Make Your Own Headache {and other aches} Pillows

homemade headache pillowLast week I posted about 19 Homemade Remedies for Headache Pain. We have been using Lavender and Peppermint essential oils for headache relief with success in our house. We usually just dab some on our temples, forehead, & the back of the neck.

Then when I posted my most recent installment of “Simple Handmade Gift Ideas“, including this Wheat Bag by A Spoonful of Sugar Designs, it got me thinking about combining the two ideas.

Essential oils for headaches and a nice, warm soothing pillow. Introducing: The Headache Pillow!

Then I got to thinking about (I am an over-thinker, it’s a proven fact) other kinds of “ills” that something like this might help…and the possibilities seemed practically ENDLESS! So I decided to make one other pillow….this one for easing menstrual cramps. I recently read on my sister Rebecca’s blog, Camp Wander, that Lavender, Clary Sage, and Marjoram are good for that monthly ache…so that’s what I used for pillow number two.


homemade headache pillow

homemade headache pillowHere is what you need to make your own

Headache (and other aches) Pillow:

  • 1 cotton dish towel (or any fabric of your choice)
  • 4 – 5 cups of rice
  • 5 drops Lavender Essential Oil
  • 5 drops Peppermint Essential Oil


  • 1 cotton dish towel (or any fabric of your choice)
  • 4 – 5 cups of rice
  • 5 drops Lavender Essential Oil
  • 5 drops Clary Sage Essential Oil
  • 5 drops Marjoram

Pour rice into a plastic storage bag and add the essential oils. Seal the bag and roll it around several times to allow the oils to evenly coat the rice. Set aside while you make your pillow.


homemade headache pillow

To make your pillow:

Depending on the size of your dish towel, cut in half or in fourths. I bought mine at IKEA and it was plenty large to make two pillows out of. Then with right sides together, sew two pieces together, leaving a 3 to 4 inch opening for filling. Turn the pillow right side out, fill it with the rice by snipping off the corner of the plastic bag and pouring it into the opening. Sew up the opening.


homemade headache pillow

homemade headache pillow

How to use:

I decided to make the pillow large enough that if you wanted to you could lay your head on it, but small enough to rest it across your face.  Either way, try to find a dim, quiet room and with the pillow under your head or across your face, take slow deep breaths…inhaling the calming and relaxing Lavender and invigorating Peppermint.

For menstrual cramps…warm the pillow up for 15-30 seconds in the microwave and lay it across your pelvic area. Relax and inhale deeply. The Clary Sage helps ease muscle tension, the Lavender calms and supports normal hormone levels, and the Marjoram helps with fluid retention, and muscle spasms

Now I think it’s time for me to grab one of those bags and go find a dark, quiet place….ironically enough I feel a doozie of a headache coming on!



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  1. Patti White says

    Awesome idea! We’ve used rice socks for years for muscle aches and pains. You take a man’s white sock, fill it with rice, secure the end and heat for a minute in the microwave. A doctor told my aunt about this idea. I can see where you could use a sock with the oils too. One other idea(for those of us who don’t sew, shame on us) would be to find a soft two sided place mat, rip open one end, follow your directions, and then hand stitch the end back together, or hot glue maybe. I actually got that idea from your sister Dori about making pillows. I made several pillows from place mats last year. You girls are something else! What did we do before Pinterest?

    Thank you again for a wonderful idea.

        • Patti White says

          I actually have rubber bands around the ends of my socks…lol…I have just tied a knot in them also. I really like to secure the end of the one I put the rice in and then slip it tied end first into another sock. I use the men’s white tube socks for this. Also, I wanted to try Jillee’s super idea about the pillow, and since I don’t live in town and it’s a bit of a drive to WalMart, I found a little square pillow I had, removed the stuffing, filled it with rice, added the oils and then just hot glued the edges together. I really need to start sewing again…

  2. Sonja says

    I’ve used dishtowels for this for several years but i haven’t put in the oils. i may try that the next time one wears out and needs replaced. I keep a couple in the freezer also for boo-boos as well as a couple in the cabinet above the microwave for quick heating.

  3. Landon says

    Great idea, Jillee! Has anyone used something like this long enough to know how long the EOs will last in the pillow? I was trying to think of an easy way to make it where it could be opened up to ‘refresh’ with more EOs over time. I’d imagine that the menstrual pillow would be more soothing than a heating pad since it would conform to whatever shape or size a person is much better than the heating pad. The little bit of weight from the pillow along with the heat & EOs might be more soothing than the heating pad as well.

    I also love that rice sock for the neck idea too, Patti.

    • Christine says

      I was thinking of an easy opening as well…had thought of sewing in a zipper at the half way mark where she pours the rice in? I had figured that would be best for a couple of reasons, easy open as well as a more seamless look?

      On a side note, I love Kevin & Amanda’s fonts. I had actually guessed that was their Ashley Rose font but I can see the difference between those two fonts. Thanks for the name of the one actually used, I like it better than the one I thought it was. They are close…but Vaguely Repulsive is a bit more smooth.

    • CTY says

      Many factors to how long they last– heat, humidity, manipulation. But they will last longer of you store them in a zip-lock bag when not in use. Unless of course you are also using it in the linen closet as a large sachet.

  4. Sherry says

    I make these but not with dishtowels…I just use muslin and sometimes make a Pillow case for them out of a pretty cotton material. One thing about the rice though…I have found that after a time it starts to develop a sour smell. I use flax seed. It heats nicely and never smells off. I have never used the essential oils, I always just use the lavender flowers and herbs….so not sure about the oils with flax. Flax is an oily seed so it mixes very well with the herbs themselves. Anyway, just my observances….they are truly wonderful for head and body aches….or just a comfort for a cold dreary evening.

