How to Use Essential Oils for Headaches

Do you suffer from regular headaches? Do you get headaches at least once or twice per week? Unfortunately, headaches are a fact of life for up to 90 percent of Americans to get a tension headache. Up to 17 percent of Americans suffer from more severe migraines. Migraines may actually cause a visit to the doctor’s office or emergency room.

At best, headaches are an annoyance that go away after a few hours. At worst, migraines can take over your life and cause you to need regular medical care. Migraines and headaches that don’t go away can be a sign of trouble.

Don’t let headaches or migraines rule your life. Medications help, but there are other ways to help alleviate the pain associated with tension headaches and migraines when medicines don’t work fast enough.

You should seek the assistance of a licensed medical professional if you are concerned about your headaches. However, you should consider as many treatment methods as possible. Use essential oils for headaches if you want a more natural alternative compared to over-the-counter or prescription medications.

Discover how to use essential oils for headaches with this step-by-step guide.


Before we get into the details of how to use essential oils for headaches, here’s a quick checklist of the things you need.

  • Set up your diffuser. You need a way to get the scents of the essential oils into the rest of the room. Set up the diffuser somewhere in the room.
  • Pick your essential oil. You have many choices, but some may provide certain benefits compared to others.
  • Find a quiet space. Sometimes, you just have to get away from the world around you to help with your headache. Dim the lights, lay back, begin some breathing exercises and start inhaling the essential oils.
  • Try other methods. Find what method of getting the essential oils works for you. If you can’t find a quiet space to relax, there are other ways to get the right essential oils into your body.

The key to this entire process is to do what works for you. Much like finding alternative therapies for headaches, such as massage, acupuncture or nutrition, each method works differently for different people.

Follow these steps for how to use essential oils for headaches. Once you get this down, alter the steps to whatever suits your needs.

1. Set Up the Diffuser

Before you try essential oils, you need a way to diffuse the scent throughout the room. A diffuser does just that. There are two main types of diffusers. One type uses a tea light candle, and the other uses electricity with a light bulb. The flame from the candle or the electricity heats up the surface of the diffuser, and then the liquid evaporates into the air.

The heat then makes the liquid evaporate into the air. Electric diffusers are much more efficient as compared to candle varieties, but use which type works for you.

The diffuser should be somewhat near your head so you can get the full effect of the essential oils faster. If you lay down on your bed, consider putting your diffuser on a nightstand. An electric diffuser is also safer as there are no open flames that could spell trouble for children or pets that come into the room.

Once you get your diffuser going, it’s time to add the liquids that make the magic happen.

2. Pick Your Essential Oil

Fill the diffuser with a little bit of carrier oil. The carrier oil spreads the essential oil out, and it prevents the essential oil from evaporating too quickly. Buy a bottle of almond oil or avocado oil. The carrier oil shouldn’t have a scent, and it enhances the essential oil. You can buy these oils at any health food store.

Then add several drops, maybe 10 to 20, of your essential oil into the carrier oil. Choose your favorite essential oil, or use a few that may help with your headache.

Basil Oil

Basil oil smells just like basil, the herb used in pasta dishes, pizza and spaghetti sauce. Basil has a distinct flavor and aroma that reminds you of cooking a hearty meal in the kitchen. Basil also acts as a muscle relaxant. Ten drops of this in your diffuser and several minutes later, you might feel your tension headache start to relax.

Lavender Oil

Whereas basil oil is a muscle relaxant, lavender oil may have anti-inflammatory properties. When you reduce inflammation, it makes your blood vessels flow more effectively. When blood flows to your headache better, the faster it goes away.

Peppermint Oil

Peppermint oil invigorates the senses, and it also shows to be an effective headache reliever. Peppermint oil is strong, so try using just a few drops of this oil as opposed to 10 to 15 drops. However, find a level that’s right for you.

Eucalyptus Oil

Eucalyptus oil acts as a warming oil for muscles to relieve tension. People also swear by eucalyptus oil’s ability to help spasms and poor circulation. Try a few drops of eucalyptus for 10 to 15 minutes and see how you feel.


Try a mixture of any of these four oils. Use peppermint oil in the smallest proportions, because it can overpower the other scents. Find a mix that’s right for you. As with any essential oil experiment, it may take a few tries before you get a combination that works best.

3. Find a Quiet Space

Find a quiet space in your home to relax. If you’re sensitive to light with your headache, make the room dark. Close the door to prevent any interruptions. Breathe in and out using deep, constant breaths. Breathe in your nose and out your mouth in measured breaths. You might try a guided meditation for breathing with a soft voice in the background.

Make your space soft and gentle. Consider lying on your bed or on your favorite couch. Turn off the phone, make the room temperature comfortable, drink a few sips of water and just concentrate on your breathing.

4. Try Other Methods

You may find that you need more than just smelling the aroma of essential oils in a dark room to help your headaches. Luckily, essential oils have other applications than just going into a diffuser.

On Your Head

You might try rubbing some of these essential oils directly on your temples or forehead where the headache hurts the most. It would be inconvenient to put essential oils directly on your scalp unless you feel like taking a shower or bath shortly after your aromatherapy session. Just 10 to 15 drops should do, and you don’t need the carrier oil for that. Just use the essential oils directly on your skin.

Under Your Nose

If you’re on the go, try placing a few drops of essential oil under your nose. This works for any of the essential oils that you feel works best. Just a few drops of each should do, especially since you’re not diffusing the oil in carrier oil.

On Your Arms

Try rubbing some of these essential oils up and down your arms. Every time you move your hands or arms, you catch a hint of the scent. This would take about 10 to 15 drops of oil total, so put seven drops on one arm, rub them in, and then do the same on the other arm. This method should last all day long if you’re at work or out and about with a headache.

Fresh Basil

If you want to try fresh basil, boil a couple of basil leaves in a small pot. Remove the pot from the stovetop and hold your head over the pot for 10 to 15 minutes, much like when you inhale the vapors of boiling water when you have a cold. See if this works instead of a few drops of basil essential oil. The natural properties of the basil oil come directly from the leaves using this alternative method.


We hope this guide helps improve the quality of your life as you battle your headaches. Remember, if you have frequent headaches, you might talk to your doctor to see if a licensed medical professional can help determine a course of treatment of if there is some underlying cause. Essential oils should never completely replace scientifically accepted medical guidelines.

These essential oils, and some relaxation methods, might help your headaches using a more natural method compared to over-the-counter medications. Essential oils may also invigorate your body in ways beyond just easing the pain of headaches.

Did you enjoy this guide to how to use essential oils for headaches? Do you have any tips for how you handle headaches using all-natural methods? If you have any comments, let us know what you think. Feel free to share these tips and this article with anyone who you think can use these tips to live better with headaches.