Should You Consider Trying Peppermint Oil For Fibromyalgia?

In this short analysis we look at if there is any evidence behind the idea that you use peppermint oil for fibromyalgia. We look at the benefits of using peppermint essential oil on your body as a whole and where this may be applicable in treating fibromyalgia.

The results show a surprising number of potential benefits, given that the main objective (pain relief) has no evidence to support it.

With So Few Successful Treatments, Is It Worth A Try?...

As with almost all essential oils, there is no direct testing with fibromyalgia patients. So from a medical perspective, the best we can do is look at the basic treatment goals and see if peppermint oil in this case, has ever been shown to achieve each treatment goal.

Obviously, fibromyalgia does not have a cure (at least not one that has been found yet). So the focus of our ‘treatment goals’ will always be around reducing the symptoms.

These symptoms include –

  1. All-over body pain
  2. Extreme tiredness
  3. Headaches

I appreciate there are many more symptoms with such a complex disease, but these are the main ones I’m looking to test on this occasion.

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Testing Peppermint Oil For Fibromyalgia…

1. All-over Body Pain… FAIL

Unfortunately, there is no evidence to support the use of peppermint oil and pain relief.

While there is some evidence around it’s analgesic properties this is mostly diluted on to cotton wool and rubbed in to your forehead for headache relief.

This would be impractical for your whole body, and there is no suggestion it could work on muscular pain either.

There is one trial on the analgesic (pain relief) properties of peppermint oil on cardiac patients in hospital about to be given intravenous catheterisation.

However, given the presence of stress (which we know increases pain), it is impossible to say whether the pain relief noted there would transfer to the day-to-day chronic pain of fibromyalgia.

It is possible the pain relief is coming through the relaxing properties of peppermint oil and nothing to do with any actual pain relieving effect.

As a result, I have to give this a zero for effectiveness on all-over body pain.

2. Extreme Tiredness… PASS

Now this is one area that peppermint oil could potentially help with. A study in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that peppermint essential oil ingested with mineral water (0.05ml peppermint oil to 500ml of water) greatly improved athletic performance.

It actually improved spirometry, blood pressure and respiratory rate. This increased lung capacity provided more oxygen to the body and would help with energy levels.

Given that exercise has always been good for treating fibromyalgia but often feels just not possible for many sufferers due to the effects the syndrome has on energy levels, then peppermint oil, heavily diluted with water could be an answer.

The study itself was carried out on people who were already active, but there is no reason not to propose that it might also help fibromyalgia sufferers to become more active.

3. Headaches… PASS

Headaches and migraines can flatten anyone and are even worse if you are one of the fibromyalgia sufferers that regularly has these as a common symptom.

This however, is perhaps where peppermint essential oil really excels. There is clear evidence that peppermint oil can actively relieve and end headaches and migraines.

It is believed this is down to several key reasons

  • Peppermint Oil exerts a long-lasting cooling effect on the skin, caused by a steric alteration of the calcium channels of the cold-receptors
  • It also inhibits non-competively 5-hydroxytryptamin (Serotonine)
  • It creates ‘substance P induced smooth muscle contraction’ in animal-models
  • It induces a significant increase of skin blood flow in the forehead after local application, (as measured by laser doppler)

This theory is backed up by H Göbel in two separate trials (Phytomedicine and Schmerz)

In the latter, 10% peppermint oil was diluted with ethanol and described as

“similar in efficacy to acetylsalicylic acid (paracetamol) for the treatment of tension-type headaches”

Furthermore, in a study published by the International Journal Of Preventative Medicine, specifically on migraine treatment, an infusion of peppermint oil inhaled nasally was seen as comparable or in fact slightly more effective than Lidocaine.

So clearly when it comes to the pain of headaches and migraines, there is significant evidence that supports peppermint oil in treating that potential fibromyalgia symptom.

A Relaxing Effect?

There has also been some reference in the above trials to the relaxing nature of peppermint oil, although this has not been tested as such, so should be considered with caution.

And The Conclusion Is…

A Marginal Pass.

If we accept the clinical data behind the effectiveness of peppermint essential oil for helping with both the tiredness and headaches brought on by fibromyalgia, then it could help.

One key advantage is that, as an essential oil, it is relatively safe to try – providing you follow the proper guidance.

Principally, this means purchasing from a dedicated, diluting it properly and treating yourself in a sensible manner.

If you follow the guidelines and use it as night in a dedicated diffuser for example, then you could reasonably expect higher energy levels and a great treatment for fibro headaches.

I am happy to conclude you could use peppermint oil for fibromyalgia and expect some improvements. It’s no miracle cure for all your pain, but then frankly what is?

The Final Word –

Fibromyalgia is a largely unstudied syndrome to date. This will undoubtedly change in the future, but may take many years.

In the meantime, when assessing the effectiveness of peppermint oil for fibromyalgia, it is best to look for common symptoms that we need to control and then search to find if any evidence exists that our topic could achieve them.

In the case of using peppermint oil for fibromyalgia, there exists precious little information surrounding it’s ability to help with pain relief.

However, there are clinical studies backing up it’s use to combat headaches/ migraines as well as providing more oxygen/ energy to your body.

Both of these would suggest that essential oil can be effective for the treatment of fibromyalgia.

Furthermore, if you suffer with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), possibly due to your fibromyalgia, then again peppermint oil could offer you substantive relief.

All in all, while it may not have the pain-relieving qualities of lavender oil for example, peppermint oil could still perform some fairly specific functions.

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References Used –

1. Abbas Meamarbashi & Ali Rajabi. (2013). The effects of peppermint on exercise performance. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.
2. H Göbel 1, G Schmidt, M Dworschak, H Stolze, D Heuss. (Oct 1995). Essential Plant Oils and Headache Mechanisms. Phytomedicine
3. H Göbel, A Heinze, K Heinze-Kuhn, A Göbel, C Göbel. (June 2016). Peppermint Oil in the Acute Treatment of Tension-Type Headache. Schmerz
4. Mahmood Rafieian-kopaei, Ali Hasanpour-dehkordi,1 Zahra Lorigooini, Fatemeh Deris,2 Kamal Solati,3 and Faezeh Mahdiyeh. (July 2019). Comparing the Effect of Intranasal Lidocaine 4% with Peppermint Essential Oil Drop 1.5% on Migraine Attacks: A Double-Blind Clinical Trial. International Journal Of Preventative Medicine.

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