Headaches are the worst. In 2021, the American Migraine Foundation reported that over 39 million Americans deal with migraines every day. The number is probably higher because not… Trista - April 15, 2022
Headaches are the worst. In 2021, the American Migraine Foundation reported that over 39 million Americans deal with migraines every day. The number is probably higher because not everyone goes to the doctor. Either way, you know that a bad headache can derail your day if you’ve suffered from any type of headache, whether tension, sinus, or the dreaded migraine. And while there are tons of medications on the market to help with headaches at the moment, they may have side effects or be something you don’t want to take. Nevertheless, you’re in luck! We’ve put together a list of 25 foods and supplements that can help reduce headache symptoms and even prevent headaches altogether. Keep reading to find out exactly how nutrition can help make your headache problems disappear.
25. Baked Potatoes
We know this might not be the first thing you think of when you have a headache, but it’s true, especially if it comes from alcohol consumption. Potatoes have high amounts of water and potassium, which are vital to your body’s function. Alcohol is a diuretic, which means that you lose water and crucial electrolytes through excess urination. If you’re dehydrated or low on potassium, eating a baked potato can put you on the path to recovery.
We recommend prepping your potato ahead of time if you can. Bake potatoes before you go out, then toss them in the microwave the next day for an easy pick-me-up. You could even pair your baked potato with other headache-fighting foods on this list, like mushrooms, spinach, or avocado. Continue reading to discover more foods and supplements that will provide natural headache relief.
These tiny nutritional powerhouses have tons of vitamins and minerals that are great for your health, and a few might help you with your headaches. Almonds are high in magnesium, which helps lessen nerve excitability and ease muscle tension, contributing to your headache. Magnesium also plays a vital role in regulating your blood pressure. High blood pressure can contribute to headaches and migraines, so adding more magnesium to your diet is a great idea.
In addition to magnesium, almonds also contain salicin, which forms salicylic acid in the body – the main byproduct of metabolizing aspirin. Some anecdotal evidence suggests that eating as few as 10-15 almonds a day has a cumulative effect, decreasing the number and severity of headaches over time. However, some people are allergic to salicin; make sure it’s safe before you start adding almonds to your diet every day.
Mackerel is another food that may help reduce the severity of your headaches over time. It’s high in omega-3 fats and has anti-inflammatory and nerve-protecting qualities. Research suggests that as few as two servings a week of a fish high in omega-3s, like mackerel, can help to reduce how long your headaches last gradually. It will also help with how often you have them. This headache relief food is especially useful for people who suffer from migraine headaches.
Not everyone likes fish, but it doesn’t have to be hard to incorporate a few servings of fish a week into your diet. Try adding a piece of grilled mackerel to pasta or flaking some mackerel into a salad. If you’re big on breakfast, consider baking mackerel and eating it with eggs. Just 4 oz of mackerel has nearly 5g of omega-3s, not to mention other brain-supporting vitamins like b12, folate, and vitamin D.
Have you ever used rosemary oil for natural at-home remedies? Rosemary oil is excellent for stress and migraines, as well as hormonal headaches. People have been using it for hundreds of years to boost alertness and improve circulation. In 2008, a study tested the folk remedy and found that rosemary successfully improved inflammation and pain.
The reason? It has powerful anti-inflammatory and pain-killing properties. The scent can also reduce stress, help with insomnia, and relax tense muscles. The best way to use rosemary to help with your headaches is to add a few drops of the oil to a carrier oil (like jojoba, almond, or coconut oil) and massage lightly into your temples or add some to a warm bath and enjoy a soothing soak. Keep reading for more ways to seek natural headache relief through foods and supplements.
While most studies suggest that drinking tea is the best way to take advantage of all of chamomile’s healing benefits, there’s another often-overlooked use for the teabags. You can place the warm teabags directly on pressure points and let the heat and the gentle, soothing aroma of chamomile help ease your pain. That way, even if you don’t necessarily like drinking tea, chamomile tea can still help you find relief. Keep reading for more foods, oils, and supplements that can provide natural headache relief.
