Have you ever noticed when you have mint gum or candies that you can breathe better and suddenly feel more awake and focused? Try peppermint oil for headaches next time you feel that ache or tension in your head.
Cooling Peppermint Oil for Headaches
Peppermint oil uses and benefits include its long-lasting cooling effect on the skin, ability to inhibit muscle contractions and role in stimulating blood flow in the forehead when applied topically. Some researchers suspect that the oil helps control blood flow in the body and open up the sinuses for better oxygen flow.
When distilled into an essential oil, peppermint is prized for its unique cooling and invigorating effects. Since the days before commercial toothpaste, peppermint essential oil has been the go-to for mouth freshening and disinfecting by way of its antiseptic properties. Some holistic experts claim that the menthol compounds in peppermint oil can immobilize mouth bacteria and stop the herpes virus from multiplying when applied directly.
Peppermint essential oil is known to be antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, insecticidal and antispasmodic. It is sometimes used to alleviate symptoms of depression due to its stimulating properties. Conversely, peppermint oil can also provide anxiety relief.
Peppermint oil is incredibly versatile and while it’s useful in many different ways, it also has a very powerful mechanism that inhibits or even gets rid of a severe headache. In fact it’s one of the best, if not the best, essential oils for headache relief. Topical application (essential oil mixed with a carrier oil or ethanol and applied directly on skin) has been proven to be significantly more effective than placebo. It was just as effective as the far more toxic painkiller paracetamol/acetaminophen.
What exactly happens during a headache?
Tension headaches are the most common type of headache. They can cause a feeling of painful pressure on the head and neck. Tension headaches occur when the muscles in your head and neck tighten, often because of stress or anxiety.
Why does peppermint oil help headaches?
Peppermint essential oil is a very effective natural pain reliever and muscle relaxant. Use it to soothe an aching back, sore muscles, and melting away a tension headache by adding a few drops with a carrier oil such as coconut or olive oil and rubbing on pain center.
There are a few reasons why aromatherapy with peppermint essential oil is so effective when it comes to headache relief.
First there is the cooling effect that can, in a way, replace cold compresses and that helps eliminate pain, not only when it comes to headaches but also sore muscles, painful joints, and other ailments.
And second, peppermint is a powerful analgesic that is the perfect aromatherapy oil if you struggle with regular headaches (or other painful conditions), no matter how mild or strong they tend to be. Paired with a gentle head, temple, and even face massage, it can offer significant relief in as little as 10 minutes.
You will feel a numbing, slightly tingling sensation as soon as you apply it and you will actually be able to feel it work and slowly drain the pain away.
Not only is peppermint oil a pleasantly scented reducer of halitosis and clearer of congestion (menthol is a component of peppermint), but it’s also known to stimulate the senses, promote mental clarity, and relieve nausea.
A recent 2015 review of published studies on essential oils states that applying peppermint oil to the temples and forehead provides relief from tension headaches. It is included in treatment recommendations and guidelines by the respective professional societies and is regarded as a standard treatment for the acute therapy of tension-type headaches.
In a German study of 41 people with tension headaches the people who use peppermint essential oil found that it relieves pain as effectively as 1000 mg of acetaminophen and the relief was much quicker just 15 minutes.
Over the counter medications like ibuprofen and acetaminophen take a long time to get rid of the pain – sometimes up to an hour after you take it! Some herbal medicine remedies can offer almost immediate relief – peppermint oil can start to relive pain in as little as 15 minutes.
How do you use peppermint oil for headaches?
To use peppermint oil for headaches blend it with a carrier oil such as coconut or olive oil and gently massage the oil into your temples the first sight of pain. You can add it to a bowl or just in your hand.
If you have a headache coming on, you might try inhaling some peppermint oil in a diffuser or dabbing some, along with a carrier oil, behind your ears and on your temples to reduce pain and ease nervous tension.
Where do you apply peppermint oil for headaches?
It’s most effective when applied on temples and forehead, but if you have a tension headache even a neck or back massage with peppermint oil will feel incredibly soothing and will help you relax tense muscles, that are one of the main causes of tension headaches. And while this oil is especially effective with tension headaches, it can be also beneficial in the case of a migraine attack.
Can I apply peppermint oil directly to skin?
You generally do not want to apply peppermint oil directly to the skin. You can either prepare your mix ahead and keep it safely stored for when the pain strikes, or you can simply take a tablespoon of your favorite carrier oil, a few drops of peppermint essential oil, and mix both in your hands before you apply it.
If you opt to utilize peppermint oil’s cooling effects on the scalp or other areas of the body, be sure to mix it with a carrier oil such as jojoba or coconut oil. Peppermint oil is extremely potent and will give the sensation of freezing and numbing the skin if applied directly. This is due to the menthol compounds that are naturally present in this powerful essential oil which behaves as a natural anesthetic.
There are other oils that offer significant pain relief such as lavender and eucalyptus but peppermint is certainly one of the best choices when it comes to headache relief.
For quick relief to have on hand you can make up a roller bottle of headache oil using 1 tablespoon of carrier oil such as olive or coconut oil and 10 drops of lavender essential oil and five drops of peppermint essential oil in the roller bottle. Shake well to mix. To use rubit onto your temples just be on your hairline and massage with your fingertips to warm on your head.
I love the roller bottle technique since they are totally portable. There is also the technique of using more coconut oil and then refrigerating the mixture. Use whichever one works better for you!
Quick Essential Oil Recipe for Headaches
- 1 tbsp carrier oil
- 10 drops lavender essential oil
- 5 drops peppermint essential oil
- 1 roller bottle
- Add all the ingredients to roller bottle and shake well to mix.
- To use rub onto your temples and massage with your fingertips.
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How to Make Peppermint Oil at Home
Add the crushed leaves of a peppermint plant to a jar and fill 3/4 of the way with a carrier oil. Cap tightly and let rest for 24 hours. Strain out old peppermint leaves, then add new ones and more carrier oil. Let sit for another 24 hours, then strain again and repeat. Do this for 5 days. Finally, strain out the last bunch of peppermint leaves, cap and store.
Peppermint Oil Cautions and Concerns
People who are allergic to menthol should not use peppermint oil. Difficulty breathing may occur as a result of using too high a dose of peppermint oil in common applications. Pregnant women and those with heart conditions should avoid using peppermint oil, as it may result in slowed breathing and heart rate. Do not use peppermint oil on young children, as too high of a dose may result in toxicity. If you are sensitive to stimulants, avoid peppermint essential oil. Peppermint oil should not be used directly on the skin without first combining with a carrier oil.
DISCLAIMER: This information is not intended to serve as medical advice. If you are experiencing unusual symptoms of any kind, please consult with your physician.