Do you get headaches or migraines? Over-the-counter meds don’t always help – try peppermint essential oil for headaches and relieve your aches!
What is a Headache?
Headache is a term used to describe pain in the head, face or neck. Most people will experience an occasional headache during their lifetime. But for some, headaches can be chronic and severe, making day to day activities difficult. Headache may arise spontaneously or may be associated with activity or exercise. It may have an acute onset or it may be chronic in nature with or without episodes of increasing severity.
Types of Headaches
Headaches are generally classified by cause. There are two types of headaches:
A primary headache is caused by dysfunction or overactivity of pain-sensitive features in the head, and isn’t a symptom of an underlying disease. Chemical activity in the brain, the nerves or blood vessels of your head outside the skull, or muscles of the head and neck — or some combination of these factors — may play a role in primary headaches.
Some people may carry genes that make them more likely to develop such headaches.
The most common primary headaches:
• Cluster headache
• Migraine (with and without aura)
• Tension headache (medically known as tension-type headache)
• Trigeminal autonomic cephalalgia (TAC), including cluster headache and paroxysmal hemicrania
Secondary headaches are the result of an underlying condition that causes head pain, such as a sinus infection, head trauma or tumor. Head pain can also result from problems with the eyes, ears, neck, teeth or sinuses. In these cases, the underlying condition must be diagnosed and treated first to stop the headaches.
Treatments for Headaches
Headache treatment largely depends on the type, severity and frequency. Many headaches can be treated with conservative measures, such as diet, sleep modification or over-the-counter medications. Others respond to stress-reducing measures, such as massage, meditation and biofeedback.
Essential Oils for Headaches
Those who suffer from frequent headaches know that over-the-counter, anti-inflammatory pills for pain relief won’t always reduce or solve aches. In such situation, essential oils can do the trick.
Essential oils are natural, concentrated liquids distilled from a specific plant, carrying the same characteristics of each plant and bringing its aromatherapeutic benefits, which can reduce stress and tension. Each essential oil also has distinctive properties that are believed to help with an array of day-to-day ailments, from headaches to acne.
Lavender, rosemary, and peppermint oils are most commonly used in headache-relief products. Studies have shown that lavender oil is capable of improving brain function and alleviating headaches. Similarly, rosemary oil has been known to relieve joint pain when paired with other holistic remedies, and it can be more effective for pain management than acetaminophen for some people. One of the strongest scented
essential oils, peppermint can be used to combat nausea, cramps, inflammation, and headaches.
Peppermint Essential Oil for Headaches
Peppermint is an aromatic herb in the mint family. It’s a hybrid mint that’s a cross between spearmint and watermint. It can be found naturally in North America and Europe. Peppermint essential oil can be extracted from the leaves of the peppermint plant and is used for a variety of different purposes. Peppermint oil is one of the most commonly used essential oils to treat headaches and migraine attacks. It contains menthol, which can help relax muscles and ease pain.
How to Use Peppermint Oil for Headaches
You never want to put straight-up essential oil on your skin—it’s too intense and can burn and leave a rash. Essential oils need to be diluted in a carrier oil before being applied directly to the skin. Usually, the recommended ratio is 3 to 5 drops of essential oil to 1 ounce of sweet almond oil, warmed coconut oil, or mineral oil.
People with nut allergies should always avoid nut-based oils. Peppermint oil is potent, so a drop or two mixed into a teaspoon or so of carrier oil should be enough. From there, apply a small amount wherever you have a headache and gently massage the area until it’s mostly absorbed. The smell is wonderful of course, but the tingling and numbing effect of peppermint essential oil for headaches is what really does the trick.
Don’t forget to wash your hands after applying.
Before applying any essential oil, do an allergy test. Mix 3 to 5 drops of
essential oil with 1 ounce of your favorite carrier oil. Apply the mixture to the skin of your forearm. If there is no reaction within 24 to 48 hours, the essential oil should be safe to use.
Taking a bath with peppermint oil can help in decreasing the intensity of the headache. Add a few drops of diluted peppermint oil to your bath to really increase the relaxation benefits.
You can also inhale peppermint oil with steam. Just pour hot water into a bowl and add 3 to 7 drops of essential oil. Cover your head with a towel, close your eyes, and breathe through your nose. Do this for no more than 2 minutes. Steam inhalation can help with sinus headaches, especially if you also have symptoms of congestion.
Risks and Complications
Essential oils are generally regarded as safe, and many have much fewer side effects compared to most traditional migraine and headache medications — including both over-the-counter and prescription medications. The biggest risk associated with essential oils is the risk of an allergic reaction or irritation.
Applying oils to the skin can cause irritation, including a stinging or burning feeling, redness, or rash. You should dilute all essential oils, including peppermint and eucalyptus oils, with a carrier oil before applying to the skin.
Essential oils can also cause complications if you have preexisting conditions like asthma or heart problems. Ask your doctor before using any essential oils to make sure they won’t aggravate any existing health problems. Women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant should talk to their doctor about the risks of using peppermint oil.
Essential oils can have numerous medicinal benefits when used correctly, and they can help to relieve headaches and migraine attacks. When it comes to essential oils, remember that a little goes a long way — one to three drops will do the trick.
If your headaches or migraine attacks are persistent and interfere with your life, make an appointment to see your doctor. For severe or frequent headaches or migraine attacks, essential oils may work best as a complementary treatment to prescription medications.