A headache is a pain that can make you feel miserable for a long time, especially in those cases when it lasts for days or even over a week. When you are facing a chronic migraine, the nasty situation can even go on for months and can be difficult to get rid of it.
Types and Causes
There are several causes for headaches and most probably everyone has experienced one earlier or later in life. They may be due to some external factors such as:
- lack of water;
- too much smoking;
- oversleeping or lack of sleep;
- alcohol in excess;
- excessive use of painkillers;
- an injury;
- a minor condition (neck strain);
- internal conditions like blood vessels constriction;
- genetic inheritance;
- weird neuronal activity.
When such a headache tends to ruin your day, your first thought would probably be to take an over-the-counter pill and get on with your life. But that is not the smartest decision because conventional drugs create addiction and some pharmaceutical companies are not producing them naturally. When you start taking more and more, it will be extremely hard for you to stop. Also, these drugs will help you to get rid of a headache, but during the time, because your body will adapt to them, may become inefficient. So you may want to consider resisting the urge of swallowing that little medicine (which is very effective, especially in the beginning, when you start taking drugs) and maybe go for some of the following home remedies for headaches.
Useful Home Remedies for a Headache & Migraine
Ginger is well-known for its anti-inflammatory action and for its ability to suppress the prostaglandin synthesis which is responsible for giving the pain signal to the neurons. Instead of looking for an aspirin, choose the natural alternative, ginger root. This homemade remedy is efficient and fast, and you won’t have to wait for such long to feel a headache relief.
- 2’’ piece of ginger root
- 1 ½ cup of water
- Bring the water to a boil.
- Meanwhile, chop the ginger root into small pieces.
- Add the ginger to the water, reduce the heat to low and simmer for about half an hour.
- Strain the liquid. When it gets colder, enjoy the tea with small sips. You may add a teaspoon of raw honey if you prefer a sweeter taste.
2. Acupuncture for Headaches
While acupuncture is an ancient technique which has proven its value over time, it is not something you can do at home. Search for a specialist who may help you get rid of your headaches with proper procedures, and you will get rid of the pain in no time.
3. Chamomile Tea
Chamomile is known for its calming effect, as well as its antioxidant properties. Besides its use for anxiety, it also helps decrease any inflammation and works well on headaches. You may prepare a chamomile tea for calming down your head pain.
- a teaspoon of chamomile flowers
- a cup of water
- Prepare this chamomile tea by adding one tablespoon of dried flowers to a cup of boiling water.
- Remove from the stove and let the herbs steep for about 2-3 minutes.
- Drain the liquid, let it cool a little bit, add a teaspoon of honey and then drink it in small sips.
4. Use Green Tea
Besides the powerful antioxidants, green tea contains a small amount of caffeine. Studies have shown that this compound brings a pain relief and also plays a role in vasoconstriction. It is important because when a migraine shows up, your blood vessels from the head area will dilate. By constricting them, a cup of green tea drank just when a headache appears, will be exactly what you need.
There are more varieties of green tea, each of them needing appropriate water temperature and infusion time. The preparation process is about the same, but make sure you follow the instructions on the package to enjoy a perfect green tea.
5. Yoga Poses
Yoga is extremely efficient in releasing the tension in the body, by increasing the blood flow and oxygenating the brain. Also, yoga poses and meditation will bring tranquility to your mind, helping you get rid of the headaches. If you are facing a nasty migraine and want to relieve the symptoms here are three poses to try.
5.1. Savasana (Corpse Pose)
Lie on your mat with your hands near the body. Your palms should be facing up so you will receive all the vital energy you need. Try not to arch your neck, keeping your chin low until the throat is soft. Relax completely and lie there for 4-5 minutes breathing from the abdomen. You will bring a lot of oxygen into your body, which will fight against a headache.
5.2. Viparita Karani (Legs Up The Wall Pose)
Place your mat near a wall. Lay on the back and raise your feet parallel to the wall. You can also use a thick pillow and place it under your lower back for support. Lay like this for about 5 minutes, breathing completely. Relax and calm your mind through breathing. In these 5 minutes, you will start to feel a relief with your headache.
5.3 Pandagusthasana (Big Toe Pose)
Stay on your feet and keep them close to each other. Raise your hands and inhale. On the exhalation, lean forward (as long as you can) keeping your back straight until your reach with your hands down. You will place your fingers under the big toes only if you can, and you are flexible enough. Just lower how much you can and let your hands, neck, and head loose. Relax like this for 1-2 minutes.
