Migraine Headaches

Lavender Therapeutic OilMs. A. had a long history of migraine. She was referred to me after having tried most of the preparations available in herbal shops, as well as allopathic medication. It has been decided to try aromatic medicine.

I started by finding out as much of her medical history as possible in order to define the type of migraine she was experiencing. It has been diagnosed as a non-digestive, vascular migraine.

We started with a look at her diet in order to identify and eliminate those foods which may have been contributing to or aggravating her migraines. With a new dietary regime in place, the next step was to decide on the best essential oil formula for Ms. A.

We started with a 1% dilution of rosemary [officinalis, ct. Cineole] with 2% ginger and 1% sweet marjoram. This blend was applied to the neck and shoulders in a massage cream base. The methods of use and application sequence were taught to Ms. A’s partner, and a further appointment was made for one month’s time.

After a month, she appeared in the clinic and said that there had been very little improvement. I decided to change the formula slightly and also to increase the applications to three massage applications per week, plus an additional application on or about the time of an attack. I gave Ms. A. a chart to fill in which monitored the frequency of her migraines and plotted any progress graphically. Such charts can be an invaluable way of demonstrating improvements; so often the patient only remembers the bad days and does not register the good ones. Again, appointment was given for a month’s time.

Ms. A. had been consistent in filling in her chart. She said she had noticed a few good days but nothing too wonderful. At this meeting, I decided to keep to the current oil formula and allow another month to see if there would be any difference in the chart. One month on, Ms. A. appeared again and her chart was much improved. She said the chart had been a great value in enabling her to observe the slight improvements which she had previously been unable to see.

Six months later, the frequency of migraine attacks has been reduced to one per 14 days. This is acknowledged as a great improvement. Part of the ongoing treatment will be to monitor the essential oil formula and adjust it when necessary to changing needs of Ms. A.

We have now decided to decrease the frequency of massage to one application per week and have found that the improvement in Ms. A. has been maintained. The massage formula is at the same dilution but I have replaced the ginger with Eucalyptus smythii.

I am sure that the massage itself has had as beneficial an effect as the essential oil treatment.

The good news is that Ms. A.’s quality of life has greatly improved. She is still receiving allopathic treatment and I am working closely with the consultant in this field – a truly complimentary approach.

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Aromatherapy Quarterly, Winter 1997 Article by Alan Baker, a clinical aromatologist.

2 thoughts on “Migraine Headaches”

  1. Hello,
    Thank for posting the article about headaches. I have been having severe headaches for 13 yrs. I have seen over 30 doctors, homepathic specialist, and moved to Texas to go to the headache hospital. In Texas they diagnosed me with PTC (pnsendo tumor celebri). They performed 3 spinal taps to get diagnoses. They placed a VP Shunt and I got some relief but still had a lot of pain. We moved back to Colorado and went back to my neurosurgeon. He didn’t have the same brand of shunt equipment. So he replaced the shunt due to to equipment and malfunfuction. I have had 3 replacements done since then. Now this November we decided to take it out. And now, we are strafing from scratch. He is puzzled like me of how to get me better. I’m so desperate for help. Please, if you have any suggestions I’m open for answers.
    Thank very much…… T

    1. Hi Tina,

      I am not sure if this information will help but it may. I know I used some of these methods which helped. My migraines weren’t near as sever as yours.


      The cause is unknown. However a number of triggers have been identified:

      • injury to the head associated with contact sports such as football or boxing

      • sudden changes in weather, particularly thunderstorms or hot dry winds

      • hypolglycemia and missing meals

      • emotional stress may precipitate an attack

      • fluctuations in hormonal levels – drops in estrogen levels, particularly premenstrually

      • food allergies have been identified as a precipitating factor in 80 to 90% of cases.


      Aromatherapy is better used as a preventative measure than as an attempted treatment for migraine. Once a migraine attack has begun, many sufferers find the smell of most essential oils overbearing or can’t bear being touched.

      A cold compress made with equal parts of peppermint and lavender should be placed across the forehead and temples and frequently changed as soon as it starts to warm up. Extremely light massage of the temples with lavender oil might be useful if touching the head does not make the pain worse. Many migraines seem to be due of restricted blood supply to the brain, and hot or warm compresses with sweet marjoram on the back fo the neck will increase the flow of blood to the head. Sweet marjoram is a vasodilator and warmth itself also helps.

      Other Treatments

      • Feverfew, ginkgo biloba extract, peppermint and rosemary are very effective here in the treatment of migraines.

      • Foods such as chocolate, cheese and alcohol have been reported to trigger migraine attacks. They contain the amino acids phenylalanine and tyramine which are considered vasoactive amines.

      • Avoid stimulants such as coffee, tea, coke, nicotine and alcohol.

      • Avoid nitrates (preservatives found in hot dogs and salami, aspirin, and monosodium glutamate (MSG), a common seasoning.

      • Increase consumption of cold water fish or fish oils.

      • The use of acupuncture in the treatment of migraine headache has received considerable research attention. Acupuncture appears to have some success in reducing the frequency of migraine attacks.

      I have had acupuncture relieve a migraine instantly. It was wonderful! If you need any of the oils that are recommended here, I do sell them.

      Best of luck,

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