Randomized Trial Examining Efficacy of Mentha piperita in Reducing Chronic Headache Discomfort in Youth.

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DOI: 10.1016/j.pmn.2023.08.004


BACKGROUND: Youth with chronic headache experience disruption to routine activities and require significant health care utilization. While interventions targeting a relaxation response have shown clinically significant benefit in headache outcomes, peppermint oil has not been evaluated for efficacy in a pediatric headache population.

AIMS: To explore the extent to which a brief aromatherapy intervention improves subjective and objective indicators of discomfort beyond passive relaxation in youth with chronic headaches.

DESIGN: Single-center, randomized, experimental study.

METHODS: Patients were randomly assigned to a brief foot bath or foot bath plus peppermint oil group. Measurements were collected at baseline, mid-intervention, and post-intervention. Data included heart rate and subjective pain, anxiety, and satisfaction scores.

RESULTS: Forty-six adolescents (89% female, mean age 15.2 years) diagnosed with a primary headache disorder were enrolled. Both groups reported a significant decrease in pain, though the intervention group plateaued (p < .01) and the control group progressively decreased intensity at each time-point (p < .01). Whereas both groups reported a decrease in anxiety over time (p < .01), the control group reported less of a decrease in anxiety than the intervention group (p = .03). The control group had a significant decrease in mean heart rate (p < .01). There were no adverse events. The intervention was well tolerated, liked, and recommended by 95.5% of study participants.

CONCLUSIONS: A brief intervention intended to activate the relaxation response produced a subjective reduction in pain and anxiety. However, the addition of peppermint oil to a foot bath did not significantly improve pain or anxiety beyond the control condition.

Journal Title

Pain management nursing : official journal of the American Society of Pain Management Nurses





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MeSH Keywords

Child; Humans; Adolescent; Female; Male; Mentha piperita; Headache; Headache Disorders; Aromatherapy; Anxiety


Mentha piperita; Headache; Headache Disorders; Aromatherapy; Anxiety

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