Peppermint oil for pain relief? Who knew!?


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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!

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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.





17 Comments

  1. ROFL at your TMI I can’t stop laughing I’m going to pick some peppermint oil up tomorrow my mom suffers from a pain in her stomach she doesn’t want to see the doc for my 2 year old just came down with diarrhea so I can give her alittle also and my mom suffers from horrible back pain but can’t use bengay or icy hot because she has kidney failure and also COPD and has an allergy to something in them and she has an allergy to asprin so she can’t take any real anti inflammatory drugs so she is misserable so I am thinking that I need to try this and see how it works for her since no one else is ever trying to help her and chiropractic care works but is temp. I am gun ho on trying this for her I love my mom and I am always looking for something thank you so much for this :)

  2. Great post. Well written about the benefits of peppermint oil. You had me laughing about TMI and “I do not like to be altered mentally” from taking Cyclobenzaprine, anti-depressant drug to relieve pain??!!! It is very strange for me to understand why many people were put on anti-depressant drug for every minor health problem nowadays including pain!!??? Please don’t let anyone pressure you into taking anti-depressant drugs for any health issue including depression, anxiety, etc…. They are very toxic with a lot of side-effects. They do not cure the root of the problem/s but only suppressing symptoms. The more it is taken, the more toxic the body becomes. I am NOT kidding!!!!

    Btw, have you seen a chiropractor for your herniated disc problem. Chiropractic can help people to let their own body to heal itself. Our body is a great healing machine. Whenever I have any aches and pains in my body, I will only get treatment from my chiropractor. They give you the best results with no toxicity from natural alternative treatments. Chiropractic adjustments cost much lesser and help you maintain better overall health on the long run.

    In fact, I had a sudden attack of vertigo about 2 weeks ago. It is my second attack since 1998. When I had my first vertigo attack, I saw the world whirling around me with ringing sound on both my ears. That made me nauseous and then, I vomitted a lot. It was a very uncomfortable feeling. A friend called the ambulance and I was taken to emergency room. At the ER, I believed I was given only anti-emetic drugs to stop my nausea and asked to rest for a few hours. Within 4 hours or so, I was feeling a tad better and was given the instruction to see an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist the next day. I did and was told to have MRI done on my side of my ear (cannot remember which one). It was an awful experience to get an MRI. Can you relate that with me?? The specialist told me that I was suffering from “menieres disease” which occured very often in elderly people. I cannot imagine how I got to be so old suddently. I was only in my early 30s!!! I think I was prescribed antibiotics and anti-emetic drugs to take. I took them and rested for a week or so. It went away after that and did not happen again until 2 weeks ago.

    Anyway, to make the story short, I know better now that going to the ER will not help me to treat the root of my problem. I saw my chiropractor. He tested my internal organs by using muscle testing. He discovered that I was suffering from adrenal fatigue and ileo-cecal syndrome. He gave me adjustments and prescribed natural supplements for my adrenal. Slowly but surely I got better with no toxic side-effects. The main reason I had vertigo again was because I was under TREMENDOUS stress and have not been eating healthfully just like 13 years ago.

  3. I agree…this is a great testament. May I add that your sense of humor about TMI had me laughing which is also good medicine.
    I just came from the Chiropractor and she used peppermint oil and some lavender and I must say the relief is truly amazing. Thanks for the great information.

    1. Thanks, I’m glad you found the humor – and usefulness – in the article! Thanks for reading and commenting.

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  14. Great post. I LOVE peppermint oil and would never, ever be without it because of the many things it’s helpful for. One time I burned my arm with hot splatters of grease. I applied peppermint and lavender oil and had immediate relief, plus the little red spots where the grease hit my arm never blistered. It’s also great for hot flashes, just put a dab at the base of your neck when you feel one coming on.
    The TMI stuff was hilarious. Just had a similar experience with a new bottle of Rosemary Mint body wash from Aveda. Definitely some tingling going on!

  15. What a great article. I have many essential oils, including peppermint, and LOVE the many uses. I can’t believe I didn’t know this one, though. The next time someone has pain in my house, I am going to try it!
    Oh, and the TMI…..love it. I sometimes us Dr. Bronner’s bars of soap in the shower and, yeah, that fire you mentioned? I KNOW what you mean! LOL

  16. Okay, the TMI bit made me laugh and remember a particular incident in our house (*TMI also alert*) when I was a kid with Bengay cream spilling in the same drawer as some “feminine products” without it being realized until it was too late. I didn’t understand what my mom was whimpering about back then, but now I get it!

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