15 All Natural Remedies for Headaches That You Must Try Before Using Anything Else

Headaches are very common but they are rarely a symptom of an underlying disease. They frequently accompany acute infections – more so in the presence of… Simi - December 10, 2017

Headaches are very common but they are rarely a symptom of an underlying disease. They frequently accompany acute infections – more so in the presence of a high temperature – but routine headaches are more mechanical in origin. Stress, anxiety, bad posture, working all day on the computer, can all cause tension in the neck and shoulders. This is the most common cause of headaches that occur on a daily basis.

Other causes may be eye strain, food allergies, sinusitis, dehydration, excessive drinking or excessive use of painkillers. Headaches vary from a mild, inconvenient ache, to a skull-crushing incapacitating pain. A headache all over the scalp, with pain in the neck and shoulder muscles, is likely to be caused by stress, tension or poor posture. A frontal headache is more likely to be caused by eyestrain or sinusitis.

A throbbing headache, with nausea or vomiting and often preceded by visual disturbances can be classified as a migraine headache. Cluster headaches often begin suddenly, cause severe pain on one side of the head and are recurring. Sometimes headaches will be serious enough to drive you to the doctor, especially if ordinary painkillers do not seem to help.

It is important to see a doctor if you have a very serious headache that starts suddenly, if you experience numbness, confusion or sudden drowsiness or if a headache is caused by a blow to the head. Most headaches, however, are no cause for alarm and can be treated quite easily. Many natural remedies are readily available for finding relief from headaches.

1. Lavender Oil

Lavender is a herb that grows in the Mediterranean and other parts of the world. It is a calming, soothing herb that is often used as a sedative. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence that it works to relieve headaches. Some new studies show that inhaling lavender essential oil may even be effective in treating migraine headaches.

The compounds found in lavender oil can help to open up and dilate blood vessels and this is what reduces headache pain. Inhaling the steam is one way to treat your headache. Put two to three drops in a pot of boiling water and lean carefully over the pot to inhale the steam. You can also place a drop of lavender oil directly on your temples or the base of your neck.

Another method of using lavender oil is to put two to three drops in a cup of cold water. Soak a washcloth in the water, wring it out and then place it on your forehead or the back of your neck while lying down. You can do the same with warm water for a warm compress if you prefer. If you have an aromatherapy diffuser, use a lavender essential oil and lie down for a while so you can absorb the oil diffusing into the atmosphere.

You do need to exercise some caution when using lavender essential oils because there are people who have an allergic reaction to them that can actually make headaches worse. Talk to your doctor if you experience migraines and are thinking about using lavender essential oil. Lavender essential oil may interact with other medications and they should not be used if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

2. Ginger

Ginger is the thick, underground stem of a plant, often used as a natural remedy. Ginger contains numerous substances that are known to block prostaglandins. These prostaglandins stimulate muscle contractions, affect hormone release and control inflammation, all of which are relevant when you have a headache. Ginger is available in many different forms such as fresh root, powders, capsules, oils, tonics, syrups and even candy.

One remedy that markedly reduces the intensity of a headache is to crush fresh ginger, boil it with water, filter it and drink the liquid. If you do not want to drink a liquid, you can try inhaling the vapors of the ginger. Use a tablespoon of dried ginger powder or crush fresh ginger, add to boiling water and inhale the steam.

Another good remedy is to use a ginger paste. Simply add a little bit of warm water to some ginger powder to make the paste and apply it to your forehead. Lie down and rest for a while to allow the paste to work on the headache. At the first sign of a migraine, try mixing an eighth of a teaspoon of powdered ginger in water and you will find that drinking this lessens it or even makes it go away.

Nausea and vomiting are often experienced with a migraine headache and ginger are well-known for its ability to combat nausea. There are few side effects linked to ginger when taken in small doses. Ginger may affect and interact with other medications so consult your doctor before use. It could have a blood thinning effect and it’s not advisable for those using blood thinning medications to use ginger to treat headaches.

3. Peppermint oil

Peppermint oil has been used for years for medicinal purposes. A few studies have been done on the use of peppermint oil to treat headaches. One study showed that peppermint oil combined with an alcohol preparation (ethanol) reduces sensitivity to headaches. Peppermint oil increases blood flow and helps to soothe muscle contractions.