Caution: You have to remember that no pain is allowed when executing a yoga pose. Learn to make the difference between tensed muscles or areas and pain. If anything hurts, just stop performing the pose, relax and try another way to get rid of a headache.
6. Use Lavender Baths to Relax
The delicate smell of lavender is great when you try to calm your mind and relax your body. Stress and anxiety may trigger headaches and lavender can help you come back to your peace of mind. Along with a long relaxing bath, the herb will make you feel as good as new.
½ cup Epsom salt
3-4 tablespoons dried lavender flowers
Add warm water to the bathtub and stir in the salt and the lavender flowers. Magnesium from the Epsom salt has a relaxing effect on the muscles and lavender will calm down your thoughts. You may bathe until the water begins to cool.
As we previously spotted, caffeine is good for headaches. Its efficiency is the reason why it is an ingredient in many painkillers. Specialists also know that the association of caffeine with over-the-counter drugs makes the last ones more efficient. This compound has an anti-inflammatory effect thus relieving the symptoms associated with the migraines.
However, even if caffeine can kill headaches, it may also have the reverse effect meaning that it can trigger one. You know now that it has a constriction effect on the blood vessels around the brain. So, when you stop drinking coffee, these vessels expand again leading to pain and dizziness. So you need to decide for yourself if you want to use this home remedy for a headache.
Many people trust acupressure ancient techniques to treat headaches. We must consider the fact that individuals have this kind of pain since time immemorial, and there were no painkillers back then. Writings say that Asian healers have developed reflexology or acupressure technique which means applying pressure on some points of the body to alleviate painful symptoms caused by headaches. It is extremely useful if you perform it when you have some spare time. You may try the following points to find a natural relief:
- Third Eye Point: – this point is located right above your nose, between the eyebrows, just where the nose meets your forehead.
- Facial Beauty Point: – these two points are located near the nostrils, right at the bottom of the cheekbone. Apply pressure simultaneously on both points.
- Drilling Bamboo Point: – you will find those under the inner end of the eyebrows. Also, apply pressure on both points.
- Wind Mansion Point: – it is located right below the skull, in the large hole between the neck muscles.
Apply constant pressure for 1-2 minutes and make sure you drink plenty of water which will help you get rid of the toxins in your body. It is not necessary to work on all the presented points, just choose one or two.
9. Homemade Ointment for Headaches
If you prepare your remedies at home, you know exactly what ingredients they contain, and there is no chance that some chemical compound makes its way in your ointment. Second, you get to choose the ingredients that suit your preferences and make the balm smell more like lavender, for example. The following recipe is quite easy to prepare, and you may use it whenever you feel like you’re struggling with a headache.
- 1/3 cup coconut oil
- 1 ½ – 2 tablespoons beeswax
- 15 drops lavender oil
- 2 drops eucalyptus oil
- 14-16 drops peppermint oil
Why These Ingredients?
The three oils used have a soothing effect, and they work together great. Eucalyptus essential oil has a fresh scent, and it increases the activity of the brain. It makes you feel invigorated chasing away the migraine. Furthermore, peppermint oil has a cooling effect due to the compound called menthol, and it will decrease any tension you may feel because of a headache. As for lavender oil, we already told you about its calming effect. Combined with the other two oils, it will work wonders for your pain.
- If you find a double boiler in your kitchen, use it to melt together the beeswax and coconut oil, if not, you may create your own: half fill a pot with water and bring it to a boil.
- Take a smaller pot or heatproof bowl and combine the beeswax with coconut oil in it.
- Place the bowl in the water pot.
- Stir to mix until everything is melted. Don’t over heat the oil if you don’t want it to lose all its beautiful properties including the moisturizing effect.
- Remove from heat and add the lavender, peppermint, and eucalyptus oil. Mix well until everything is evenly combined.
- After pouring it, put the mixture into a clean and dry container until it gets to room temperature.
- You will have a solid balm, but it will melt in contact with your hands. If you want it to be more fluid, add less beeswax.
- Just grab some mixture and massage your forehead or temples, the back of your neck or the pressure point between the forefinger and the thumb.
- Breathe from your abdomen while doing this massage, and you will feel better.
