Natural Home Remedies for Headaches

Almost every adult has had a headache, a pain that involves blood vessels, muscles or nerves of the head and neck.  

Image of a halved pumpkin with seeds

Chemical activity in the brain might trigger a headache.  We can get headaches from wearing a tight hat, eating a certain food or from inflammation of our sinus cavities. Headaches can be triggered by smells, lights, noise, or stress.   Migraines are like super headaches and discussed under Migraines.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?

Some of the following may be present:

  • Light sensitivity
  • Nausea
  • Pain
  • Vomiting

ALLOPATHIC TREATMENT

OTC pain relievers are the usual treatment. Frequent or long-term use of these medicines can be dangerous and have side effects.

Some possible triggers are:

  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Disturbed sleep patterns
  • Food sensitivities
  • Hunger
  • Noise
  • Odors
  • Poor posture
  • Pressure on the head
  • Smoking (yours or theirs)
  • Stress
  • Temperature changes

SELF TREATMENT

DIET

A healthy immune system is always the first line of defense against disease and inflammation. To promote a healthy immune system, it is important to eat a balanced diet, with as much variety as you can manage, with lots of whole, fresh vegetables and fruits, quality protein and healthy sources of monounsaturated fat. The Zone is an excellent starting point.

FOODS THAT MAY PROMOTE HEALING

  • Apple Cider Vinegar in water
  • Bananas
  • Bone broth
  • Cherries
  • Flaxseeds
  • Potato
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains (if you must eat grains)

FOODS AND OTHER SUBSTANCES TO AVOID

There are foods that often trigger headaches you can avoid or experiment with:

  • Aged cheeses
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Chocolate
  • Diet drinks
  • Foods with nitrates, like processed deli meats
  • Gluten
  • MSG
  • Nuts
  • Smoking

TEAS AND OTHER LIQUIDS

  • Basil
  • Chamomile
  • Cinnamon
  • Feverfew
  • Ginger
  • Green
  • Lavender
  • Lemon
  • Peppermint

HERBS AND SPICES

  • Black cohosh
  • Butterbur
  • Cayenne powder. Dilute a little powder in water.  Soak a cotton swab in the cayenne-water solution and apply a wet cotton swab to the inside of each nostril.
  • Cinnamon
  • Cloves
  • Feverfew
  • Ginger
  • Passionflower
  • White willow bark

ESSENTIAL OILS

Essential oils can be administered via a diffuser for inhalation, administered topically in a carrier oil like coconut on the skin, or undiluted drops can be added to a hot bath or compress.

  • Clove
  • Ginger
  • Lavender
  • Peppermint
  • Rosemary
  • Spearmint
  • Thyme

OTHER SUBSTANCES AND SUPPLEMENTS

  • Edible Clay
  • Magnesium
  • Omega 3’s
  • Riboflavin
  • The cost of having a blood test to determine if you have nutritional deficiencies is likely to be negligible compared to over-consuming expensive supplements that you do not need.
  • Vitamin B complex
  • Vitamin C

HYDRATION

Dehydration can bring on a headache. Water is essential and a main nutrient for the human body. Without it, you cannot survive for many days. Staying hydrated is fundamental for a healthy body, so how much is enough? There are so many differences in people (i.e., how much we sweat), as well as the diets we consume (a lot of water comes from healthy, whole foods), but a general rule is to consume enough water that your urine is clear, but not so much that you dilute your nutrients. If you are taking certain supplements that make your urine yellow, then you can start out with the formula of drinking ½-1 ounce of water for each pound you weigh. If you weigh 130 pounds, drink 65 to 130 ounces of water a day. Definitely drink when you are thirsty.

EXERCISE

Exercise is great medicine for a headache but best for prevention. Over-exercising can cause headaches, though. That exercise is beneficial for overall health is undisputed. If you are ill, you will want to take it easy, of course, but there is always something you can do to support your body. Do what you can do without making yourself feel worse. Exercise in fresh air whenever possible.

EMOTIONAL SUPPORT

There’s good reason we call some headaches “tension headaches.” Stay calm. Anxiety undermines health. Practice relaxation exercises, talk to a friend. Do what works for you to keep mellow.

OTHER THINGS YOU CAN DO

  • “Headache Stretches”
  • A headband may decrease blood flow and ease the pain.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar compress
  • Avoid bright lights; wear sunglasses in bright sunlight.
  • Breathing exercises
  • Certain fragrances may bring on a headache.  Try eliminating soaps, cosmetics, etc. with fragrances.
  • Certain yoga poses like the Seated Twist
  • Cold or warm compresses with essential oils
  • Eat regularly.
  • Exercise for prevention and for light headaches.
  • Experiment with heat and cold to see which works best for you.
  • Facial exercises
  • Harry C. Ehrmantraut published a book on how to treat headaches without drugs (Headaches: The Drugless Way to Lasting Relief).
  • If high altitudes cause headaches for you, extra Vitamin C may help.
  • If you chew gum, try not chewing gum.
  • Napping may bring on migraines.
  • Quit smoking.  Don’t smoke while driving with the windows down in traffic (carbon monoxide is bad for blood flow).
  • See the section on Stress.  Try some relaxation exercises.
  • Sleep, but don’t oversleep.
  • Sleeping on your back may help, in a straight position.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Use good posture.

ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES

CAUTIONS

Call a doctor if

  • The headache is severe.
  • You are confused.
  • You have a fever.
  • You have vision problems.
  • Your balance is off.
  • Your headache occurs after a head injury or accident.

PREVENTION

  • A wholesome, balanced diet
  • Low stress levels
  • Quality sleep
  • Regular exercise

 

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