DIY Soothing Head Balm: Great for calming headaches, migraines and stress

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When I get a headache, all I want to do is crawl up in bed and snooze it off. And while I’m not a big fan of painkillers, sometimes I need a helping hand to ease the pain, dissolve tensions, clear my mind and get me off to sleep.

This soothing head balm is also a great natural alternative to a painkiller, when a headache hits you at work, on the bus or while running around after little ones. Simply pop it out and rub a little on your temples, forehead, neck or anywhere you feel tension to sooth tense muscle and ease pain.

Soothing head balm

Metric:

This recipe is sufficient for 6 x 1 oz (or 30 gram) tins or 3 x 2 oz (60 gram) tins.

Non-metric

This recipe is sufficient for 9 x 1 oz tins (or similar).

Alternatively, you can make whatever quantity you like using a ratio of 8 parts oil to 1 part beeswax (and the appropriate dilution of essential oils based on age).

**If you are using for little ones under six be aware of the risks of peppermint essential oil and make an educated judgement. If you do decide to cut it out, you can infuse the oil with rosemary and peppermint in the first step instead.

Medicinal properties of ingredients

  • Rosemary: Rosemary has been used for hundreds of year to enhance memory and improve mental function. A claim that has been supported by a study in Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology, which shows that blood levels of a rosemary oil component correlate with improved cognitive performance. It’s also rich source of anti-oxidants and a herbal anti-inflammatory. As such, many aromatherapists use it to treat tension headaches, improve memory, and reduce stress and anxiety. You can read more about the healing properties of rosemary in the post Rosemary: Herbal remedy for hair, joints, indigestion and repelling insects.
  • Lavender: Used for hundreds of years to promote relaxation and sleep, several studies in both animals and humans suggest lavender may be effective as an anti-anxiety agent, mood stabiliser, sedative, painkiller and anti-convulsive, making it a natural choice for  a headache balm. Preliminary clinical research shows that lavender oil, 2 or 3 drops rubbed on the upper lip so that the vapor is inhaled, reduces migraine headache pain and spreading, as well as associated symptoms such as nausea and photophobia. You can read more about the healing properties of lavender in the post Lavender: herbal remedy for pain relief, relaxation and sleep.
  • Peppermint: Frequently used for muscle pain, headaches and nausea, a German study from the highly regarded University of Kiel, has now shown peppermint, spread across the temples and forehead, can be an effective treatment for tension headaches. In fact it was shown to significantly reduce pain within 15 minutes and continue relieving pain up until the hour-long observation period had ended, with no reported adverse effects.
  • Lemon: Citrus oils are known to be uplifting, helping to reduce stress and combat depression, making the a great choice for a headache balm. This claim has recently been backed-up by a small study at Mie University School of Medicine, which found that patients with depression needed smaller doses of antidepressant medications after citrus fragrance treatment.

Directions

1. To infuse oil, fill-up a jar with dry*, rosemary and top with oil so that the rosemary is covered. Secure the jar with an airtight lid.

2. For the sun infused method place in the sun for two to six weeks, shaking once or twice a day. Or for the heat method, place in a pan of boiling water to create a bain-marie and simmer for several hours. Even better, you can use a double boiler.

2. Once the oil has taken on the colour and aroma of the rosemary, it’s ready! Strain off the herb using cheesecloth (or similar fabric) and store the oil in a clean jar.

3. Now it’s time to add the beeswax. Simply add the required amount to the jar the bain-marie or double boiler until the beeswax has melted.

4. Drop in your essential oils to the desired dilution.

5. Test consistency by taking a spoon fool of the mixture and placing in the freezer. If it’s too hard for your liking, add more oil. If it’s too soft, add more beeswax. And repeat.

5. Pour out into your tins and allow to set.

*It’s important to use dried herbs and to prevent any water or steam entering the solution to avoid nasty bacteria from growing (including botulism in rare cases).

Voila! You have your very own soothing head balm!

A note on safety and dilution for essential oils

Please note, if you’re planning to use this salve for young children (like I do!), it’s important to do your research and follow appropriate safety guidelines.

The recommended dilution for children between six months and six years is  <0.25%. However everyone is different so if this is the first time using these essential oils on your child, you may like to consider doing a patch test.

For older children, elderly adults and pregant women, the recommended dilution is up to 1% and for other adults up to 2%.

Peppermint essential oil is not recommended for young children (especially on the chest and nasal area) so please do your research and make a jugement call for your own family. Please also note that lemon essential oil can increase photosensitivity so don’t apply before going out into the sun (not a great idea for headaches anyway).

Where to find ingredients

If you’re in the US or Canada, you can find all the supplies you need including tins from Mountain Rose Herbs.

For the rest of us, there are plenty of great suppliers to be found at Etsy and Amazon.

What natural headache remedies do you use in your house? Please share in the comments section below.

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