Headaches

by Penny Keay

This is a very common ailment we are asked about often. So thought it was about time we talked about it.

Almost all types of headaches can get relief from the use of essential oils.

Headaches can come from many causes and be felt in various areas of the head & neck.

Getting the flu or a cold - raising body temperatures will cause a headache.

Sinus infections and allergies are another common cause.

Tension headaches and Migraines are other types of headaches.

And of course there can be a very serious type of sudden onset head pain which may indicate a stroke.   If this is suspected.   Immediate medical help needs to be sought.

First in order to decide what essential oils may be needed to give relief one must try to figure out what is the cause of the headache.

Sinus Headache
If it is due to Sinus pressure or infections, pain is felt primarily on the face, around the eyes and nose, even your teeth may hurt.   You will most likely feel some immediate relief by inhaling any of the following oils or a blend of any of them: Lavender, Peppermint, Rosemary and Eucalyptus.

Sinus headache relief
Rosemary - 3 drops
Thyme - 1 drop
Peppermint - 1 drop
Place all of these in a Personal inhaler and use as needed. Or blend together and place 1 or 2 drops on a tissue and inhale as needed.

These oils are commonly used to help relieve congestion and also have great analgesic properties. Some people will get relief if they put a warm or cool compress on the face. You can add a drop or two of essential oils to the basin you use to rinse your compress in and apply to the area of the face affected. Holding there for several minutes.

Fever induced Headache
If your headache is due to a fever, you may need to apply essential oils again to a cool compress and apply to the forehead. Again any of these oils Lavender, Peppermint, Rosemary and Eucalyptus are great to use to help bring down a fever. They may even make you break into a sweat.

Tension Headache
You've have a very rough day and you feel your shoulders are up by your ears and your upper back is extremely tense.   Your neck and shoulders are tight as a drum and your head is now pounding.   You have the classic tension headache.

All those tight muscles are causing your head to ache.   Some tension headaches are felt mainly in the back of the head, but occasionally you will feel the pressure curl up over your head and into the temples.   Your eyes can even be affected.

For this type of headache you will want to apply some Peppermint and Rosemary added to a small amount of a carrier oil and massaged into the back of your neck and if you can into your upper back and shoulder areas.   Better yet if you can lie down after you have applied this for just a few moments some of the tension should release and you should feel better shortly.   We like to put a cool compress on our foreheads and sometimes on the back of our neck too, while we lay down.   Do not keep the compress cool, but let it come to your own body temperature slowly while you lay down. If you can fall asleep all the better.

The Migraine - Headache
The worse type of headache is the migraine.   These can be very debilitating and are known to affect your whole body. Nausea, blurred vision and bright lights hurt, and terrible head pain are common with migraines.

The best way to treat a migraine is before the pain starts.   Often people that suffer from migraines can tell when one is on its way. Now is when you want to start to use aromatherapy.   Make a cool compress in which equal portions of Lavender and Peppermint have been placed in the basin.   Apply this across your forehead and down onto the temple area.

At the same time place a warm compress where Marjoram has been place in the water basin.   Place this on the back of your neck.   The Marjoram and the heat help the blood vessels to increase in size (known as vasodilatation).   Since it is thought that migraines are caused from the stricture of blood vessels, opening them up (dilating) appears to help the most.

If you know what triggers your migraines, whether it is food or other chemicals, of course your first action is to avoid these triggers.

Dehydration Headache
Headaches can also be caused from lack of hydration.   Headaches around the eyes and sinuses may be nothing more than a "dehydration" headache.   For those, Drink a large glass of water - 16 ounces or more.   Drink WATER not another liquid.   Smell some peppermint and Rosemary and lay down for a few minutes. If due to dehydration you'll feel relief shortly.

Low Blood Sugar Headache If your headache is due to low blood sugar - you haven't eaten for hours.   Of course, get a big drink of water and get yourself a bite to eat.   Rub a little Peppermint and Lavender on the back of your neck.   Relief will be forthcoming.

More Headaches
If your headache is due to improper alignment of the neck, you may want to seek the skills of a chiropractor.

Many other things may trigger headaches, medications, women's monthly cycle, hormonal imbalances, and many others.   If you can find out the cause, there may be many other essential oils that can be useful for those conditions.

The main essential oils used for headache relief are: Peppermint, Rosemary, Lavender and Eucalyptus. Other Essential oils to consider when dealing with headaches include: Basil , Rose, Eucalyptus radiata (sinus congestion), Juniper (tension) Melissa(rubbed on temples), Grapefruit, Roman Chamomile (tension)

Penny's Headache Relief
I suffered for years with headaches from a falling injury to my neck and upper back as a teenager.   Although my parents took me to see a chiropractor and I had a few 'adjustments' I was plagued for years with headaches.   Since my parents did not believe in using aspirin for headache or for any pain they (and now we) use the following methods.   Which works very well for headaches from injury, tension, fever, sinusitis and other causes.   Now it works even better with the addition of the use of essential oils.

1. Sleep on a contour pillow.   This type of pillow helps to restore the natural curve to your neck and relieves allot of tension.   You have to sleep on your back, so be sure to put a small pillow under your knees so you don't end up with lower back problems.

2. Drink a large glass of water - 16 ounces - PLAIN WATER!

3. Prior to lying down soak your feet in hot water for 20 minutes - keep it hot but not so hot as to scald them. Soak just your feet!   You can add a couple drops of Peppermint to this basin if you want.

4. Get 2 washcloths to be used as cool compresses.   After you have one of them wet, place it in a zip lock bag. This one will be placed behind your head - on your neck. T  he other one wring out and place on your forehead

5. lie down and cover yourself lightly

6. Just lay there and relax. Falling asleep is allowed.

7. Do not freshen the compresses. Just let them gradually warm up.

8. Use essential oils as described earlier in this article.

Other thoughts about Headaches
Figuring out the cause of your headache is half the battle.   Do not become dependant on pain killers whether they are over the counter or prescribed. In an article on the ABC program 20/20 a couple years ago, some pain relievers can make you so dependent on them, you have to continue to take them or suffer from pain constantly.   Weaning off pain meds can take several months.

Remember there are many causes of headaches.   Some are easy to figure out, while others very difficult.   Food and chemical sensitivities, hormonal changes, life changes and the list goes on.   Although essential oils may be all that you need.   You may also need to consult with herbalists (for liver cleansing), a Chiropractor (misalignment of the spine), a massage therapist and your physician (hormonal imbalances and other health issues).

After having suffered from years of headache pain, I can truly say, there is nothing like having a pain free existence!!   Hopefully you will find relief too.
Be sure to e-mail us if you have a way to get headache relief too.

© Penny Keay 2005, 2013

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