You might know that melatonin is a natural hormone that can help regulate sleep schedules. However, did you know that this exact quality also makes it potentially beneficial for migraine sufferers? People with migraines have low quantities of melatonin byproducts in their urine and often suffer from irregular sleep cycles that can contribute to imbalances in your brain and increase the intensity and frequency of migraines.
Several studies indicate that taking a small 3mg dose of melatonin between 10 pm – 11 pm for up to 8 weeks can help reduce migraines. Over 75% of the participants in one study said they experienced over 50% fewer migraines during the month. As always, we recommend talking to your doctor before taking something like melatonin, as it can interact with certain medications. Your doctor may be able to suggest a more specific dose based on your individual needs, as melatonin is available in a range of strengths.
When you think of relaxing and calming scents, lavender is often one of the first that comes to mind. It’s prevalent for stress relief and relaxation, and people often use it in massages and other spa treatments. However, there’s also robust evidence that lavender can help treat headaches – especially migraines. One 2012 study showed that over 70% of participants found their headaches reduced or completely relieved after smelling lavender essential oil for just 15 minutes.
The best way to incorporate lavender oil into your treatment or routine is to add it to a diffuser or warm bath so you can inhale the relaxing scent. However, you can also mix lavender oil with a carrier oil like jojoba or almond and apply it to the temples, pulse points, and neck for a subtler – but still effective – way to enjoy the scent. Moreover, unlike some other essential oils, lavender is gentle. They primarily regard it as safe for pregnant individuals and pets. So don’t be afraid to try lavender to relieve your headache pain.
Did you know that gut issues can cause some headaches? We often think of migraines as giving us stomach aches, but stomach aches can also give us headaches. If you have a “leaky gut” or increased intestinal permeability, you may have issues absorbing all your body’s nutrients to keep your body healthy. One of the ways to help with this is to add foods high in riboflavin to your diet. Luckily, mushrooms are one of those foods.
Evidence shows that riboflavin is “probably effective” at reducing migraine headaches’ frequency and intensity. You could have two fewer headaches a month. Moreover, even though that might not seem like a lot, riboflavin’s ability to reduce the severity of your headaches is definitely nothing to sneeze at. Consider including mushrooms in your breakfast omelet or lunch salad. You could even pair it with the mackerel to double your headache-fighting power.
Have you ever tried sesame seeds, even on a hamburger bun from a fast food drive-thru? You’re missing out if you’re only eating sesame seeds when you get your everything bagel or your Chinese order. Sesame seeds are tiny, but they pack a big nutritional punch. Like almonds, they contain a lot of magnesium, which can help prevent the blood vessel spasms that can cause migraines.
You can’t overlook the vitamin E in sesame seeds if you’re on your period. Vitamin E may stabilize estrogen levels and improve circulation, which can be a big help when you want to reduce the pain or frequency of your headaches. They’re super-easy to incorporate into your diet, too. Sprinkle some on oatmeal, add them to your smoothies, or toss a handful into your salad. These vitamin-rich little buddies are a great treat.
If you’re in a hurry for a quick fix, consider reaching for a banana to help stave off a headache or keep it from getting worse. Bananas are high in potassium and magnesium, vitally important to your body, and low potassium can cause high blood pressure and blood sugar, triggering severe headaches. And magnesium is an overall helpful buddy when relieving headache pain or muscle spasms.
Bananas are also about 74% water. Dehydration can be another major contributing factor to headaches and migraines, so eating a banana could also help alleviate that symptom. Furthermore, if you don’t like bananas by themselves, try adding them to a smoothie with some watermelon and yogurt for a brain-healthy combo that will keep headaches at bay. Keep reading to discover more foods that relieve headaches and help with migraines.
