Almost everyone suffers from headaches from time to time. Oftentimes people go directly to aspirin and over the counter painkillers to deal with the throbbing discomfort.
Those treatments, however, only deal with the symptoms instead ofgetting at the cause of the discomfort. Taking the time to pursue natural remedies can treat the headache at the source, as well as prevent further headaches.
Stretch, Relax, Breathe
The stresses of a fast-paced and busy life can result in muscles in the neck, shoulders, and upper back tensing up forming knots. The pain from this muscle tension is a large cause of headaches.
Fortunately, taking a little time to stretch, breathe deep, and relax can help relieve the pain. Yoga is a great way stretch out your muscles and get you moving in ways that will release the tension that may be causing your headache.
Making a conscious effort to take long, deep, slow breaths can help relieve stress and tension. Having enough fresh oxygen circulating through your blood will also help ease your headache.
A painful headache probably doesn’t make the prospect of physical activity sound appealing, but getting some exercise can help eliminate your headache.
Having a regular exercise routine can help prevent headaches in the first place. If you can, exercise outside.
The fresh air and scenery will make you feel better. Warming up and cooling down, as opposed to jumping right into physical exertion is important as well. While you’re getting moving outside, your muscles will loosen up and your brain will release endorphins, two things that will certainly dull your headache and take your mind off the pain.
Headaches and migraines, caused by blood vessels in the brain expanding and pressing on nerves, can be treated with the Feverfew plant.
Feverfew has been found to relax the tension and constrict blood vessels, relieving the painful pressure. This plant also reduces inflammation and overall pain, due to a substance it contains called parthenolide.
For best results, make a tea with one ounce of fresh or dried flowers and a pint of water.
Most people are unaware of the fact that muscle tension is increased by mechanical dysfunction in the vertebrae of your neck. This tension can affect blood flow into the head by irritating delicate nerves in control the flow.
As a result of lack of proper blood flow, you can experience headaches.
Chiropractic care corrects this by aligning the source of the problem, the misaligned vertebrae irrigating the delicate nerves.
Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a common food additive, used often to enhance flavor. MSG has been found to trigger migraines, as it works by exciting brain neurons.
The FDA requires MSG to be listed on labels, so be wary. It is often “hidden” in the labeling so be on the lookout for ingredients that say “gelatin”, “yeast extract”, “hydrolyzed”, and “textured protein”.
Brewing gingerroot tea can have a similar effect to aspirin for headache and migraine relief. Gingerroot contains enzymes that inhibit a process called prostaglandin synthesis.
Prostaglandin synthesis, in short, is the process of fats being broken down, and mediating inflammation and alerting neurons to pain. Both aspirin, and gingerroot, serve to inhibit this process, and in turn relieve the pain of a headache or migraine.
Gingerroot tea is easy to brew, use 3 quarter sized slices of gingerroot and brew them in 2 cups of water. Relax and enjoy the tea as your headache subsides.
Small-scale studies have shown that the omega-3 fatty acids contained in fish oils can help reduce the pain of migraines and headaches.
The American Heart Association states that fish oils may help reduce inflammation, blood pressure, and blood clotting.
These benefits can help relieve headaches, by reducing blood cell inflammation that may be causing the pain by pinching nerves.
Peppermint oil can provide quick pain relief. Massage the oil onto your temples, jaw, and forehead.
You’ll feel a cooling sensation when you apply it, and find that it eases discomfort and clears your mind.
Try to take deep breaths and find a quiet place to relax for best results.
Improve your Posture
Posture plays a huge role in tension-related headaches.
If you spend your day working in an office or sitting at a computer with little to no movement, it is easy to develop bad posture. Slouching, slumping, and leaning forward strain the neck muscles and create nasty headaches.
To combat this, make a conscious effort to sit up tall, with your shoulders back, chest open, and head straight.
Strengthening core muscles will also help with improving posture.
Cayenne is a well-known natural remedy for pain and inflammation. It contains capsaicin, which inhibits pain perception.
A study from the 1998 Clinical Journal of Pain found that topically applying cayenne to the nasal passages significantly decreases pain from headaches.
To use this treatment, dilute a half-teaspoon of cayenne powder in 4 ounces of warm water. Soak a cotton swab in the solution, and apply the swab gently in each nostril until you feel the heat.
