Hardly anyone is spared a headache. In addition to fresh air or plenty of fluids, peppermint oil is also a popular home remedy when your head hurts. We explain what the essential oil can do.

It throbs, hammers, roars or presses – almost 40 percent of adult Germans suffer from headaches several times a month. Experts even distinguish over 200 different types of headaches. Not everyone wants to take a painkiller immediately when their head hurts again. Home remedies such as a wet washcloth on the forehead or peppermint oil also promise relief. But does the essential oil really help with headaches?

Peppermint oil is obtained from the leaves of the peppermint plant by steam distillation. The essential oil consists mainly of menthol and menthone. The menthol gives the peppermint its typical smell. The green plant is used as a home remedy for various diseases. The essential oil can also relieve the pain of tension headaches. This is the most common form of headache. They are characterized by dull, oppressive pain. They occur on both sides – mostly on the forehead or on the back of the head. The headache can go away in half an hour or even last up to a week.

Peppermint oil is effective in relieving headaches

Pain researcher Hartmut Göbel studied the effect of peppermint oil on tension headaches as early as the mid-1990s. He found that a 10% peppermint-alcohol solution was just as effective in relieving pain as 1,000 milligrams of conventional painkillers. In the study, the peppermint oil was spread over a large area on the forehead and temples. The test subjects were given the peppermint oil twice, 15 minutes apart. After just 15 minutes, the essential oil relieved the headache.

When applied to the skin, peppermint oil can relieve headaches because the ingredients are thought to stimulate cold-sensitive nerves in the skin, triggering the cooling effect, the European Medicines Agency said. If you want to use peppermint oil for headaches, you should never apply it undiluted to the skin – otherwise it can cause skin irritation. The diluted oil can be applied directly to the painful areas, neck, temples and forehead. Caution: It must not get into your eyes! Peppermint oil should also not be used on infants and young children, as the menthol it contains can cause shortness of breath if it gets near the mouth or nose.

If headaches occur frequently or the pain is very severe, the problems should be clarified with a doctor. Headaches can have many causes, for example irregular sleep, stress, lack of fluids or hormone fluctuations in the female cycle. They can also be a symptom of viral diseases such as the flu or a cold.

Sources: 1996 study, European Medicines Agency, Statista, Essen University Hospital, Apotheken Umschau, Techniker Krankenkasse