Lavender for Migraine Headaches

Lavender for Migraine Headaches
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A placebo-controlled clinical trial of lavender essential oil aromatherapy shows it to be an effective migraine therapy.

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

“Lavender…has been studied recently for several purposes including treatment of mood and anxiety disorders,” as well as a number of other things. Its “analgesic effect,” however—its painkiller effect—is one of its most “widely studied properties.”

Surprising, then, that there hasn’t been a single “documented clinical trial to study lavender for the treatment of migraine” headaches, that affect tens of millions of Americans every year—until now: “Lavender Essential Oil in the Treatment of Migraine Headache: A Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial.”

Migraine sufferers “were asked to, at the early signs of a headache—rub 2-3 drops of the lavender essential oil onto their upper lip and inhale its vapor for a 15-min period” of time, and score the severity of their headache for the next two hours. In the control group, they did the same thing, except they used drops of basically unscented liquid wax. And neither group was allowed to use any painkillers. In the lavender group, 74% of patients had an improvement in their symptoms—significantly better than placebo.

Though in the study lavender wasn’t directly compared to more conventional treatments, lavender appears to stack up pretty well, compared to typical drugs. Lavender helped about three-quarters of the time; high-dose Tylenol only works about half the time; and ibuprofen, 57% of the time. The #1 prescribed drug, generic imitrex—effective 59% of the time. And then, the hardcore treatment they use in emergency rooms, where they inject you under the skin: 70%.

And all these work better than the original migraine therapy, known as trepanning, where doctors drill a hole in your head to let the evil spirits escape.

“Conclusion: The present study suggests that inhalation of lavender essential oil may be an effective and safe treatment modality in acute management of migraine headaches.”

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to r.nial.bradshaw via flickr

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

“Lavender…has been studied recently for several purposes including treatment of mood and anxiety disorders,” as well as a number of other things. Its “analgesic effect,” however—its painkiller effect—is one of its most “widely studied properties.”

Surprising, then, that there hasn’t been a single “documented clinical trial to study lavender for the treatment of migraine” headaches, that affect tens of millions of Americans every year—until now: “Lavender Essential Oil in the Treatment of Migraine Headache: A Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial.”

Migraine sufferers “were asked to, at the early signs of a headache—rub 2-3 drops of the lavender essential oil onto their upper lip and inhale its vapor for a 15-min period” of time, and score the severity of their headache for the next two hours. In the control group, they did the same thing, except they used drops of basically unscented liquid wax. And neither group was allowed to use any painkillers. In the lavender group, 74% of patients had an improvement in their symptoms—significantly better than placebo.

Though in the study lavender wasn’t directly compared to more conventional treatments, lavender appears to stack up pretty well, compared to typical drugs. Lavender helped about three-quarters of the time; high-dose Tylenol only works about half the time; and ibuprofen, 57% of the time. The #1 prescribed drug, generic imitrex—effective 59% of the time. And then, the hardcore treatment they use in emergency rooms, where they inject you under the skin: 70%.

And all these work better than the original migraine therapy, known as trepanning, where doctors drill a hole in your head to let the evil spirits escape.

“Conclusion: The present study suggests that inhalation of lavender essential oil may be an effective and safe treatment modality in acute management of migraine headaches.”

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to r.nial.bradshaw via flickr

Doctor's Note

Taken internally, lavender may even work as well as powerful drugs for the relief of anxiety (see Lavender for Generalized Anxiety Disorder).

Migraine sufferers may also want to experiment with avoiding potential triggers such as aspartame (see Diet Soda & Preterm Birth). Saffron may also help with headaches (see Saffron for the Treatment of PMS), as well as avoiding certain parasites (see Pork Tapeworms on the Brain and Avoiding Epilepsy through Diet). A note of caution, though: pregnant migraine sufferers seeking natural remedies should be wary of advice they may get (see Dangerous Advice from Health Food Store Employees).

Those eating healthy diets are less likely to be on pain medications in general (see Say No to Drugs by Saying Yes to More Plants). See, for example:

2020 Update – I just added a new video on migraines: Foods that Help Headache & Migraine Relief

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