You’ve probably heard the buzz about essential oils. It seems like more and more people are using them for colds, boosting immunity, sleeping better, or feeling more relaxed. Even for migraine relief, essential oils have been aggressively promoted online with hundreds of anecdotes. But is there any scientific merit to the chatter? Is there any actual research that shows a connection between essential oils and migraine relief?
Some research has been done on essential oil and migraines. And while there are some indications that essential oils may be a safe and effective way to get some migraine relief, the evidence isn’t conclusive.
Lavender Essential Oil & Migraines
Lavender essential oil is used by many for relaxation, as an analgesic agent, antimicrobial, and to help heal cuts. But one study examined this essential oil and migraines specifically. Researchers wanted to find out whether inhaling it could be helpful for migraine users.
In the lavender study, 47 participants diagnosed with migraine were split into case and control groups. The case group spent 15 minutes inhaling lavender essential oil, while the control group inhaled liquid paraffin for 15 minutes. Each group was then asked to record the severity of their headache and other migraine symptoms over 2 hours, at 30-minute intervals.
In the case group which inhaled the lavender essential oil, 92 of 129 participants experienced a reduction in symptoms. In the control group which inhaled paraffin, 32 of 68 participants recorded reduced symptoms. In short, this study suggests that inhaling essential oil may help manage acute migraine headaches.
Chamomile Essential Oil & Migraines
In traditional Persian medicine, chamomile oil is made by boiling an aqueous extract of chamomile in sesame oil. Modern preparation of this oil can be optimized by the way the chamomile is extracted. This results in an end product that includes both essential oils and polyphenols (polyphenols are micronutrients contained in some plant foods, and are a good source of antioxidants).
In 2014, researchers formed a hypothesis that, used topically, this preparation of chamomile oil “probably possesses pain relief effects for migraines,” because of certain properties, including an inhibitory effect on endogenous prostaglandin E2 (prostaglandin is involved in many bodily functions, such as constricting or dilating blood vessels and modulating inflammation), and potential anti-inflammatory effects of chamomile and sesame oil. The hypothesis states that:
“Because of the mentioned mechanisms of action, it can be hypothesized that chamomile oil is a novel medicine for the relief of migraine pain.”
While this makes some sense in theory, further study is needed. We have found no actual study data to back up this hypothesis.
Testing on Rats
One other study looked at the effects of the essential oil of Angelicae dahuricae radix on rats with nitroglycerin-induced migraine. Essentially, the rats were given migraines by injecting them with nitroglycerin. Then, they were administered the essential oil and watched and tested for potential therapeutic effects. These effects were assessed by changes in rat behavior, levels of nitric oxide in their serum and brain tissues, and a couple of other factors. In their testing researchers found that the essential oil of Angelicae dahuricae radix “significantly reduced” head shaking, head-scratching, and other migraine-related behaviors. Tests also found decreased serum and brain levels of nitric oxide. They concluded that Angelicae dahuricae radix essential oil seemed to improve the nitroglycerin-induced migraine condition in rats.
While this is promising information for rats, it’s important to remember two things: First, people are not rats (not even the guy who cuts you off in traffic), and second, your migraines are not brought on by injections of nitroglycerin (at least we hope so).
Our Survey on Essential Oil and Migraines
At Thuswell, we wanted to know more about essential oil and migraines, and if using essential oils was helpful to migraine sufferers. We asked a series of questions and received nearly 100 responses to our survey. Here’s the data we received:
- 36% of our respondents reported sometimes using essential oils for
- 13% said they always use essential oils for migraine relief
- 33% responded that essential oils had actually triggered migraines for them
- The most-used essential oils among our respondents were peppermint
- When asked if they felt essential oils helped relieve their migraines, 26%
said there was no effect, and 1% called the effects “life-changing”
So, according to our survey, it looks as if essential oils don’t help everyone get migraine relief, but for a small number of people, they could make a really big difference.
Another Oil With Potential for Migraines
If you search online, you’ll find plenty of anecdotes from migraine sufferers using CBD oil to help with migraines. Using CBD for headaches is not new. As an ancient natural remedy, cannabis has been used for thousands of years to treat certain types of headaches. CBD oil for migraines is still in the early stages for clinical study, but based on what we do know, the outlook seems promising.
One study conducted in 2009 found that cannabis compounds may be useful in treating pain in long-time users of opioids who want to lessen their use. In 2012, another study found pure CBD oil (with no THC — the psychedelic compound in marijuana) to be effective at relieving some types of chronic pain and inflammation, including arthritis and multiple sclerosis.
Where we stand now, data is lacking regarding CBD and migraine specifically. However, some research suggests that pure CBD may actually be better than THC-including products for inflammation and neuropathic pain. While we await long-term clinical study for CBD and migraine, many are trying it themselves as a safe alternative treatment.
Your own “study of one” may be the best way to find out how CBD oil affects you. There are many reports of positive results from migraineurs who have used CBD for their condition. Many say that it helps to ease migraine pain, and even shorten attacks.
