Oh, my aching head! In a world of traffic jams, tight schedules, and high-speed everything, it’s no wonder we find ourselves popping an occasional pain reliever.
For a bad headache, choose one that contains a combination of aspirin, acetaminophen, and caffeine. (Off-limits…if you have a bleeding disorder, asthma, ulcers, or liver or kidney damage.)
But painkillers are only part of the solution. There’s much more you can do to escape the thump and wallop of a throbbing noggin.
- Home remedies for headaches: give it a good press
- Heat up and cool down
- Try the caffeine cure
- Do something constrictive
- Soothe with scent
- Swallow some throb stoppers
- The power of prevention
- What is a migraine?
- What are the home remedies for migraines?
- What causes a migraine?
- Can I prevent a migraine?
- The Best Migraine Home Remedies, According to Research
- Home remedies that help prevent migraines
- Home remedies that help alleviate migraine pain
- 7. Staying hydrated
- 8. Drinking caffeine
- 9. Trying essential oils
- 10. Using a hot or cold compress
- 11. Avoiding strong smells
- 12. Finding a quiet, dark room
- 13. Listening to migraine music
- 14. Eating ginger
- Using herbs and spices as home remedies for a migraine headache.
- Apple cider vinegar
- Lavender oil
- Home Remedies For Headaches: 10 Natural Ways To Treat Headaches
Home remedies for headaches: give it a good press
• With a firm, circular motion, massage the web of skin between the base of your thumb and your forefinger. Continue massaging for several minutes, then switch hands and repeat until the pain resolves. Acupressure experts call this fleshy area trigger point LIG4 and maintain that it is linked to areas of the brain where headaches originate.
Heat up and cool down
• Believe it or not, soaking your feet in hot water will help your head feel better. By drawing blood to your feet, the hot-water footbath will ease pressure on the blood vessels in your head. For a really bad headache, add a bit of hot mustard powder to the water.
• For a tension headache, place a hot compress on your forehead or the back on your neck. The heat will help relax knotted-up muscles in this area.
• It might sound contradictory, but you can follow up the heat treatment (or substitute it) by applying a cold compress to your forehead. (Put a couple of ice cubes in a washcloth or use a bag of frozen vegetables.) Cold constricts blood vessels, and when they shrink, they stop pressing on sensitive nerves. Since headache pain sometimes originates in nerves in back of your neck, try moving the compress to the muscles at the base of your skull.
• Here’s an alternative to a cold compress: Soak your hands in ice water for as long as you can stand it. While your hands are submerged, repeatedly open and close your fists. This works on the same principle as an ice pack on your head’the cold narrows your dilated blood vessels.
Try the caffeine cure
• Have a cup of strong coffee. Caffeine reduces blood-vessel swelling, and thus can help relieve a headache. This is why caffeine is an ingredient in some extra-strength painkillers like Excedrin. However, if you are already a heavy coffee drinker, skip this. Caffeine withdrawal can cause headaches, creating a vicious cycle.
Do something constrictive
• Tie a bandanna, scarf, or necktie around your forehead, then tighten it just to the point where you can feel pressure all around your head. By reducing the flow of blood to your scalp, this can help relieve the pain caused by swollen blood vessels. You might try soaking the bandanna in vinegar, a traditional headache remedy.
Soothe with scent
• Certain essential oils, especially lavender, can help ease tension and relieve the pain of a headache. Gently massage a bit of lavender oil onto your forehead and temples, then lie back and enjoy the relaxing scent. For maximum relief, slip away to a room that’s cool, dark, and quiet. The longer you can lie there quietly breathing in the aroma, the better.
• In addition to lavender oil, or instead of it,use peppermint oil. The menthol it contains can help dissolve away a headache. Its fragrance at first stimulates, then relaxes, the nerves that cause headache pain.
• If you have a vaporizer, add seven drops lavender oil and three drops peppermint oil, then breathe in the relief. If you don’t, try sprinkling a few drops of peppermint oil on a tissue. Inhale deeply several times.
• Try wringing out two wet peppermint tea bags and place them on your closed eyelids or forehead for five minutes.
Swallow some throb stoppers
• An anti-inflammatory, ginger was traditionally used to treat headaches, and it seems to work. Grind up a half-teaspoon ginger, stir it into a glass of water, and drink this ‘ginger juice.’ Or pour 1 cup hot water over 1 teaspoon freshly ground ginger, let the tea cool a bit, then drink it. Ginger is especially effective against migraines, though how it works is not well understood. Doctors do know that ginger has an effect on prostaglandins, hormone-like substances that contribute to inflammation. Ginger also helps control the nausea that so often accompanies migraines.
