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12 Best Essential Oils for Migraines

By Jodi Cohen

A woman with her hands on her head.

Migraines, or recurring painful and throbbing headaches, can cause significant pain for hours to days and can be so severe that the pain is disabling.  Migraines typically affect one side of the head and are often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound.  The duration of a migraine attack can vary, however most migraine attacks last between four to 72 hours and can occur several times a month. Continue reading to learn about Essential Oils for Migraines.

Some warning signs, known as auras, can present prior to the onset of the headache, including visual disturbances, such as flashes of light or wavy, zigzag vision, blind spots, or tingling on one side of the face or the arm or leg.  Sometimes auras can be touching sensations (sensory), movement (motor) or speech (verbal) disturbances.

Actual Migraine Symptoms can include:

  • Pain on one side or both sides of your head
  • Pain that feels throbbing or pulsing
  • Sensitivity to light, sounds, and sometimes smells and touch
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Blurred vision
  • Lightheadedness, sometimes followed by fainting


Essential Oils for Migraines

Essential oils have many attributes that make them particularly well suited to offer migraine relief because of their anti-inflammatory properties and ability to cross the blood brain barrier.

While migraines can result from a variety of triggers, a key cause is inflammation, which dilates and constricts the blood flow within the brain. The repeated dilation and constriction causes the nerve walls, which are sensitive to pain, to stretch, resulting in the discomfort of a headache.

Essential oils can be used to address the underlying trigger of the migraine, along with offering symptomatic relief and comfort.  For example, oils can be helpful for managing pain, alleviating panic, fighting nausea and supporting relaxation and sleep.


What Causes Migraines?

Migraines may be triggered by a number of factors.  To properly prevent migraines, it is important to address the underlying root trigger of the problem, including:


1. Poor Brain Drainage

The neck is the channel where toxins drain down the neck.   If the neck channel is congested from poor lymphatic flow, toxins do not leave the brain, but instead recirculate, leading to inflammation and pressure that can be experienced as headaches. If you think of the body like a hydraulics system where congested tissue downstream prevents optimal flow upstream, congested lymphatic vessels in the neck can impede drainage of toxins from the brain, adding pressure to the brain fluid resulting in a migraine.

To support brain drainage, consider the Brain Reboot Kit.  Lymph™ can also help move lymph fluid and reduce congestion, often relieving migraine symptoms.  Apply Lymph™ around the sides of the neck and the left clavicle, under arms and on pelvis.  Parasympathetic® can help detoxify the vagus nerve for reduced pain and better signaling. Read more about brain detoxification HERE.


2. Imbalances in Brain Chemicals

Serotonin is a chemical necessary for communication between nerve cells that helps regulate pain in your nervous system. It can cause narrowing of blood vessels throughout the body, which can result in a migraine. Research shows that Serotonin levels drop during migraine attacks which may cause the trigeminal nerve to release neurotransmitters that the brain experiences as migraine pain.

Brain Balance blends like Hypothalamus™ and Parasympathetic® may help balance brain chemicals to help reduce migraines.  Lavender™ is also thought to help regulate serotonin levels to minimize  nervous system pain that trigger migraines. Similarly, Serotonin is produced primarily in the gut.  To help balance the gut and modulate Serotonin production, consider the Gut Repair Kit™.


3. Hormones

Fluctuations in estrogen levels are often associated with these fluctuating hormone levels and may explain why women are more likely to have migraines than men.   Some research suggests that when estrogen levels rise and then fall, contractions in blood vessels may be set off. This leads to throbbing pain. Other data suggest that lower levels of estrogen make facial and scalp nerves more sensitive to pain. To that point, women often report migraines around the time of their periods when estrogen levels drop and during pregnancy, menopause, or other periods of hormonal imbalances.  Contraceptives and hormonal drugs can also trigger migraines.

To balance hormones, consider the Detox Support Kit, Hormone Balance™, Estrogen Balance™ and Adrenal® blend.


4.  Poor Brain Circulation

Migraines can be a form of vascular headaches, where constriction of blood vessels both affects blood flow within the brain and causes pressure build up in the brain, aggravating migraines.  More specifically, poor blood flow out of the brain adds to increased pressure in the brain which can be  experienced as the pain of the migraine.  Circulation™  blend may help help open the vasculature to allow for drainage of blood flow, along with the lymph drainage from  Lymph™ oil which helps to relieve the pressure and alleviate the symptoms of migraines. Apply Circulation™ generously at the base of the neck, behind the ears, and along the sides of the neck.

In the same vein, the powerful brain healing abilities of Frankincense™ may be attributed to its ability to penetrate deeply into the brain and carry oxygen into the brain tissues.  Several studies found that sesquiterpenes, a natural compound found Frankincense, can increase levels of oxygen in the brain by up to 28%, helping to increase blood flow, reduce pressure and lessen the pain of a migraine.


5.  Toxic Overload

Chemical sensitivity from an overload of toxins (like herbicides pesticides, heavy metals, or mold) or hormones can contribute to pain sensitivity for migraine sufferers.  Chemical sensitive also presents as a sensitivity to strong smells, including perfume, paint thinner and secondhand smoke, which  can also trigger migraines in some people.

Supporting the organs of detoxification, like the liver, with essential oil blends like those found in the Detox Support Kit™, can help alleviate sensitivity to pain related to migraines.