Coenzyme Q10 is our first supplement on the list, and it’s a powerful one! It’s a vitamin-like compound that acts as an antioxidant in your body and may protect against the oxidative stress associated with migraines. Oxidative stress happens when there’s an imbalance between your body’s free radicals and antioxidants. When there are more free radicals than antioxidants, the free radicals can start damaging you.
Coenzyme Q10 may also reduce nerve inflammation caused by increased enzymes during migraine attacks. Studies have shown that taking 200mg of coenzyme Q10 daily for two months led to significant reductions in frequency, duration, and intensity of headaches experienced. Participants in the study also reported no side effects from adding the coenzyme to their daily routine. However, please talk to your doctor or pharmacist before adding any supplement to your day.
If you’re a spicy food lover, you will love this remedy. Suppose you suffer from cluster headaches; then capsaicin, a component of cayenne pepper, can help significantly reduce the number of cluster headaches you experience. The application method is, we admit, a bit unconventional. You add about ¼ tsp of cayenne to about 4oz or half a cup of warm water and mix it well. Then take a cotton swab and dunk it in the mixture, making sure it’s really soaked.
The last step? Stick the cotton swab (gently) into your nose and rub it lightly over the inside of your nostrils until you can smell and feel the heat. While the initial sensation may be unpleasant, some studies have shown that this application method can help relieve headache symptoms for up to 40 days. Just make sure not to stick the cotton swab too far up your nose – you want to be able to smell it but not have it cause you actual pain.
Salmon is one of the most popular fish available on the market. Nevertheless, did you know that adding this tasty staple to your diet could help reduce the frequency and severity of your headaches? Salmon is rich in omega-3s, which reduces inflammation in the body and helps your brain function. Unfortunately, Americans currently eat more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3s. Even if you don’t change anything else about the way you eat, adding a few servings of salmon a week to your diet can reduce your total headache hours and intensity of headaches, with two fewer migraine days a month.
Lowering your omega-6 intake at the same time can help you have four fewer headache days a month. These results are similar to the benefits experienced by people using Botox injections for headache relief. So instead of turning to injections, just grill or bake some salmon and add it to your weekly meal prep. Continue reading to discover more ways to get natural relief from headaches at home.
Nearly everyone has experienced the pain of a sinus or tension headache, and they can really ruin your day. If you deal with these, eucalyptus is your new best friend. The oil has antiviral, antimicrobial, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory effects. Inhaling the scent of eucalyptus will quickly open up your nasal passages and clear your sinuses, relieving the tension that can often cause sinus headaches. Inhaling eucalyptus can also help lower blood pressure and relieve general pain.
In addition to inhaling eucalyptus, studies have also found that mixing peppermint and eucalyptus can help relax both your muscles and your mind. Adding a few drops of the essential oils to a carrier oil and applying it to the places on your body with the worst tension – most often the neck and shoulders – can help those muscles relax, which can ease the worst symptoms of tension headaches.
Ginger is becoming increasingly popular, and it’s easy to see why. This aromatic root is most often associated with Asian cooking and ginger ale (a popular nausea remedy). However, studies show that ginger is also incredibly effective at decreasing headache symptoms. It contains a naturally occurring oil with chemical compounds like gingerols and shogaols with anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects. Ginger may also increase serotonin levels in your body, which can help decrease inflammation and constrict the blood vessels that may be causing you pain.
Luckily, there are many ways to incorporate ginger into your diet. It would help if you took a 550mg ginger supplement when your headache or migraine starts. It can relieve symptoms with comparable effectiveness to sumatriptan. You can also drink ginger tea or suck on a ginger lozenge, or even add it to your meals regularly. It’s great with lots of different flavors. If you have to, even reach for a glass of ginger ale soda, especially if you have a stomachache to go with your migraine.
Spinach! Whether you love it or hate it, there’s no denying that this leafy green is super good for you. Spinach has tons of magnesium and folate, which helps reduce headaches’ frequency and severity, especially migraine headaches. In fact, regular magnesium intake can reduce your migraine attacks by over 40%. Popeye probably never got a headache or migraine.
