The idea that aromatherapy can be helpful to those who experience migraine attacks should not be that surprising considering that migraine sufferers are quite sensitive to smells, particular during the episode. I’ve personally seen many patients telling me that even a brief exposure to any type of strong odor can quickly trigger a migraine-many of them can get on elevator with someone standing close by wearing a really strong perfume and may get off the elevator with a big migraine attack.
In 2013, a group of German researchers, led by Dr. Helmut Borbin, carried out a rigorous study on the pain-relieving characteristics of various odors. They found that peppermint does help in reducing pain perception in majority of healthy volunteers. Obviously, smelling a peppermint oil may not stop the migraine attack, but can surely provide some relief.
I feel the most practical use of aromatherapy for migraine involves blocking noxious odors. If you’re seated somewhere on a bus or in a theater next to persona wearing a strong perfume or are exposed to fumes, smoke or other irritants, immediately put on vial of essential oil of peppermint right under your nose to somehow block those smells. You can try an inexpensive product called Migrastcik. It’s a glass vial or lavender and peppermint essential oils with a small rolling ball tip, that can be used to apply these oils inside your wrists or to your temples. While peppermint has proved its efficacy in relieving some pain, I do feel that lavender also has some properties to reduce anxiety, so it’s definitely a nice combination.