Place a few drops of peppermint oil into your hands and rub it on your forehead, temples, and neck. If it’s too strong for you when used neat, you can combine it with a carrier oil like coconut or almond oil. You can also apply it to your forehead with a cotton ball or cloth if you prefer. This offers the fastest and most powerful way to relieve both occasional and chronic headaches.

Peppermint oil can also be inhaled in a mild or concentrated form. Dosage and concentration of help in headache relief is something you need to decide for yourself as this has not been established. It’s easy to add a drop or two of peppermint oil to boiling water and inhale the steam or to use an essential oil diffuser with peppermint oil while lying down in your bedroom.

Peppermint oil helps to relieve stress which is one of the contributory factors to many headaches. It is highly concentrated so you only have to use a little for relief. It is often used as a flavoring in teas, gum, desserts, and candy but the concentrated oil is not recommended for use in infants or small children. If you have a lung condition, it’s best to consult your doctor before inhaling peppermint oil.

4. Basil

Basil has been used for headaches for centuries. In fact, a Greek physician called Dioscorides used to prescribe it for headaches. The volatile oil of basil works as a muscle relaxant, so it really helps with tension headaches. Sweet basil has anti-inflammatory properties and can reduce swelling that is caused by a headache. It is also a known antispasmodic and will reduce spasms that might cause headaches. It has analgesic properties too, so it offers pain relief.

A basil and lemon sugar scrub can bring headache relief. Use a carrier oil such as coconut oil, a large handful of finely ground fresh basil leaves, the juice of one small lemon and a cup and a half of organic granulated sugar. All you do is combine all these ingredients, except the sugar, in a glass bowl and stir well. Then add the sugar, half a cup at a time.

Pour the scrub into a glass jar, close the lid and place in a cool, dark place for 24 hours before use. To use the scrub, take a small handful and rub all over your face, making gentle circles and paying particular attention to your forehead and temples. The mixture can be kept for three to four months in a cool place.

A basil infusion is also an effective remedy for headaches. Put a couple of fresh basil leaves in a cup of boiling water and simmer for a couple of minutes. Strain and drink at room temperate for the best results. You can add a little honey to taste. Chewing fresh basil leaves also provides relief for headaches. Basil essential oil can also be used for relief. Just note that it can irritate sensitive skin and should not be used by pregnant women or children.

5. Rosemary

Rosemary is a herb with many therapeutic uses, including improved memory, circulation and pain relief. It also helps with inflammation and has a calming, soothing effect. It can reduce stress and soothe negative emotions that are often the cause of tension headaches. Rosemary can be used in many ways. Fresh leaves can be used or it can also be used in the form of essential oil. It can be applied topically, inhaled, used as a tea or made into a liquid extract or tincture.

Rosemary tea can help encourage blood flow to the brain and soothe feelings of tension and stress. To make a rosemary herbal tea, boil a teaspoon of crushed rosemary leaves in water and allow it to steep for 10 minutes. Cool to room temperature and drink. This herbal tea can be used two or three times a day to help prevent and bring relief from headaches.

When a rosemary essential oil is applied to the forehead and temples it can really help to alleviate headaches. Combine a drop or two of the oil with a teaspoon of coconut oil or some other carrier oil and massage it in for relief. Simply adding a single drop of rosemary oil to your tea, water or soup may also help. Rosemary essential oil can also be inhaled by using an essential oil diffuser.

If you’re pregnant, you need to avoid using too much rosemary because it may bring on contractions. Remember that herbal tea needs to be stored in a cool place and should not be kept for too long or mold begins to grow. If you use a rosemary essential oil, remember that a little goes a long way because it is concentrated and one or two drops usually do the trick.

6. Cloves

Cloves are aromatic herbs native to Indonesia and they have a number of health benefits, including helping to relieve throbbing headaches. The eugenol in cloves is the source of their anesthetic, antiseptic and analgesic properties. The analgesic effect of eugenol offers quick relief from headache pain. It also increases blood circulation, which may help to relieve the underlying causes of headaches, from stress to congested sinuses.