6.  Gall Bladder Challenges

A mild headache above the eyes is one of the indicators for gall bladder issues.  In Eastern medicine, the gallbladder meridian traverses the part of the head where you feel a headache.  Following that logic, anything that causes gallbladder dysfunction could cause a disruption in that meridian pathway and lead to a headache.  Supporting the gall bladder with Parasympathetic® over the vagus nerve (which signals the gall bladder to release bile) or Gall Bladder™ may help ease stress on the gall bladder meridian and with it, the experience of a migraine.  The Gall Bladder™ blend also contains Chamomile which is known to cross the blood brain barrier, reduce inflammation and help calm migraines.

Read more about how healing the Gall Bladder can reduce headaches.


7.  Poor sleep

Our brain is dependent on sleep to detoxify. During sleep the metabolic activity of our brain goes up about 10 times.  Research shows that the neurons in the brain actually shrink by about 60% to make room for the movement of cerebrospinal fluid through our brain to remove toxins and deliver oxygen and   The lack of restful sleep allows these toxins to build up and accumulate, contributing to brain inflammation and pressure, which contribute to migraine pain.

To support healthy sleep, consider Circadian Rhythm®, which triggers the natural release of Melatonin, the key hormone to help us fall asleep. Melatonin also serves as a powerful antioxidant and a potent detoxifier of the brain.  Read more about how sleep detoxifies the brain HERE.


8.  Stress

High stress triggers high cortisol levels that can result in chronic inflammation leading to migraines.  Typically brought on my feelings of pressure, stress headaches are characterized as dull, constant pressure or pain.

The Stress Support Kit™, Parasympathetic®Adrenal® and Hypothalamus™ can also help balance cortisol levels to reduce inflammation levels that contribute to migraine pain.


9.  Sinus Congestion

When the membranes of the sinus cavities become inflamed and swollen, pressure in the forehead area where these cavities are located, can result in a  sinus headache.

Histamine Balance™ and Sinus Support™ can help alleviate sinus pressure and relieve sinus related migraine pain.  Read more about how essential oils for allergies open up the nasal passages and relieve sinus tension HERE.


10.  Blood Sugar Imbalances

Blood Sugar dysregulation and resulting high cortisol levels can result in chronic inflammation leading to headaches.

Balancing blood sugar with the Blood Sugar Support Kit™ along with supporting the adrenals with Adrenal® to reduce cortisol levels to reduce headache pain. Similarly, supporting the Pancreas™ and the Liver™ can help balance blood sugar to reduce migraine triggers.  Read more about balancing blood sugar HERE.


11.  TBIs or Other Physical Injuries

Traumatic Brain Injuries or other injuries to the head and/or neck may provoke migraines.  TBIs trigger an inflammatory response in the brain.  There is no off switch for brain inflammation so this can contribute to inflammation and pain.  Similarly, damage to the blood vessels in the brain activates the coagulation (blood clotting), resulting in severely decreased blood flow and impeded drainage from the brain.  This causes pressure to build and contributes to symptoms like migraines.Finally, when nerve fibers are damaged, signals from the nerves can misfire, leading to shooting pains.

The Reboot Your Brain Kit™ may help balance and heal TBIs.  Topically applying Parasympathetic® blend on the vagal nerve behind the on the neck can help manually override any TBI damaged nerve signaling.   Parasympathetic® is also helpful in relieving headaches, dizziness and nausea both when applied behind the earlobe on the vagus nerve and on the temples..  Read more about TBIs HERE


12.  Inflammation

Research demonstrates that inflammation contributes to migraines, finding that elevated high sensitivity C-reactive protein is a critical marker associated with inflammation.  Reducing inflammation can reduce headache pain.  Anti-Inflammatory™  includes several oils with powerful anti-inflammatory properties like Frankincense, Dill, and Ginger.

Apply Anti-Inflammatory at the base of the skull (very bottom of the hair line), behind ears and the back of the head.  Similarly, Nerve Repair™ may help ease inflammation.  It contains Helichrysum essential oil which is an especially powerful anti-inflammatory oil.



 Additional Essential Oils for Migraines

Migraine Relief™— This blend of Basil, Marjoram, Lavender, Peppermint, Roman Chamomile, and Helichrysum provide relief from inflammation and associated pain. To use, rub a drop on the temples can ease the pain and throbbing or apply it to the forehead or neck with a cold compress.

Nerve Repair™ — Great for relieving pain and easing inflammation.  Contains Helichrysum Essential Oil which is an especially powerful anti-inflammatory oil.  Apply Nerve Repair™ generously around the neck, shoulders and down the spine.  Can also be applied to the bottom of the feet.

Parasympathetic® – This refreshing blend of clove and lime helps to relieve headache pain, both when applied behind the earlobe on the vagus nerve and on the temples.

Lavender™ —  known for anti-inflammatory and sedative properties. Lavender™ Oil is a good oil to use if you are trying to relieve migraine pain during the evening/nighttime hours.

Peppermint™ contains a significant amount of menthol which is known for helping to relax and ease tension headaches and muscular aches and pains. Research found that applying peppermint essential oil topically across the forehead and on the temples effectively alleviated migraine pain.  Peppermint™ was also found to improve blood circulation, reduce pain and relieve tension when applied to the shoulders, forehead and back of neck.  Peppermint™ Oil is quite stimulating and may interfere with sleeping.



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About The Author

Jodi Cohen

Jodi Sternoff Cohen is the founder of Vibrant Blue Oils. An author, speaker, nutritional therapist, and a leading international authority on essential oils, Jodi has helped over 50,000 individuals support their health with essential oils.