A headache can be more than just the pain in your skull. Headaches can take a turn for the worse, morphing into migraines which have the ability to really hinder the sufferer. Headaches may also feel like a light pain chipping just away at you, wearing you down slowly. Getting rid of a headache doesn’t always have to be with over the counter medicine. Natural headache remedies can be effective and generally come without the side effects of most pharmaceutical drugs.
Headaches can be caused by almost anything. This includes muscle tension, irritants, sinuses, stress, dehydration, hunger, alcohol intake and changing hormone levels.
It’s impossible to protect yourself from every type of headache but it’s also highly unlikely that you will have every type of headache. What you can do is prepare yourself against the most common types of headaches.
Headaches caused by stress may be among the easiest to dispatch. Triggers could be anything from stress at work, dealing with hard deadlines or an angry boss to stress at school, studying for tests and curriculum changes. Even traffic jams can be a source of stress, especially during rush hour, not to mention the added stress of the relationships with friends and family. Stress is everywhere.
The stress that your body undergoes physically and emotionally can cause muscle contraction around your neck and in your head creating tension headaches also known as chronic non-progressive headaches. Stress can even take this one step further causing constricted blood vessels only to have them expand later resulting in more severe headaches or even migraines.
Your headache may not even be stress related at all. It might be a product of congestion, a sinus headache, or a more serious condition. However, the good news is that it won’t last forever and can be relieved with these natural treatments.
Holistic and quick headache remedies
Rosemary and Thyme Oil
Carvacrol, a COX-II inhibitor, was discovered to be an ingredient in thyme and rosemary oils. It acts like an anti-inflammatory drug and is easy to use for headache relief. Just add a generous drop to each side of your forehead on the temple and gently massage it.
Lavender is useful as a natural headache remedy, including migraine pain. It can be inhaled as a type of steam treatment or it can be applied directly to the skin without needing to be diluted. While it should not be taken orally, you can add up to four drops (at least two drops) for every two or three cups of boiling water. This creates an aromatic, relaxing steam that you can stick your head into. Hang a towel over your head to help trap in more steam.
Basil extract (chewed or a tea form) releases muscle relaxing properties which helps to alleviate headaches. This isn’t the only way to use basil oil. You can also spread it across the chest or above the top lip for the same pain relieving effects.
Magnesium has been shown to play an interesting role with headaches, more specifically migraines. People who are more prone to migraines also are deficient in magnesium during the migraine attack. They usually have a deficiency of this mineral in general. Magnesium deficiency may be indicated by muscle cramps, chronic pain, muscle spasms, facial tics, anxiety, sleep problems, high blood pressure, diabetes, and/or headaches.
To keep the magnesium at a healthy level, you can take supplements or simply eat more foods that are high in magnesium. Foods high in magnesium are boiled spinach, almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds, and bran breakfast cereal. Simply incorporate more of these foods into your diet more often.
Chelated magnesium, slow release magnesium or even magnesium oxide can be used as a supplement to help prevent headaches. But note that magnesium consumption in oral form may increase diarrhea as a result of poor or low magnesium tolerance. There are other delivery methods beside oral, including transdermal magnesium therapy. Simply using magnesium oil or lotion on the skin, or by bathing in magnesium chloride salt. These remedies do not cause the same side effects as taking magnesium supplements by mouth.
Riboflavin, also known as vitamin B2, is crucial to helping prevent the flare up of migraines. One study, recorded at National Institutes of Health, has shown a decrease in a migraine frequency by 50% after a regimen of 400 milligrams for 3 months. There are foods high in riboflavin such as hard cheeses, goat cheese, feta cheese, Brie, and grated parmesan. Thesewill help to stop the start of migraines and reduce them overall.
Other foods you can eat are nuts, such as mixed nuts, cashew, and pistachios. But the nuts that hold the most vitamin B2 are almonds. You can eat lean steaks such as beef or lamb chops. Certain types of oily fish such as salmon, trout, and tuna can give as much as 50 percent of daily value of vitamin B2 per half fillet. Hard boiled eggs, mushrooms, sesame seeds, and spinach are also on the list as providers for vitamin B2.
