Peppermint essential oil has been one of my more recent discoveries, and I’m quite in love. It works so well for my occasional headaches and nausea that it’s become my gateway into the world of essential oils. The jury is still out for me on how well the others work for us, but this one I know is effective.
Peppermint Oil for Headaches
My husband and I recently celebrated our seventh (!) wedding anniversary with a day trip to nearby Durango, CO, for a luxurious baby-free lunch at Seasons (which I highly recommend, by the way. oh my). The only problem? I had the worst headache that morning.
I’m one of those people who tends to suffer rather than take medicine, so it took me over an hour to realize I could actually do something about my headache. Doh! I don’t know what jogged my memory, but suddenly I remembered that peppermint oil had relieved several of my more severe headaches over the past couple of years. Since we hadn’t yet left our home, I dashed upstairs for the bottle before we drove away.
With two drops of oil rubbed into my temples, I felt significantly better within 5 minutes and completely better in the next half hour. It was a bit intense, to be sure (lots of tingling and a little eye-watering), but well worth it. We went on to have a perfectly lovely time, complete with excellent herb-y cocktails and creative fare from local farms.
For me, peppermint works just as well as Tylenol or Ibuprophen without any concerns about side effects. It even helped take the edge off a vicious migraine I got while pregnant. Ugh. While I was still very uncomfortable, at least with the peppermint oil I could function. That really impressed me.
Why does peppermint oil work? When I first tried it on a mild headache, I wondered if it helped merely because the tingling sensations were distracting. This certainly could be part of it, but I later learned that peppermint oil is a natural vasodilator. In other words, it facilitates blood flow. This matches my experience over time, especially with more severe headaches. Also, if your headache is sinus-related, the smell of peppermint can help clear them.
Peppermint Oil for Nausea
Maybe you’ve tried peppermint or ginger tea for nausea. If that’s not doing the job, or if you want something quicker and easier (and more portable), put a couple drops of peppermint oil on a tissue and sniff it often. I recently used this trick to get relief during the stomach flu.
Of course, if your body’s trying to get rid of your entire stomach and bowel contents, peppermint oil’s not going to stop it, but it does make the nausea bearable. I was reeaaallly thankful for that tissue last week!
I desperately wish I’d known about peppermint oil during those first miserable months of my pregnancy with Baby Bear. I suffered with severe nausea, and it felt like nothing brought relief. I even spent two m.i.s.e.r.a.b.l.e. weeks in Czech Republic and eastern Germany. How sad is that? Peppermint could have changed everything!
Or not. Definitely not. Just being real here. Peppermint is amazing for nausea, and I know it would have helped, but man, in hindsight, I’d cancel that trip in a heartbeat.
There’s nothing like the tragedy of spending almost your entire time in Prague locked up in your apartment rental watching Stanley Tucci in the 1990s TV drama Murder One because you’re too sick to get out of bed. And then the horror of repeating this tragedy (albeit minus Stanley Tucci) in Dresden. And Berlin. It’s enough to make me sick right now. And swear off babies forever.
Notes on Quality & Safety
Anyway, moving away from my personal life and its disappointments and back to essential oils, let’s talk quality. I don’t know a lot about it really, except that most of the cheap stuff is adulterated in one way or another. It has to do with slippery labeling laws. And money.
I have both Young Living and Doterra oils, and I’m not convinced that one is better than the other. Young Living has 100% control over all their oils because they grow everything themselves in Utah . . . or something like that. Doterra claims their oils are better because their plants and flowers are grown in their natural climate (e.g., they get their lavender from France, where its been cultivated for centuries).
I say buy whichever one is more accessible, or do your own research and find another company with stringent standards. Just don’t pop over to the health food store and expect top quality. Enough said.
You might also be wondering if peppermint oil is safe during pregnancy. Everything I’ve read says yes, although it can reduce milk supply, so don’t over-use it while nursing (a one-time application shouldn’t hurt) or at the very end of pregnancy.
Finally, I must add that while I love discovering natural, easy, side-effect-free remedies for common ailments, I don’t want to imply that we’re fixing underlying causes here. If you suffer from chronic headaches and nausea like I did for 13 years, by all means use all the healthy tools in your toolbox to get some relief, but don’t stop seeking real healing. It’s been a long road for me, but I don’t count headaches and nausea among my troubling symptoms anymore! I’m so grateful.
What about you? Have you tried peppermint or other essential oils? What works for your headaches or nausea?