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  • Why You Need Peppermint Essential Oil for Your Next Headache

    peppermint leaves

    You’ve might have heard that Peppermint essential oil is a guaranteed cure for tension headaches. I wouldn’t go that far, but it is a great thing to have around when your head starts hurting. Lemme explain.

    Why Peppermint?

    Quick aside about where I got the info for this article: Sometime last year, an aromatherapist I know posted about an awesome, paid service/website called DropSmith. As soon as I visited, it was love at first sight for me. This website is a catalogue of essential oils and all the relevant research they can find about their properties. It’s a fabulous resource for those of us who not only love the traditional wisdom and anecdotal evidence of traditional aromatherapy references, but also like some research to back up their claims of efficacy.

    With that background it’s time to tell you why peppermint essential oil is so great at fighting tension headaches. The best way to do that is to list the relevant properties and then tell you how they apply. So, here goes:

    • Anti-inflammatory – If any part of your headache is due to inflammation, peppermint’s got you covered.
    • Analgesic – It’s a pain reliever, so yeah… it will help relieve your headache pain.
    • Spasmolytic – It helps calm muscle spasms, so if your neck or head muscles are spasming, peppermint will help calm them down.
    • Vasodilator – This means it dilates the blood vessels, which lowers the resistance and pressure of the blood as it travels through the arteries and veins. So, if your headache has a vascular component or is related to a temporary spike in blood pressure due to stress, peppermint can help.
    • Muscle relaxant – Since most tension headaches are due to tension in the neck muscles, getting those muscles to relax often relieves or at least reduces the pain.

    How to Use Peppermint Essential Oil for a Headache

    First – dilute your peppermint essential oil in an unscented carrier oil or lotion to 5%. Seriously. Less is more with this stuff. See the precautions below for more info.
    Second – apply to tight/stiff/dense neck muscles, including the base of the skull.
    Third – if the pain is really intense at the temples or forehead, go ahead and apply a very small amount to those areas. Make sure to stay away from the eyes, though. Not only will it burn like a mofo if you get the oil in your eyes, the vapors are enough to make your eyes water from a distance. You seriously don’t want burning eyes on top of your aching head. Proceed with caution, and only do this if the pain in these areas is severe.

    Precautions When Using Peppermint

    Peppermint can be quite irritating to skin and mucus membranes so you need to be very careful if you’re going to apply it to the skin, as you would to treat a headache. Here’s are the safety considerations you need to know to use peppermint on your skin:

    • The maximum strength dilution you should use on your skin is 5.6%.
    • It is a mucus membrane irritant, so don’t get it near eyes, nose, mouth, or genitals. Trust me. Or don’t. It’s your pain.
    • Do not apply to or near the face of infants or children.
    • It is a choloretic. Do not use if you have liver disease or damage.
    • It is neurotoxic in high doses. This means it can adversely affect your nerves and cause tingling, weakness, numbness, or paralysis in the arms and legs. It can also cause headache, vision loss, memory loss, and loss of cognitive function. If that’s not enough, it can additionally cause uncontrollable obsessive/compulsive behavior, behavioral problems, and sexual dysfunction. Seriously. Less is more.

    If you remember nothing else, remember this: Always dilute peppermint before applying to your skin even if it doesn’t irritate your skin because overuse can actually cause headaches. The more you know… Just sayin’.

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