In Which I Try Something Different

If you know me, then you know I have migraines. Frequently. And if you’ve talked with me for more than an hour, you’ve heard most of my crazy, unlikely medical history, the doctors I adore, the ones I don’t, and my abiding love for Imitrex (a triptan migraine med, for those unfamiliar).

I count myself fortunate. No auras, relatively few triggers, quick response to treatment (see Imitrex). Compared to many of my fellow migraineurs, I received quantity rather than quality. And that is just fine. As many women know, migraines are often associated with hormone fluctuations. The only thing to help regulate those (birth control) is off limits since the Unfortunate Pulmonary Embolism of 2009. Oh well.

Migraines still suck, though. However resigned I may be with the situation, that doesn’t keep migraine occurrences from being darned inconvenient. And insurance only provides nine Imitrex a month. While that’s usually fine, there are months where I’m living refill to refill, as it were.

Enter my latest experiment: therapeutic essential oils. Multiple friends have mentioned using essential oils with positive results for pain management, digestive support, and mood lifting. I do absolutely believe that scent can affect your mood and outlook, though some scents (ahem, Christmas cinnamon at the craft store) can be major headache triggers.

I took the plunge and ordered a starter kit from Young Living. There are multiple fantastic blog posts about the various oil companies, sourcing, price, and use. Even knowing that Young Living is a multilevel marketing program, the kit offered the best variety for oils I wanted to try (lavender, lemon, peppermint, and some blends), and it came with a low-maintenance diffuser (something I could use with any fragrance for general room freshness).

The kit arrived today, and I was impressed with the secure packing and packaging around these fairly breakable items. It even included some travel samples which will be handy for my work travel and a roll-on lid for easy application to pressure points.

While it’s too soon to declare any results, the scents are pleasant. Even if my benefits are only placebo, that would still be an improvement. And it’s a cheaper experiment than some migraine treatments out there.

Update: After three uses, the diffuser has started being finicky. It will start for a few minutes, run for seconds or minutes, then shut off. I cleaned the cap, reservoir, and metal plate (as instructed in the manual), tried different outlets, to no avail. There’s a mechanism built in that senses when the reservoir is out of water and automatically shuts off (which is great), but I think it’s being overzealous. That, or something related to the power supply. Either way, I finally called Customer Care this morning for a return authorization. The representative was as nice as can be, mentioned they’d had a number of problems with the diffuser (NOT great to hear) and that she’d get me an authorization immediately. The whole call took a couple minutes, but now I have to mail it back and wait a week or so for my replacement. It’s not the end of the world, but is a minor inconvenience.

While there are many ways to continue using the oils and other types of diffusers, so the experiment continues, I did like this cold water humidifier style of general room dispersal. Until I figure out which smells may trigger a headache, this is a very gentle way to introduce them to the system.



  1. Marliese, Keep us posted about the oils. I have heard all the hype and testimonial and am curious about your results! Best wishes to do. I hope you find some natural relief!

    • Thanks, Catherine! I decided to try kicking sodas at the same time, and so far no headaches! Of course, I’m supplementing with iced coffee, so the caffeine is still there 🙂 Love to you and your precious children!

  2. I’ve never used essential oils but I’ve heard great things. If you are open to other options for migraine treatments, have you tried acupuncture? I’ve used it for Ménière’s disease (inner ear thing) and it’s the only thing that works.

    • Sarah, I’ve tried chiropractors with great results in the past. My current alternative therapy list (in order) is oils, acupuncture, Botox. Note, that’s also in order of cost, too. Another friend with dysautonomia swears by her acupuncturist, and it’s great to have two references for a technique. Since I travel so much for work now, I’m hoping the oils will be a good on-the-go palliative.

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