For medical purposes, dried flower buds and oils are used. Crush a few cloves and put them in a handkerchief or sachet so you can inhale the scent when you have a headache. Sniffing a cotton ball that contains 2 drops of the essential oil or using the oil in a diffuser has the same effect.

Rubbing your forehead and temples with a drop or two of clove oil in a carrier oil can be of great benefit. Another option is to gently rub a mixture of two drops of clove oil, one teaspoon of sea salt and two teaspoons of coconut oil into your forehead and temples. You can even apply a single drop of clove oil to the roof of your mouth if you can manage this.

Clove is a powerful blood-thinner so those taking blood-thinning medications should not use it. Those suffering from hypertension should also not use it. Doses above the recommended amounts have been known to cause stomach upsets. Clove oil should not be applied to the skin for long because it can cause a burning sensation or rashes and it’s better to use it with a carrier oil like unrefined coconut oil or almond oil.

7. Apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is well known for its many medicinal properties. It is possible that it may help to prevent headaches caused by digestion problems or blood sugar levels. It is able to aid in digestion and regulate blood sugar spikes. Apple cider vinegar contains plenty of potassium, which could also make it useful for treating headaches. It’s worth drinking a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and a teaspoon of honey in a glass of water every day for its many health benefits.

Apple cider vinegar can be used as a compress. If you have a headache, soak a cloth in cold apple cider vinegar for a few minutes, wring it out and apply it as a compress to your forehead. It helps to place the cloth in the fridge for a few minutes before applying it. Another way to bring relief is to soak your feet in a mixture of warm water, a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and a teaspoon of peppermint oil.

Inhaling apple cider vinegar could help with sinus headaches. Breathe in the vapor from a combination of hot water and apple cider vinegar for relief from these headaches. Mix about a quarter cup of apple cider vinegar with 2 cups of water, boil and then inhale the steam for a few minutes.

Apple cider vinegar is safe to use and generally has much fewer side effects than other headache medications. If you are diabetic, it can affect your blood sugar levels so you need to consult with your doctor before using it. It is acidic – which isn’t a problem when used in small doses. Larger more frequent doses may burn the esophagus or damage tooth enamel.

8. Feverfew

Feverfew belongs to the daisy family and has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. Some research has found that feverfew can reduce the frequency of headaches and headache symptoms. It contains a substance called parthenolide that relieves smooth muscle spasms. It also helps with blood vessel contractions and reduces inflammation.

The freeze-dried capsules are usually better to use because the fresh leaves and the tea are bitter in taste, often irritating the mouth. These capsules can be bought from health stores and chemists. Liquid extracts are also available. The recommended dosage of preparations can differ widely. Some people recommend a dosage of 50 to 100 milligrams of feverfew extract and others suggest a dosage of 250 milligrams for migraine and headache relief.

Of course, it is also possible to grow your own feverfew plants and use fresh leaves if you prefer. You simply pick the leaves, chop them up and eat them in a salad or a sandwich. You can also dry them and store them in a glass jar until you need them. The dried leaves seem to work as well as the fresh leaves. Keeping the leaves whole is a simple way of determining the dosage that helps you most.

Pregnant women should not use feverfew because it can stimulate contractions. Some people find that it causes mouth ulcers and prefer to take it in capsule form for this reason. It’s probably better not to take it with ibuprofen or aspirin as it has similar effects. If you decide to stop taking it, decrease the dosage slowly. Some people who have suddenly stopped using it after years have found that their headaches return along with even more symptoms than they had before.

9. Magnesium

Magnesium can be a very effective headache remedy. People who suffer from migraines often have low levels of magnesium. Those with heart disease, diabetes, alcoholism as well as people on diuretics for high blood pressure may have low magnesium levels. Simply increasing their magnesium intake can bring relief from headaches. Magnesium helps to block the release of chemicals that transmit pain. It may also prevent narrowing of blood vessels in the brain and improve platelet function.

Magnesium oxide in tablet form is readily available, inexpensive and safe to use. Taking 200 to 600mg of magnesium on a daily basis can help to reduce frequent headaches. You can also increase your daily magnesium intake by eating more fiber. Beans, grains, nuts, seeds, and vegetables like broccoli and other leafy greens contain plenty of magnesium. Dairy products, chocolate, coffee, and meat also contain magnesium.

