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Essential Oils for Migraine Relief

By Jodi Cohen

Essential oils are well known for their anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties which can soothe and reduce the intensity and duration of migraines, or recurring painful and throbbing headaches.

Migraine Symptoms

Migraines typically affect one side of the head and are often accompanied by symptoms including:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Poor appetite
  • Pain that feels throbbing or pulsing
  • Sensitivity to light, sounds, and sometimes smells and touch
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Blurred or Distorted vision
  • Lightheadedness

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.


Essential Oils for Migraines

Essential oils have many attributes that make them particularly well suited to offer migraine relief, including 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.

The trigeminal nerve, which runs along your jawline and interacts with your vagus nerve, is also activated.  This nerve releases chemicals that swell up the blood vessels in your head, which contributes to migraine headaches.

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.


Migraine Relief Essential Oils

Vibrant Blue Oils Symptom Support Migraine Relief™ contains a proprietary formulation of the following organic and/or wild crafted essential oils designed to reduce inflammation, improve circulation and alleviate pain:

Basil: Found to decrease the intensity and frequency of migraines.  Clears the head and relieves intellectual fatigue, which helps with headaches and migraines.  In a Review of aromatherapy essential oils and their mechanism of action against migraines, researchers found that essential oils “could relieve migraine symptoms… by effectively inhibiting neurogenic inflammation, hyperalgesia and balancing vasorelaxation.”  Scientists found that basil essential oil when applied topically every 8 hours decreased the intensity and frequency of migraine over 3 months, and higher doses of basil oil may produce more improvements.


HelichrysumKnown to reduce migraine pain by improving circulation and lowering inflammation and swelling. Its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties make it an effective pain reliever.  Scientists attribute helicrysum’s pain relieving qualities to the oil’s strong antioxidant properties — especially in the form of acetophenones and phloroglucinols — present within helichrysum oil.

Helichrysum may help treat headaches and tiredness by helping your blood flow more easily.  In particular, helichrysum plants of the Asteraceae family are prolific producers of a host of different metabolites, including pyrones, triterpenoids and sesquiterpenes, in addition to its flavonoids, acetophenones and phloroglucinol – which support enhanced blood flow, healing and pain reduction

Helichrysum’s protective properties are expressed partly like a corticoid-like steroid, helping lower inflammation by inhibiting action in different pathways of arachidonic acid metabolism. Researchers from the Department of Pharmacy at the University of Naples in Italy also found that due to ethanolic compounds present in the extract of helichrysum flowers, it elicits antispasmodic actions like reducing migraine pain.


Lavender: Known for anti-inflammatory and sedative properties, Lavender can help reduce inflammation and lessons pain associated with migraines due in part to the anticonvulsant, anti-depressive, anxiolytic, sedative, and calming properties that Lavender possesses.

Research on “Lavender essential oil in the treatment of migraine headache”  published in the European Journal of Neurology  found that “Inhalation of lavender essential oil is suggested to be an effective and safe treatment modality in acute management of migraine headaches. Forty-seven patients suffering from migraine attacks reported significant reduction of pain severity and associated symptoms after fifteen minutes inhalation of lavender oil (2-3 drops of the lavender essential oil rubbed onto their upper lip) in the early stages of the attacks.”

Additional research found that breathing in the scent of lavender essential oil can help the acute management of migraine attacks. One 2013 study found that people reported a significant reduction in pain after only 15 minutes of inhaling the lavender oil.


Peppermint can help cure headaches and migraines.  It 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.  Researchers found that essential oils may help ease migraine symptoms by “reducing neurogenic inflammation and pain sensitivity and relax vascular tension.”


Roman Chamomile: An excellent anti-inflammatory oil for treating migraines. Due to its relaxing properties, it will help treat nervous tension and stress related complaints.

Research on potential effect and mechanism of action of topical chamomile oil on migraine headaches found that “chamomile oil is a novel medicine for the relief of migraine pain.”

The pain relief effects of Chamomile are attributed to the chemical constituents parthenolide and chamazulene which are known to inhibit migraine-related inflammation. The topical application of chamomile essential oil also impedes the production of nitric oxide, which, in turn, helps reduce migraine attacks.  In addition, chamomile flavonoids and polyphenols, which possess anti-inflammatory effects due to the inhibition of pro-inflammatory biomarkers.


Sweet Marjoram: Works as an arterial vasodilator, meaning that it helps dilate blood vessels, which reduces strain on heart and helps you relieve headaches, including migraines.  Marjoram is also a powerful, warming muscle relaxant and antispasmodic helping to reduce muscle pain, spasms and tension headaches. Marjoram is also analgesic, which means it is deeply tranquilizing to the central nervous system.

Research found that sweet marjoram essential oil “resulted in significant clinical improvements” in pain, nausea, and anxiety.


How to Use Migraine Relief

Migraine Relief™ is designed for aromatic and topical use. If using topically, we recommend 1- 2 drops across the forehead, on temples, and to the back of the neck.


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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.