Sinus headaches are caused by an accumulation of pressure inside the sinuses. Sinuses are small air-filed spaces behind the bridge of your nose, and inside your cheekbones and forehead. An infection or allergic reaction can cause sinuses to inflame leading to increased production of mucus, blockage and swelling of the channels that drain mucus.
A combination of all these processes triggers a buildup in pressure inside your sinuses, resulting in pain that is encountered as a headache.
Symptoms of a sinus headache
- Deep consistent pain in the forehead, cheekbones and behind the bridge of your nose
- Pain is more acute when you strain or make a sudden shift of the head
- Headache may be accompanied by a runny nose, fever or facial swelling and a feeling of fullness in and around your ears
Admittedly, there are numerous recommendations for natural treatments for headache — some may work and some may not. If you are looking for something that will truly give you the much-needed relief from sinus headaches - how about trying essential oils?
Essential oils for headache are safe and work effectively to cure the main trigger (s) of headache as opposed to treating the symptoms temporarily. The problem with some of the painkillers we commonly use is they can come with adverse side effects such as damaging the liver and kidneys without even getting to the root of the problem.
Essential oils used to treat headaches are recommended because these are natural headache remedies that do not have bad side effects. Another advantage of using essential oils for sinus headaches is you can control the amount to use based on the degree of discomfort you experience.
How Essential Oils Work To Treat Sinus Headaches
Millions of people suffer from headaches but there is a growing realization that treating headaches such as migraines and sinus headaches using pain relievers may not be the safest alternative.
Essential oils are effective at alleviating the real causes of headaches. These natural oils work by improving blood circulation, minimizing stress and providing relief. Unlike painkillers, essential oils can also strengthen your immune system and protect your vital organs from the potential damage that may be brought on by pharmaceutical medicine.
Every type of headache has its own trigger. For sinus headaches, the cause is usually an allergic reaction that causes ducts in the sinus to swell and block leading to intense pain experienced as a headache.
Migraines could be attributed to factors such as hormonal changes especially in women more so before or during their monthly period. Headaches may also intensify during pregnancy or menopause.
Hormonal medicines may offer short-term relief but these can wreak havoc in a woman’s body and even make headaches worse. On the contrary, essential oils offer a gentler and effective treatment alternative for headache attacks.
Stress can also predispose you to sinus headaches. Essential oils such as peppermint and lavender have been used in aromatherapy to relieve headaches. Sinus headache and its symptoms can disrupt your sleep, which can further exacerbate the headaches.
Lavender is one of the best essential oils for lack of sleep or insomnia as it works as a mild sedative. Allergies, which are a primary cause of sinus headaches can be relieved or eliminated altogether using essential oils.
The Best 4 Essential Oils for Sinus Headaches
1. Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender essential oil is well known for its ability to cure and provide relief from various ailments. It works to relieve stress and tension, as an anticonvulsant, sedative, antianxiety, antidepressant and anxiolytic.
Researchers have also found that lavender can be used to alleviate the effects of neurological disorders. When used in aromatherapy and topically, the main ingredients in lavender oil i.e. linalool and linalyl acetate penetrate the skin rapidly and can suppress the functioning of the central nervous system.
As such, lavender oil is often used to eliminate the anxiety and stress related with headaches.Topical application of Lavender oil can aid in improving sleep pattern and alleviating the feeling of restlessness, both of which can contribute to headaches.
Lavender essential oil also plays an essential role in regulating the production of serotonin, a hormone that aids in mitigating pain in the nervous system, which could predispose you to frequent headache attacks (Koulivandi et al., 2013).
According to a recent study, lavender oil was found to be safe and effective in alleviating migraines. The study involved 47 subjects who were placed in a placebo controlled clinical trial. The treatment participants inhaled lavender oil for 15 minutes when they experienced a migraine and recorded their symptoms. The researchers found a significant difference between the control group and the treatment group.
The treatment group recorded 129 headaches out of which 92 were responsive to lavender aromatherapy. In the control group, a total of 32 out of 68 participants said that the headache responded to the placebo but this number was significantly lower than those in the lavender group (Sasannejad et al., 2012).
For best results in improving your mood, reducing muscles tension and alleviating stress, diffuse about five drops of lavender for a soothing aromatherapy. Alternatively, you can apply lavender oil to the back of your neck, on your wrists or temples to alleviate pain. To minimize tension in the entire body add about 10 drops of lavender essential oil to a warm-water bath and deeply inhale the aroma.
Eucalyptus aids in flushing out harmful toxins inside the body. Even better, eucalyptus essential oil helps to open up blocked nasal airways, which is a major trigger for sinus headache. Inhaling or applying eucalyptus has been found to improve mood and restore emotional wellbeingIn their study, Jun et al. (2013) found that inhaling eucalyptus essential oil could minimize pain and stabilize blood pressure.
The study evaluated 52 post-knee replacement surgery patients and found that application of eucalyptus oil aided in emotional wellbeing, minimized inflammation and reduced the formation of edema.
