Best Essential Oils for Migraine & How to Use

Quick Answer: Best Essential Oils for Migraine

  1. Basil Essential Oil
  2. Coriander (seed) Essential Oil
  3. Lavender Essential Oil
  4. Lemongrass Essential Oil
  5. Marjoram Essential Oil
  6. Peppermint Essential Oil
  7. Rosewood Essential Oil
  8. Yarrow Essential oil
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A headache is a throbbing pain in the head. The condition affects our daily activities but can be treated with rest, food or over the counter medicine.

Headache occurs when blood vessels signal pain; major nerves from the brain and tissues surrounding the brain too get pain impulses.[1]

Sinus, teeth, tensed muscle and joints of the neck can cause the headache.

Migraine is a more severe and excruciating type of headache. It has a pulsating nature. The episodes can vary from hours to days.[2]

Genetics, change in the brain's blood flow and nerve cell activity cause migraines. This phenomenon is called cortical spreading depression. [3]

It can be triggered by stress, fatigue, loud noise, alcohol, food, etc. [4] The pain is concentrated on one side of the brain.[5] [6]

Symptoms before the episode include light and sound sensitivity, irritation, and nausea. [7]

Women are more prone to having migraines than men.[8]

What are Essential Oils?

Essential oils are natural plant products that are highly concentrated. They are colorless and volatile which gives us pleasant-smelling oils.

The extraction of oils can be from leaves, fruit rind, roots, stem, barks, twigs, nuts, flowers, resin or gum, seeds of plants.

They are popularly known as essence, volatile oil, aetheroleum or etheric oil. They are highly potential for medicinal use.

These oils have low molecular weight and are rich in bioactive compounds that provide them with their therapeutic properties such as terpenes, and oxygenated compounds that are aldehydes, ketones, phenols, esters, alcohols, and oxides.

The oils can be used in three different ways; all the methods have their benefits.

Aromatherapy works through our olfactory system using the nose as the medium. It is used in baths, like diffusers, inhalations,

In the oral method, the oils are directly sent into the body through blood circulation) as capsules or gels.

The topical application uses the oil to be absorbed into the skin and is used in lotions, mixed in a carrier oil, and massage blends.

Essential Oils and Migraine

Essential oils have bioactive compounds which have very specific properties. Phenols are pain-relieving and sedative.

Both esters and aldehydes have a calming and relaxing effect on the body among others. [9]

The oils are rich in analgesic action. They calm the brain and nerves. These oils relax the stiffened muscles and nerves of the body.

They balance the body emotionally, physically and mentally.

These oils work on the chakras of the body and increase the flow of positive energy around us.

Essential oils increase blood circulation in the body; they are also capable to clear the environment air whose impact is more oxygen in our system.

Many Oils such as chamomile [10], clary sage, sandalwood, and eucalyptus (sinus-related headaches) calms the mind and can be part of your headache mitigating bucket list.

The oils ease-out nausea and sickening feeling. They are a potent stress buster.

They are sedative and calmative in nature. These oils are reliable therapies to soothe and relax you during headache.

The oils promote cephalic action on the body and stimulate our senses in providing us clarity. Basil and Peppermint are great oils for this purpose.

Migraine makes you feel unwell and irritated; Coriander[11] and Ylang Ylang oils are great for making you feel happy again in stress-induced migraines.

Blood flow and proper circulation can relieve you from different forms of headache, essential oil imparts strength and is a great tonic for arteries and veins respectively.

Best Essential Oils for Migraine

Essential oils are an elixir in maintaining your health. They are not mere oil extracts but are chemically embedded with health benefits.

Yes, Migraine can be a real trouble maker for many; unfortunately, it has symptoms before the actual episode such as nausea, light sensitivity, etc.

Essential oils will not only relieve you from migraine but decrease the intensity of pre- symptoms also.

So jump on this essentially needed ride and explore the best essential oils for migraine with us. overall rating

Basil Essential Oil

Basil essential oil is a pale yellow tinged oil which is steam distilled from dark green leaves of an annual tender herb. It has a penetrating, refreshing and herbal fragrance.

Basil has many psychological benefits, in the Asian region, the plant is worshipped for it clears and fills the ambiance with purity and happiness.

The oil relieves mental fatigue and clears depression due to the presence of Linalyl acetate and eugenol.

Sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum) soothes migraine headaches. [12]

Camphor basil’s (Ocimum canum Sims.) leaves and seeds are beneficial in removing migraine. [13]

It is extensively used for migraines, headaches, and aids in strengthening the mind. [14]

Best way to use: To get maximum benefits of this oil, blend it with other oils and use in massage or steam inhalation. overall rating

Coriander (seed) Essential Oil

The coriander essential oil is extracted by crushing ripe coriander seeds. It is a strong aromatic herb whose seeds and leaves are extensively used in curries and garnishing.

The oil is tonic to nerves and shows potential relieve to pain during distress and migraine. [15] [16]

It is highly constituted with bioactive to relieve nausea, headaches [17] and exhaustion.

This oil is very pungent, so it highly recommended to fewer quantities of oil.

Best way to use: Take one drop of neat oil and massage around your temples, hairline, and base of the skull to get relief.

This oil makes a synergistic blend with Clary Sage essential oil. So a blend of both can be used for relief. overall rating

Lavender Essential Oil

Lavender essential oil is steam distilled from flowering tops of a green woody plant. It is aromatic with violet-blue flowers.

The oil has a balsamic undertone and rejuvenates you with its floral scent.

It is essentially good to relax the brain and calm you with its nervine and sedative action on the brain and body.

The oil carries out these activities through bioactive constituents such as geranial, geranyl acetate, etc. [18]

The oil has been reported as a safe oil for inhalation therapy for headaches. [19]  [20] [21]

The oil is great for many forms of headaches [22] [23]; it is a powerful analgesic and relieves any local pain.  [24]  [25]

A recent study has shown that using lavender oil for three months can reduce the intensity and frequency of migraines. [26]

A clinical trial reported inhalation of lavender oil for 15 minutes relieves the acute migraine pain. It was also beneficial for calming symptoms. [27]

Muscular pain and stiffness of the neck and shoulder are easily soothed by lavender oil. These can be the underlying cause of migraine.

Pregnant women and people with low blood pressure should be careful about using oil.

Best way to use:

  • Massage this blend into the back of your neck, forehead and temples for instant relief. The oil can treat migraines when used in aromatic diffuser therapy. For the blend take 8 drops of lavender and 4 drops of Roman Chamomile essential oil in 30 ml of carrier oil.   [28]
  • This relief formula is a blend of four different oils with specific properties which are peppermint (tension, anxiety), lavender (calm), ginger (nausea), and pink grapefruit (capillaries).
  • All you need to do is to place one drop of each essential oil on cotton balls, rub these firmly in your palm and take deep inhalation for four to five times. [29]
  • A blend of 2 drops each of Lavender, Ginger, and German Chamomile essential oil is useful for abdominal migraine.
  • Apply this blend on your stomach and let the action take place. Ensure to cover the stomach with a warm towel and you can use this blend 3 times a day. [30] overall rating

Lemongrass Essential Oil

Lemon essential oil is fruity citrus-scented oil which is refreshing and great headaches and muscular aches.

The oil is distilled from finely chopped grass and has an amber tinge. The grass is aromatic and used in tea.

The oil provides relief from pain and sedates aching or tensed nerves.

It is rich in aldehydes such as citronella, farmesal and especially Citral; citral forms 70-85% percent of the total volume of oil. They are beneficial in calming migraine.

The oil has soothing effects on migraine [31].

It is seen undiluted lemongrass oil can cause photosensitivity. The oil is generally not recommended for infants and toddlers.

Best way to use:

  • When using this oil, blend it well in a carrier oil and use it to massage your temples and the forehead.
  • Headache relief concoction: For this easy DIY therapy, all you need is 3 drops of lavender essential oil and 1 drop of Peppermint essential oil. Blend this well.

A drop of this blend massaged around temples, hairline or skull base may give you relief from headache. [32] overall rating

Marjoram Essential Oil

Marjoram essential oil is steam distilled from dried flowering herb. It belongs to a bushy perennial plant having grey white flowers. The whole plant has a woody camphor-like aroma.

The oil is beneficial to relieve you of any anxiety or stress causing migraines. [33] [34] [35]

It has known benefits in relieving and relaxing your nerves from anxiety. It also reduces mental activity and promotes sound sleep. [36]

It has pain decreasing effects because the oil dilated blood vessels in the body which in turn improves circulation and successfully reduces migraines and headaches. [37]

The oils unique property is to increase parasympathetic nervous activity in the body which leads to decreased heart rate and calm body.

