12 Essential Oils for Migraine Relief

by Teri Robert Patient Advocate

Aromatherapy hasn’t been shown to abort a migraine attack, but they can help relieve some of the symptoms. Here are 12 essential oils that can be used to help ease the symptoms of a migraine, as well as a suggested carrier oil in which to dilute them before applying them to the skin.

Fractionated coconut

With the exception of lavender, essential oils should not be applied undiluted to the skin. They should be diluted in other oils called carrier oils. Fractionated coconut oil has no odor of its own, has a very light texture, and washes out of clothing and linens, making it an exceptional carrier oil.


Bergamot has a light citrus scent. It’s encouraging and uplifting and combats stress, fatigue, tension, and anxiety. It’s one of the softest, gentlest citrus oils. Avoid using it on skin that will be exposed to the sun.

Chamomile (Roman)

Chamomile (Roman) is sweeter smelling than German chamomile. Good for relaxation, reducing anxiety, and insomnia. Most people are familiar with chamomile tea, but are unaware of how well the essential oil can work.

Clary sage

Clary sage is an essential for aromatherapy kits. It’s wonderful for stress reduction and treating PMS. Often used to fight depression, especially when combined with lavender.

Eucalyptus radiata

Eucalyptus radiata has a less stringent and more tolerable smell than some of the other forms of eucalyptus. It works well to help with the congestion that can be a migraine symptom. It can be smelled closely without triggering the cough reflex as other eucalyptus oils often do.


Jasmine isn’t just a beautiful scent. It’s used for pain relief, hormone balancing and easing depression. Some aromatherapy experts also recommend it for reducing fear and building optimism. Jasmine Grandiflora is the species most often recommended.


Lavender is often called the “all purpose” essential oil. Its many uses include easing tension, aiding with relaxation and sleep, and helping ease head pain. Bulgarian lavender is the type most commonly used for relaxation and sleep.


Lemongrass essential oil is often used to relieve mental exhaustion, fatigue, and stress. It’s also an uplifting oil used for depression. It’s an excellent choice for those whose migraines bring on emotional symptoms of depression and / or panic. It’s also a good choice for a car infuser because of its pleasant scent and ability to keep us more alert.

Melissa officianalis

Melissa officianalis is the rarest herbal essential oil distilled from lemon balm. It works well for both nausea and agitation. Melissa calms anxiety and is uplifting. It’s used also for fear and anger. It’s a strong skin irritant, so be careful to dilute it with enough carrier oil.


Peppermint is generally considered to be one of the basic essential oils for any aromatherapy kit. It’s fabulous for relieving nausea and its stimulating properties can help with concentration. Peppermint oil should not be used by children or pregnant women.

Red mandarine

Red mandarine is best when organically grown oils are used. It’s both calming and uplifting and is another oil that can combat the emotional swings we often encounter during a migraine attack. It also blends well with other citrus oils and lemongrass. This oil does increase sun sensitivity, so be careful if you’re going to be out in the sun.


Spearmint oil is sometimes used rather than peppermint oil because it’s milder and gentler. It too is helpful for nausea, but it’s calming and relaxing rather than stimulating like peppermint. Another option is using both peppermint and spearmint oils.

Ginger root

Ginger root oil is superb for reducing nausea. It’s also good for aching joints and muscles. It can be very irritating to the skin, so be absolutely certain to dilute it with a carrier oil. Some ginger root oils can be taken internally by adding one drop and a teaspoon of honey to hot water for ginger tea.


The best migraine management regimens include everything that helps us, including complementary therapies such as aromatherapy. For more on aromatherapy for migraine, see Migraine and Complementary Therapies – Aromatherapy.

Teri Robert
Meet Our Writer
Teri Robert

Teri Robert is a leading patient educator and advocate and the author of Living Well with Migraine Disease and Headaches. A co-founder of the Alliance for Headache Disorders Advocacy and the American Headache and Migraine Association, she received the National Headache Foundation's Patient Partners Award and a Distinguished Service Award from the American Headache Society.