Spinach helps decrease blood pressure and inflammation, other strong contributors to headaches. Plus, it’s just good for you! Moreover, it’s easy to add to nearly any meal. Use it instead of iceberg or romaine lettuce for your salad, add a handful to a breakfast smoothie or omelet, or throw it into just about any soup or stew for a quick burst of migraine-fighting vitamins and minerals. Use it fresh, frozen, or canned – you can get headache relief no matter how you eat it.
Vitamin D is an essential vitamin for the body and plays a massive role in your bone health. Nevertheless, did you know that a vitamin D deficiency may actually be causing your headaches (or making them worse)? The recommended dietary intake of vitamin D a day is 600 IU, but many adults don’t get that much. Multiple studies have shown that people with chronic tension headaches or migraines have significantly lower vitamin D levels than recommended and are more likely to experience muscle and bone tenderness.
Your body needs vitamin D for magnesium absorption. Plus, we know there is a link between magnesium deficiency and headaches. Thus, it’s possible that being deficient can increase the intensity of your headaches. Taking a vitamin D supplement may help reduce the length, frequency, or severity of your migraines. However, everyone’s vitamin D requirements are different; please reach out to your healthcare provider to see how much vitamin D would be best for you.
Vitamin B2 is essential for a variety of metabolic processes in the body. Studies have shown that it may help drastically reduce the symptoms of headaches by helping to reduce neuroinflammation and oxidative stress. An analysis of nine studies shows that taking 400mg of B2 for three months significantly decreased the pain of migraine attacks. Furthermore, the duration and frequency lessened as the benefits only increased over time.
However, it’s important to note that the 400mg dose recommended by the American Headache Society is 200 times the recommended daily allowance of this vitamin. And while study participants didn’t report any side effects, it’s always important to speak with your physician before adding any supplement to your diet. Nevertheless, you can also increase your B2 levels by increasing your intake of eggs, milk, broccoli, lean meats, and enriched breads and cereals. If the idea of taking a supplement makes you nervous, try incorporating more vitamin B2-rich foods into your diet.
We know, we know – plain yogurt can be really dull. But it’s also full of essential vitamins and nutrients that your body needs, including a ton of headache-fighting ones like magnesium, potassium, and vitamins B2 and B12. And as we’ve talked about, all of these compounds are essential for reducing inflammation and oxidative stress in the body, lowering blood pressure, reducing tension in the muscles, and improving circulation.
Don’t like plain yogurt? We don’t blame you. Luckily, there are a lot of other headache-busting ingredients you can add. Try tossing in a handful of almonds or chunks of watermelon and banana. Sprinkle in some powdered ginger for a spicy, fragrant punch. Alternatively, turn it into a smoothie with some spinach. You could even make a savory yogurt sauce to pair with your salmon or mackerel. However you enjoy it, if you suffer from headaches, you should consider trying to eat a serving of yogurt a day, or at least a few times a week.
We’ve been talking about eating magnesium-rich foods to help relieve and prevent headaches, and now we’re going directly to the source. We know that magnesium helps reduce muscle tension and blood vessel spasms, as well as lower your blood pressure. The American Migraine Foundation suggests that 400-500mg of magnesium oxide daily can prevent migraines. Some researchers think that taking over 600mg for at least 3-4 months can further increase its migraine-preventing power.
However, some people can have adverse reactions to high amounts of migraine in their system, and magnesium may be more helpful for severe migraines that cause auras or visual disturbances. Some people may also have trouble absorbing magnesium when taken orally; in that case, your doctor may be willing to administer 1-2g of magnesium sulfate intravenously. Obviously, you can also increase your magnesium intake by eating many foods on this list. Before taking any supplement, meet with your doctor to ensure that increasing your magnesium levels will be safe for you.
Avocados are always a popular choice; guacamole and avocado toast, anyone? However, avocados are also a headache-reducing superfood, with magnesium, potassium, healthy fats, and B vitamins. They can help stabilize blood sugar, balance hormones, and reduce blood pressure, tension, and oxidative stress. Plus, you can add the creamy, mild flavor to nearly anything you can think of.