What CBD Users Are Saying
We’ve heard from many CBD users who have found relief from migraines. Take Kate, for example. She writes:
“I have struggled with migraines since I was about 12. When Thuswell launched CBD Oil, I was one of the first customers. Actually, to be honest I was very skeptical. I have tried medicine, rest, darkness, vitamins, and more medicine but nothing really relieved the pain and pressure for longer than a few hours. I didn’t like having to keep taking pills either. Nothing really had a great effect or worked well for me, so when I had the opportunity to try CBD Oil, I decided to give it a go.
”I did not believe it would actually do anything for me. The day I tried it, I had had a migraine for most of the day. I took 3 or 4 drops and waited. 10-15 minutes later, the pressure and pain in my head and behind my eyes completely left. It was like I hadn’t even had a migraine the entire day. Pressure gone. Pain gone. Spots in front of my eyes…gone. My head did not hurt the rest of the day. Now I have never tried anything like CBD Oil before.
“When I use my CBD now, I still don’t even take the full serving amount. I only use 3-4 drops at a time. But each time, within 10-15 minutes my migraine clears and stays gone for hours if not all day. The second I feel any pressure or start to see spots, I take my drops. I have never had this much success with anything I have tried before. It has made a massive difference for me. I keep it in my purse, with me at all times. At night, by my bedside, just in case. I was not a believer before, just a skeptic. Now…I recommend it to anyone and everyone who mentions that they are a sufferer too. CBD Oil and my glasses have made all the difference for me.”
Here is another story submitted by a Thuswell Customer.
“Normally, without meds, I have daily dull-to-severe eye pain from years of optic neuritis, as part of my multiple sclerosis. Lots of triggers have made me miserable –lighting that was flickery, or standard fluorescent always cause me pain. Throw in bright point lights, and I’m in misery. Eye movement from several pages of reading set off uncontrollable eye ache. Even REM sleep wakes me up with eye pain.
In order to help control the pain, since the ’90s I’ve been on constant high doses of carbamazepine and gabapentin. The periodic pain breakthroughs were only controlled by hydrocodone, which always made me feel uncontrollably giddy -and uncomfortable. And all these years I thought all my cognitive fog was unavoidably caused by my advanced MS.
What a change CBD Oil has made: no more carbamazepine or hydrocodone, and only half the gabapentin –AND far better pain control. For me, 8 drops sublingually in the AM and another 8 twelve hours later controls 95% of it. Pain breakthroughs still happen, but another squirt of Thuswell CBD, and the pain is gone within 15 minutes. I have NO side effects, sensations, mood changes, or “cog fog” from CBD. CBD Oil is like turning a key in a lock: it has opened a door to a new life with far less pain.”
Jaimee, a professional lifeguard, had been suffering since 2006 from migraines triggered by stress, weather, or lack of sleep. In 2010, she was finally diagnosed with hemiplegic migraine. The diagnosis gave her a label for her condition, but it didn’t offer any relief from suffering up to 4 migraines in any given month.
Some might call Jaimee’s migraine condition “less painful” than others. But while her attacks usually involve less head pain than most people think of with migraine, they do come with aura such as acute nausea, dizziness, and fatigue. Sometimes her condition has prevented her from participating in work or other activities.
Jaimee tried all the usual remedies to manage her migraine: various medications and supplements, dietary changes, and even essential oils. But many of those remedies came with side effects, and none of them offered much relief, especially from acute nausea.
Like many other Thuswell customers, Jaimee came across Thuswell Relief with some previous familiarity with CBD.
“I have actually used CDB in the past but not as a daily supplement. We use it for our daughter who has autism and anxiety, with great success. I have used it for acute nausea during the aura phase of migraine, and found it worked better than Meclizine.”
Aside from her success in using CBD for aura-related nausea, Jaime has found Thuswell CBD has helped her sleep better and feel calmer. She has experienced fewer vestibular issues while taking it. (Vestibular problems can affect the inner ear and balance, causing dizziness.) Those benefits, along with the absence of bad side effects, lead Jaimee to recommend it.
“CBD really does work for migraine-related nausea…I recommend taking it at bedtime to promote restful sleep. Additionally, a couple of droppers under the tongue when experiencing acute nausea during the aura phase of migraine is incredibly helpful.”
Learn More About CBD Oil & Migraine
Essential oil and migraines is a kind of a hot topic, but there seems to be more promise surrounding CBD — something with documented studies that actually back its efficacy for pain relief. You can learn more about CBD oil and migraine here. The bottom line is that CBD oil has been shown to be safe, non-addictive, non-psychedelic, and could help you with your migraine condition. Thuswell has made painstaking efforts to ensure the purity of our oil. So if you’re in search of a natural way to manage migraine, Thuswell’s CBD oil and migraine glasses could be two critical tools in your migraine-fighting toolbox.
2 thoughts on “Essential Oil and Migraines: Hype or Help?”
Sometimes essential oils can really help my migraines! Other times and he smells bother me. But sometimes a drop or two of lavender, ylang ylang, or orange oil can drop my shoulders and put me in a better brain state. It really stops the stress!
Essential oils help me so much, but I can not use them all the time! Sometimes, any smell may bother me. A few hours later, a touch of the right oil can really relieve a lot of stress. Sometimes just a drop or two of lavender, ylang ylang, or orange oil can drop my shoulders and put me in a better brain state. Thanks for sharing this helpful article!