Someone found this blog recently because they searched for ‘”essential oils” cause migraines.’ Did they get an answer from this post? What they learned there, for sure, is that essential oils cause migraines for me.
The search got me thinking more about essential oils. Especially since I had recently read that essential oils can emit VOCs (volatile organic compounds). So I decided to do some research.
We all know that you can find anything you want on the internet. You can prove or disprove the same theory depending on which information you choose to include. So I have to be careful and I have to document what I find. Here goes!
Here are some things that I found:
- A study by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc that determined that fragrant essential oils which are derived from plants may release VOCs into the air.
- A study by Professor Anne C. Steinemann that found that essential oils emit at least one chemical classified as hazardous or toxic under federal law. She also referenced another study that found benzene and toluene emitted by essential oils.
- I found another article that suggested that some essential oil manufacturers may, as a cost-saving measure, dilute their oils with carrier oils, synthetic fragrances, or fragrance stabilizers. I don’t know that this actually occurs, but it is certainly plausible.
- I found a lot of nay-sayers that accused those that said there were problems with essential oils as having chemophobia. They talked about how the International Fragrance Association (IFRA) had guidelines for what went into fragrances and would never use anything harmful. The problem with those guidelines is that the IFRA is self-regulating and they refuse to list their ingredients.
So, knowing that VOCs are a known migraine trigger, for me and many others, it’s an easy leap to say that essential oils are likely to cause migraines and headaches in susceptible individuals. I know personally that I have to avoid them along with most other scents.
How do I reconcile this information with the fact that some people recommend essential oils to cure headaches? I have no answer. Perhaps for some people that is true. For me it isn’t. If my head is hurting, any type of smell only makes it worse.
Here are some suggestions for you if you plan to use essential oils:
- Know your source for essential oils.
- Use them sparingly – a little goes a long way.
- If you know someone with extreme sensitivities, don’t use essential oils in their presence.
- If you share living quarters with someone with extreme sensitivities, don’t use essential oils at all.
Still have questions about essential oils and headaches? Leave a comment below!