• Try drinking a cup of rosemary tea; some people say it helps keep a headache from getting worse. Pour 1 cup boiling water over 1 teaspoon of the dried herb, steep for 10 minutes, strain, and drink.
• At least one grandmother counted on strong black tea with a few bruised whole cloves added. Tea contains caffeine, and cloves have anti-inflammatory properties, so the brew might indeed help a headache.
• Down a large glass of water and see if it helps. Dehydration can cause a headache.
The power of prevention
• If you grind your teeth or clench your jaw-either when you’re awake or asleep-take steps to prevent the problem. You might need to wear a mouth guard at night.
• Eat at regular intervals. There’s evidence that a drop in blood sugar-the result of going too long without eating-can set the stage for headaches.
• At least three days a week, spend 30 minutes walking, cycling, swimming, or doing some other form of aerobic exercise. These exercises are great stress-relievers.
A migraine can be debilitating, but you shouldn’t have to put up with it affecting your daily life – which is why knowing the remedies you can rely on at home could make a huge difference.
For those times when you can’t bear to drag yourself out of the house, we spoke with Dr Farooq Maniyar, Consultant Neurologist at London Bridge Hospital (part of HCA Healthcare UK), who explained the causes and shared the at-home remedies you can try to help fix a migraine:
What is a migraine?
Migraines feel different to each person, but they’re best described as an extreme headache, felt on one side of the head, that can often have other symptoms including sickness.
According to the NHS, there are several types of migraine, including:
- Migraine with aura – where there are specific warning signs just before the migraine begins, such as seeing flashing lights.
- Migraine without aura – the most common type, where the migraine happens without the specific warning signs.
- Migraine aura without headache, also known as silent migraine – where an aura or other migraine symptoms are experienced, but a headache does not develop.
Migraines tend to affect certain people regularly, and painkillers are generally the recommended treatment.
What are the home remedies for migraines?
Sadly, there are no definitive answers as everyone reacts to natural remedies differently. However, you could try:
Lying in a quiet and dark room “Lying in a quiet and dark room definitely helps most migraine patients,” explains Dr Maniyar. “During migraine attacks the brain is hyper responsive to external stimuli. Therefore, the light appears too bright and sounds are too loud and reducing these external stimulations reduces the symptoms. This is strongly recommended during an attack.”
Taking ginger If you’re hoping for a quicker result, ginger is believed to be effective in managing migraine pain. A 2014 study using 100 participants compared the effectiveness of ginger powder with sumatriptan, a common migraine drug. The researchers found the effectiveness of ginger was statistically comparable to sumatriptan.
However, Dr Maniyar says this is unlikely to be hugely helpful. “There is no strong evidence to suggest that taking ginger or any particular food item during migraine attacks helps,” he explains. “What is more important is to maintain good levels of hydration and avoid hypoglycemia i.e. starvation.”
Massage “During migraine attacks, neck pain and stiffness is very common, and this is due to the central communication between the nerves that carry pain sensations from the back of the head and neck and the front of the head,” Dr Maniyar explains. “This can lead to secondary muscle spasm and a gentle massage can help relieve the spasm.”
Drinking plenty of water “As mentioned above, avoiding dehydration and maintaining a good and clear urine output is strongly recommended for migraine,” says Dr Maniyar.
Some believe that essential oils can help you relax and ease tension. Choose a lavender oil and pour a few drops into an electric diffuser, which you can leave running as you rest.
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What causes a migraine?
According to the NHS, the exact cause of a migraine is unknown, although they’re thought to be the result of temporary changes in the chemicals, nerves and blood vessels in the brain.
Causes can vary in different people, but it can be anything from stress and tension to a dietary imbalance or even a period. Lack of sleep, or too much sleep, can also contribute.
“Most patients with migraine have family members with the same problem; therefore, clearly there is a genetic predisposition,” Dr Maniyar tells Prima. “Careful research has shown that migraine attacks are heralded by activations in certain parts of the brain, particularly the hypothalamus and the brainstem that are involved in modulating pain responses in the head, face and neck region.
“In those with the ‘genetic makeup’ of migraine, these changes lead onto migraine attacks. In addition to the hypothalamus and the brainstem, large parts of the brain are involved including the cortex. Therefore it is not surprising that migraine attacks, in addition to headache, are associated with other complaints like sickness i.e. nausea, sensitivity to bright light, loud sound, strong smell and movement.”
