Have you been thinking about getting into aromatherapy and essentials oils to manage that overpowering migraine episodes? Here’s what you need to know for your migraine-relief routine.
How aromatherapy can relieve migraines
While aromatherapy has increased in prevalence in our current wellness-obsessed world, this “trend” is far from new. A major player in two of the world’s most ancient medicinal practices, Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine, aromatherapy refers to the practice of using essential oils (the most concentrated extracts from plants) to heal an array of ailments.
When we smell essential oils, we literally ingest their particles into our lungs and our brain, where they affect the central nervous system before making their way into our bloodstream, explains aromatherapy expert Hope Gillerman, author of Essential Oils Every Day. “Then they interact with the endocrine system (hormones) and even our organs,” she says. This immediate entry into our bodies makes them uniquely potent—especially for their ability to offer quick relief.
While “little research has been done on aromatherapy in the treatment of migraines,” there are many patients for whom aromatherapy helps, explains neurologist and migraine specialist Dr. Susan Broner, assistant professor of clinical neurology at Weill Cornell Medical College.
Peppermint essential oil
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Peppermint reigns supreme when it comes to using aromatherapy for migraines. Why’s it so magical? From the second you apply it, you’ll feel a tingling feeling—”it simultaneously relaxes tension and stress, while stimulating circulation and healing,” explains Gillerman. After all, “the menthol contained in peppermint is used in almost all topical pain relievers,” she says, noting that “a 2007 study comparing peppermint to Tylenol showed there was no significant difference in effectiveness between peppermint oil and acetaminophen, and no adverse effects were reported. Note that peppermint oil is very strong so be sure to keep it away from your face (and babies and pets) and hold off on using it if you’re pregnant.