Ginger has been used in home remedies for centuries including Traditional Chinese Medicine. What makes it a staple for home remedies is its anti-nausea, pain relieving, antimicrobial and anti-inflammation properties. So whether it’s ginger tea, ginger ale, or ginger root, a little bit of ginger does a long way. Taking the ginger at the onset of a headache can sometimes work to lessen the severity of the headache or a migraine and in some cases, even prevent it.
Believe it or not, stress management is effective to providing headache relief and headache prevention. Stress doesn’t have to be an external force such as the school, work, family, or relationships etc. Stress can also mean dehydration, hunger, eye strain, teeth grinding while sleeping, posture, neck tension, and irritants such as smoking and drinking excessively. Allergens like mold, dust or pollen can also attribute to stress.
When it comes to relieving stress, you can help yourself by taking a walk, taking deep breaths, sitting in a dark room as you try to clear your thoughts, or massaging the parts of you that cause headaches. You can also use pressure points as part of your headache natural remedies.
You can press on the webbed area between your index finger and your thumb for about a minute, this will provide relief for your headache. Repeat this on the other hand for a minute as well. For better results, find someone to massage that area on both of your hands at the same time. You can also massage your temples which is another pressure point to use.
Massaging the temples are pretty easy. You may even decide to add a little bit of basil, thyme, or rosemary oil. Adding oil will provide an aroma to help you relax just a little bit more. Start at the temples and rotate slowly, gently, and firmly.
Another pressure point to use is between your big toe and your second toe. For 3 to 5 minutes, press firmly between these two toes.
Last but not least, applying pressure to the space between the eyebrows and just above the bridge of the nose for 3 to 5 minute provides some headache relief. These pressure points may or may not work well enough to complete dispatch a headache. In this case, don’t hesitate to pair them with other remedies such as oils, or tea, and stretching to ensure success.
Reduce Stress and Strain
Walk around and rotate your shoulders to loosen them up. Massage your own neck and face. Use deep breathing from the diaphragm to increase your oxygen intake. Movement can help bring relief to a headache as well. Take time to stretch your muscles, paying attention to your head, neck and shoulders. Doing all these things helps to relief tension and subsequently, tension headaches. You can get greater results by combining stress relieving motion with ginger tea, lavender oil steam treatment, or apples. It is unclear how apples provide headache relief, but it is known that they help with relieving a headache.
Reduce ambient lighting by turning off overhead lights, especially if they are fluorescent lights or by using lamps to provide indirect light. Minimize glare by covering the windows. If you can’t cover the windows to reduce outside light, mount a computer hood. For people who wear glasses, you can purchase lenses that have anti-reflective coating.
If you’re still using a monitor with an old tube-style, get rid of it. Upgrade to an LCD screen because they are easier on the eyes and are usually made to be anti-reflective. They don’t have the noticeable flicker of images like the old-fashioned monitors. This flicker has caused many workers eyestrain and fatigue. Use a large display, at least 19 inches diagonally. A large display in conjunction with a high resolution will help to ensure that your eyes have the least amount of strain possible.
Another thing to be aware of is that people who wear contact lenses generally are more susceptible to eyestrain and dry eyes. To prevent dry eyes, remember to blink more often and consider investing in a pair of contact lenses. Contact lenses with silicone hydrogel added boosts and helps combat dry eyes.
One of the exercises you can do to help relax your eyes is looking away from your computer about every 20 minutes. When you look away, look at a distant object that is at least 20 feet away and look for at least 20 seconds. When you look into the distance, it helps to relax the muscle that focuses inside the eye. This reduces fatigue.
When it comes to posture, you want your arms to be parallel to the spine and your hands to rest easily on the work surface. Your elbows and your legs should bend at a 90 degree angle. This is considered the ideal sitting posture. Any higher or lower can cause your ankles to swell up to 8%. In the event that you are too short for your legs to reach a 90 degree angle, use a footstool to prop your feet on and rest at the same time.