Can I prevent a migraine?
“There is no cure for migraine, since the predisposition towards migraine attacks is essentially genetic,” says Dr Maniyar. “However, considering that migraine attacks involve homeostatic mechanisms i.e. mechanisms that are designed to maintain a stable internal environment, certain lifestyle changes can help prevent migraine attacks. There are five such factors:
“Avoiding dehydration and drinking plenty of oral fluids to maintain a good and clear urine output.
“Having small but regular meals throughout the day to avoid significant changes in blood glucose (not missing breakfast is important).
“Avoiding caffeine excess and avoiding any kind of caffeine after 4pm, so that this does not interfere with sleep.
“Practicing a good sleep hygiene.
“Maintaining good work and life balance and employing destressing methods if required like meditation, yoga, mindfulness etc.”
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Abigail Malbon Abbi is a freelance journalist for various magazines and websites.
The Best Migraine Home Remedies, According to Research
One in seven people suffer from migraines—that’s one billion people globally. That would probably lead you to think that there’d be a cure by now. Or, if not a cure, a treatment that works 100% of the time. While we wish that was the case, it’s unfortunately not. And that’s because migraines are so personal, meaning there’s no one treatment plan that works for everyone.
Plus, while pain relief medication can help you during migraine attacks (and preventative treatments can decrease the number of attacks you get), there will still be times when neither work as well as you’d like. But that doesn’t mean you have to suffer. Rather, it means you can turn to home remedies.
Of course, just typing “migraine home remedies” into Google turns up a ton of ideas and it can be hard to figure out which ones are good… and which ones are simply not. That’s why we did the hard work for you and made a solid list of home remedies that are actually proven to work.
Home remedies that help prevent migraines
Here are some of the best preventive home remedies to reduce your migraine frequency (because life would be easier if you weren’t dealing with a severe headache several times a month).
1. Taking Vitamins
Magnesium is a vitamin present in common foods like nuts and leafy greens. Vitamin B2, also known as riboflavin, is found in foods like eggs, dairy, nuts, and fortified cereals. In one study, reports The Migraine Trust, 61.3% of the participants taking B2 had 50% fewer migraines in a three-month period.
Although strenuous exercise can be a trigger for some people, there is also research to show that exercise can help prevent migraines.
An article in the medical journal, Current Pain and Headache Reports, reviewed several studies that found a connection between exercising and reduced migraines.
Interestingly, exercising itself doesn’t actually treat migraines directly—instead, it can help you reduce stress (a migraine trigger). And, as any doctor will tell you, the more you exercise, the healthier you feel.
3. Practicing yoga
Along the same lines, yoga might also be able to help prevent migraines by reducing your stress levels and improving your circulation. Get the full scoop on the benefits here.
4. Doing acupuncture
Acupuncture, a practice in traditional Chinese medicine that involves placing small needles at certain points across your body, may help prevent migraines too, according to a study in the medical journal CMAJ. Another similar option is acupressure. While there’s less research backing up its efficacy, it’s pretty risk-free to try during a migraine attack to see if it helps.
5. Having a consistent sleep routine
The relationship between sleep and migraines is complicated, with both too little and too much sleep sometimes triggering attacks. When it comes to preventing migraines, though, practicing what The Migraine Trust calls “sleep hygiene” can help. Sleep hygiene includes adopting habits like going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day, spending as much time in natural light during the day as possible, and avoiding screens in bed (which, we know, is easier said than done).
6. Avoiding food triggers
This one is obvious, but we had to include it because it’s one of the simplest measures to take. Understanding your triggers (more on that here) will help you to avoid them.
While some triggers might be obvious (loud music), others might be more subtle, such as figuring out which foods can set you off. If you’re having trouble pinpointing one specific thing, it could be because you’re sensitive to histamines or nitrates in foods—and those, unfortunately, show up in a lot of popular foods.
Nitrates, for example, appear in processed foods like hot dogs, bacon, lunch meat, pepperoni, states the Cleveland Clinic. And a study in the American Society for Microbiology found that people who get migraines might not be as good at breaking down nitrates.
On the flip side, eating certain foods might help. The journal Environmental Nutrition points out that diets high in omega-3 and omega-6 (found in healthy fats, like salmon and vegetable oil), and in leafy greens can help with migraines.
Since there are so many possible food triggers, your doctor might suggest you follow an elimination diet to help uncover which foods are triggering your migraines.
Home remedies that help alleviate migraine pain
Preventive treatments typically work better as long-term practices, but what home remedies can you try during an actual migraine attack to relieve your headache pain (besides taking over-the-counter medications)?
