Aromatherapy really proves its worth with headaches. Peppermint, eucalyptus, and lavender are especially helpful in reducing headache pain. A tincture of lavender called “Palsy Drops” was recognized by the British Pharmacopoeia for more than 200 years and used by physicians to relieve muscle spasms, nervousness, and headaches until the 1940s, when herbs and aroma preparations fell out of favor and chemicals became more popular. In a 1994 U.S. study by H. Gobel, the essential oils of peppermint and eucalyptus relaxed both the mind and muscles of headache sufferers when the oils were diluted in alcohol and rubbed on their foreheads. Essential oils can be also used to make a compress to place on your forehead whenever a headache hits.
Most people find that their headaches respond best to a cold compress, but you can use a warm or hot compress -- or alternate the two -- for the result that works best. You can also place a second compress at the back of the neck. When you do not have time for compresses, dab a small drop of lavender, eucalyptus, or peppermint oil on each temple. For some people, a hot bath only makes their head pound more. However, if bathing does ease your pain, add a few drops of relaxing lavender or chamomile to your bath water.
Migraine headaches can be especially painful. Raising the temperature of the hands 15°F by soaking them in warm water seems to short-circuit a vascular headache such as a migraine by regulating circulation. Adding a couple drops of essential oil to the water increases the effect. Migraines often respond best to a blend of ginger and lavender.
Cluster headaches can also be quite severe and require special treatment. In addition to the headache compress, try a cream made from capsaicin, the active compound in cayenne peppers. Spread it on your forehead, temples, or any other area where you experience pain, but not too close to the eyes. Capsaicin blocks a neurotransmitter called substance P (which stands for pain), stopping pain impulses from registering in the brain. The cream works best as a preventative, to keep the headache from forming in the first place. Available for sale in drug and natural food stores, it needs to be applied four to five times a day for about four weeks to do much good, yet it is well worth the trouble for those who suffer these headaches.
Essential oils for headaches: chamomile, cinnamon, clove, eucalyptus, ginger, jasmine, lavender, lemongrass, marjoram, patchouli, peppermint