Make sure that your chair has a good back support. Avoid sitting on the edge of your chair because this almost always leads to slouching. Instead, put your bottom fully in the chair against the back. When you look at your screen, the top of the monitor should be level with your eyes. To achieve this, you may need to put a stack of books underneath your laptop to raise the screen up so that is acceptable. In this way, you can help alleviate neck strain.
As mentioned earlier, most headaches are stress induced and not all of them are external. If you aren’t drinking enough water throughout the day, then it’s quite possible that this is the cause of your headache. Drink a glass of water at the onset of a headache and continue to take small sips periodically. Not any ole’ drink will do, but you can drink sports drinks. They have electrolytes which helps to restore the imbalance in the body that causes headaches. What you really want to stay away from are alcoholic drinks that further dehydrate the body.
Cold compress like an ice pack or a cool rag will help to reduce headaches. You can even add a bit of oil to it and press it on your forehead. Cold compresses will help with the pain due to the shrinkage of blood vessels. This helps to improve circulation and it also helps to relieve headaches as result of stress or sinus problems.
Now when it comes to the neck, you may want to use a hot compress instead because the heat helps the muscles to relax, resulting in the eradication of your headache. All you need to do is rest the warm compress on your neck. You can also take a hot shower and massage the neck while you’re standing under the hot water.
Lemon is effective in treating headaches because it helps balance out the acid-alkaline in the body. Simply mix lemon juice with water and honey. Or you can add a lemon juice into a ginger tea to get double the pain relieving power.
For the powerful headaches known as cluster headaches, the onset of headaches may be so debilitating that you barely have time to recover before experiencing your next one. Cluster headaches are headaches that occur several days at a time over a period of weeks. The pain may also be accompanied by a runny nose or fever. One thing that you can do to help you combat this type of headache is utilize the active ingredient in cayenne pepper.
Believe it or not, cayenne pepper has a built-in pain relieving ingredient called capsaicin. If you wish to use cayenne pepper, add about a fourth of a teaspoon to half a cup of water. Stir up this mixture using a cotton swab and make sure that the cotton swab gets completely covered in the mixture. Dab this inside of each nostril until you begin to feel the flaming power of the cayenne pepper. You will experience a burning sensation; however, that is a sign that the cayenne pepper is working. When that pain dulls down, your headache will either be wiped out or, if nothing else, less severe.
Capsaicin cream also has the same active ingredient as cayenne pepper. Apply a small amount of this lotion inside the nostril on the side where you are experiencing the pain The cream will help to block out the pain signals. Capsaicin cream can be purchased in a regular health food store for about $11.
Almonds can really come in handy when it comes to getting rid of the painful headache. This is due to a pain relieving ingredient naturally contained within almonds called salicin. When you start to notice a headache beginning to take root, try eating 1 to 2 handfuls of almonds. It will usually knock the headache right out. Be advised, though, that almonds may actually trigger more severe symptoms in people prone to migraines.
Fish oils contain omega-3 fatty acids which helps to reduce migraines and the pain accompanied with headaches. Not only this, the fish oil also aids in the reduction of blood clotting, lower blood pressure, and inflammation. Those extra added bonuses reduce the headache pain. Take fish oil supplements or add a tablespoon or so to a glass of orange juice and drink it.
When you have a tension headache, one way to make it go away is to hold a pencil between your teeth. Now this doesn’t mean that you bite down or clench your jaw. The action of having the pencil between the teeth forces your smile muscles to activate even if it is manually. This action helps to relax your jaw by stretching out certain muscles in the face. During the times when you clench your teeth, because of the strain on the muscles between the jaw and the temples, a tension headache is born. The opposite action, smiling, relieves that stress and the headache.
For the majority of the time, the best headache remedies are routine maintenance of your body. If you’re hungry, eat. If you’re thirsty, drink. Stay away from irritants such as mold, allergens, smoke and alcohol. Incorporating a few new foods or healthier foods can help restore your balance. It never hurts to get a neck and face message (even if you do it yourself) or to soak in bath salts after a hard day’s work. In this day and age, the word ‘productive’ gives less and less credit and that alone can make you feel as though you have to constantly be on the go. Take time to take care of yourself.