10. Relieve Your Headache with Cayenne Pepper
As you probably already know, cayenne pepper is not only magnificent for spicing up your meals, but it is also a powerful natural remedy used for reducing inflammation and pain in the body. Capsaicin (the main compound in hot peppers) inhibits the action of the substance that causes head pain. Several studies have shown that if you apply pepper to your nostrils, you will feel relief.
- ½ cup water
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Warm the water and add the cayenne pepper. Stir well and soak a cotton swab or a small piece of clean cloth.
- Gently introduce the cloth pieces into each nostril in such a manner that you will feel a burning sensation.
- Even it is not the most pleasant moment in your life; this is a sign that capsaicin is working and your headache will be gone soon.
11. Drink Feverfew Tea
One of the herbs which have a similar action to the one of coffee is feverfew. Common experience has shown that it can narrow the blood vessels and decrease the tension existent on the nerves. When drinking feverfew tea is like taking painkillers, but without any side effects, you will start to see that a headache will lessen itself.
- 1 tablespoon feverfew dried flowers
- 1 cup water
- Bring the water to a boil and remove from heat.
- Add the flowers and steep for about ten minutes.
- Strain the liquid and enjoy half a cup of tea two times per day.
12. Apple Cider Vinegar Steam
ACV is subject to an endless discussion as it has so many health benefits. It has been used for centuries and has proven its efficacy. Many people are making use of this extraordinary vinegar made from apples to treat a lot of ailments and conditions naturally. And you may surely place headaches among them. In the following lines, you will learn how to cure a headache with the help of apple cider vinegar.
- ¼ cup of apple cider vinegar
- 4 cups of water
- Bring the cups of water to a boil. Pour it into a large pot and stir in ¼ cup of apple cider vinegar.
- Place the pot on a table and keep your face as close as possible so you can inhale the steam.
- Cover your head with a large thick towel. Make sure you don’t get burn and stay like this for 7-10 minutes or until the water isn’t hot anymore.
- After you finish this procedure, rinse your face and drink a cup of water.
These nuts contain salicin which is found in aspirin too. It is clear now why almonds can treat a headache when it starts to show off. Replace the pharmacy bought drugs with a handful of almonds, and you will get rid of the pain. Go for raw almonds instead of eating roasted ones. Many foods lose their healing properties when they are cooked, and almonds enter this category. In fact, all the seeds and nuts should be eaten raw so that you will benefit from all the vitamins and minerals.
14. Oxygen & Headaches
You will ask: “How can I use oxygen to stop my headache?” Well, the answer is quite simple.
14.1. Oxygen Therapy
Using oxygen therapy for health issues is not something new. This kind of treatment was first mentioned in 1939. Many patients who have breathed pure oxygen have reported an improvement in their state. However, this therapy should be performed by a specialist and not in your home. This kind of treatment has shown its efficiency in cluster headaches and migraines. It would be perfect if you could benefit from it in the middle of a crisis, but unfortunately, this rarely happens.
14.2. Breath Deep
Also, go outside for a walk. If this is possible, choose a park instead of walking on the city alleys. If there is more vegetation, the amount of oxygen is higher, and you will feel a greater relief. While you walk, breathe deeply like you are trying to get out all the toxins in the body that may be hurting you.
When you suffer from chronic migraines, you may want to consider moving to the countryside or in the mountains, in less polluted areas. As you have probably noticed, pollution, gas, high noise and noxious can trigger headaches and dizziness. If you want to keep yourself and your family healthy, a lifestyle change may work wonders.
Depending on the type of a headache, you may use hot or cold compresses to alleviate the pain. If the blood vessels are enlarged and press on the nerves, it would be a good idea to use something cold which will narrow the vessels soothing the headache. On the other hand, if the pain is due to anxiety or stress, the cold may not be right for you because it brings tension to the muscles and this leads to even larger blood vessels. So you should try both alternatives and see what suits you better. It is also possible that sometimes you will go with cold and other times you’ll choose hot if you are experiencing different types of headaches.
Directions if you use cold compresses:
- If you need a cold compress, use a bag of ice or something from the freezer.
- Don’t place it directly on skin because you may feel pain.
- Put it on a thin towel, and then apply on your forehead or back of the neck.
Directions if you use hot compresses:
- For hot compresses, only soak a towel or a clean cotton cloth in hot water (as hot as you can take it).
The most important thing when a headache is coming is to lay down in a quiet room, with diffused light if that is possible. You need to relax and to calm down. Applying the compresses is the next step in getting rid of headaches. If the compresses are changing their temperature replace them with new ones or, in case you prefer hot, soak the cotton cloth in warm water again.