This may be unpleasant at first, but it can significantly decrease your headache pain.
Studies done by the American Headache Society and the American Academy of Neurology have found butterbur (plants from the daisy family) effective in treating migraines.
Some species of butterbur plants contain chemicals that help control blood pressure and the spasmodic capillary action that cause migraines.
Butterbur does this by both having an anti-inflammatory effect as well as acting as a natural beta-blocker, helping normalize blood flow to the brain. The most effective concentrations of these helpful chemicals are found in butterbur root.
Giving yourself a scalp massage feels great, and can release headache causing muscle tension. Or better yet see a massage therapist and have them treat you.
Researchers in Brazil found that massaging the greater occipital nerve, located in the back of the head at the base of the skull, can reduce migraine pain.
Next time you feel a headache coming on, go ahead give yourself a gentle massage to help ease the pain away.
Buckwheat can provide relief from headaches and migraines because it contains a flavoniod called rutin.
Flavonoids are a type of phytochemical found in plants that contain antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Salicin, an agent found in many over the counter painkillers, is also found in almonds.
Try replacing the pills with a few of these nuts for a healthier, natural remedy when headache pain starts to set in. It is important to note that almonds may trigger migraines for some people.
Also known as Niacin, Vitamin B3 can either relieve or trigger a headache, depending on the cause. B3 opens up the body’s blood vessels, and increases blood flow.
This means that it will relieve headaches caused by constricted vessels.
However, if expanded vessels pressing on nerves are the cause of your headache, Niacin can make things worse. It is best to consult an expert about whether B3 will work for you.
Don’t actually chew it. Holding a pencil between your teeth (without clenching your jaw) can relieve tension headaches. The action of holding the pencil between your teeth will relax your jaw muscles.
Clenching your jaw, often due to stress, can strain the muscles that connect the jaw to the temples, resulting in a tension headache. Make sure you relax your jaw and hold the pencil lightly between your teeth for this to be effective.
Apple Cider Vinegar compress
Historically, apple cider vinegar has been use to relieve everything from hay fever to scurvy. Some modern studies have proven its medicinal benefits as well.
A steam treatment of apple cider vinegar can help cure your headache.
Pour ¼ cup of apple cider vinegar into a large bowl, and fill it half way with boiling water. Drape a towel over your head and the bowl, to trap the steam, and hold your face over it. Take deep breaths of the steam for about 5-10 minutes, and then have a glass of cold water.
Lavender oil can be used similarly to apple cider vinegar as a vapor treatment for headaches and migraines.
Add two to four drops of oil for every two cups of boiling water, and inhale the vapors.
You can also apply the oil externally without diluting it for a similar effect. However you should not take it orally.
In addition to smelling and tasting delicious, basil can be effective in treating tension related headaches. Tight and tense muscles in the neck, shoulders, and upper back are a major cause of headaches.
Because basil oil acts as a natural muscle relaxant, using a vapor treatment similar those recommended with lavender oil and apple cider vinegar can provide relief from your head pain.
The cause of headaches varies from person to person, so choosing between a hot or cold compress depends on the case.
There is evidence to support both hot and cold compress treatments, all related to muscles and blood vessels. With headaches caused by expanded blood vessels pressing on nerves, a cold compress can constrict the vessels and provide relief.
Other headaches caused by muscle tension and anxiety can be relieved by heat. You may want to experiment with both to see what works for you. It is best to try this in a quiet place where you can lay down undisturbed.
Due to the high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids in flax seeds, consuming them can provide headache relief in some cases.
Omega-3s have anti-inflammatory qualities, which will relieve headaches caused by inflammation.
Remove Food Allergies
PubMed.gov has over 150 different studies related to foods that have been identified to cause migraines.
The solution is quite simple. Identify which foods that could be triggering your migraines and then eliminate them from your diet.
To help identify which foods could be your trigger, keep a food and headache diary to discover what foods were eaten around the time a migraine occurred.
Most of us don’t drink near enough water each day, and that alone can cause headaches.
As soon as your head starts to hurt, grab a glass of water and continue to sip throughout the day.
Gradually, this will ease your pain and leave you more hydrated. It seems almost too simple, but that doesn’t make it less effective!