The oil is not recommended to use in topical application or baths during pregnancy

Best way to use:

  • Take 2 drops each of Sweet marjoram essential oil, Lavender essential oil, and peppermint essential oil. Pour this blend on a cotton pad or tissue, taking long breathes inhale the oil three times to get relief. [38]
  • For this healing blend, you need 30 ml of base oil formulation – 15 ml of olive oil and 15 ml of jojoba oil. Now to this add Chamomile essential oil 3 drops, Marjoram essential oil 3 drops and Lavender essential 6 oil drops.

Before going to bed, massage this blend on the back of the neck. During an episode of migraine rub on the back of the neck and the temples. [39] overall rating

Peppermint Essential Oil

The peppermint essential oil has a minty and refreshing fragrance. It is steam distilled from a reddish violet flowering herb having dark greenish leaves.

The oil is generally used to ward off the tension, anxiety, and mental fatigue.

The used oil has been proven since 1996; this old study shows the effectiveness of peppermint oil in significantly reducing tension-type headache. [40]

It calms down the nerves thus providing relief from migraines. The oil exhibits its cooling properties due to the presence of menthol (28-46%) [41] [42]and menthyl acetate useful for its calming properties.

The oil is highly beneficial for headaches [43] [44]. It is remedial for migraine [45]. You are going to feel fresh and mentally relaxed.[46]

Daily chores, tension, commitments can leave your mind congested and with a headache. The cephalic action helps in clearing the mind.

Best way to use:

  • For alleviating migraines, compress is a beneficial method when you are using the oil.
  • Another way is to mix the oil in cream and topically massaging into a halo to the forehead and hairline of the neck. Massage technique helps it to directly absorb into the skin.
  • Nausea- relief trick: you can put 3-4 drops on a cotton pad or tissue and then inhale to get relief.
  • Dilute Peppermint oil with a carrier oil such as jojoba oil or coconut oil.

Now taking a generous amount massage softly to your neck, forehead, and temples. This therapy will relieve your migraine headache.

  • A drop of this oil can also be rubbed over the sinuses to relieve headaches. [47]
  • Oral intake is another option, the capsule must contain 3 drops of Lemon essential oil, 3 drops of Peppermint oil, and 1 drop of Basil oil. You take up to thrice daily. [48] overall rating

Rosewood Essential Oil

Rosewood essential oil is steam distilled from wood chips of a medium-sized tropical tree. The wood has a reddish bark and heartwood.

It has a pale tinge just like its yellow flowers.

The oil is very calming and uplifting to both body and mind. It alleviates mental fatigue.

It is valuable for muscular pain [49] and ache and nausea which are considered to be a cause of migraine. It contains analgesic and cephalic properties. [50]

The oil is very reliable in correcting your chronic ailments. It is very good for your immunity building and strengthens the nervous system.[51]

In case, you are ailing with migraines or getting stressed out. This is just what you should look out for! The oil relaxes your mind and emotions.

Best way to use: Use the oil with a carrier oil and massage over your head and temples. overall rating

Yarrow Essential oil

Yarrow essential oil is distilled from dried herbs having stem, leaves and flower heads. It has a sweet aroma and the fragrance will make you feel fresh.

The oil works on appetite and relieves muscular pain which can be potentially connected to the migraine. It cools the body internally.

It is beneficial for relief from migraines in women due to its balancing action on human hormones. So it calms the mind and works on symptoms and causes of migraines. [52]

The oil is contraindicated during pregnancy and for small babies and children.

Best way to use: Rub a drop or two on your hands, cup them to your nose and inhale 4-5 times.

Precautions While Using Essential Oils

Before trying out new oil, ensure doing a patch test on the inside of your arm to know of any allergic reactions.

These oils can cause photosensitivity, so avoid the sunlight for at least 4-6 hours after using the oils.

If the oil gets into sensitive areas such as eyes, quickly wash with whole milk or vegetable oil.

This dilutes the oil and removes it from the skin or membrane surface. Then rinse with water and seek medical help.

If there is a skin allergy such as itching or redness, the recommendation is to wash the affected area with non-perfumed soap.

The oils can catch fire easily, hence must be stored away from gas stoves or match sticks.

It is advisable not to use essential oils near inner ears, genitals or mucous membranes due to high risk of skin sensitivity or allergies.


Headaches are very disturbing for anyone who has to bear it. From light sensitivity to banging to unbearable pain, yes! We all have faced it once a while.

It starts to overboard when you cannot control a headache even with over the counter pop-ups.

Migraine is a more intense form. But here is a permanent solution to combat migraines.

Essential oils not only clear your mind off the pain but relieve you from nausea, irritating or tensed feeling also. Go out and try your favorites from above.

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