9 Natural Headache Cures
No two headaches are alike and not all treatments are alike. Headaches can stem from a variety of root causes, but not every treatment has to come from a pill. If you suffer from daily headaches, check out these natural alternatives will help ease the pain and eliminate long terms risks of over-the-counter (OTC) medication.
- Essential oils - Roll on
- Essential Oil - Shampoos
- Lights off
- Hot and Cold Pack
- Roof of Mouth
Anti-inflammatory simply refers to properties that reduce inflammation and swelling, mostly as an alternative to opioids. They can be found in medication such as Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAID), which have been found to have many negative side effects. These relieving properties can also be found naturally in several of the foods we eat such as fatty fish, whole grains, dark leafy greens, nuts and many others.
Essential oils do so much more than just smell nice. Think of it as mother nature’s medicine cabinet. Most oils have a variety of uses from anti-fungal to immunostimulant and can be blended together to give you a specific relief that works for you. You can use this chart as a reference of the benefits for the most common oils. For headache relief, you will want to use an oil that gives you anti-inflammatory benefits. Personally, mint and tea tree are my go-to headache oils. As soon as I feel a headache coming, I grab my Aveda Blue Oil Roll and rub it on my forehead, temples and scalp. I prefer this method to OTC med because it gives an instant relief that actually feels like it’s doing something.
A product I always recommend for headache relief is Paul Mitchell’s tea tree shampoo and conditioner. When I get a migraine that is unbearable, I take a shower using these products. The secret is in the essential oils in the shampoo (tea tree, peppermint and lavender) that surround your entire head with a cooling sensation.
Our brains are 80% water. When we become dehydrated, the brain tissue loses water causing the brain to wither, shrink and pull away from the skull. This triggers the pain receptors surrounding your brain, which is what causes the headache. Dehydration can cause lower blood volume, which lowers the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain. This can cause the blood vessels in the brain to dilate leading to inflammation and swelling. Whether you’re suffering from a hangover or exercising, make sure to stay hydrated.
For many who suffer from migraines, light can be the worst enemy during an episode. Once the light hits the optic nerve, it can aggravate the headache. Prevent this by relaxing in a quiet and dark room and try to sleep it off.
Hot and cold packs are great for an easy and immediate answer to a headache, but it’s important when to apply hot or cold. According to Dr. Sanjay Gupta, heat helps relax muscles, joints and blood vessels. When applied on the tight muscles such as the jaw or neck, hot packs are ideal for tension headaches. Cold packs help minimize inflammation and provide a numbing pain reliever, which is perfect for vascular headaches and migraines.
Small amounts of caffeine can be found in many over the counter drugs to help the body absorb medication, but can it reduce the pain of a headache on it’s own? The answer is yes! When a migraine occurs, increased amounts of adenosine, a natural brain substance, can be found in the bloodstream. According to a study of the effects of caffeine and migraines, adenosine acts by sticking itself to receptors on the surface of the brain cells. Caffeine can help block these receptors and therefore block the painful effects of adenosine. Disclaimer: If you have a tolerance for caffeine, this may not be the best option for you.
After washing your hands with antibacterial soap, use the pad of your thumb to rub the roof of your mouth in circular motions. Doing this can disrupt the pain signals sent to your brain.
In addition to these natural methods, you can prevent headaches by stretching 15-20 minutes a day. Doing yoga or stretching your neck and shoulders not only relieves migraine inducing stress, but releases the tension built up in your muscles.
These are natural alternatives to cope with the pain of headaches and migraine. They are in no way a permanent solution. If you do not have a history of headaches and develop sudden and severe pain, seek medical attention to discover the root cause.