Peppermint oil for pain relief? Who knew!?
Written by H.
Tuesday, 26 January 2010 10:33
I’m an active woman. I take care of an acre of land, I clean my house, I take care of my kids. Learning how to ride a unicycle. I run 15-18 miles a week. Or at least I used to…until!
Sometime this past September I hurt my back. I have no clue how I did it. It just starting hurting – alot. But not constantly. On and off. A few days of severe pain, and then a week of ‘just fine’. I didn’t get it, what set it off, or what made it better.
I’m no stranger to back pain.
In September 1997 I was crossing a street at a busy intersection, and a car came flying around the corner and almost hit me. I threw myself out of the way, sort of a flinging, twisting motion. Probably kind of silly looking. I didn’t get hit, and the car went on its way. I felt a *pop* in my back. The next day I was in so much pain. If you have back pain, you know this pain. After months of pain, I had an MRI, revealing a ruptured a disc in my neck and back. I had a little physical therapy and after a year, I was fine. Occasionally I dealt with pain, but it was under control. Nothing some Advil couldn’t help.
So, I had an MRI right before Thanksgiving and it showed a herniated disc in my neck and low back. Bummer!
The spine doctor prescribed physical therapy (which I started in January after the holidays) and pain meds. Alieve, Hydrocodone, and cyclobenzaprine. Cyclobenzaprine is an anti-depressant. An anti-depressant! The doc explains that the off label/secondary use for this med is as a muscle relaxant. I did not want to get started taking that for my pain. I do not like to be altered mentally. I have been drunk twice in my life. No I am not kidding.
So I would take large amounts of Advil and Alieve, anti-inflammatories, to help get me through the day. Alieve, 500 mg sometimes twice a day, and Advil, 600-800 mg sometimes twice a day. That is way too much for an extended period of time, but what choice did I have? I would even have a dose sitting by my bed with a glass of water and a banana (don’t take these products without food in your stomach!) to take in the middle of the night so I would be able to get up and get the children going to school.
My dad and step mom were here from Germany for 3 weeks in October. They pulled out a small bottle of peppermint oil and explained that they take it with them everywhere for a myriad of uses. My stepmother rubbed some of it on my neck, and would you believe, I felt a cooling/warm sense of relief and refreshment. And I smelled delish!
The relief I felt is based on the fact that peppermint oil is a counter stimulant or counter irritant. You have been practicing counter stimulation if you have ever rubbed your child’s head when they bumped it – the feeling of the rubbing overrides the sensation of the pain. Think about the nurse who gives your child a shot, then rubs it and makes it ‘all better’.
There are several products on the market that provide the same effect as peppermint oil. Ben Gay, Icy Hot, Mineral Ice, to name a few. But they smell like ass. I don’t want to smell like ass. I have already been through that. And I wasn’t sure about all the ingredients in those products.
Turns out peppermint oil has quite a few uses. Such as:
- A few drops in water can help with gas, bloating, nausea, cramping and stomach upset. Mint tea is an good option.
- Rubbed on the forehead or temples, it can relieve headache tension.
- Muscle tension and pain relief – like I mentioned before, and the it increases the blood flow to the area of injury. Increased blood flow aids in healing, bonus!
- Help alleviate stress and general tension.
- It can help alleviate motion sickness
- Scientifically proven to ease irritable bowel syndrome.
- It doesn’t smell like ass.
There are many more uses for peppermint oil, just Google it.
I picked up a bottle of organic peppermint oil at Whole Foods for about $8. A bargain! It was nice to be able to get through some days without the use of over-the-counter meds, give my body a break.
I also like Tiger Balm, which works the same way as peppermint oil. But my husband hates the smell and scoots far away from me when I have it on. There are different strengths and sometimes I need something a bit more heavy duty. Also available at Whole Foods. (They have it all, don’t they?)
I must forewarn you (TMI alert!) I highly recommend you do NOT apply peppermint oil or Tiger Balm until AFTER you have put in your contacts, put in a tampon, wiped after a visit to the loo, if you can help it. I have done all three. Holy moly, my bits were on fiyah! I told my husband my va-jay-jay was burning and his interest perked until I explained what was going on. No sexy.
Just so you know, my back is doing much better.