Next time a headache strikes, even a migraine, skip the aspirin and reach for an essential oil. Clinical trials show, for example, that essential oil of lavender relieves migraine pain and accompanying symptoms by 72 percent.
In comparison, the Migraine Treatment Group reports that Tylenol helps migraines about 50 percent of the time. Ibuprofen works 57 percent of the time. And Imitrex, a drug often prescribed by doctors for migraine relief, is effective only 59 percent of the time.
A 2012 study conducted by the School of Medicine's Department of Neurology, at Iran's Mashad University of Medical Sciences, enrolled 47 diagnosed migraine patients and randomly assigned them to one of two groups. Trial subjects were told to apply two to three drops of essential lavender oil onto their upper lip, inhale it for 15-minutes and then score the severity of their headache pain every 30 minutes for the next two hours. (Control subjects received similar instructions but were given a placebo to inhale).
Out of 129 reported headaches experienced by trial subjects, nearly 72 percent responded entirely or partially to the lavender essential oil therapy. In the control group, fewer than half of headaches responded to the placebo.
Besides lavender, essential oil of peppermint has been shown in multiple studies to relieve nausea and vomiting associated with migraine as well as the perception of headache and migraine pain. Essential oil of rose has been found to combine well with lavender to soothe migraine pain.
"We definitely see essential oil therapies gaining popularity," reports Kate Vozoff, Premiere Enterprises' director of product development. "They're effective and have no side effects. It's hard to beat that combination."
Even children ages 5 and up can safely use essential oil remedies like Headache ReLeaf. Vozoff says this should make many parents happy because, "one in six American kids and teens suffer with headaches and sometimes even migraines."
While lavender is the basic essential oil remedy for all headaches, aromatherapists often combine it with other oils. For example:
- Tension headaches call for a mix of lavender and peppermint.
- For migraines, combine lavender with peppermint and rose.
- Cluster headaches are best treated with a blend of lavender, basil, marjoram, peppermint and rosemary.
- For sinus headache, use lavender along with eucalyptus, frankincense and rosemary.