How Peppermint Oil Saved Me From My Headache!

I'm not a doctor, just a crunchy mom. Read my disclaimers here or here.

This school year has hit my family hard! I don't think there has been a single day during which one of us hasn't been sick since August! This, my third pregnancy, has also been the most difficult one yet! I've dealt with more illness and discomfort than I'd like to admit, and I cannot seem to get ahead of it.  Amidst the self wallowing of "what am I doing wrong?" I'm trying to keep up, treat, and figure out how to get healthy.  So, when I developed a headache of epic proportions, one that barely afforded me the ability to see straight, caused nausea and severe sinus pressure, I felt defeated.  Luckily, instead of spiraling down that black hole, I decided mommy couldn't be the one to get knocked down and addressed it immediately!

Peppermint Oil and Pregnancy

First a note on using peppermint oil during pregnancy, as there is some controversy.  The concern arises because peppermint oil is so strong and can be considered "hot" that it might have some adverse effect on a fetus or labor.  This is mostly due to the fact that like most of the pharmaceuticals prescribed to people (including pregnant women!) every day, there have not been enough studies conducted on pregnant women to deduce their safety.  For prescription meds, that usually means they're considered "generally safe"- however, for more natural or holistic treatments like essential oils, that generally means they'd like you to consider it "unsafe."  However, if you take caution when using this (and any!) oil when pregnant, knowledgeable oil sources recommend it.

The Quick Reference Guide lists Peppermint as a "take caution" oil during pregnancy.  It should always be diluted when using topically, and as many sources agree, should be used with extreme caution (or not at all!) late in pregnancy or during breastfeeding.  This is because it can cause low milk production, as can any decongestant. (Think about it- you take decongestants to dry you up!) Neither the National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy nor the International Federation of Professional Aromatherapists list Peppermint on their list of oils to be avoided during pregnancy.  After doing some research, I decided that smack dab in middle of my second trimester, Peppermint Oil just might save me from my headache.


Using Peppermint Oil for Headaches

Here's the timeline of how I treated my extreme headache accompanied by some sinus pressure with Peppermint Oil:

  • After the boys went to bed, I set myself up for some "me time" in the bathroom and shower.  First, I opened the bottle of oil and took 2 or 3 whifs to help the process of clearing my sinuses begin.
  • Then, I started the shower.  I placed 2 drops of oil on a cotton ball and placed the cotton ball on the corner shelf of my shower where it would be most affected by the steam yet not get wet.  This provided a subtle, yet effective, warm peppermint mist throughout my shower, and I almost immediately felt my sinuses starting to drain.
  • After my shower when my sinuses were still loose, I used a Sinus Rinse system to clear myself out.  
    • The one I have is a simple generic brand using saline solution that can be found at any drug store, but when I run out and have more time to prepare, I will be purchasing the Xlear system.  I love Xlear for myself and my babies far more than traditional saline solution, and the improved taste is very helpful when working with sick Littles!
  • Next, I diluted 1-2 drops of oil in my favorite facial lotion and applied it to my temples, forehead, and down the sides of my nose. (You can also use coconut oil or another carrier oil, but my skin suffers terribly when I apply oil to my face, so I opted for lotion.)  You will immediately feel the effect! Your eyes might start to water a bit, but you should also feel almost immediate relief from the headache tension and pressure.  I did this once more before I went to sleep.
    • Please be careful when touching/rubbing your eyes after you've applied this mixture to your face. It will remain on the surface of your skin, and can easily be transferred into your eyes! If oil does enter your eyes, DO NOT RINSE WITH WATER! Dilute with a carrier oil.
  • When I woke up, I did the lotion routine once more before I left for work. (Depending on your congestion level, it might also help to do another sinus rinse.) I packed my Breathe Again in case I needed relief during the day, but I did not! This was the last part of the treatment I needed for my headache! 

After my success with this routine, I plan to hold on to it any time I get a terrible headache. No more Tylenol for me! 

Got Peppermint Oil?

Peppermint Oil is such a common oil that you can find it almost anywhere these days. However, it is important, especially when pregnant, to make sure you are using therapeutic grade, pure oils.  (And peppermint oil is NOT the same as peppermint extract! Yikes!)  Some health food stores do sell appropriate oils, and Peppermint is one of the oils you receive in the premium enrollment kit. If you're interested in ordering oils, please contact me or read here for more information.