A solution of 10% peppermint oil in ethanol has been shown in a randomised, placebo-controlled, double-blind crossover study to efficiently alleviate tension-type headache. The study analysed 164 headache attacks in 41 patients of both sexes ranging between 18 and 65 years of age, suffering from tension-type headache. The peppermint oil was spread largely across forehead and temples and repeated after 1 5 and 30 minutes. Using a headache diary, the headache parameters were assessed after 15, 30, 45 and 60 minutes. Compared with the application of a placebo, the peppermint oil significantly reduced the intensity of the headache after 15 minutes (P < 0.01). The analgesic effect of the peppermint oil was comparable to 1000 mg Peppermint 916

paracetamol (acetaminophen). Simultaneous ingestion of 1000 mg of paracetamol

and application of 10% peppermint oil in ethanol solution led to a slight additive effect (Gobel et al 1996).

Postoperative nausea Inhalation of peppermint oil vapours has been shown in a study to reduce postoperative nausea in gynaecological patients in a placebo-controlled trial in which patients were free to inhale peppermint oil as frequently as desired (Tate 1997). A hot peppermint oil compress is used in China to prevent abdominal distension in postoperative gynaecological patients (Feng 1997). In another placebo-controlled trial, a reduction in postoperative nausea was seen equally with inhalation of isopropyl alcohol, peppermint oil or saline, with the authors attributing the effect to the controlled breathing used during inhalation (Anderson & Gross 2004).

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