Headaches & Peppermint

September 24, 2008

by Master Herbalist Susie Ransom

Migraine headaches have plagued me most of my life. When I was happy, when I wasn't happy, when I ate well, when I ate wrong, when the sun shone, when it was cloudy, I would get miserable headaches. Nothing takes the fun out of going for a summer drive with your family, when you know you'll come home with a headache and spend the rest of the day in bed. I looked for some common denominator that would explain why these headaches would come on, but I couldn't seem to find an answer.

When I married and started my own family, these headaches would take days out of my life and my ability to care for my children suffered. (Thank goodness for thoughtful neighbors who would entertain my kids during those miserable days.)

Not being a person who trusted the medical profession, I knew there had to be an answer that wouldn't lie with drugs that couldn't address the real cause of the pain. I kept reading nutritional articles and magazines and began to think these debilitating headaches might be caused by allergies.

Armed with paper and pen, I began to journal the happenings around each headache. As patterns began to develop, I thought that maybe I could get a handle on this.

Meanwhile, my best friend, who also had as many headaches as I did, tried to convince me that the medicine her doctor had given her was the answer. We talked and commiserated with each other glad to know that someone else really understood how painful these headaches were. But I just couldn't justify that the first side effect from her prescription medicine was "headache." I thought that was what we were trying to get rid of.

I kept on journaling and noticed that I did have more control over the frequency of my headaches if I watched what I ate. I also did better if I stayed out of the wind. Feeling like I was getting on top of this problem, I asked my friend if she would be interested in doing some detective work into her headaches. She said no because she knew her doctor was taking good care of her and doing what should be done.

The older (and wiser) I got, the fewer headaches I had, while hers seemed to remain the same.

I had the opportunity one day to attend a class on essential oils. The teacher talked about how she used peppermint oil for her headaches. If she got a headache at home she would make herself a cup of peppermint tea besides rubbing the oil on her forehead. Boy, was I excited!

Of course, I purchased the oil and anxiously awaited my next headache! When the familiar blurring of my vision started I wasn't at home so I couldn't make any tea, but I got the oil out of my purse and rubbed it straight onto my forehead. It stung and my eyes watered, but I knew I would be okay, and I was. I was able to finish my tasks and drive home because I could see. My vision had cleared up in a lot shorter time than usual and my stomach wasn't quite so queasy.

I promptly told my experience to my friend, but she still wasn't interested in anything as simple as one single herb doing what prescription medicine couldn't.

Years have gone by and I have a handle on my migraines now. The minute I feel the familiar warning signals start, I grab the peppermint. It has allowed me to stay at my work to finish the day after a headache begins. The happy ending to this story is that my friend finally became convinced of the effectiveness of this herb and has her own arsenal of oil and tea.