Headaches are an unwelcoming presence and often intensify in pain for hours on end developing into a migraine. Migraine attacks triggered by a variety of internal and environmental factors including: odors, changes in sleep habits, light intensity, eye/muscle strain, hydration, and of course, stress. A headache could be a signal your body is lacking or getting too much something. However, taking a common over the counter pain reliever can relieve the pain, but can cause later serious health problems when overused over the years. Instead, try these natural remedies the next time you have a headache.
Peppermint and Lavender Essential Oil
My personal use of peppermint and lavender oil for relieving headaches has helped so much! Peppermint oil when used topically provides a cooling sensation on the skin. Peppermint oil stimulates a significant increase in skin blood flow while soothing muscle contraction. Lavender oil contains components that stabilize mood. One study suggests that the inhalation of lavender essential oil may be an effective and safe treatment for the acute migraine symptoms after inhaling for 15 mins (1) To use both peppermint and lavender essential oils by dropping a few drops into the palms of your hands and then rub on your temples, back of your neck, and forehead. If you like to take baths, add drops of these essential oils to bath water to help relieve the pain.
The feverfew plant is native to Asia minor and the Balkans, but is now more common throughout the world. They resemble the appearance of daisies. This herb contains natural tension-easing substances within its leaves. The leaves are dried for medicinal use, but can also be found fresh or freeze-dried. You can purchase feverfew products as capsules, tablets, and liquid extracts. According to a study on the Cochrane Database Review, feverfew reduced migraine frequency by little more than half a migraine per month in participants of a study compared to a placebo (2).
This remedy is one of my own (or a friend’s I should say). I have a friend who is from Italy. While he was growing up, he would suffer from headaches. His mother would wrap a folded extra large bandana or cloth around his forehead, wrapping it around his entire head, then tying the bandana to the back of his head to achieve an “squeezing” sensation. When I was suffering from a headache, I did this technique, and it helped reduce my headache pain in half.
Acupuncture originated in China and it is now used in many countries to treat people with migraines. Acupuncture is a therapy where thin needles are inserted into the skin at particular points. A recent study suggests that a course of acupuncture consisting of at least six treatment sessions can be a valuable option for people with migraine. The study found if people have six days with migraine per month on average before starting treatment, this would be reduced to five days in people receiving only usual care, to four days in those receiving fake acupuncture or a prophylactic drug, and to three and a half days in those receiving true acupuncture (3).
Staying in one position for a lengthy amount of time can cause tense muscles, creating a headache. Sitting at a desk at work or using our smart phones can create extra pressure on your neck amounting to a surplus 20-30 pounds! Moving your head and neck in a circular motion every hour to help stretch those muscles can help prevent headaches from developing. If you’re into yoga try doing some chair yoga stretches.
Drink Plenty of Water!
Alcohol, coffee, tea, and sugary drinks have dehydrating properties. A symptom of dehydration is a headache. I personally drink a large glass of water when I feel a headache coming on and it goes away shortly after. Aim for drinking 8-9 cups of water per day as a goal to stay hydrated and headache-free.