Magnesium sulfate can be given intravenously and has been found to be an effective treatment for people who have a history of migraine headaches with an aura. You may want to discuss this treatment with your doctor if you suffer from this type of migraine headache and haven’t found relief in any other way. Magnesium is believed to prevent the sensory and visual changes experienced with a migraine by blocking brain signaling waves

Taking magnesium is probably much safer than taking a painkiller. Magnesium oxide in doses of up to 400mg can even be used safely by pregnant women. Diarrhea and abdominal cramping are the side effects most frequently experienced when taking magnesium but they usually occur only with higher dosages and you just have to lower the dosage to experience relief.

10. Vitamin B2

Headaches may be caused by a deficiency in certain vitamins. Many of the B vitamins help with the formation of neurotransmitters and when you’re short of one or two of the B vitamins, you may experience symptoms such as slumps in energy, foggy thinking, and headaches. Multi-vitamin supplements are readily available, low in cost and safe to use.

Riboflavin, or Vitamin B2, is necessary for the production of red blood cells and for growth. It plays a part in the way the body gets energy from proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. One study has shown that vitamin B2 can help to reduce the frequency of migraine headaches. Over 50% of the participants in this study found that the frequency of their migraine headaches reduced by half when taking 400ml of vitamin B2 (riboflavin) daily for a period of three months.

One theory is that migraines occur when too many demands are made on nerve cells. Vitamin B2 can play an important role in boosting the production of energy inside nerve cells. A dosage of Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) of about 400 milligrams a day is necessary to get effective results. It’s much better to take a Vitamin B2 supplement than some of the drugs used for migraines because it has fewer side effects. Riboflavin is also safe for use in children and adolescents.

Most people do not need to supplement with Vitamin B2 because they get enough from the food they eat. However, for those who suffer from headaches, particularly migraines, it’s difficult to receive the amount needed for food and taking a supplement is usually necessary. However, it won’t hurt to introduce more Vitamin B2-rich foods into your system by eating such foods as almonds, spinach, natural yogurt, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, hard cheeses, beef liver and sesame seeds, all of which are rich sources of riboflavin.

11. Cayenne pepper

Cayenne pepper is used as a spice in many cultures and parts of the world, but it also does far more than just add flavor to food. It has many medicinal uses too, including treating circulatory problems and reducing acidity. It is also a surprising remedy for headaches. It is believed that the capsaicin in cayenne stimulates a pain response in another part of the body, causing the pain signals from the affected area not to reach the brain. This theory has not been proved in studies but many people have found relief from headaches when using cayenne pepper.

We have all experienced that feeling when eating spicy food of our sinuses opening up, so it makes sense that cayenne pepper could help with a headache caused by blocked sinuses. Half a teaspoon of cayenne pepper sprinkled onto your food may just help. You can drink it too by placing half a teaspoon of cayenne in hot water to steep and then sipping it until a headache is gone.

If you try cayenne bought from a grocery store and you don’t experience relief, rather try to find fresh cayenne. Cayenne pepper can also be inhaled. Add a quarter teaspoon to a little warm water to dilute it enough not to experience too much discomfort from the heat. Put a cotton swab in the solution and coat the cotton.

ly it to the inside of your nostrils. This method may quickly cure your headache, especially if it is caused by sinus congestion. Using cayenne pepper is generally safe but if you are using blood thinners and taking medication for high blood pressure, do check with your doctor before using.

12. Tart Cherries

Cherries contain quercetin, a compound with strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities. One of the benefits of quercetin is that helps when your body is stressed, a primary cause of tension headaches. When stress levels are high, cortisol is produced by the body and if this is ongoing, the cortisol has many negative effects on your body. Quercetin can help fight these negative effects because it can suppress the enzyme that causes the cortisol to be released.

Athletes have long been using tart cherry juice to get relief from post-exercise muscle pain and reduce inflammation. In a 2010 study, it was found that runners who downed cheery juice before a race reported much less post-exercise pain. Now, people have realized that it is a wonderful remedy for relieving headaches.

