Headaches are one of the most common medical complaints in the U.S., and they affect every kind of person. Luckily, there are various natural remedies for headaches that can help.

What causes headaches?

Headaches can be caused by many things, including stress, illness, or dehydration.

They range from mild to debilitating and come in many forms, including tension headaches, sinus headaches, and migraines.

Because they’re so common, people tend to look toward over-the-counter painkillers as their go-to remedy, but there are plenty of natural remedies that you should try before reaching for your medicine cabinet.

Besides, pharmaceutical medications often cause numerous side effects, including dependency.

15 natural remedies for headaches:

So next time you’re suffering from the pain of a migraine or sinus headache, try these 10 natural remedies for headaches that actually work!

1. Peppermint

Pepper mint in vegetable garden

Peppermint has long been used as a natural remedy for headaches. The menthol in peppermint can help to soothe and relax the muscles in the head and neck.

It can also help to improve circulation and reduce inflammation. Peppermint can be consumed in a variety of ways, including as a tea, capsule, or essential oil.

Peppermint oil has been shown to help with tension-type and migraine headaches. Add two drops of peppermint oil to a carrier oil like olive or almond, and massage the area around your temples.

If your headache is located at the back of your neck, mix two drops in a small amount of water and use as a compress.

To reduce pain in general, diffuse peppermint essential oil, place 2-3 drops on a tissue or add it to carrier oils such as coconut or jojoba and apply where you’re feeling pain.

Other essential oils you can use include eucalyptus oils, peppermint, and lavender.

2. Ginger

Ginger has been shown to be as effective as acetaminophen in relieving the pain of a mild headache. This is because ginger reduces inflammation and soothes muscle tension.

You can use this remedy any time of day, but it is most effective when taken within twenty minutes of the onset of a headache.

You can consume ginger in different ways, including fresh, powdered, or essential oil.

To make ginger tea, simply add freshly sliced ginger root to boiling water and steep for about five minutes. Add honey or lemon if desired. Some people also find that inhaling the fumes from the ginger root can help to relieve a headache.

One study found that taking ginger powder was able to reduce the intensity of headaches by nearly 50%. Another study found that taking ginger oil was effective in reducing the duration of headaches.

There is also some evidence to suggest that ginger may be more effective in relieving tension headaches than migraine headaches.

3. Chamomile

two cups of chamomile tea with chamomile flour on top, on wood with teapot in the background

Chamomile tea is a popular natural remedy for sleep and headaches. It has been used for centuries to treat various health conditions, including headaches.

Many people find relief from tension-related pain when they add a cup of chamomile tea to their routine. Chamomile is often used as a relaxant, which can help soothe nerves, ease anxiety and reduce stress-induced inflammation in the body.

Research has shown that an infusion made with chamomile flowers or leaves can lead to reduced migraine pain, promote sleep and decrease muscle spasms.

One study even found a link between the herb and improved asthma symptoms. To brew your own pot of soothing chamomile tea, simply steep two teaspoons of dried flowers in hot water for 10 minutes. Then enjoy.

Chamomile tea is generally safe for most people to consume. However, some people may experience allergic reactions to chamomile. If you experience any allergic symptoms, discontinue your use.

4. Ginkgo biloba

This is a popular natural remedy for headaches. This herb has been used for centuries to treat a variety of ailments.

Ginkgo biloba is thought to improve circulation and increase blood flow to the brain. This can help to relieve headaches caused by tension or stress.

Ginkgo biloba is available in supplements, capsules, and teas. It can also be found in some topical products.

Some people may experience side effects from taking ginkgo biloba, such as stomach upset, dizziness, or nausea. If you experience any of these side effects, consider decreasing the dose.

5. Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a popular natural remedy for headaches. This treatment involves placing thin needles into the skin at specific points on the body.

Studies have shown that there are many benefits of acupuncture, including an increase in serotonin and endorphins to help manage pain, reduce stress and anxiety, and balance the body’s nervous system.

A session can help ease tension in the head and neck area and release built-up energy on both ends of the stimulated meridian points.

There is some scientific evidence to support the use of acupuncture for headaches. A review of studies found that acupuncture can be an effective treatment for tension headaches and migraines.

However, some people report little or no relief from their headaches after one treatment. It is worth trying out a few sessions before deciding whether or not acupuncture is right for you.

If you are interested in trying acupuncture for your headaches, make sure to see a licensed practitioner. Acupuncture should only be performed by a trained and certified professional.

6. Apply a cold compress

young woman with headache lying in bed with cold compress on head

One of the best natural remedies for headaches is putting a cold compress on the forehead. This will help numb the pain and reduce inflammation. You can use a cold compress or a damp cloth.

Leave the compress on for around 15 minutes, then take a break for a few minutes before repeating. Do this several times throughout the day as needed.

7. Take a warm bath

Taking a hot bath is another effective natural remedy for a headache. The warmth of the water helps to relax the muscles in the head and neck, which can help to relieve tension headaches.

The heat can also help increase blood flow, which can reduce congestion and pressure in the head.

