Can essential oils relieve migraines (and insomnia)?

Migraines are a mystery. Every time I research them I find new and conflicting information. This last go round I found more theories I hadn’t seen before. If you’re a migraine sufferer, or know someone who is, every bit of information is worth chasing down.

I don’t have nearly the amount of migraines I used to. I’d get the pre-period migraine every single month! Too bad that was before I understood anything about hormones and histamine. Now, my migraines aren’t triggered by hormones but foods or odors. But even knowing that, I often stumble into some food I shouldn’t eat or use some product I shouldn’t touch; bleach being one of them.

I am always on the hunt as to how to get rid of them naturally rather than having to resort to using Advil. One of the problems with migraine is that once you feel it coming it’s almost too late to stop it. And I hate taking Advil to stop one from coming on. I’d rather find something natural to use. This is why I’m back looking into essential oils.

Funny enough I didn’t start researching essential oils again in relation to migraine. I was researching and playing with them because I can’t wear perfume, because it gives me migraines, and I wanted to develop a signature scent. (If you don’t know, perfume has many synthetic additives that aren’t really that good for you.)

Along the way of developing my own Chanel No 5, I started reading up on what essential oils could do to affect health. I knew scents could trigger a migraine and even help take the edge off of one, but could they change the physiology of the body enough to stop a migraine from coming?

I’ve used Olbas oil or peppermint oil for years because I knew it could take the edge off the pain, but I didn’t know why it helped. I only ever used those oils thanks to my great aunt Polly who was a life long migraine sufferer. Polly used to use Vicks Vapor Rub on her forehead to help relieve her pain. When I first heard that I thought she was nuts! But then someone made me try peppermint oil and I realized she wasn’t nuts at all. She was ahead of the curve!

Anyway, because I started to wonder if essential oils really could affect a change, I started wondering what I wanted to try to change. I found a simple oil for insomnia and tried that one. I have to say that pretty early on I felt the oil was helping me sleep deeper. I use it every night now. About fifteen minutes before I go to sleep I take one drop of a simple combination of lavender oil and ylang ylang mixture, put it on a tissue and inhale it.

If you’re interested in mixing your own, it’s three drops lavender oil and two drops ylang ylang. Mix those two oils in that proportion and keep it in a little amber bottle. Then you just need to take one or two drops of the mixture in an eye dropper and drop it onto a tissue.

Once I realized there was more to essential oils than scent, I really got into the idea of using them, but it wasn’t until I was looking up good yoga blends that I stumbled over the information that sent me into the search for a migraine remedy once again.

I landed on an article in Yoga Journal about a company that sells oil blends called 21 Drops. I went to the 21 Drops site and started to look around. I read about the oils they used and what they were used for and got interested in black pepper essential oil. (Along the way I think I’d read black pepper oil would be good to use for migraine relief so I was happy to see some scientific information about it.) I clicked on the link Effects of fragrance inhalation on sympathetic activity in normal adults, which led me to this medical abstract.

What really got me interested is the link to the sympathetic nervous system. I’d done quite a lot of research into the autonomic nervous system because of the research I did about the hypothalamus. The sympathetic nervous system is involved in the flight or fight response. Cortisol and adrenaline are part of that.

But something else in that paragraph really stood out. The oils that can give me a headache, patchouli in particular, lower blood pressure. Black pepper, which is supposed to be good for migraines raises blood pressure. The final sentence of the abstract pushed me on: Our results indicate that fragrance inhalation of essential oils may modulate sympathetic activity in normal adults.

From there I needed to make a connection between low blood pressure and migraine. The link, it turns out is the relationship between low blood pressure and brain hypoxia. Brain hypoxia is a fancy way of saying your brain is oxygen starved. There is a theoretical link to brain hypoxia and migraine. An excerpt from the NCBI:

Brain hypoxia: the turning-point in the genesis of the migraine attack?

The hypothesis postulates that a brief episode of focal cerebral hypoxia occurs in every attack of migraine. Clinical biochemical and technical (EEG and CT scans) evidence is summarized suggesting that cerebral hypoxia is seen as the turning-point in the pathogenesis of the attack. It may be provoked by different mechanisms in different patients;…

So what triggers the hypoxia? “It may be provoked by different mechanisms” leaves the door open to theory. Mine, based on everything I’ve read to this point, is it could be triggered by low blood pressure. And what triggers the low blood pressure? Histamine. There are so many studies out there backing this up I’ll let you Google it.

So is this why we get migraines after being exposed to our triggers? Just might be. Now I know this is an entirely different theory then I’ve posited before. But I haven’t managed to vanquish my migraines. And every time I do the research I find more information and discover new theories, so it’s not as if I’m making new stuff up!

And there’s really something interesting about the blood pressure connection. Remember in an earlier post I talked about how when I eat the migraine abates but a little while after I finish eating the migraine comes back? Well, guess what? Your blood pressure rises when you eat.

Let’s say we’re on the right track and this could be a major part of the picture. What can we do to get the migraine to stop before it really gets started? Because that’s the key. Once you have a full blown migraine it is very hard to get rid of. You have to stop it from developing.

I believe we need to support the sympathetic nervous system. Raising blood pressure to a normal level is one part of the equation. There are different ways to accomplish this; one is to drink water. Take a look at this article if you’re interested in the science. The interesting thing is that water also helps restrict blood vessels. Remember in a lot of migraine theories, blood vessels dilate and lead to pain.

Additionally, I started working on an essential oil combination I think might also help stave off a migraine. The oils usually associated with migraine relief, peppermint, eucalyptus, lavender, and rosemary, are not the ones I’m using though. I’m using black pepper, grapefruit, cassia, and clove because they are specific to lowering blood pressure and supporting the movement of oxygen in the blood. (I will go into much greater detail in my next post.)

I’ve developed a mix I think has real potential. I’ve used it the last couple of days when I thought I had a “hot” head. That’s the feeling I get sometimes when I know a migraine is coming. But I have to say it hasn’t come. So I think I’m really onto something.

I’m going to end here for now so I can publish this post, but I will continue in another post soon. I want to be able to come back and say yes, this is truly working. In the meantime, when you feel a migraine creeping up on you, drink a couple of glasses of water. If you want to try the oils, I suggest trying the black pepper and grapefruit. Or maybe, if I really have success, you can buy Dale’s migraine zapping essential oil blend soon!

Dale

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Posted in histamine intolerance, menopause, migraine, peri-menopause, Women's health
4 comments on “Can essential oils relieve migraines (and insomnia)?
  1. mymojofoto says:

    Great post. This low blood pressure info connects yet another dot for my sister. The oil sounds promising, however she has problems with night shades and pepper. Are there other options to use that would have a similar effect and raise blood pressure? Much thanks for all your hard work and sharing!

  2. […] then I looked it up. This is what I really liked about it. Remember I spoke in my last post about hypoxia? From Organic […]

  3. […] turned my researching prowess onto curing migraines, I came up with many theories. One theory,about brain hypoxia  in particular, lead me to create an essential oil blend I thought would work based on that […]

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