16. Use Crystals
Using crystals to treat different common conditions, is an ancient Asian form of therapy. It is classified among the alternative branches of medicine, and it consists of placing stones on various parts of the body to cure diseases. Ancient healers thought that these healing stones could balance chakras and clear the energy fields. The technique is also used nowadays for relaxation and balance.
- Selenite: If you want to treat a headache with crystals, you should first try Selenite. Lay on the ground and place a stone directly on your forehead and some others around your head, on the ground. The stones will induce calm and stability, chasing away the pain.
- Amethyst: Another crystal used to remove headaches is Amethyst. Experts say that these stones also work on the brain and relieve stress.
- Quartz: Clear quartz stones are known for getting the negative energy away from the body. If you feel the first signs of a headache, go to a quiet room and turn the lights to a minimum. Place the flat part of the quartz stone on the forehead.
Since we are all different, the healing stones may differ, and you will find the best one for you by experimenting. You may also try Lapis Lazuli, Hematite, Aquamarine, Citrine, Angelite, Moonstone, Blue Lace Agate or Rose Quartz.
Meditation is an activity with significant beneficial effects on your brain, keeping your mind calm and settling your inner balance. Practicing meditation will surely prevent recurrent headaches. But even in the middle of a crisis, meditation will slow down the activity of your brain inducing relaxation. There are a lot of meditation techniques, but all of them start with you sitting in a lotus position with your eyes closed. What you do next is your choice, depending on what makes you feel better.
17.1 Third Eye
You may concentrate on your third eye, just observing any thought that comes into mind. Try not to “talk” with your thoughts, let them pass away and keep your focus in the middle of the forehead.
17.2 Love & Visualization
Another possibility is to visualize something that you love, for example, the face of your child, a nice landscape, the waves of the see, anything that can bring peace to your head. Focus on that image for several minutes.
You can also repeat a mantra, a phrase that will help you relax. An example could be “I feel excellent, I have no pain in my body.” Creating such a pattern will take your thoughts away from your headache, and you will feel better.
Buddhists and yogis practice meditation for several hours each day, but we, regular people, may start with only ten minutes of stopping our daily routine and taking a break for our troubled mind. Meditation can be considered an efficient natural remedy for headaches.
Pieces of Advice to Avoid and Cure Headaches & Migraines
Exercise whenever you can, at least three times per week. You may do whatever you like, only do it to relief the stress and keep your mind sharp. Any activity like hiking, jogging, swimming, walking, running, bicycling will help you to release tension. While you need to do these activities outside, you can also add any other inside exercise to your routine.
2. Is Sex Good for Headaches?
While headaches are the most used excuses not to have sex, in the case of a real migraine sex is useful. The reasons why are not very clear, but specialists believe that endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin released during orgasm are responsible for the headache relief thru sex.
Studies performed by the University of Munster (Germany) have shown that a significant percent of the migraine sufferers (60%) reported a considerable decrease in the pain after having sex. For the people who were experiencing cluster headaches (a rare condition which consists of sudden and very painful headaches), 37% said that the pain was less intense after the sexual act.
The final conclusions of the study say that no matter who you’re having sex with or which position you practice, the result is the same when you are having an orgasm.
3. Listen to Some Relaxing Music
It is well-known that if you bring music to your life, you will feel better. It has a direct effect on your brain and depending on what type of music you listen you will get some mood changes. Studies on real people demonstrated that music therapy brings a great relief to headaches and chronic migraines, with better results in children.
When you feel a headache coming up, only turn on relaxing music (you may find tons of playlists on the Internet), lay on your bed or a mat and close your eyes. Try not to think, just listen and feel the music. Choose a playlist with nature sounds, and you will feel a part of the universe.
Have your meals at about the same time every day. This way you are telling your body that you will feed it regularly, and you will also prevent a drop in blood sugar, another trigger for headaches. Choose healthy food and avoid any processed ingredient if that is possible.
5. Check Out for MSG on Food Labels
Certain foods may be the cause for this kind of pain. The reason could be the monosodium glutamate (MSG) content. This substance is a neuro-exciter and ingesting it may lead to headaches. Many producers add MSG to foods because it is cheap and it enhances the taste and flavor. While it is entirely unhealthy, people continue to use it. You may find it in many foods such as canned stuff, soy-based items, Chinese and processed meats. The effect of this compound is that the brains produce enlarged quantities of dopamine which is also called the “feeling” well drug. But the only time you will feel well is when you eat that particular food. Because after that, you may face a terrible headache.
