Aromatherapy for Headache Relief, MASSAGE MagazineHeadaches are common, but we shouldn’t let them become the new normal. Judging from the sales of over-the-counter pain relief options for headache, most people accept headaches as a daily reality. Virtually every desk drawer in America is equipped with a bottle of ibuprofen, aspirin or other generic over-the-counter headache treatment, even though these capsules and tablets can frequently cause upset stomach and other issues. Aromatherapy offers a natural option to treat headache pain.

Essential oils can deliver the benefits of aromatherapy for relieving headaches in many ways; for example, in your shower or via scented sachets, diffusers and other inhalation devices.

Why are people experiencing so many headaches these days? Generally, headaches result when capillaries slow down their blood exchange because the capillary walls are swollen; this is why a bag of frozen peas rested on your face or head often will relieve symptoms.

Many people sit at desks most of their day, and the basic ergonomics of most desks are not mechanically sound, since offices are generally one-size-fits all. This means it is common your clients’ office chairs don’t support their lower backs; their keyboards and mice don’t fit their natural reach and range of movement; they crook and crane their necks; and extend their chins too far forward in order to see the screen, among other habits.

Plus, simply sitting, even in the most mathematically perfect chair, for the better part of 10 hours a day may lead to inflammation, circulatory congestion, slowed lymphatic movement and other issues that result in headache.

Staring into a screen also contributes to capillary constriction. The characters that appear on-screen actually have ragged edges and are jagged in construction, unlike the typography of a printed page. Our eyes must constantly connect the dots when we are reading a screen, on a micro-level, and this results in fatigue.

As a self-care option for you and your massage clients, combining 100-percent organic essential oils with the cascading water of a warm shower combines the olfactory and tactile benefits of aromatherapy for relieving headache. The steady, gentle pressure of a shower on the occipital crest (top of the head) and back of the neck is often effective in loosening muscle tension, which allows for better circulation.

The chemical components of specific oils—think bergamot, lavender, petitgrain, rose maroc, Peru balsam, sage, basil, ylang ylang, peppermint, nutmeg, chamomile, sweet orange, lime, geranium, patchouli, vetiver and cedarwood atlas—also affect the central nervous system when inhaled as microparticles. These botanical compounds help lower cortisol levels—cortisol is the stress hormone—which in turn allows capillaries to expand for normal circulation.

Once you have received the appropriate training in aromatherapy and essential oils, you can offer custom blends to your massage clients to help them ward off headache pain in between their massage therapy sessions. This helps clients relieve their headache pain and reminds them about your services and to schedule their next appointment. Plus, it adds a retail component to your practice to boost your bottom line.

Peter Friis is the founder and CEO of Essio, an innovative aromatherapy diffuser for the spa and home shower. Friis is based in Santa Monica, California. For more information, visit