How to use Peppermint Oil or Menthol to Fight Migraine

Peppermint oil, and its active ingredient menthol, can help alleviate migraine.  A new study further confirms what you read in HeadWay back in 2006.

The oil of peppermint, and the active ingredient that comes from mint and peppermint oils – menthol – has long been used to fight migraine.  And it’s a natural remedy that continues to be confirmed by the evidence, according to a study published in the International Journal of Clinical Practice in February 2010.

Peppermint oil and menthol for migraine

This was a small study, however it was a randomised, triple-blind, placebo-controlled, crossed-over study (that’s good).  The study covered 118 migraine attacks, and patients were given the menthol solution during the attack.

The side of the head with the most pain was washed with tap water, and then the 10% menthol solution was applied.

Patients receiving the menthol solution were more often pain free after two hours, and also were more often in less pain or pain free/in less pain over a longer time period.

Better yet, patients using the menthol had less nausea/vomiting, and less sensitivity to light or sound.

There are various ways to try this for yourself.  Many people use Tiger Balm (I’ve used it myself).  If you haven’t used it for many years, you’ll find the formula greatly improved (check out their non-staining ultra Tiger Balm here).  As we wrote in HeadWay, an Australian study specifically found that Tiger Balm did as well as Tylenol (acetaminophen or paracetamol) when it came to relieving pain.

Tiger Balm contains other ingredients as well which may make it effective, including mint and menthol but also cinnamon and the herb cajuput.

Some people prefer to try peppermint oil itself, which is generally less strong than the menthol formulations.  Be sure to get a quality, 100% essential oil – there’s a lot of garbage out there claiming to be something great.  Here’s one example of a quality essential peppermint oil, that can be applied to the temples and back of the neck.

If you want to try something similar to what was used in the study (10% menthol), try Biofreeze Spray (which, like Tiger Balm, contains other ingredients, but different ones) or BenGay Menthol Pain Relieving Gel (a gel, not a spray, with 2.5% menthol).  BioFreeze may send you a small free sample – call them at 1-800-246-3733.

Because of the varying scents of these products, you may quickly find you prefer some over others.  To try something less strong, you can try to BenGay PM or peppermint essential oil.  However, you also may miss some of the benefits of the other ingredients of something like Tiger Balm.

Whatever you try first, this is an inexpensive and less invasive way to fight migraine.

via Ellen S

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