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Peppermint vs. the Migraine

peppermint essential oil and migraines

Click here for Part I: Wild Orange and the Anxiety Experiment

I am a week into my Anxiety Experiment. My results have been very interesting. Following is my log.

Day 1:

Hyper-aware of how I feel in preparation of running the stress experiment. I find myself asking over and over, Am I stressed yet? The baby cries, I decide that is enough stress to start the experiment. I warm a couple of drops of Wild Orange essential oil in the palms of my hands by rubbing them together and then inhale deeply for half a minute.

Aaah.

I rub the excess on the back of my neck and feel a slight tingling sensation. What is that? I knew that peppermint cooled the skin with a refreshing tingle…but Wild Orange? Hmm.

The baby cries again. Am I stressed? I better administer some Wild Orange, just in case. Hubs remarks of the smell when he walks through. With his myriad respiratory issues I brace for his protestation but there is none, he is only noting the aroma. If synthetic chemicals in anyway wafted up to his nose— perfume, nail polish and remover — he would flee the room and brace for an asthma attack. So far, so good.

Dinnertime approaches and the smell of Wild Oranges has faded to a whisper. I go to put on my dosage and the baby cries. I think to myself, Just in time. She wants to be held. As usual, she needs cuddling at the very moment when holding her would be impossible if I wanted to still get dinner on the table in time for bath and bedtime. I wish the baby sling would fit on the back instead of the front — I could cook dinner and carry her around like a backpack. I haven’t used the thing since she was a baby.

I try it anyways—I put the baby in the sling on my back knowing that it won’t work, but it works!! Why didn’t I try this before?

Usually, the toddler and I would have acted at cross purposes for the entire making of dinner. A willingness to try something new seems very different from my normal routine of tense up and stress out. I wonder if the wild orange applications from earlier have relaxed me so that I am calmer and more free to think clearly rather than get upset and stay in reaction mode.

With the baby in the sling, I administer my dose of wild orange — just in case — and cook dinner.

I am not a multi-tasker by nature—the hard deadlines of cooking stress me out. I cook dinner with my usual flubs—forget to start the bacon first, don’t start the wontons on time, completely forget the egg rolls—however I am unconcerned. Instead of the baby crying and tugging on my pant leg, she is swinging on my back, happily watching the events as they pass. When I flub up, instead of muttering under my breath, I feel a tingle on my neck from the Wild Orange oil. I have a narrowed focus on my task and dinner is ready more quickly. Hubs is talking about being 100% ON BOARD WITH THE ESSENTIAL OILS before dinner even hits the table… so, that is a recommendation. I eat dinner in wonder while simultaneously scratching my head why every day isn’t this easy. Bath is a breeze, bedtime and out.

So yesterday I was a dinnertime stressball, and today I am transformed into boss mom. Did I mention my voice dropped 20 decibels as the day progressed?

What is this stuff?

Day 2:

I wake up, grateful that I have discovered my anxiety problem AFTER I figure out how to solve it. I am feeling invincible when the worst case scenario happens as if on cue: MIGRAINE.

Yes, the mother of all headaches and an affliction I have suffered with for the last twenty years. Not only a headache, my migraines are accompanied by pain and tension in my muscles stretching along the right side of my body from my little toe to my jaw where it bursts into flames on the right side of my head.

It hasn’t blown up yet, but my body is displaying all of the symptoms and I know that the Wild Orange is not going to be enough for this. I do some research on the other little sample bottle of essential oil that I have been provided for the study: Peppermint Essential Oil. Hallelujah—it treats headaches and migraines. Not just headaches, but headaches AND migraines. I look at my little bottle and wonder if I have enough. I am skeptical. Even the heavy duty drugs from the MD barely touch my pain. A $75 pill gives me 4 hours of relief and then it comes back and rolls over me like a freight train. I gave up taking medication early on when I realized this and that a lifetime of imitrex or whatever else the snake oil salesmen were peddling the doctors were prescribing would kill my liver thirty years too early.

I rub the Peppermint Essential Oil together in my hands, warming it up, and inhale for 30 seconds. The natural menthol of the peppermint potently opens up my sinuses and passageways. I rub the cooling oil on my neck and the tingling also slightly numbs the area. My neck relaxes noticeably — the place where all of the pain in my body and head meet — and I continue to apply throughout the day (maybe 3 times total?) and watch in disbelief as my migraine fades away. I still feel the tension throughout my normal tension spots and I wish I have enough of the stuff to bathe in it. What would happen if I put it on my sore shoulder? Or the tight hamstring? My sore toe?

Now the question arises, after two rather miraculous days with the stuff:

Why haven’t I tried this before??

Me—the person who doesn’t believe in medical solutions for daily problems while I watch everyone around me get on the essential oil bandwagon and poo poo their results?

A friend’s husband stops a gout attack where his medications only diffuse it. Everywhere, people are sleeping where there was only insomnia before. My own pediatrician recommends it and yet I think it can’t be powerful enough to touch the pharmaceutical stuff?? But I don’t even believe in the pharmaceutical stuff!!

Day 3:

Wasps have started building a nest in my daughter’s playhouse. Hubs suggests a cotton ball with a couple drops of peppermint oil and they scatter and haven’t been back since.

Day 4:

I make a natural hair serum out of castor oil and essential oils that tames my frizz. I have paid so much money for the same over the counter stuff that has never worked. Have we as a society been hoodwinked? How perniciously tied together is the medical-industrial-pharmaceutical-cosmetic industry??

Day 5:

I wonder if this is the stuff of magical spells and why witches were burned at the stake. Making Aromatic Clay necklaces for essential oil scented jewelry and to ward off evil spirits.

Day 6:

Ordering a boatload of peppermint and wild orange. And bergamot. And lemon, jasmine, ylang ylang. I can’t forget about Frankincense. Why don’t I just order the whole kit?