10 Natural Remedies for Headaches Worth Trying
Easier than you think: Next time your skull’s pounding, turn to these natural DIY headache remedies for quick relief.
A clinical trial in Illinois found that caffeine, which reduces the swelling of blood vessels, can reduce both the intensity and frequency of headaches. Subjects in one group were given caffeine alone, and 58 percent reported complete relief. Subjects in the other group were given caffeine in a combination with ibuprofen and 70 percent saw symptoms disappear. What’s more, another analysis found that the caffeine equivalent to the amount in a cup of coffee can help OTC pain relievers like ibuprofen work better. Try sipping a cup of coffee for headache relief, but avoid these 13 foods that make headaches worse.
Blood drawn to the lower body will reduce pressure in the blood vessels of the head—and what’s lower than your feet? To help soothe a throbbing vascular headache, soak your feet in a small tub filled with hot water for headache relief. After a half hour or so, hotfoot it to the nearest towel and dry your feet.
To cure a tension headache (caused by contractions in the head and neck, and brought on by—among other things—stress, anxiety, and lack of sleep) without painkilling drugs, dip a washcloth in hot water, wring it out, and fold it into a compress. Now place it on your forehead or the back of your neck to relax tight muscles.
To ease a vascular headache (including migraine and cluster headaches, and stemming from the contraction and expansion of blood vessels in a particular area of the head), you’ll want to avoid hot water and instead use ice. Cold temperatures constrict the blood vessels and reduce blood flow, taking the pressure off and providing relief to a hurting head. A study of 55 migraine patients found that 77 percent of those who put an ice pack on their necks found relief, making it one of the most effective natural remedies for headaches. Find out how to spot (and stop!) sneaky signs a migraine is coming.
Change your breathing
Especially if your headache is triggered by stress, relaxing breathing techniques can be one of the easiest natural remedies for headaches—no equipment required. Find a quiet space to sit or lie down, suggests Cleveland Clinic. Breathe in for five seconds, then exhale for another five seconds. Repeat as necessary, paying attention to how your body relaxes as your breathing gets slower and more rhythmic.
Use your middle finger to massage the points of the face just opposite your nostrils—that is, at the level of the tip of your nose. Massage with clockwise circles for two or three minutes to provide relief for your headache. Focus on the 8 best pressure points for headache relief.
Ginger tea remedy
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Ginger works especially well for migraines—one clinical trial found that ginger powder is as effective as prescription migraine medications. Make a tea by pouring three cups water over two tablespoons freshly grated ginger. Let steep four to five minutes, then strain through a small sieve into a teacup. Sip the tea for headache relief. Ginger tea bags are also available, but the tea lacks the punch of fresh ginger-root tea. Try these other natural remedies for headaches you can find in your kitchen.
Dehydration could make headaches worse, so drink up! A study of 102 patients dealing with frequent headaches found that those who started sipping an extra 1.5 liters of water a day had less severe headaches, though staying hydrated didn’t affect the frequency of their headaches. Learn about 13 other surprising things that could be triggering your headaches.
A small study of migraine patients found that those who did yoga in addition to taking conventional migraine treatments found more relief than those who only took medication. The study authors suggest that any exercise would probably have benefits, but yoga is one of the most realistic activity-based natural remedies for headaches because the slow movements are less likely to trigger migraines.
The smell of lavender won’t just lull you to sleep—it’s also one of the most soothing natural remedies for headaches. In a small study, migraine patients reported that sniffing lavender essential oil for 15 minutes eased 71 percent of headaches, compared to a placebo that gave relief to 47 percent of migraines. You’ll also want to memorize these 11 ways to stop a headache before it starts.