All you need to calm a headache are 20 tart cherries. Who knew that your favorite fruit could help you to get rid of your headaches? A small glass of tart cherry juice contains about 20 cherries, enough to offer relief. If it’s a little too tart for you, mix it with a little bit of mineral water to dilute the tartness. Tart cherry juice capsules are also available for those who don’t like drinking the juice.

It is believed that the anti-inflammatory properties of cherries act similarly to that of over-the-counter medications used for headache relief such as ibuprofen. So far, no research has revealed any negative effects from tart cherries. However, people using blood thinners or those using blood pressure medications should consult with their doctors before using them. If you are a healthy person, taking a shot of tart cherry or using a cherry supplement may just work for you.

13. Reflexology

Reflexology is a traditional Chinese healing art. Certain zones on the feet are massaged to bring about healing in corresponding zones in the body. Scientists may not know why reflexology works but it appears to be effective in treating a variety of conditions, including headaches. There is a headache-relieving pressure point to be found on the feet.

The fingers or thumbs are used on specific pressure points to promote the elimination of toxins and to clear any blockages in the flow of energy in the body. The head area is represented in the toes. The neck is represented in the crease between the base of the toes and the foot. The area immediately below the little toe represents your shoulder.

If you have a headache in your left temple, massage the area between your big toe and second toe on your right foot and vice versa. Massage both feet if the pain is on both sides of the head. The reason you rub the opposite foot is that the energy meridians are believed to cross over at the neck.

Another pressure point is found in the webbing between the big toe and the second toe. Slide your thumb above the place where the bones of the two toes intersect. Press down and hold for a minute. Press the point where the little toe and one next to it intersect to relieve headaches running up the side of the head. Massaging the tops of your big toes can help to relieve sinus headaches.

14. Drink enough water

Many of us experience the dehydrating effects of drinking too much coffee, too many fizzy drinks, and too much alcohol. We don’t drink enough water and because we drink all these other drinks, we often have headaches simply caused by dehydration. The body needs a proper balance of fluids and electrolytes to function properly and we lose water daily by urinating and sweating.

Most people need between four and six cups of water a day. It’s easy to simply increase the amount of water we drink and reduce drinking these other drinks like coffee. If you feel a headache coming on, drink a full glass of water to rule out dehydration as a cause. When you’ve been sweating, drink water to replace what you’ve lost. Otherwise, spread out your water drinking throughout the day to remain constantly hydrated.

Fruits and vegetables with a high water content can also help you to stay hydrated. Some of them like cucumbers have a water content of over 90 percent. Other veggies with high water content are zucchini, celery, radishes, green peppers, cauliflower, cabbage, spinach, and eggplant. Some fruits with high water content are watermelon, grapefruit, strawberries, oranges, and cantaloupe.

If you experience what you feel are dehydration headaches on a regular basis, you should see your doctor to rule out any underlying causes. When severe dehydration occurs, due to extreme vomiting, diarrhea or other causes, you may need medical care to prevent serious complications. You will usually be treated intravenously. Even mild dehydration, however, can cause a dehydration headache and this is very easy to remedy.

15. Stretching and moving

When you stay in a position for a long time, such as sitting at a desk, it can cause tension and create headaches. Even hunching over to examine a cell phone can put pressure on your neck and lead to a severe tension headache. No wonder so many of us suffer from tension headaches! Stretching can help significantly. A 2012 study showed that measured the results of stretching in a 12-month program found that headaches decreased in frequency and intensity by 69 percent.

One easy way to avoid this is to make sure that you take a break every half hour. Stand up, move around and stretch. Move your head from side to side to help relieve a build-up of stress. Turn your head to the left and hold for a couple of seconds and then turn to the right and hold. Repeat this 10 times each way. This stretch is good for the little joints on the side of the neck.

There are many exercises that can be done at work without access to any fancy equipment. Another exercise that can help is a chin tuck and stretch. Bend the head forwards with your right hand and guide your chin toward your chest with your left hand. You will feel the stretch at the back of your neck. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat several times.

Finish off your stretching exercises with some shoulder rolls. Roll them forward five times and backward five times to loosen up the muscles. Always try to remember that bad posture, poor ergonomics, reduced flexibility, repetitive actions and increased anxiety and stress can play havoc with your body and cause headaches so try to be conscious of this and take preventative measures.

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