  5. Murphy says

    I found this link at Tipnut in the comments, a great discussion about the pros/ cons of different fillers and hygiene questions. Jilliee, I am so glad you combined this idea with the tips for helpful oils!!! I am making these right away. You must have heard me screaming with cramps on Saturday here, getting ready for a long car ride to a big family gathering.

  6. says

    I love this idea! I do need to point out that heat kills the effectiveness of essential oils. I am an extreme beginner when it comes to essential oils so I don’t know much, but I have heard from several sources that heating (I don’t know how much) will kill the healing properties of essential oils. The oils might still work if you only heat them for 15 seconds, but I don’t really know for sure. Either way, the smell is still very nice. :)

  7. CTY says

    Jillee-Thankx. Getting right on this. For Christmas I am making a “home spa” package for my daughter in-law with many of your DIY beauty products inside. Trying to use a towel instead of paper for that origami trash can you posted to place everything inside. I’ll let you know how it works out.

  8. sea shell sally says

    As a Massage practitioner for almost 20 years; I have used alot of essential oils & make my own heat packs and eye pillows. I love essential oils and their healing properties, but in my packs & pillows I used the herbs/flowers while in their dried state. They last longer. “They” say not to put essential oils directly on skin w/o a carrier oil ( the exceptions being lavender & tea tree…both have antibacterial properties & are awesome for healing wounds when applied directly to the skin). So you can apply the ensential oils to the body w/ a carrier oil and then place the hot pack on top for the oils to soak in. As far as hot & cold. Using heat brings blood to an area & cold makes blood go away. If you use a combination of hot and cold it is called a vascular flush. So w/ that information keep in mind if it is a new injury do not use heat. Also I DO NOT RECOMMEND using a hot pack for headaches; as bringing more blood to the head usually intesifies headaches. I always store my pillows & packs in a ziplock; especially when they are kept in the freezer. Yes, the rice bags have a limited useage; as they will begin to smell funky. Some people use dried beans. I am not sold on that idea. I like rice or flax. They are smaller & conform to the body nicely. Love ya Jillee!

  9. Tinie says

    Thank you very much Jillee, I live far away from my mom and I often felt helpless when she is getting older with lots of illness…. I can’t be there to take care of her. She has headache almost everyday, so I gonna make one and send it to her <3
    Thank you thank you thank you <3

  10. Patti White says

    You girls that are so adept with the sewing machines should make you something with a way to fasten it around your waist for your back aches and pains….maybe some velcro or strings to tie? Now, that would be a wonderful thing to have!

    • CraftyMamaT says

      I made several rice packs for gifts one year. For the men, I made a long tube out of muslin, and sectioned it off to allow for easier molding. If I recall, they ended up being about 6″ wide and 23″ long. Each end included a strap, and I put a removable cover on them so that they can wash the covers. It’s been 2-3 years, and they are still talked about! For the women, I made a foot rice pack, same concept, only I made a fleece cover to slide their feet into.

      The weight of a rice pack feels much better than a heating pad, IMO.

  11. Lori G says

    Thanks for the idea, I know what my Mom is getting for christmas! What about making a small pocket to put a piece of cotton into that has the essential oils in it? Then they can go into the pocket after the bag is warmed. Also, why cut the towel into four pieces if you are going to sew it together again on all four sides?

  12. Lisa says

    I’ve made these for years using different items. With the rice I’ve noticed over time it gets really dusty from where the rice breaks down. What I’ve found to work a little better was either feed corn (whole, not cracked) or wheat berries. The Corn smells like popcorn whenever it is heated, so an oil wouldn’t really work with it but should work well with the wheat berries. We usually just leave them in the freezer (in a plastic bag so it doesn’t absorb freezer smell) then they’re ready anytime you need an ice pack or you can take them straight from the freezer to the microwave. They hold heat very well. Our heating pad would kick off after about 15 minutes but these stay warm for hours. They have been such a blessing!

  13. Purple says

    Great idea and very comforting. Just wanted to mention for those with the monthly woes, geranium oil with a bit of carrier oil; almond, coconut or one of your choice. Mix a bit and smooth onto your lower abdomen and you will feel like a new person in no time. Geranium is a great balancer. Also we used wheat in our bags, not the cracked kind but the whole grain and they lasted for a very long time. Love your blog Jillie

  14. Loreta Hiley says

    Muscle pain is most frequently related to tension, overuse, or muscle injury from exercise or physically-demanding work. In these situations, the pain tends to involve specific muscles and starts during or just after the activity. It is usually obvious which activity is causing the pain.-*-’

    Our own blog

  15. Ruth Cobb says

    Which oils would be good for sinus congestion and pain. I had one I bought at a mall in Anne Arundal, MD, many years ago, but it has since lost its scent. I figured menthol, maybe eucalyptus. Any other ideas? This is a wonderful post and something I had been considering for years.

  16. Kathleen says

    What good is it to show us these wonderful remedies with oils there’s no way to buy them. The health Food stores sell them for very high prices. One small bottle of Myrrh oil was $32.

  17. Emily says

    I have been making these for years. To refresh mine, I draw up the oils I want to use in a syringe, and then inject it in the center of the rice. try to avoid getting it on the fabric, and it works very well.

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  1. […] Depending on the size of your dish towel, cut in half or in fourths. I bought mine at IKEA and it was plenty large to make two pillows out of. Then with right sides together, sew two pieces together, leaving a 3 to 4 inch opening for filling. Turn the pillow right side out, fill it with the rice by snipping off the corner of the plastic bag and pouring it into the opening. Sew up the opening. See full tutorial […]

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