Put avocados in smoothies for a creamy treat, slice some over your salad, make your own guacamole, and more. You can even just eat the avocado by itself. However, we’d recommend combining it with some of the other headache busters on our list, like sprinkling it with sesame seeds or cayenne pepper. You won’t regret incorporating this delicious, readily available fruit into your everyday diet. Keep reading for more ways to seek headache relief through natural at-home remedies like superfoods and supplements.
Apple cider vinegar has long been a health food darling, with people drinking it, adding it to face masks, shampoos, etc. Nevertheless, there is some evidence to suggest that it can also help indirectly treat headaches and headache symptoms. It’s high in potassium, one of our favorite headache-fighting compounds, and is also great for regulating blood sugar and helping with nausea. Anecdotal evidence even suggests that mixing about ¼ cup of apple cider vinegar with 2 cups of boiling water and inhaling the steam for around 3 minutes can help relieve sinus pressure and infections and the headaches that come with them.
Another way to use apple cider vinegar is to mix a tablespoon of vinegar and a teaspoon of honey into an 8-oz glass of water and drink it every day. However, it’s important to note that if you have diabetes or are prediabetic, you should be careful in consuming apple cider vinegar and check your blood sugar more frequently until you know how it impacts your levels. If you’re prone to heartburn, you should also be cautious – large quantities of apple cider vinegar can be very acidic, though raw, unfiltered ACV may be less dangerous.
How many of us feel like we aren’t ourselves until we’ve had our daily cup of coffee? Caffeine is everywhere, and nearly all of us rely on at least some caffeine to get us through the day. However, did you know that caffeine has the potential to both relieve headaches and cause them? It’s true! It’s rare, but people can suffer from what’s known as “caffeine rebound,” which can cause severe headaches due to caffeine withdrawals.
However, the benefits of caffeine may outweigh the risks. Caffeine has vasoconstrictive properties that help narrow blood vessels, aiding in head pain relief. Blood vessels tend to expand just before a headache or migraine, so catching it early can be useful. A cup of coffee has anywhere from around 50 – 150mg of caffeine, depending on how you make it. Thus, you have to be careful not to have too much. But drinking a cup of coffee when you feel a headache coming on can provide significant relief.
Using peppermint oil to fight headache symptoms has become increasingly popular, but is it actually effective? Some studies seem to indicate that, yes, peppermint oil can be beneficial in reducing headaches, especially tension-type headaches. One study found that peppermint oil applied to the skin on the forehead and temples significantly reduced headache symptoms in as little as 15 minutes and was essentially as effective as Tylenol at keeping the headache at bay.
It’s important to remember that peppermint oil is incredibly strong and you should use it with care. Never apply peppermint oil directly to your skin, as it can burn you, and don’t use peppermint oil around pets, as it can be toxic. It would be best if you also talked to your doctor before using peppermint oil for headache relief, as it has the potential to interfere with the effectiveness of certain medications. However, if you can safely use it, peppermint oil can help relieve headache symptoms and get you feeling better faster.
Did you ever think that watermelon would be top of our list of headache-fighting foods? It may come as a surprise that this tasty summer treat is also a migraine-busting powerhouse. However, it’s true; watermelon contains two of our favorite nutrients, potassium and magnesium. It’s also mostly water – over 90% water, in fact! With dehydration being one of the most common causes of headaches, having a water-rich food like a watermelon on hand can be super helpful in keeping headaches away.
Watermelon is delicious on its own. However, consider this: make a parfait with plain yogurt, watermelon, and bananas, and toss in some almonds and candied ginger to finish it off. You’ve just made yourself a tasty, healthy breakfast packed with headache-relieving superfoods. Try to get fresh watermelon because the newer it is, the more water it will have. You could even puree watermelon with some lemon juice and a bit of sugar, then pop it in the freezer for a delicious summertime sorbet.