Headaches: The Peppermint Cure

Wednesday, 21 Mar 2012 05:43 PM

 

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Simply sniffing peppermint can tame a headache, give you a competitive edge during workouts, and keep you awake and alert during a long drive. Archeologists have discovered that the herb has been used for at least 10,000 years, and it has been actively cultivated for centuries for use in folk medicine to treat a variety of health concerns. Now, modern science is taking peppermint out of folklore. Studies are showing that it can, indeed, be an inexpensive, safe, and effective way to treat many common problems.
Check out the list below for ways to use peppermint to solve daily health troubles.
Headache. A placebo-controlled study published last year found that migraine patients who used oil of peppermint and menthol applied topically had less pain or were pain-free more often than those who were given a placebo. An earlier German study found that after 15 minutes, a preparation of 10 percent peppermint oil reduced pain as well as 1,000 mg of acetaminophen.
An additional study found that peppermint oil applied to the temples, jaw, and back of the neck relieves headaches. In addition, breathing in the soothing aroma of peppermint tea can ease symptoms, especially if your headache is caused by sinus pressure.
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Athletic Performance. A study at Wheeling Jesuit University found that sniffing peppermint when playing fitness video games improved hand/eye reactions. The result was an increase in overall performance, including hand/eye reactions, that resulted in significantly higher scores. A previous study had found that athletes who inhaled peppermint essential oil performed better on a treadmill and experienced less fatigue. Their blood pressure and pulse rate also measured lower than the non-peppermint group.
Mental Sharpness and Alertness. A study at the University of Cincinnati found that sniffing peppermint helped students increase accuracy and maintain focus. Dr. William Dember found that students improved their scores by 28 percent. And a study at Wheeling Jesuit University found that a dab of peppermint increased a driver's alertness and lowered frustration, anxiety, and fatigue.
Appetite Control. A study conducted by neurologist Alan Hirsch of the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago, found that people who used inhalers infused with peppermint lost nearly five pounds a month. According to Hirsch, peppermint has a direct effect on the area of the brain that tells you when you've had enough to eat.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Peppermint has been used for centuries to ease tummy troubles, and research shows that our ancestors were right on target. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, two placebo-controlled studies found that 75 percent of people with IBS who took peppermint capsules twice a day reported fewer symptoms within four weeks. In addition, almost 80 percent of people in a Taiwanese study reported reduced bowel pain after taking peppermint.
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