as lavender or chamomile. But there are lots of essential oils that have the opposite effect and actually help to clear the head and leave you feeling invigorated, energised and refreshed.
A study(1) was done to determine the effectiveness of a mixture of essential oils (peppermint, basil and helichrysum) on mental exhaustion, or moderate burnout (ME/MB) using a personal inhaler. Participants were randomized to receive a personal inhaler containing either a mixture of essential oils or rose water.
While both groups had a reduction in perception of ME/MB, the aromatherapy group had a much greater reduction, suggesting that inhaling essential oils may reduce the perceived level of mental fatigue/burnout.
As well as peppermint, basil and helichrysum, other oils that may help to relieve fatigue include rosemary, lime, ginger, nutmeg, grapefruit, thyme, eucalyptus, pine, cinnamon and lemongrass. There are several ways in which to use essential oils to help relieve fatigue and exhaustion. A few drops of an energising oil (or blend of oils) added to an oil burner is a great option for when you need to stay focused at work. Another option would be to add a few drops to your morning bath or shower to leave you feeling refreshed and ready for the day ahead. If you want to feel de-stressed but energised as well, an aromatherapy massage is the perfect way to take some time out from the stresses of everyday life. If you need a boost whilst out and about, or if you aren't able to use an oil burner, a rollerball containing a blend of invigorating essential oils is ideal.
(1) Varney E, Buckle J, Effect of inhaled essential oils on mental exhaustion and moderate burnout: a small pilot study, J Altern Complement Med. 2013 Jan;19(1):69-71.
Colds and flu can leave you feeling lousy, but there are lots of things you can do to help fight them naturally. As well as eating lots of warming, nourishing foods and getting plenty of vitamin C and zinc, it's important to get lots of rest to allow your body to recover. Essential oils can also be used to support your wellbeing when you have, or want to prevent, a cold or the flu.
When choosing essential oils for colds and flu, there are several things to take into consideration. Oils that help to boost the immune system are an obvious choice. Antiviral oils will help to fight off the virus while also helping to prevent the spread of germs, while decongestant oils will help to clear the head and sinuses.
If you are pregnant, breastfeeding or have a medical condition, please consult your GP or a qualified aromatherapist before using any essential oils as not all of them may be suitable.
The best essential oils for colds and flu include:
How to Use Essential Oils for Colds and Flu
Steam inhalation is very effective for immediate relief of congestion and to help fight any infection. Add 4-5 drops in total of any of the above essential oils to a bowl of hot water then cover your head and the bowl with a towel, taking care not to place your face too close to the water. Close your eyes and breathe deeply for a couple of minutes.
To help clear the head and sinuses and purify the air, add 4-5 drops in total of any of the above essential oils to an oil burner or vaporiser. This method is safer and most effective when essential oils are diffused for periods of up to 30 minutes at a time, instead of continuously. Always take care when diffusing around children, pets and those with medical conditions - please ask me if you need advice.
Up to three oils may be blended and massaged into the upper back and chest. Use no more than a total of 3 drops of essential oil per 5ml of carrier oil. If using any of the stronger essential oils such as peppermint, clove, cinnamon, thyme or pine, use only 1 drop per 5ml of carrier oil. If you are unsure how to blend oils, you may find it easier to have a product professionally made up for you.
Aroma Stick Inhalers
Aroma stick inhalers are one of the easiest and most convenient methods of using essential oils to help clear the head and sinuses. Simply place the aroma stick under your nose and gently inhale the clearing aromas of the essential oils. Aroma sticks are perfect for taking the benefits of aromatherapy with you whilst on the go.
If you have any questions about using essential oils for colds and flu, or if you would like to purchase any essential oils, please get in touch!