7. Staying hydrated
Hydration never hurts. In fact, The New York Times reports on a study that showed drinking more water helps both with the duration and severity of migraine attacks.
8. Drinking caffeine
Caffeine can help stop a migraine after it starts. That’s because it affects blood flow in your brain (and blood flow issue is what causes migraines). It addition, states the National Headache Foundation, it can also make certain pain relief medications more effective,
But, you should know that an article in The Journal of Headache and Pain warns that it’s easy to get too dependent on caffeine, and when that happens, drinking less of it can cause withdrawal headaches.
9. Trying essential oils
Sufferers on a Migraine.com forum report that when they rub peppermint oil into their temples, it can stop a migraine as it’s starting. Others swear by lavender essential oil. While there’s no concrete science behind this, it might be worth a try based on all the anecdotal evidence (assuming, of course, that strong scents won’t trigger headaches for you).
10. Using a hot or cold compress
A piece of advice that people with migraines often pass along to one another: Apply different variations of heat and cold to your body. A common method is to put your feet in hot water or under a heating pad, and put an ice pack around the base of your neck and your temples.
Some people report the exact opposite can be helpful, and swear by heating pads on their neck, warm cloths across their faces, and even standing in hot water in the shower.
The National Headache Foundation recommends being careful with temperature treatments. Leave cold packs on for 15 minutes at a time and take a 15-minute break before reapplying, don’t fall asleep with heating pads on, and make sure showers aren’t so scalding that they burn you.
And, according to National Headache Institute, using cold packs on your head works best for people who get a type of migraine with visual aura symptoms, while heat is more likely to work on other kinds of non-migraine headaches.
11. Avoiding strong smells
Strong smells are a common migraine trigger, and avoiding them once you feel a migraine coming on might be helpful. This sensitivity is known scientifically as “osmophobia.” The American Migraine Association states that strong odors, like perfumes, pungent foods, gasoline, and other chemical smells, can make a migraine attack worse once it’s started.
12. Finding a quiet, dark room
One of the simplest ways to treat your own migraine is probably something you do already, without needing to be told. Since a common symptom of migraines is sensitivity to bright lights and sounds, going into a dark, quiet room to rest can be helpful. Conveniently, you can also put other home remedies to use at that time, say, using cold packs or napping.
13. Listening to migraine music
There’s not much research in reputable journals to prove that music can cure migraines, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth trying. On this Quora thread, migraine sufferers weigh in on the benefits of listening to certain types of music to ease migraines, and in a Reddit forum people with migraines weigh in on the ways high-frequency and low-frequency sounds can affect your brain, and treat migraines. You can pull up free anti-migraine playlists if you want to give it a try.
14. Eating ginger
Ginger is a common home remedy often used to treat upset stomachs, reports Oncology Nurse Education. If you get nausea with your migraines, or if nausea is a side effect of your migraine medication, ginger might help soothe your stomach. You can easily find fresh ginger and ginger tea in the grocery store, or find ginger powder or capsules at a health store.
Finding an effective migraine treatment is all about figuring out what works for you. Often times, by combining prescription medication with home remedies, migraine sufferers are able to find some relief.
The information provided in this article is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely upon the content provided in this article for specific medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor.
Photo by Sabri Tuzcu on Unsplash.
Migraine headaches are painful and at times can hit you at the worst of times when you don’t have the energy to rush to a chemist. Using home remedies for a migraine headache appeals to most people who are seeking a natural way to ease the pain and also those who cannot use painkiller drugs due to various reasons.
Using herbs and spices as home remedies for a migraine headache.
Many of the home remedies for a migraine headache use readily available food herbs and spices to relieve the pain.
A study that appeared in the Phytotherapy Research Journal showed that ginger roots form great home remedies for a migraine headache. It reduces the pain by blocking prostaglandins. This is the same method that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs use to relieve pain.
The best method for using ginger as a home remedy for a migraine headache is to make ginger tea. Peel and slice the ginger into small pieces. Add it to boiling water and simmer for 10 minutes. You can then strain the water and add a squeeze of lemon juice and honey for a better taste.
The soothing and anti-inflammatory properties found in chamomile make it an effective home remedy for a migraine headache.
Chamomile tea is the best way to take chamomile. A variety of chamomile known as the “German chamomile” which is the most popular provides the best relief for migraines.
Add two teaspoons for every cup of water and simmer for 5 minutes. You can add horehound and meadowsweet or lemon juice and honey to taste.
Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar contains numerous health benefits that make it a popular organic remedy. It has been known to regulate blood sugar, promote weight loss, and prevent as well as relieve migraines.
Just add two or three tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to a glass of water and drink it to relieve migraines. You can add a tablespoon of honey to sweeten the taste.
You can also have a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water daily to reap its health benefits and also prevent migraines.
Lavender oil has a sweet scent, and it is also the oil that you should consider including in your home remedies for a migraine headache. Research into the effectiveness of lavender oil in relieving migraines appeared in the European Journal of Neurology.
To use it, add a teaspoon of lavender oil to three cups of boiling water and inhale the vapor for 15 minutes.
You can also mix the lavender oil with peppermint oil and apply externally. You should use the oils to massage your temples to relieve the pain. Combining inhalation with the external application produces the best results.
It is, however, advisable that you don’t ingest the lavender oil since it can cause digestion complications.
Feverfew has been used for years to relieve migraines. Its popularity has grown due to the numerous scientific studies into its effectiveness. Various scientific bodies such as the American Headache Society have also endorsed the herb as a migraine prevention remedy.
Fresh feverfew leaves can be added to boiling water to make feverfew tea. You should add honey to a cup of feverfew tea to improve its taste since the feverfew leaves are bitter.
Feverfew is also available in liquid and tablet form as a herbal supplement.
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Home Remedies For Headaches: 10 Natural Ways To Treat Headaches
Managing Your Headaches
“Headaches are characterised by a feeling of tenseness in the neck, shoulder and scalp whereas migraines are basically pulsating headaches, often on one side of the head. Symptoms actually vary from person to person, and even from one migraine attack to the next,” says Dr. Supriya Bali, Internal Medicine, Max Hospitals.
It is essential that you avoid headache-inducing substances like MSG (monosodium glutamate), excessive caffeine, alcohol, phenylethylamine found in chocolate and cheese, tyramine found in nuts and fermented meats and soy, and aspartame present in many artificially sweetened foods. If you start getting a headache, steer clear of all devices including your phone, laptop and TV. Eat healthy, and at regular intervals since a drop in blood sugar can set the stage for headaches. At least thrice a week, if not more, spend 30 minutes exercising. And always, we mean always, stay hydrated.
1. Ginger, The All-Rounder
Touted as an elixir for headaches, ginger is a home remedy for instant relief. It helps reduce inflammation of the blood vessels in the head, hence easing the pain. And since it stimulates digestion, it also helps quell the nausea which occurs during migraines.
Wondering how to use this miracle ingredient as a home remedy for headache? Steep ginger root for tea, or mix equal parts of ginger juice and lemon juice and drink up. You can consume this once or twice a day. You can also apply a paste of ginger powder and 2 tablespoons water on your forehead for a few minutes to provide quicker relief.
Touted as an elixir for headaches, ginger is a home remedy for instant relief
2. Soothe with Scent
Peppermint Oil: With its refreshing scent, peppermint helps open up clogged blood vessels which cause headache. It contains menthol which helps regulate blood flow in the body. Quietly breathe in the aroma in a cool, dark room. You can also mix 3 drops of peppermint oil in one tablespoon of almond oil, or just add a little water and massage the temples or the back of your neck with it. Alternatively, can apply crushed peppermint leaves on your forehead. Make an herbal tea by adding 1 teaspoon of dried peppermint to a cup of boiling water. Cover and let it steep for 10 minutes. Strain and add some honey to sweeten it. Sip the tea slowly.
Lavender Oil: Not only does lavender have a beautiful fragrance – it’s also a great remedy for alleviating headaches. Simply smelling the soothing scent of lavender essential oil helps, so you can just put a few drops on a tissue and inhale it. You can also add 2 drops of lavender oil to two cups of boiling water and inhale the steam. Another option is to mix two or three drops in one tablespoon of almond oil or olive oil and massage your forehead with it. “You can even draw a foot bath of lavender oil and peppermint, since the hot water draws blood to your feet and the aroma relaxes you”, suggests Dr. Manoj K. Ahuja, Healing Touch Hospital.
Note: Do not take lavender oil orally.
3. Cinnamon Please!
Cinnamon is a miracle spice that is known as one of the effective headache remedies. Wondering how to use it? Here’s help: Grind some cinnamon sticks into a powder, and add some water to make a thick paste. Apply it on your forehead and temples and lie down for 30 minutes. Then wash it off with lukewarm water.
(Also Read: Cinnamon for Weight Loss: Try the Spicy Way to Lose Kilos)