Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Ice Pick & Cluster Headaches: An essential oil testimony

I never leave out of a town on a trip without my essential oils stash. Early on in my essential oil journey, I learned just how significantly helpful they are in unexpected emergencies. In fact, I've even purchased essential oil cushioned traveled cases just to hold all my "essentials" when vacationing.

About two years ago, after attending our cousin's wedding one fine spring day, my sister, brother, and I loaded up the van to drive the hour-ride back to our home in the city. Although the wedding had turned out perfectly, we had experienced a small set-back of busting one of the tires on the van. After taking it in to a local shop and getting it replaced, we were set and ready to make the drive home. About a half hour into the drive, my brother, who was sitting in the passenger's seat, expressed a discomfort and pain in his head, behind his left eye. Before my sister and I could think of any helpful advice to give him, the level of his pain jumped (on a scale of 1 - 10) from about a 1 or 2 to a 9! As I was the one driving (and we just happened to be making our way around some mountains at this time!), I felt helpless and almost tempted to pull the van over onto the side of the road somewhere. Anxiety set in and the pain was increasing on my brother's left side. He started moaning, holding his hands to his eye, and there was panic in his voice as he described the pain to us. I suddenly called out to my sister to grab the essential oils in my bag. 

Oddly enough, I had purchased a blend called M-Grain (a blend of Basil, Peppermint, Lavender, Roman Chamomile, Marjoram, and Helichrysum) just a few weeks before. It was one that I had purchased because I suffered from mild headaches. I don't think I had even tried it on myself before this point and, all of a sudden, an emergency came up that demanded it! I instructed my sister on how to dilute the oil and where to apply along his forehead (without getting it in our brother's eye). We were a crazy mess! I was panicking while driving and trying to focus on telling my sister where to apply the oils. My brother was gripping the side of his head and experiencing the most severe, jabbing pain he has ever felt before. I was fearing that the day would end up with all of us in the emergency room - if I could make it back to the city in time! At this point, I might have even stepped on the gas and flying down the highway at 80 or 85 (don't tell my parents!). I think our sister was the most calm individual present. She applied M-Grain around the left side of his forehead, just far away enough to not drip into his eye, as well as placed drops on the crown of his head and upper neck. In addition, I had her apply Peppermint (diluted) onto the same areas, as well as Lavender. The Peppermint created a soothing cooling sensation upon his throbbing head. The result of her slathering him in these essential oils was startling! Within a minute, he voiced that the pain was decreasing. Within 8 minutes, the pain had rapidly disappeared into a mild headache. At this point, he was exhausted from the frightening experience, but had become calm again. I even inched the pressure of my foot off the gas a bit and breathed a sigh of relief. In the end, we made it home safely and had quite a story to tell our mother! 

The funny part about this testimony is that my brother despises essential oils. Up until this point, he had refused to believe in my "hippie oils" or use them in anyway. Because his pain was so intense, he consented to us putting some on him because he, quite literally, had no choice. This experience was enough to make my brother mostly a believer in essential oils. In fact, he will now use them whenever he feels these types of headaches coming on.

As it turns out, this painful headache episode was followed by a cold for my brother, which lasted for a few days. This immediately inspired me to do some research. Because no one in our family had experienced this type of headache before, I did not know what specific phrases or names to search for. However, the internet quickly supplied me with a ton of helpful resources on this. 

The pain my brother experienced had been a blend of ice pick and cluster headaches. Ice pick headaches, as so aptly named, are a stabbing pain, usually beginning behind the eye or the temple area. While the intensity of pain can vary from person to person, these headaches are given their name because of the shocking and jarring stab of pain. They can range from happening once to various times in a day. These headaches are usually more abrupt, lasting around 30 seconds.

Cluster headaches are more defined as a "burning sensation behind the eye, peaking as an electric, shock-like pain....often causes the eyes to water and the nose to run, and which can last between 15 minutes to three hours." [source]

These headaches can worsen when the individual is exposed to bright lights or stress. Both of these types of headaches are usually linked together.   

The exact headache protocol that we use for these headaches is listed below:

Massage M-Grain into temples, forehead, behind ears, behind neck, onto crown of head, and into scalp. Rub a couple drops in your hand and breathe it in deeply. Next, layer Peppermint into the same areas that you applied M-Grain. Lavender can also be applied onto wrists, temples, and behind ears to emotionally calm and soothe.

In addition to applying essential oils, make sure to practice these simple habits when experiencing these types of headaches.
  • Drinks lots of water
  • Avoid bright, harsh light
  • Practice deep breathing from your diaphragm
  • Take it easy, get lots of rest.
 In our case, we were driving in the middle of the afternoon so we couldn't do to much in regards to the light. However, my brother was able to put on his sunglasses and close his eyes until we got him home. M-Grain is an oil my family keeps on hand now for these unexpected episodes!

* I only use Young Living therapeutic grade essential oils because of their high purity. Many essential oils on the market today are adulterated and are not put through a Seed to Seal process that Young Living lives by. I highly recommend these essential oils for their outstanding purity and also because, simply put, they really work. I began my journey over two years ago with Young Living EOs and have never looked back. They are remarkable!

To get started using therapeutic grade essential oils for you and your family, I recommend purchasing the Premium Starter Kit! You can begin enjoying wholesale prices AND a large selection of essential oils at the same time. This is a great way to begin incorporating the most versatile essential oils into your daily life. 

By the way, I am not a doctor. I just a woman who uses essential oils in her daily life with family and friends. The information provided on Ancient Essentials is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to prescribe, diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. It is your responsibility to educate yourself and address any health or medical needs you may have with your physician. Please seek professional help when needed.


  1. Waaa?? I didn't know this story! Lol Crazy! I should get this blend too. We get tension headaches a lot and it sounds like this is a good find!

    1. I thought we had shared this story with you a few weeks after your wedding! haha! Well, all this happened on our drive back home. It was insane!

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  4. Hi! My son has been suffering from these types of headaches for over 4 years. It took almost 2 years to get a diagnosis as they said he was too young for these types of headaches. We finally found a neurologist to identify them as we thought they were for a long time. They gave him meds which worked at times and then stopped. He had an oxygen tank he would use also. He has them chronically, which causes him to have them year round and often, now about once per week. They are the worst things I have ever seen a person go through and I've had 4 children! I have spoke to several chiropractors who say they can help him, so he's looking into this currently. He is 20 years old and on his own at college. If you would be so kind as to send him a sample of this oil to see if it would help him, that would be greatly appreciated and amazing. I talked to him yesterday and he said he had one that was the worst he ever had this week. He is scared and hoping to find something that will help him. Thank you in advance for your consideration. Please e-mail me at if you are able to help us. Thank you! ~Denise

  5. Thank you although I did not have Mgrain have peppermint and lavender and the difference it has just made is amazing. For the last 24 hrs I must have had at least 4 cluster headaches which have lasted for between 1 and 3 hrs. After reading this I had one come on so immediately put some peppermint above my eye, down the side of my face and neck, around my ear and the back of the neck and then a drop of lavender on my wrists. Laid down and within 3 to 5 mins it had gone from pain 10 to 1 a dull ache. Amazing!
    Chris x

  6. Hi Chris
    Did you dilute the oils before application or did you apply them neat?
    I would appreciate your feedback.
    Regards ... Leone x

  7. Suffering from CH as well - someone gave me some peppermint essential oil. For really bad attacks I apply it neat directly to the temple and forehead, around the ear, and the area between my thumb and forefinger (without this spot the headaches will still push to an 8 or 9). Hopefully this helps

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