One of the most common problems nowadays is headaches. They affect people of all ages, causing unbearable pain to go along with vomiting and nausea from time to time. There are countless causes of headaches, but the most common include stress, sinus problems, lack of sleep, dehydration, restlessness, and muscle tension. Sometimes the answer to the question of how to get rid of headaches is by reaching for home and natural remedies, not over-the-counter medicines.
Different Types of Headaches
Before you understand how to get rid of headaches, you first must understand that there are different types of headaches. Every headache requires different treatment. The most common headache is a tension headache, felt at the back of the neck, head and temple. Simple home remedies are always effective.
A cluster headache is a recurring type of headache that causes severe pain on just one side of your head. Natural remedies reduce the severity and duration, but there is no cure.
Sinus headaches and migraine headaches share similar symptoms, and the pain can come back when treating them with over-the-counter medicines.
When a person overuses medicines, a rebound headache can occur. Some of the medicaments that lead to rebound headaches include ibuprofen and aspirin.
With that being said, let’s take a look how to get rid of a headache in a natural way.
Dehydration is one of the common causes of headache. After a hangover or vomiting, dehydration is especially severe and the pain can be unbearable. Therefore, a glass of water will quickly relieve the symptoms. To prevent headache throughout the day, make sure to drink small sips of water throughout the day. Men should drink 13 cups of water per day, while women should drink 9 cups of water per day. An important note: when suffering from headache, avoid cold water as it might worsen the symptoms. Strive for room-temperature water.
Take a Break
Another common cause of headaches is stress and tension, and taking a time to relax for 30 minutes can help. Look for a quiet and dark place. Make sure to turn off the lights, shut the blinds and just focus on your breathing. If there are people around you, ask them to be quiet for 10 to 15 minutes so you can shut down and relax. If you are at home and lying down, make sure your bed is comfortable and that your position doesn’t increase the tension to your neck.
Poor circulation is another common cause of headaches, as your head is not getting the required amount of oxygen (your blood vessels are not transporting blood sufficiently). Apply a cold compress, using a soft and cool cloth, on your forehead and eyes to ease the pain. Once the cloth starts to feel warm, refresh it with cold water.
A cold compress works for sinus-caused headaches, but a hot compress can help with headaches caused by stress and tension. Apply a hot compress on the back of your neck to relax the tension from tight muscles. You can also soak in a hot bath for 10 minutes.
Tension headaches can be easily reduced by a face and scalp massage. In most cases, tension headaches are caused by poor posture and strained muscles, both of which can be reduced and prevented by massage. With your thumbs on your temples, use firm pressure and move your fingers in a circular motion, starting from the temples to the center of your forehead (the temples are the soft spots located between the corner of your eye and the upper ear).
Continue the massage, now at the bridge of your nose, to relieve sinus-caused headaches. Last, but not least, do a scalp massage with little coconut oil on your fingers.
Neck and Shoulder Massage
Your neck and shoulders can also cause a tension headache, causing uncomfortable pain. To massage your neck and shoulders, you need to sit on a comfortable chair.
Start by placing your hands on your shoulders, pointing your fingers towards your shoulder blades. Exhale, relax your neck, and let your head fall backward. By squeezing your fingers, apply pressure on the shoulder muscles, and then move the fingers in circular, small movements towards the skull.
Another option for a neck and shoulders massage is to place two tennis balls in a sock. Lie on a flat surface, with the sock positioned below the base of your skull. Move upwards and backwards slowly, massaging your neck.
Get Some Cayenne
Cayenne has known anti-inflammatory properties, making the spicy herb a great remedy for headaches. Thanks to the capsaicin in the cayenne, the pain in your head will disappear. Simply mix some powder with water, and then soak a cotton swab with the solution. Apply the swap inside of your nostril. You might feel a burning sensation at the moment, but the remedy will help relieve the pain in few minutes. People with sinusitis should avoid this remedy.
As in: go for almonds as they are great alternative to over-the-counter medicines for headaches. Cashews, walnuts and hazelnuts also help. Consume a cup of nuts to relieve the pain from headache, as the salicin in the nuts will act as natural pain reliever.
Due to the refreshing nature of lemons, the fruit can be powerful in treating headaches. A simple way to use lemon for treating headaches is by drinking a glass of water mixed with juice from one lemon. You can also apply lemon rind on your forehead to relieve headache pain.
Apples and apple cider vinegar are effective remedies for headaches. Let’s start with apples, as they are more natural and potent. Both restore the acidic-alkaline balance in your body. Sometimes, just the smell of fresh green apples can reduce the pain.
If you wake up in the morning with a headache, eat one apple with some salt sprinkled on top. Drink a glass of water afterwards.
Apple Cider Vinegar
As mentioned, apples and apple cider vinegar restore the acidic-alkaline balance in your body, a crucial element for preventing and treating headaches.
There are three ways to use apple cider vinegar for headaches. The first one is to fill a bath with hot water and add several drops of ACV to it. Soak your body for 10 minutes. An alternative is to fill a bowl with boiling water, add apple cider vinegar, and inhale the steam.
