I have always counted my lucky stars that I’m not one to get headaches very often. It’s usually only a once or twice a year occurrence, but when I do get one, I will often resort to anything, anything, to make the pain go away. Since headaches are usually a sign that your body is missing something–sleep, key nutrients, water–home remedies can be incredibly effective at controlling the pain and even preventing them in the first place. Here are eight natural headache remedies to keep the pain at bay and help you get back on your feet faster.
8 Natural Headache Remedies
1. Peppermint Oil
Peppermint oil contains menthol which helps regulate blood flow in the body. According to a 2015 review of published studies, it can also help reduce pain and ease tension, both of which can soothe headache pain. To get the best results, mix 3 drops of peppermint essential oil with one tablespoon of almond oil and gently massage it into the temples or the back of your neck with it.
Tension headaches, also known as stress headaches, are the most common type of headaches among adults. In fact, up to 80% of adults get them from time to time and 3% even report getting them daily. Eek! But cinnamon has been shown to help ease muscle tension, which can greatly reduce the frequency of stress-related headaches.
To use, place 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon in a small bowl and add just enough water to make a thick paste. Apply to your forehead and cover it with a warm washcloth. Lie down for 30 minutes to let the cinnamon sink in. Wash it off when you’re done.
3. Ginger Tea
Much like fish oil, ginger root has also been shown to decrease inflammation in the body and improve circulation. On top of that, it may also help quell migraine-induced nausea.
Simply grate one 2-inch piece of ginger root and steep in 8 ounces boiling water for 15 minutes. Sip throughout the day until headache symptoms have subsided.
Magnesium is sometimes recommended to frequent migraine suffers to help prevent recurring headaches. It is thought that magnesium affects changes in the blood vessels in the brain, helping to relieve the pain and inflammation associated with headaches.
You can either take magnesium in supplement form, like Natural Calm, or simply eat more magnesium-rich foods. If you choose the latter option, try incorporating more leafy greens such as spinach, chard and kale into your diet. Or you can also eat more pumpkin seeds, yogurt, almonds, black beans and avocados to get a magnesium boost.
Our over-worked, tired bodies often react to chronic stress by tensing up and creating tension headaches. Luckily, a little stretching can help to release the tension and relieve headache pain.
Doing basic yoga moves as soon as the pain starts up can help, but it’s best to set aside a few minutes every day to practice yoga before the headaches even start.
6. Cayenne Pepper
Capsaicin, the active ingredient in cayenne pepper, is believed to bring headache relief by directly affecting the neurotransmitters responsible for sending pain signals to the brain. Most studies suggest that the capsaicin needs to be applied topically to the nose in order to be effective. To do this, you’ll need:
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 4 ounces warm water
- Cotton swabs
Dilute ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper in 4 ounces of warm water. Use a cotton swab to stir the solution and to prevent the powder from immediately sinking to the bottom. Once the cotton swab is immersed in the cayenne mixture, apply it to the inner rim of each nostril. It will sting at first! But if you’re patient enough to wait until the sting subsides, you should also notice the headache pain has subsided a bit as well.
7. Fish oil
Some studies show that taking fish oil supplements may help reduce migraines and head pain, thanks in part to its high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids. The omega-3’s in fish oil help reduce inflammation, prevent blood clotting and lower blood pressure–and this in turn may help reduce head pain caused by inflammation and pinched nerves.
8. Hot Footbath + Cold Compress
Putting your feet in a hot footbath (at least 110 degrees) will open the vessels in your feet, thus drawing the blood from your head and sending it to your feet. To help further draw blood away from your head, wrap an ice pack in a dish towel and place it on your forehead, temples or the back of your neck.
Try to relax as best you can, for at least 20 minutes. After the 20 minutes are up, run cold water over your feet, dry them off and go lie down for an additional 15 minutes.7