Experimenting with essential oils

Around the time that I wrote “Burnout” and “50% is still failing,” I started to look for ways to improve my results without taking more pills. I knew about a lot of natural supplements available but really didn’t want to swallow another pill. I just wanted to live life without worry that migraine would continue to impact every day of my life. I wanted to be carefree.

I knew that wouldn’t be totally realistic, so I started looking for pill-free holistic options that I could use myself. Acupuncture is great if you have the money to pay a qualified professional. Same goes for massage or reflexology. None met the criteria of self-use, until I remembered aromatherapy. It could be administered by a professional but could just as easily be applied by the patient. I just needed to re-acquaint myself with those oils that have therapeutic benefit for migraine. I would then practice mixing them until I found a blend that worked together.

In the past I have used unscented carrier oils by massaging them on the tender places on my face, head, and neck. I discovered that this massage oil blend was a great addition to my migraine toolkit. It is a great comfort measure — soothing and relaxing the sore muscles that tighten in response to pain. The scent is mildly invigorating, yet not overwhelming. After testing it between sessions, I have determined it will not trigger an attack by itself either.

I have also used herbal and essential oil blends as a nasal spray. The problem with previous nasal sprays was that they all contained cayenne. They were very strong and a lot of migraineurs complained that it made the problem worse. This nasal spray yielded a completely different result. I generally don’t do nasal sprays for migraine attacks because they just don’t get that bad that quickly. However, cluster headaches do come on fast and strong. About half the time, this nasal spray will abort the attack before it gets out of control. The key is to start treatment very early when the pain is still tolerable. You really only have minutes to decide.

Ingredients

Here is the breakdown of medicinal properties for each ingredient, explaining why I chose this particular blend. You may decide, after doing your own research, to change the blend to better suit your needs.

Peppermint

Peppermint has a long history of relieving headache pain. Having used it successfully in the past, I believed it to be essential to any migraine-relief formula I might create. As I did more research, I discovered more reasons to include peppermint in the blend. It calms the major gut muscles (reducing the risk of vomiting or diarrhea) and increases the flow of digestive enzymes to improve the absorption of medicine, food, and liquids. As a sudorific, it also helps regulate body temperature by increasing circulation and inducing sweating if needed. I have a hard time regulating my body temperature during an attack, so it made sense to include something that might help.

Lavender

As with Peppermint, I have already used Lavender successfully during a migraine attack. Its tonic properties have the ability to calm my over-sensitive nerves and keep me relaxed while other treatments take effect. When combined with Peppermint, it provides decent, temporary pain relief while I wait for abortive medication to take effect.

Orange

I had not used Orange in a migraine remedy before this experiment. However, I had been exposed to some blends that included it and felt strongly drawn to it. As I learned more about its properties, I understood why it has such a strong pull. It can reduce inflammation, relax mind and body, calm muscle spams, and quickly eliminates toxins from the body. One whiff of the scent and I instinctively knew it had to be included. Please be careful though as it can cause phototoxicity. Stay out of the sun or keep well-covered while using Orange oil.

Lemongrass

Lemongrass has been my long-time laundry friend. I never thought I would use it for anything other than cleaning. However, upon discovering that it also has pain-relieving and nerve-calming properties, I had to reconsider its use. I knew that it had been used to improve concentration and focus in children with ADHD and wondered if it might do the same for my “migraine brain.”  I was pleasantly surprised at how much it did help.

Eucalyptus

I was hesitant to include Eucalyptus at first because I knew it had a tendency to increase blood flow by dilating blood vessels. While vasoldilation isn’t always present in migraine, I didn’t want to take the chance of making a bad problem worse.  So I held off and kept doing my research. What I found was that it is a nice compliment to Lemongrass – stimulating my brain just enough to help me recover from cognitive slowness a little faster. Just use caution because it can cause contact dermatitis is sensitive people and is toxic when taken in large doses. This one is definitely a case where more is not better.

I finally came up with a blend that I thought might help without being too strong:

Massage Oil

20 drops lavender oil
10 drops peppermint oil
10 drops orange oil
10 drops lemongrass oil
10 drops eucalyptus oil
8 oz. carrier oil (Apricot)
Shake and mix well in an amber glass bottle

Nasal Spray

20 drops lavender oil
10 drops peppermint oil
10 drops orange oil
10 drops lemongrass oil
10 drops eucalyptus oil
4 oz. distilled water
Shake and mix well in an amber bottle with nasal spray atomizer.

Feedback wanted!

I would love to hear what kind of results other brave souls get from this blend. Please check in with your doctor before starting something new though. I used a combination of NOW and Desert Essence brands purchased from a local health food store. I already had the bottles on hand. You can obtain bottles at your local health food store or from Mountain Rose Herbs. However, they do not have the nasal spray tops. You can find those at Herbal Remedies for $2.99 each. Some people prefer to get their essential oils from doTerra or Young Living Oils and that’s fine. However, please know that oils from Aura Cacia, Desert Essence, or NOW Foods are made with the same strict quality standards and tend to be cheaper because there are fewer “middle men” to get paid with each item sold.

I haven’t eliminated any of my pills just yet. It’s too soon to tell if that will be possible. The fact that the oils work in any capacity at all make me hopeful that I have yet another handy tool in my toolkit.

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