The researchers concluded that the curative and therapeutic effects of eucalyptus oil could benefit those suffering from sinus and other types of headaches.Another study examined the effectiveness of eucalyptus oil when used to treat patients with respiratory problems that cause coughing, tension headache and sore throat.
Patients reported that the use of eucalyptus oil minimized runny nose and cleared the lungs. Researchers also found that the oil mitigated inflammation associated with respiratory ailments, and acted as an antimicrobial, antiviral and antibacterial treatment to alleviate the buildup of pressure in the sinuses that leads to painful headaches (Ben-Arye et al., 2011).
To get relief from flu and sinuses pressure mix four drops of eucalyptus oil with a carrier oil and apply to the forehead, temple, chest and at the back of the neck. This will aid in treating the sinus headache and eliminating associated symptoms.
3. Peppermint Essential Oil
Peppermint is known for its ability to make you feel cool and calm. It also works to slow down the contraction of muscles, which can worsen the headache. More importantly, peppermint plays an essential role in boosting blood circulation when applied around the forehead and temple areas.
This can alleviate the feeling of fullness in and around the ears, and the consistent pain around the forehead associated with sinus headache.In their study, Gobel et al (1996) examined 41 patients who had collectively suffered 164 headache attacks.
Some of the participants were placed in a control group and given a placebo to apply while the rest applied peppermint oil 15 to 30 minutes after a headache began.
Participants who applied peppermint essential oil reported a lessening of pain with few to no side effects. The researchers also found that peppermint was a significantly less expensive treatment compared to common headache therapies.
Earlier Göbel et al (1995) evaluated the effects of essential oil by studying treatment and baseline metrics among thirty-two participants.
Researchers applied a mixture of peppermint oil, ethanol and eucalyptus oil on the participants’ foreheads. This blend was found to have a mentally relaxing effect on the participants.
The study subjects also reported that the essential oil mixture was soothing to the muscles. In addition, a mixture of peppermint oil and ethanol was found to minimize the intense sensitivity to light or noise associated with headaches.
Mix coconut oil and three drops of peppermint oil and apply to shoulders and forehead to minimize pain, alleviate tension and boost blood circulation.
4. Rosemary Essential Oil
Rosemary essential oil is known for its analgesic, anti-inflammatory, simulating and calming properties. Rosemary oil has also been found to be effective at minimizing stress and anxiety, which can predispose you to headaches.
You may also use rosemary essential oil to relieve stomach upsets that result from serious headache attacks (Yu et al., 2013).
In one study, Solhi et al (2013) evaluated the effectiveness of rosemary oil in alleviating withdrawal symptoms in patients who were users of opium abuse. Herbal therapy using rosemary was found to be efficacious in alleviating withdrawal symptoms in a period of four weeks including minimizing convulsions, pain, tension, jerking muscles and sleep disruption.
To treat headache attacks, add one drop of rosemary in a hot or warm drink. Alternatively, mix two drops of rosemary essential oil with two drops of peppermint essential oil and coconut oil and massage on temples, neck and forehead for relief from headaches.
Essential Oils for Colds
According to Mucinex, it is common to think that sinusitis is caused by some form of infection on your sinuses. While that may be true, there’s another angle to it.
The swelling and irritation could actually be as a result of an irritating trigger of some sort on your respiratory tract. This is often caused by bacteria and cold or flu viruses.
When you have a cold, your body’s reaction is to establish an immune response. The result of this is the swelling of the tissues along the sinuses’ lining walls that exert a considerable amount of pressure on your facial tissues. This obviously causes that unimaginable pain you are familiar with.
Essential oils are made of a number of substances which can be categorized into three, depending on their concentration i.e. main (20-95%), secondary (1-20%) and trace (1% or less).
According to the ISO, a product only qualifies to be an essential oil if it was made through distillation or through the processing of citrus rinds.
Even though synthetic oils are gaining popularity, only the essential oils are recognized for their medicinal properties. For instance, they are some of the best remedies for colds but we will get to that in a minute.
What is a Cold?
Also referred to as “common cold”, a cold is an acute viral infection affecting the respiratory tract. The virus causes the mucous membranes on the throat, eyes, nose and Eustachian tubes to be swollen.
Some of the symptoms include the stuffy/runny nose, congestion, sneezing, blocked sinus, muscle ache, watery eyes, fever, fatigue, sore throat and more.
According to Health Direct, an adult averages 2-4 colds annually while kids can get anything between 5-10 colds per year due to their rather low immunity levels.
Colds are viral infections and there are at least 200 different viruses responsible for colds but the most common culprit is the rhinovirus. Experts believe that this virus alone is to blame for over 50% of all colds on earth.
Though not a fatal disease, colds are not only annoying to the individual but also very expensive to the economy.
The CDC estimates that at least 22 million school days go down the drain annually because of colds. Some statistics indicate that over 1 billion cases of colds are reported every year. And that is only in America. Clearly, colds need a serious cure and prevention.
There is a common misconception that colds have no cure. This is largely based on the premise that colds usually clear away on their own after 10 days.