Adding some soothing aromatherapy oil like lavender oil to the bath can also help reduce stress and tension.

8. Valerian root

Valerian root is another popular natural remedy for headaches. This herb has been used for centuries to treat headaches and other ailments.

Valerian root reduces stress and anxiety, which can help relieve headaches. It can also help improve sleep quality, which can further reduce stress levels. 

This root is generally considered safe, but it can cause some side effects, such as dizziness or drowsiness.

If you are on any medication or have an underlying medical condition,  it’s best to check with a doctor before using valerian root for headaches.

Valerian root can be taken as a tea, a supplement, or a tincture.

9. Drink water

hand holding glass pouring fresh water at kitchen faucet

Dehydration is a common cause of headaches, so drinking water can help to relieve pain. It is important to drink small amounts of water regularly throughout the day, rather than large amounts all at once.

Drinking eight glasses of water per day is a good rule of thumb. If you are suffering from a headache, try drinking some water and see if it helps.

You may also want to try other natural remedies, such as taking a hot shower or using a cold compress.

10. Massage

Massage can help relieve head and neck tension, which can often lead to headaches. If you have a headache, try massaging your temples, forehead, and neck. You can also ask someone else to give you a massage.

You can combine it with aromatherapy for quick results. Aromatherapy involves using essential oils to relieve pain and tension.

Peppermint oil is particularly effective for headaches. Simply inhale the scent of the oil or apply it to your temples and forehead.

11. Get enough sleep

You might think skipping a few hours of shut-eye won’t do much harm, but your body needs this time to process all the stressful things that happened throughout the day.

Skipping out on sleep will increase your stress levels and put you at a higher risk of getting a headache in the first place.

As well as reducing how often you experience a headache, getting enough sleep can also help to make your current headaches less severe and more manageable.

Getting adequate sleep can also greatly affect other aspects of your life. Studies show that people who are sleep deprived have an increased risk for heart disease and diabetes.

In addition, lack of sleep has been linked to anxiety and depression. So it’s important to prioritize getting a good night’s rest!

12. Meditate when stressed

Meditation is a simple but effective natural remedy for headaches, especially stress-related ones. When you meditate, you focus your attention on your breath and let go of all other thoughts.

This can help to alleviate the headache by relaxing the mind and body. Stress can be a huge contributor to headaches because of its effect on our sympathetic nervous system, that portion of our nervous system which controls the fight-or-flight response.

When we are under stress, it triggers a reaction in our bodies where we become tense and ready to fight or flee.

This causes us to release certain hormones such as adrenaline, noradrenaline, cortisol, and insulin into our bloodstream. These hormones can cause muscle tension resulting in pain.

Meditation helps us learn how to relax the mind and body when under stress, which allows our systems naturally balance themselves out again.

13. Try not to chew

Chewing gum can actually worsen a headache by causing the jaw muscles to tense up. If you’re already suffering from a headache, skip the gum and save yourself some pain.

Chewing causes more pain because it increases pressure on the muscles and nerves in your jaw.

14. Dim the lights

Headaches can often be aggravated by bright light, so reducing the amount of light in your environment can help reduce the intensity of your headache.

If you don’t have access to dimmer switches, simply closing the blinds or wearing sunglasses can help achieve the same effect.

15. Avoid alcohol

Alcohol causes dehydration, which in turn leads to headaches. If you drink heavily on a regular basis, it’s best to cut back on your intake to prevent frequent hangovers and subsequent headaches.

You can also try to avoid alcohol when you’re prone to getting a headache. For example, if you know there will be stressful situations at work this week, try skipping any celebratory drinks over the weekend.

If possible, eat healthy food and avoid heavy meals when experiencing a headache.

Should I go to the doctor for my headache?

If you have tried these natural remedies and your headache does not improve or worsens, it is important to see a doctor.

They can determine the cause of your headache and recommend the best course of treatment.

Also, if you have never had a headache before, it is a good idea to see a doctor to rule out any underlying medical conditions.

In addition, if you are taking any medications, it is important to talk to your doctor about the possibility of headaches as a side effect.

Final thoughts on natural remedies for headaches

Frequent and intense headaches are frustrating and difficult to cope with. But more than the pain, they can be a sign of an underlying health condition that needs to be investigated and treated appropriately.

That being said, if you’re suffering from frequent but light headaches, there are natural remedies that can help.

Some of these remedies include taking a relaxing bath, applying a cold compress to the forehead, or massaging the temples.

Drinking plenty of fluids and getting adequate rest can also help reduce the pain. In some cases, headaches can be caused by dehydration or lack of sleep.

Therefore, it is important to ensure that you are drinking enough water and getting enough rest if you suffer from a headache.

There are also several essential oils that can be used to relieve headaches naturally. Peppermint, lavender, and eucalyptus oil are all known to have soothing properties.

Finally, engaging in various practices such as meditation, getting some acupuncture from a professional, massaging your temples, forehead, and neck, and avoiding chewing, especially when experiencing a headache, can also help. 

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