Peppermint oil is derived from the plant Mentha piperita, with the main active components being menthol and menthon. Peppermint reduces gastric distress and acts as a topical analgesic. A solution of 10 g peppermint oil in alcohol may be applied lightly to the forehead and temples during a headache attack, and repeated after 15 and 30 minutes. In one study, migraine improved by at least half in 58 percent of people treating their migraine with topical peppermint oil compared with only 17 percent using an inactive placebo. Migraine pain was completely eliminated for 38 percent treating with topical peppermint oil compared with only 12 percent using the placebo. Although not specifically tested for other headaches, topical peppermint oil may also be worth trying during a migraine attack. It should never be applied to or near the faces of infants or small children, as this may result in serious and potentially life-threatening spasm of respiratory structures and respiratory distress.
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