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Relieving headaches with aromatherapy | Essential oils for migraines

March 17th, 2017

In the last blog, we looked at measures to alleviate tension headaches through warming. Today, let’s look at the role of aromatherapy care in combating migraine headaches.


Migraines and coping methods


Migraines are a type of headache that cause nerve stimulation and inflammation in the blood vessels in the head. Sufferers feel pain in one or both sides of the head, as well as the forehead, temple, behind the eyes and other places. They tend to be accompanied by nausea, dizziness, a runny nose and other symptoms personal to each sufferer. Trigger factors include oversleeping, chronic fatigue, stress, and the influence of low atmospheric pressure. Women often suffer headaches accompanying menstruation, suggesting that migraines are related to the autonomic nerve system and hormonal imbalance. In general, it is difficult for commercially available headache medicines to work effectively to combat migraine symptoms.

As the pain is caused by the expansion of blood vessels, we must work to constrict them. The quickest way to achieve this is by placing a cold towel or another cold object (ice cream, cold-pack) onto your forehead and temples. Tea or other caffeinated drinks such as coffee or green tea also work to shrink the blood vessels. Research has also shown an intake of magnesium can be effective for migraines.

When the migraine symptoms begin you should immediately treat with essential oils, as an aromatherapy aroma which would normally feel pleasant becomes less so due to sensory irritability with experiencing sound, light, and fragrance.

Nonetheless, essential oils have an action that affects the nerves and the endocrine system, which leads to suppression of vasoconstriction and pain inflammation. In this way they can help to alleviate migraines. Essential oils specifically effective for migraines will be discussed later.

Also, since massaging around your head may worsen the pain, it’s better to err on the side of caution and not do so. It’s also good to find a quiet place to sit or lie down, with little stimulation of light and sound. Take a good rest and move as little as possible.


Essential oils effective for migraines


There is research suggesting that peppermint is an effective agent for the elimination of migraines. Menthol, the main component of peppermint, helps not only with the analgesic action but also the release of serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter in the brain.

There are experimental results suggesting that Rose and Lemon work on serotonin release too.

For people with migraine headaches related to the menstrual cycle and/or low pressure, it is possible that a reduction of serotonin in the brain may be the cause of vasodilatation. In addition to peppermint, rose and lemon also help migraines by stimulating enzymes to release serotonin.

Research data suggests that rosemary, traditionally regarded as good for headaches, promotes adrenergic secretion at low concentrations.  This effect contracts the blood vessels, which may lead to pain relief. There is other data on the analgesic and anti-inflammatory action of Rosemary, and how it can help to reduce pain.  In my opinion, rosemary can be very effective to reduce migraine symptoms.

Effective data is available for the use of Lavender, not only for tension headaches but also for migraines.

Also, Bergamot has been shown to be useful for its antinociceptive action and ability to affect neuropathic pain. The trigeminal nerve is a cranial nerve (i.e. in the head and face area), and it is said that one cause of migraines can be a result of injuries to this nerve. Migraines often become sensory-perception sensitive, so bergamot essential oil may work effectively to paralyse this nerve and relieve pain. It is especially good to use when experiencing pain in your ears or behind your eyes.

German chamomile inhibits the expression of iNOS, a nitric oxide synthase in nerve cells. It will also prevent neuro-vascular inflammation. The analgesic action of the principal components have been positively assessed, and the potential of new drug development for migraine has been reviewed. In my personal experience, applying a gel using German chamomile essential oil to the eyes and temples can dull and cool migraine pain.

In the next blog we will look at an analgesic cooling gel and hair tonic for migraine relief. Join us then!