Migraines are severe, incapacitating headaches that can last for a few hours and up to several days. If you’re searching for a natural treatment, peppermint oil for migraines and headaches may be a good idea.
Peppermint oil is one of the most popular essential oils for migraines and headaches due to its reported ability to manage blood circulation in the body, as well as calm the nerves and muscle contractions.
Migraines may be triggered by anxiety, stress, hormonal changes, sleep deprivation, weather changes, and alcohol or processed food.
Essential oil for migraine treatment is considered safe and effective. Read on, as this article will focus on how to get rid of a migraine with peppermint essential oil for headache treatment.
Is Peppermint Oil Good for Migraines?
Peppermint (Mentha piperita) could be one of the most useful essential oils for migraine and tension headaches. Studies indicate that peppermint oil has the ability to improve circulation, inhibit muscle contractions, and stimulate blood flow in the forehead when applied topically.
Peppermint has analgesic, anti-microbial, and anti-nausea properties. Specifically, this essential oil gets its calming effect on the nerves from its most active ingredient, called menthol.
In fact, there is a lot of research on peppermint oil for headaches. In a placebo-controlled, double-blind crossover study published in 1996, German researchers would analyze 41 patients with 164 headache attacks.
The peppermint oil was applied 15 and 30 minutes after the onset of the headache. The participants reported pain relief in their headache diaries, and peppermint oil was shown to be a cost-effective and well-tolerated alternative headache treatment.
Another study published in the International Journal of Phytotherapy and Phytopharmacology in 1995 found that a combination of peppermint oil, eucalyptus oil, and ethanol was an effective headache treatment in 32 participants.
The researchers used a small sponge to apply the peppermint oil mixture to the temples and foreheads of the participants. They found that sensitivity during a headache was reduced when peppermint oil was combined with the ethanol only.
There is also research that shows that combining “Stopain” topical gel with menthol could significantly improve headache intensity two hours after being applied.
Peppermint oil has also been shown effective for migraine headache symptoms, such as a runny nose, muscle pain, congestion, stress, and nausea.
A systemic review of essential oils and aromatherapy published in the Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine in 2015 would also suggest that peppermint oil is effective for headache relief.
How to Use Peppermint Oil for Migraines
Do you want to know how to use peppermint oil for headaches? This section will guide you through the ways you can use peppermint oil for migraines and traditional headaches.
1. Add to Massage Oil
Essential oils must be diluted in carrier oil before being applied to the skin. The recommend ratio is three to five drops of peppermint oil to one ounce of warmed coconut oil, almond oil, jojoba oil, or mineral oil.
Before using any essential oil on the skin, it is a good idea to perform an allergy test. This is where you would mix three to five drops of the essential oil with your favorite carrier oil. Apply the mixture to your forearm. The essential oil should be safe if there is no reaction within 24 to 48 hours.
If it is safe, for normal use, apply a couple drops of your peppermint oil mixture to your forehead and temples, shoulders, chest area, and back of your neck.
Research published in the Clinical Journal of Pain in 2015 showed that a 30-minute massage may relieve headache symptoms within a 24-hour period.
2. Add to Your Bath
A bath can also reduce headache intensity. For ultimate benefits against migraines, add a few drops of peppermint oil to your bath.
Other oils that complement peppermint oil include lavender oil and geranium oil, with four drops each. A nice warm essential oil bath is a great way to ease muscle pain and stiffness.
It is also a good idea to have a bath with the lights off. Use a candle instead, since a headache can worsen with bright lights. A bath is also a great way to prevent a headache, or avoid worsening the intensity of a headache.
3. Inhale Peppermint Oil with Steam
A steam inhalation might also be a great way to use peppermint oil for migraines.
Simply pour hot water into a bowl and add three to seven drops of peppermint oil. You will then cover your head with a towel, close your eyes, and breathe through your nose. Do this for about two minutes.
A steam inhalation is effective for headaches, especially if you also have congestion.
4. Diffuse Peppermint Oil
A diffuser can help circulate peppermint essential oil into the air, or you can inhale it directly from the bottle.
If you find the scent too strong, try adding a few drops of peppermint oil to a cloth, tissue, or cotton ball, and breathe in.
