Peppermint and Menthol for Migraine Relief
Peppermint oil is concentrated from peppermint leaves, a hybrid of water mint and spearmint.
Peppermint’s key ingredient is menthol.
This article reviews the science behind why peppermint and menthol are popular migraine treatments.
Thirteen Reasons Why Peppermint May Relieve Migraines.
1. 2015 Menthol Gel Migraine Study
In a 2015 Thomas Jefferson University Study, a menthol-based gel was applied on the neck and behind the ears of 25 patients during migraine attacks (study).
After two hours, 28 percent of patients had no pain and another 28 percent of patients had only mild pain.
The results were impressive, but there was no placebo group.
2. Menthol on 118 Migraine Attacks
In 2010, Iranian researchers used menthol to treat 118 migraine attacks in 35 patients (study).
Menthol was superior to the placebo for pain relief, pain freedom, nausea, vomiting, phonophobia (sound sensitivity), and photophobia (light sensitivity).
3. Placebo Effect of Menthol and Beyond
Placebos that are topical ointments work better than pill placebos (study).
Therefore, it’s impressive that menthol outperforms the high placebo effect of a topical ointment (study).
Use positive thoughts while applying peppermint oil to harness the placebo effect (full article).
4. Tension-Type Headache Relief
A German study published in 1996 found that peppermint oil applied to the forehead and temples was just as effective at controlling tension-type headaches as 1,000 mg of acetaminophen (study).
The study analyzed 164 headaches in 41 patients.
Peppermint oil was also more effective than the placebo. However, the co-author of the study, Dr. Göbel, disclosed to The Wall Street Journal that peppermint oil had no benefit over the placebo for migraines in unpublished work (WSJ).
It’s possible that peppermint oil was effective for migraine pain relief, but no more effective in the unpublished study than the high placebo effect of topical ointments.
The research suggests that peppermint oil could control tension-type headaches before they transform into migraines.