Natural Remedies for Headaches
While headaches are a very common type of pain, it is not always necessary to reach for over-the-counter medication as there are some natural or home remedies you can use.
Treating a headache as soon as possible is important as many headaches will go away quite quickly if treated early. Here are nine natural remedies for headaches.
Drink Some Water
Many times, a headache is caused by dehydration, especially if it’s a hot day or you’ve been spending a lot of time outside. Try drinking a glass or two of water to see if that will lessen or even take away your headache.
If you’ve been exercising or have spent a lot of time in the sun, you can also drink a sports drink or add hydration powder to your water. This will ensure you also replace any electrolytes you may need.
If you find water doesn’t seem to help your headache, you can move on to some of the other natural remedies.
Certain scents of essential oils may relieve a headache as well and these essential oils are also sometimes sold as a “headache stick” in drug stores or natural health stores.
Some of the essential oils you can use to relieve your headache include:
- Peppermint: To relieve tension headaches, you can apply a little to your temples and forehead.
- Lavender: Lavender oil can be used in various ways to ease a headache. Taking a bath scented with lavender, putting some lavender on your temples, or even drinking lavender tea can all help relieve your headache.
- Rosemary: Rosemary seem to have some pain-killing and anti-inflammatory properties. Not only has rosemary been used traditionally in this role, but studies are now showing the same.
- Eucalyptus: Eucalyptus oil can help to clear sinuses, so if you have a sinus headache, some eucalyptus oil may help relieve it.
- Chamomile: Chamomile oil can be used to help you relax, but you can also drink some chamomile tea to have the same effect.
Cold or Hot Compresses
A cold pack (or cold compress) for up to 30 minutes can significantly reduce the severity of a headache — even of a migraine.
Sometimes moving to a cooler room or sitting with a fan for a little while can also make a world of difference.
For a tension headache, however, a warm compress may help relax your muscles. You can even just use a hot towel (soaked in hot water — but not boiling water! — and wrung out).
A tepid bath or warm shower may also help relieve the tension in your muscles.
A Dark Room
Many people with headaches — especially when it comes to migraines — suffer from light sensitivity when a headache strikes. In cases like that, the first step you should take is to move to a darkened room (or put a sleeping mask on that will block out any light — just make sure it’s not too tight).
You can keep a lavender pillow on your bed as well while you are lying down to soothe and relax you further.
Anti-glare screens on your devices can also help diminish glare from screens that may trigger a headache. If you wear glasses, be sure to have anti-glare coatings added to the lenses. This will also help get rid of much of the glare from computer and other screens.
Get Some Exercise
Don’t go all out with a full body workout, but some movement may help relieve some headaches.
You may want to try yoga, stretching exercises or even just walking. Yoga may even relieve chronic headaches.
If you find yourself at work with a headache, try walking around the office or up and down some stairs. Of course, if your office environment permits, you can also walk a bit outside. Just be sure to wear sunglasses to shield your eyes from too much light.
You may find that you get a headache from getting too little sleep or from not keeping a healthy sleep routine. In these cases, getting some proper sleep should do the trick of getting rid of the headache.
You may also find that tension headaches respond to sleep as the muscles relax.
Loosen up Your Clothing
If your hair is fastened too tightly, you’re wearing a hat or beanie that is a bit too snug, or perhaps wearing a headband that is pressing too hard on your scalp, you could develop a headache because of it.
Usually headaches like these respond well to your hair simply being let down or your hat removed.
If you are wearing very tight clothing and are uncomfortable or tense, you may also find that you develop a headache because of it. Try to loosen your clothing, remove your jacket, etc.
Drinking a cup of tea or coffee that contains caffeine may help relieve your headache as well. The caffeine, in some cases, even helps OTC pain medications work better. Speak to your pharmacist if you’re unsure about mixing caffeine and your medication.
Keep in mind, though, that if you drink a lot of coffee or tea and you suddenly stop or drink less of it, you may experience a caffeine-withdrawal headache. If you get a lot of headaches, you should be very aware of the amount of caffeine you drink.
Avoid Nitrates and Nitrites
Nitrates and nitrites are common food preservatives that are found in foods like hot dogs, sausages and bacon.
Because nitrites may cause blood vessels to expand, you could get a headache from ingesting them.
Look out for nitrate-free products and limit how much processed meat you eat.
While these are only some of the natural remedies that are available, they do work very well as seen in studies and from personal experiences.
- NCBI (Anti-Inflammatory and Antinociceptive Effects of Rosmarinus Officinalis L. Essential Oil in Experimental Animal Models)
- NCBI (Randomized Controlled Trial: Targeted Neck Cooling in the Treatment of the Migraine Patient)
- WebMD (10 Ways to Get Rid of a Headache)
- Healthline (18 Remedies to Get Rid of Headaches Naturally)
- WebMD (What to Drink When You Exercise)
- Medical News Today (Five Effective Essential Oils for Headaches)