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Mint oil is often refered to as a remedy for headaches, especially for migraine.

For example these articles from health magazines (Article 1, 2, 3), claim that you can reduce headache pains by:

  • applying a few drops of mint oil to the forehead
  • massaging the temples with mint oil
  • or using a roll-on made from peppermint and lavender essential oil along with some fractionated coconut oil.

Are there studies and/or scientifical proof to back up the claim that mint oil is an effective remedy for headaches?

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tl;dr

Peppermint oil combined with ethanol may be useful when applied topically for tension headaches.

Details

A review (Kligler) found two studies that looked at peppermint oil when combined with ethanol for the treatment of tension headache. They rated the evidence a "B" for "inconsistent or limited-quality patient-oriented evidence"

In my own search I only found the same two studies listed in the review. The studies were placebo controlled, double blinded, and random crossover in design, so can be considered good quality experimental design, but they were limited in the number of subjects (one studied 32 patients and the other 41 patients). They did find that the topical application of peppermint oil and ethanol reduced headache severity.

These studies only considered tension type headaches, so the results may not be applicable to other types of headaches.

References

Gobel H, Schmidt G, Soyka D. Effect of peppermint and eucalyptus oil preparations on neurophysiological and experimental algesimetric headache parameters. Cephalalgia 1994;14:228-34.

Gobel H, Fresenius J, Heinze A, Dworschak M, Soyka D. Effectiveness of oleum menthae piperitae and paracetamol in therapy of headache of the tension type [German]. Nervenarzt 1996;67:672-81.

Kligler, Benjamin and Sapna Chaudhary. Peppermint Oil. American Family Physician. Volume 75, Number 7; April 1, 2007

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  • 1
    I have read that it is effective in migraines as well, but never saw the "with alcohol" instruction. Thanks for the links. – anongoodnurse Apr 24 '15 at 13:52
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    @anongoodnurse I've used it for migraines (I had daily migraines for a few years), but I couldn't find any studies on that particular use. My headache specialist had a "throw the kitchen sink at it" approach to pain control :-) – Zaralynda Apr 24 '15 at 14:31

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