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Have a Headache? Try an Essential Oil

Here are the top oils recommended for headache and stress relief.

Looking for an elixir to treat your aching head? For some, the answer is not in the medicine cabinet, but in the same oils that spas use to create a relaxing and calming atmosphere.

“You probably won’t get the same instant relief as with taking medication, but there is an increasing body of evidence that points to the calming and healing effects of certain essential oils,” says Dayne Grove, naturopathic doctor and acupuncturist at the Mission Hospital Wellness Corner at Sendero Marketplace. “These natural oils work by soothing the senses, providing a feeling of calm, and ultimately helping to reduce blood pressure. Everyone reacts differently, and for some people, this is all they need when bothered by a headache or the inkling that a headache is about to start.”

If you have an aching head, there are a few ways that you can benefit from the therapeutic effects of essential oils. You can apply the essence topically, but never apply an essence directly to the skin without diluting it in a “carrier oil” such as jojoba, argon, avocado, sweet almond or magnesium oil. Another way is to try aromatherapy with an electric diffuser that disperses the oil into the air. Or, you can just put some essential oil on a cotton ball, place it under your nose and take a few deep breaths.

Since we get headaches for different reasons, you’ll want to pick the right oil for your needs. And you may find that this technique works best when mixed with other stress-reducing activities. Here are the top oils recommended for headache and stress relief:

  • Peppermint Oil – Who doesn’t enjoy the fresh scent of peppermint? Since the menthol in this essence is helpful for clearing the respiratory tract and clogged sinuses, peppermint oil is particularly helpful for treating sinus headaches from colds and other infections. Additionally, peppermint relieves digestive problems, which is helpful for those with headaches caused by stomach aches. And, when applied to the skin, peppermint oil has a cooling effect which can stimulate blood flow to the head, easing tension headaches.
  • Lavender Oil – A “go to” at your local spa, lavender essential oil induces relaxation and relieves stress. It works as a sedative, antidepressant and calming agent. For this reason, lavender oil is typically used to treat headaches caused by anxiety disorders and related conditions. You can also try it if you have trouble sleeping, either while you try to fall asleep or as a soothing addition to a before-bedtime bath.
  • Eucalyptus Oil – There’s a reason koala bears love to chew on eucalyptus leaves. Like peppermint, eucalyptus is effective in clearing the nasal passageways and has been used as an anti-inflammatory to help with respiratory conditions and sinus inflammation. Eucalyptus has also been found to reduce pain and lower blood pressure, making it good for tension headaches.
  • Rosemary Oil – Rosemary has a calming and stress-reducing effect that can help alleviate headaches caused by stress and lack of sleep. In fact, studies on people with opium addictions report that rosemary oil helps with withdrawal symptoms. Clearly, rosemary has some powerful attributes besides being an additive to grandma’s spaghetti sauce.
  • Marjoram Oil – Marjoram is also popular in the kitchen, but as an essential oil it can help relieve anxiety and stress, as well as tight muscles, muscle cramps and muscle strain, all of which are related to many headaches. Marjoram oil has also proved to be effective in a hot or cold compress.
  • Chamomile Oil – Everyone knows that chamomile tea has calming effects, so it stands to reason that the essential oil does as well. In fact, chamomile is thought to help with stress, irritability, depression and anger. Headaches caused by the general tensions of the day can benefit from some chamomile, either in the tea or oil form.

“Of course, if you have a prolonged headache, you’ll need to see a doctor,“ says Grove (St. Joseph Health’s physician referral service can help in this task). “However, essential oils can be a good first line of defense. You just might find that a few drops have a powerful effect.”

About Mission Hospital Wellness Corner

Now open! The Mission Hospital Wellness Corner complements the care you receive from traditional medical providers, helping you achieve complete wellness and vitality –improving the way you feel all the time. Our highly trained interdisciplinary care team delivers a holistic approach where we personalize your care plan with safe, natural therapies that deliver optimal health. Visit us in the Sendero Marketplace - 30897 Gateway Place, Suite F-4 in Rancho Mission Viejo.

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