What you should do:
MSG can be identified on the food labels under different names. Except for monosodium glutamate, check out for any ingredient that contains the word “glutamate” or glutamic acid. Avoid these foods. You will always find it in foods that contain yeast, yeast extract, gelatin, soy or whey protein and anything hydrolyzed. For the other foods, read the label carefully if you want to get rid of headaches.
6. Increase the Magnesium Intake
Plenty of studies shows that people who often experience migraines have a lack of magnesium in their body. It is advisable to take a food supplement containing this mineral or to start eating foods with high amount of magnesium. Go for spinach, chard, yogurt, avocado, pumpkin seeds, figs, almonds, bananas, dark chocolate and black beans. Introduce these foods into your diet and try to eat them as often as you can. You may establish the amount of magnesium in your body by taking some tests first. This mineral can relax the muscles and arteries thus helping to prevent headaches.
7. Fish Oil
Fish oil contains a high amount of omega-3 fatty acids which are excellent for the health of your heart. Also, fish oil can decrease inflammation, has a positive impact on blood pressure, prevents blood clotting and maintains a steady heart rhythm. All those effects will help to relieve the symptoms of a headache by reducing the inflammation of the cells that constrict the nerves. You cannot eat only fish oil as it doesn’t taste too good. However, it makes a bearable combination together with lemon or orange juice.
8. Pain Killers Usage
Over-taking painkillers may reverse the situation: instead of easing your pain, they can increase the frequency of headaches. In the beginning, you encounter moderate pain, but later, the crisis will get more severe because your addiction becomes stronger.
9. Water & Headaches
Some headaches are caused by dehydration. We often tend to replace pure water with coffee, sodas, alcohol or, in the happiest cases, plant tea. Unfortunately, all these have a diuretic effect meaning they help in eliminating liquids from your body. It can trigger a headache, and you may not even know what’s happening. As soon as you feel the symptoms of a migraine, try drinking a large glass of water. After that drink small sips all day long so, you will chase the pain away. Water is a natural remedy for headaches.
10. Get More Sleep
Lack of sleep leads to chronic fatigue which often triggers headaches. An adult needs minimum seven hours of sleep per night to function properly. We all know that not many of us have the time to sleep that much and others suffer from insomnia or troubled sleep. All these may lead to migraines or cluster headaches. Experts say you need to get a sleep routine to keep your good health.
What you should do:
Go to bed early, the best hours of sleep are 10 pm – 2 am. It is the time when the organism rests and you have a deep sleep. Avoid any light in your bedroom because your eyes will sense it even they are closed. You will see great effects after trying this routine for at least two weeks.
11. Choose Your Pillow Correctly
A common cause for headaches is irritation of the nerves in the upper neck. This may lead to sorrow spots in the temples, forehead, in the whole head or behind the eyes. The nerves can get irritated due to an incorrect sleeping posture or an inappropriate pillow. The perfect pillow should keep the vertebrae in line and keep any nerve irritation to the minimum. Sleeping on a right pillow can help you get rid of headaches and maintain your spinal health for a long time.
12. Relax Your Jaw
It is possible to encounter a headache due to the tension in the maxillary. Sometimes we find ourselves with the teeth clenched especially in a stressful situation. In times like this, you may grab a pen and hold it between your teeth to relax the jaw. You don’t need to bite it, on the contrary, just keep it loose and make sure your face is relaxed.
13. Keep Your Back Straight
The tension in your neck and back can cause a powerful headache. If we work in the office all day long, our posture is not correct all the time. We should sit with our back straight, our chest open and our shoulders back. The neck should also be straight and not leaning forward. Search for an ergonomic chair if you spend a lot of time in front of your computer. Set the alarm every two hours, get up and do some stretching moves or take a walk, no matter if you do it in the office. It is better to use an alarm. Otherwise, you will forget to do it if you are completely focused on whatever you are working on. Even five minutes will help in improving your posture, your health and you will get rid of tension headaches.
If you experience regular headaches and the natural remedies presented above, don’t work and don’t bring any relief for two weeks, seek professional help. It is possible for you to face a more serious problem or disease and it would better to take some tests to identify the real cause. You will get proper treatment from your doctor after he sets an accurate diagnostic.
You may also want to read our list of 15 Natural Remedies for Toothache.