While this may be true, it is actually possible to cure or even prevent the colds so that you do not have to endure the irritating symptoms for an excruciating 2 week period.
This is where essential oils come in handy.
Essential Oil Recipes for Colds
Essential oils can be used in everyday life. Their power, derived from plant extracts, makes them highly useful in the medical field. A study done in 2010 showed that a essential oil recipe consisting of wild orange, clove and cinnamon, aided in a 90% reduction in vitro viral particles. The blend brought down the infection by a considerable amount.
Another study done in 2014 revealed the actual benefits of essential oils in fighting bacterial, fungal and viral infection.
Drop these essential oil recipes in to your diffuser, add water as per the instructions of the manufacturer and diffuse for anything between 15 and 60 minutes.
The blend to relieve congestions
- Eucalyptus (5 drops)
- Camphor (3 drops)
- Peppermint (2 drops)
- Cedarwood (3 drops, in case of a cough)
Note: avoid using camphor on young children or diffuse it for very young kids.
The blend to purify the air
- Lemongrass (1-2 drops)
- Tea tree (5 drops)
- Clove bud (4 drops)
- Thyme (1 drop)
- Eucalyptus (3 drops)
- Lemon (6 drops)
- Cinnamon (1 drop)
- Fresh ginger( 3 drops)
- Sweet orange (6 drops)
The blend to boost the immune system
- German chamomile (1 drop)
- Fresh ginger (4 drops)
- Cinnamon bark (1 drop)
- Frankincense (4-5 drops)
- Lavender (5 drops)
- Geranium (2 drops)
- Oregano (2 drops
The blend to destroy germs
- Tea tree (3 drops)
- Lavender (2 drops)
- Peppermint (2 drops)
Essential Oils for Nasal Drainage
Nasal irritation and congestion can be effectively treated by means of nasal drainage/irrigation. As the name suggests, this method refers to the action of flushing out the nasal passages using a saline solution.
- Rosemary (10 drops)
- Tea tree (6 drops)
- 8 tablespoons of fine salt (sat flower, fine sea salt or Himalayan Mineral Salt) - Iodized table salt is out of the question.
The tea tree essential oil derived from the Melaleuca leaves has fantastic antiseptic properties that relieve congestion.
Its scent is quite powerful and strong penetrating any clogged nasal passage. Rosemary has camphor, eucalyptol and alpha-pinene which are all great in relieving inflammations in the nasal passages.
Essential Oils for Congestion in Babies
Babies too benefit from essential oils a great deal. Perhaps the greatest use in children is during a massage.
Studies have revealed that a baby massage goes a long way in enhancing weight gain in babies, especially pre-term infants. It also helps in the development and decreases sleep challenges and random irritabilities.
Note that according to the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, essential oils shouldn’t be used for babies under three months.
Lavender is a parent’s best-kept secret when it comes to nasal congestion. This powerful plant extract opens up congested pathways and clears mucus off lungs in case of an allergy.
A review done in 2016 showed some evidence that lavender oil actually helps treat pain in children.
The studies focused on the significance of aromatherapy in pain management through the use of an electronic database.
During one study consisting of children undergoing a heel prick test, babies with a lavender fragrance experienced a lower heart rate and less pain compared to those without it.
Another study reported that lavender oil also helps infants fight off colic symptoms.
Just like in adults, Eucalyptus helps babies to combat issues of the respiratory tract particularly clogging. It comes in handy during the winter months.
Children under the age of two should stick to Eucalyptus radiate while those above 2 can use Eucalyptus globulus.
Tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) is an awesome antifungal, natural microbial and disinfectant. When used on babies older than 6 months, it helps with congestion, fungal infections and even diaper rash.
It is quite strong and can be harsh on baby’s skin; therefore, it is prudent to exercise caution.
Undiluted essential oils are too strong and can easily irritate the skin hence you should add a cream or carrier oil before application.
According to the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA), when dealing with babies aged 3+ months, you should use a dilution ratio of 0.5-1% (use a 2.5-1-0% dilution for adults).
Sometimes, undiluted essential oils still cause skin irritations.
Healthline suggests doing a “patch/spot test” before introducing a new essential oil.
Follow the procedure below:
Essential Oil Diffuser "PureSpa Deluxe"
Sometimes, inhaling the fumes of essential oils will work best for your particular case. This is where the PureSpa Deluxe Diffuser comes in handy.
This device sports a very sturdy design with a 6” diameter base and height of 7”.
There is no need to measure the amount of water you are about to put in, since the fill line is clearly visible. The PureSpa has a 10hr run time and turns itself off after that.
- bottom-heavy design prevents it from tipping over easily
- secured lid, no risk of spillage
- 2-year manufacturer warranty (as opposed to only 1 with other manufacturers)
If you suffer from frequent headache attacks, it is easy to feel helpless when pharmaceuticals cannot stop the pain. Essential oils are not just a quick-fix solution. Empirical research shows that using essential oils can cure the underlying causes of headaches and not just the symptoms.
For more content on the use of essential oils, take a look at our post on best essential oils for wrinkles.