Last, but not least, you can dilute apple cider vinegar with a glass of water and drink the solution.
Known as a powerful analgesic, betel leaves can alleviate a headache and pain in a matter of minutes. Simply put two to three leaves in a grinder to make a paste. Apply the paste on your forehead and temples, and let it stay there for 30 minutes. You will feel pain relief in just few minutes. Alternatively, you can chew the betel leaves.
The feverfew plant is one of the most commonly used remedies for eliminating headaches. The plant relaxes the blood vessels, resulting in reduced pressure on the nerves. The feverfew plant has the same anti-inflammatory properties as aspirin, but without the side effects of using over-the-counter medicine.
For this remedy, start by boiling water, and then add fresh or dried feverfew flowers. Simmer the two ingredients for few minutes, and then strain the water. Drink half a cup. A word of caution: the taste can be bitter.
Fish oil can be used both for headache remedy and prevention. Fish oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids (food for the brain). Fish oil also reduces inflammation, which eventually relieves the pain. If you are taking fish oil as a remedy for getting rid of headaches, mix one glass of warm water with a tablespoon of fish oil. You can also use orange juice instead of water. Mix the two ingredients for few seconds, and then drink the mixture.
This ancient spice used in India has powerful anti-inflammatory properties, and directly affects the production of prostaglandin. Prostaglandin is a chemical that the nerve endings are extremely sensitive to, and they react by transmitting pain to the brain. Ginger helps by balancing the production of this chemical as well as reducing nausea, a common side effect of headaches.
To use ginger as a home remedy, boil two cups of water and then add ginger root to the mixture. Cover the bowl and let the ginger root mix with the boiling water for 30 minutes. After that, drink the mixture slowly.
Known for its soothing effects, peppermint oil is an alternative people use when they want to get rid of a headache without any medication. Aside from easing your pain and discomfort caused by the headache, peppermint oil clears your mind.
All you need to do is put some peppermint oil on your fingers and massage your temples. Make sure to massage the back of your head and neck as well. Alternatively, you can inhale peppermint oil by sprinkling some drops in boiling water.
Eucalyptus oil can be used in virtually the same way as peppermint oil. It all comes down to preferences. One thing to note is that eucalyptus oil is stronger and more potent. Therefore, before applying it to your forehead and temples, make sure to dilute the oil with some water. Massage your forehead and temples for 30 minutes to get instant relief from headache pain.
Continuing the oil section on how to get rid of a headache, we come to one of the best home remedies. In addition to helping you cope with the pain, lavender oil makes your home/office smell beautiful. There are two ways to use lavender oil for a headache. The first one is topically, applied on the forehead and temples without diluting. The second way is by inhalation, sprinkling few drops in boiling water.
Cinnamon can be used as a home and natural remedy for many diseases and conditions, headache included. You can use it either in powder or stick form.
Start by boiling two cups of water, and once the water is boiled, add cinnamon to the mixture (powder or stick). Let the cinnamon simmer in the water for two minutes and remove it from the heat. Strain the solution, and then drink as tea. You can add natural sweeteners like honey to the mixture. Drink the tea two times per day.
Alternatively, you can prepare a paste from cinnamon powder and water. Use equal amounts, and mix the ingredients until you get a smooth paste. Apply the paste on your neck and forehead using gentle and circular movements. Lie down for 30 minutes, and then rinse with water.
Grab a Pencil
Not many people know this, but relieving the tension in your jaw can help relieve headache pain. Holding a pencil between your teeth activates your smile muscles and relaxes the jaw. Why does this help? Because people often clench their teeth during stressful times, straining the muscles that connect the temples to the jaw, which in turn causes a tension headache. Grabbing and holding a pen can relax the jaw and relieve the pain.
Basil is a Mediterranean spice that is often used for salads, pastas and as a pizza topping, but it comes in handy when suffering from headache as well. Simply chew some basil leaves when you have a headache, and you will feel relief shortly thereafter.
As with almost any condition, it is better to prevent than to treat. Preventing headaches is not an easy task, but it is one that can be achieved with little effort and organization. Here are some tips to prevent headaches from happening.
- Get plenty of sleep because “sleep hygiene” is essential for preventing headaches. Adults need 7 hours of sleep per day.
- Limit your screen time before going to bed. Avoid television, smartphone and computer usage for one hour before going to bed.
- Limit caffeine consumption after 6 pm.
- Limit your exposure to fragrances, and if you can, use unscented alternatives for your deodorant and other hygiene-related products.
- Limit your consumption of cured meats and other nitrites and nitrates, cheese, wine, processed meats, dried fruits, vinegar.
- Consider yoga on a regular basis, as there is no better exercise for relaxation and meditation.
- Make sure your workstation is ergonomically correct. Your neck should be in a neutral position while working. Avoid slouching and pushing your neck out of position when in front of a computer and other digital devices.
- Take regular breaks from desk work; consider a bit of exercise during those breaks.
- Quit smoking, as cigarettes contain substances that cause headaches. Even second-hand smoking can cause headaches.
- Limit your consumption of chocolate. You might not know it, but chocolate contains caffeine, a common headache trigger.