5. Consume Peppermint Tea
Unless you’re using a high-quality, 100% therapeutic-grade essential oil, you shouldn’t ingest peppermint oil orally.
You can add a drop of high-quality peppermint oil to your tea, or use dried peppermint leaves to make a tea.
6. Use a Peppermint Cold Compress
Making a peppermint oil cold compress is another popular technique to relieve the swelling, inflammation, and discomfort of a headache.
Simply add two drops of peppermint oil to a pint of cold water wherein six ice cubes have been dissolved. Soak flannel or a cloth in the water, and put it directly over your migraine pain.
Different Forms of Peppermint Oil to Use for Migraines
Where can you find peppermint oil for migraines? Peppermint oil is available online or at health food stores in many different forms, including liquid oil, enteric-coated soft gel capsules, tea form, incense sticks, and candies or other chewables.
You can also find peppermint essential oil in skin creams, shampoos, conditioners, soaps, and air fresheners.
It is also important to note that you should buy peppermint oil from a highly reputable source, since there is a chance that some herbal remedies may be contaminated.
Who Should Avoid Using Peppermint Oil for Migraines?
Peppermint oil is considered safe when taken by mouth in food amounts, or when used topically. However, when taken orally, peppermint oil may lead to mouth sores, flushed skin, heartburn, and headaches.
Enteric-coated peppermint oil supplements may also dissolve rapidly and lead to nausea, heartburn, and rapid absorption of certain medications; therefore, precaution should be taken.
Who should not use peppermint oil for migraines? Peppermint oil is not recommended for people with gallbladder disease, gallstones, kidney problems, chronic heartburn, or have sensitive skin or allergies to peppermint. Pregnant or breastfeeding women should also avoid taking products with peppermint.
You should also keep in mind that peppermint oil may adversely interact with some over-the-counter medications and prescription medications.
Some of these include:
Final Thoughts on Peppermint Oil for Migraines
Peppermint oil for migraines appears to be a safe and effective alternative treatment. Multiple research studies suggest that peppermint oil can reduce headache intensity.
How would you use peppermint oil for migraines? It can be used in massage oil, steam inhalation, or by adding some to your tea, cold compress, or bath. You can also inhale peppermint essential oil from a diffuser or straight from the bottle.
Essential oils like peppermint oil can cause problems in some people. That is why it is important to consult your doctor and natural health practitioner before using peppermint oil for migraines.
- Top 6 Herbal Teas for Migraine Relief
- Ginger for Migraine: Is this Natural Treatment Better than Drugs?
- Natural Remedies to Help Treat Headaches and Migraines
- Pain in the Left Temple of the Head: 10 Causes and Treatments
- 10 Homeopathic Remedies for Headaches
- Waking up With Headaches: Causes and Treatments for Morning Headaches
Article Sources (+)
Gobel, H., et al., “[Effectiveness of Oleum menthae piperitae and paracetamol in therapy of headache of the tension type],” Der Nervenarst, Aug. 1996; 67(8): 672-681, PMID: 8805113.
Gobel, H., et al., “Essential plant oils and headache mechanisms,” Phytomedicine, Oct. 1995; 2(2): 93-102, doi: 10.1016/S0944-7113(11)80053-X.
Gobel, H., et al., “Effect of peppermint and eucalyptus oil preparations on neurophysiological and experimental algesimetric headache parameters,” Cephalalgia, June 1994; 14(3): 228-234, doi: 10.1046/j.1468-2982.1994.014003228.x.
Babar, A., et al., “Essential oils used in aromatherapy: A systemic review,” Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine, Aug. 2015; 5(8): 601-611, doi: 10.1016/j.apjtb.2015.05.007.
St. Cyr, A., et al., “Efficacy and Tolerability of STOPAIN for a Migraine Attack,” Frontiers in Neurology, Feb. 2015, 6: 11, doi: 10.3389/fneur.2015.00011.
Moraska, A.F., et al., “Myofascial trigger point-focused head and neck massage for recurrent tension-type headache: A randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial,” Clinical Journal of Pain, Feb. 2015; 31(2): 159-168, doi: 10.1097/AJP.0000000000000091.