If you suffer from frequent headaches but feel a bit squeamish about dosing yourself with potent headache medicine, you know what a conundrum it can be. Here are five natural headache remedies to help soothe your pain.
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!
Headaches are my nemesis. In college, I used to get pounding headaches that would last for days. I cringe thinking of all the pills I popped and the time I spent holed up in my room with the shades drawn to keep the light out. Since then, I’ve learned that most of them were caused by sinus and allergy issues.
Now I treat a headache as my little warning sign – it’s telling me to stop and pay attention. Because I’m most likely dealing with allergies and congestion or I’m stressed out and anxious – things I can remedy before the pain gets too intense.
8 secret weapons for stopping a headache
One of the biggest headache remedies is simply drinking water, because oftentimes a headache is just letting you know that you’re dehydrated.
2. Peppermint Massage
Peppermint essential oil is great for a tension headache. I find that these headaches usually happen when I’m stressed or have been staring at the computer for too long. So take a break from the screens and give your self a quick massage. Dilute 5 drops of peppermint oil with one tablespoon of almond oil and rub the mixture onto the temples and the base of your neck.
According to a 2015 review of published studies, peppermint can help reduce pain and ease tension, both of which can soothe headache pain. Not only is the smell relaxing, but peppermint is anti-inflammatory and will help dilate blood vessels to improve blood flow.
If I feel like sinus issues are causing the headache, then I’ll add eucalyptus oil to help with congestion. You can mix both with a bit of oil and give yourself a head massage.
3. Magnesium Bath
I was curious about magnesium after reading about my friend’s success with it for migraines. Turns out, the mineral magnesium helps relax nerves that transmit pain impulses to the brain and also soothes internal inflammation.
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.
One of the easiest ways I’ve found to boost my magnesium is with an Epsom salts bath. You’ll absorb a significant amount of magnesium through your skin with a nightly bath of 2 cups Epsom salts, 1/2 cup baking soda along with soothing lavender essential oil.
4. Hot foot soak
Another hydrotherapy option is a hot foot bath. Putting your feet in hot water dilates the blood vessels in your feet and constricts the blood flow to the head. 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.
Soak for 20 minutes, adding new water to keep it hot. Adding a tablespoon or two of mustard powder will help remove toxins through the feet. After the 20 minutes are up, run cold water over your feet, dry them off and go lie down for an additional 15 minutes.
5. Ginger Tea (or Coffee)
I’ll admit that one of the first things I try when I feel a headache coming on is a bit of caffeine. In fact, clinical trials have shown that caffeine can reduce the frequency and intensity of headaches. But don’t go overboard, because coffee will dehydrate you, leading you back to tip #1!
If a bit off caffeine doesn’t help, try a cup of ginger tea. Ginger is a natural anti-inflammatory that’s long been used to fight headaches and 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.
6. 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.
7. 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. Cayenne pepper is also said to equalize blood pressure in the body, which relieves pressure in your head.
- 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 as well.
Then drink the rest of the water with some lemon or honey.
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.
What natural ways have you found to stop a headache?