Life can get pretty busy and stressful, and the “common” headache is sometimes overlooked or masked with a over the counter painkiller, which works but has long-term side effects. A headache is a good indicator that your body is missing something. Drink some water, take a break and breath, eat a snack or a change in lifestyle is necessary.
Headaches can be triggered by stress, fatigue, allergies, eyestrain, poor posture, alcohol or drugs, low blood sugar, hormones, constipation, and nutritional deficiencies. Your body is telling you that something needs to change, so begin to heed those signals and use these 8 remedies to overcome headaches in a natural and healthy way.
Top 8 Headache Remedies
Magnesium is one of the most successful headache remedies, first of all, because it’s much safer than taking a painkiller. People who suffer from serious headaches, like migraines, often have low levels of magnesium, and several studies suggest that magnesium may reduce the frequency of migraine attacks in people with low levels.
Those prone to low counts of magnesium include people with diabetes, heart disease, alcoholism, as well as those on diuretics for blood pressure.
Magnesium may prevent the wave of brain signaling, called cortical spreading depression, which produces the visual and sensory changes that are common when experiencing a headache, especially a migraine. Magnesium can block the pain-transmitting chemicals in the brain, and it can improve platelet function, which will help your body react to injuries and prevent bleeding.
Taking 200-600 mg of magnesium a day can reduce the frequency of headache attacks. Both oral and intravenous magnesium are widely available, extremely safe and inexpensive. Magnesium can be used safely by women who are pregnant. The most frequent side effect of magnesium is diarrhea, but lowering your dose or taking it less often can eliminate that issue. (1)
To increase your daily magnesium intake, eat more fiber. Dietary sources of magnesium include beans, whole grains, seeds, nuts, and vegetables like broccoli, squash and leafy greens. Dairy products, meats, chocolate and coffee also include decent levels of magnesium.
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2. Avoid headache-inducing substances. Some substances are more likely to cause headaches than others. You can prevent headaches by limiting your intake of these substances:
Nitrates and nitrites. Nitrates and nitrites are found in processed meats and in monosodium glutamate (MSG), which is used to enhance the flavor of some foods. Nitrates can also be found in some heart medicines.
Phenylethylamine, which is found in some chocolate and cheeses.
Tyramine, which is sometimes found in nuts and fermented meats, cheeses, and soy.
Aspartame, an artificial sweetener found in many foods.
Caffeine and alcohol can also trigger headaches in some people.
3. Chiropractic Care & Posture
One of the best things about chiropractic care is that it’s a drug-free and surgery-free path to healing naturally.
Several clinical trials indicate that spinal manipulation therapy may help treat headaches. In one such study, 22 percent of those who received chiropractic manipulation reported more than a 90 percent reduction of headaches; meanwhile, 49 percent reported that the headache intensity was significantly reduced after receiving chiropractic treatment. (5)
Chiropractic adjustments or spinal manipulation helps to alleviate the stress of your system. Studies suggest that chiropractic manipulation reduces tension and migraine headaches. The Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College conducted a study involving 729 subjects, of whom 613 received chiropractic care and their outcomes ranged from good to excellent, indicating that it’s a positive and beneficial headache remedy. (6)
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4. B-Complex Vitamins
Many B vitamins are involved in the formation of neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, which may be deficient in people who suffer from migraines. Sadly, millions of Americans are coming up short on one or more of the B vitamins and this is causing energy slumps, unhealthy blood cell and adrenal effects, foggy thinking, and headache symptoms.
A B-complex vitamin includes a group of eight water-soluble vitamins: thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin B12, biotin and pantothenic acid. Together, these vitamins improve brain cells, circulation, immune function and cardiovascular health.
Studies indicate that while vitamin B2 may reduce the frequency and duration of migraines, vitamin B3 calms vascular headaches by opening up blood vessels to increase blood flow. Try taking one B-complex vitamin a day, as the benefits go beyond headache relief.
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5. Stay Hydrated
Most Americans simply aren’t getting enough water, which in itself can relive headache pain and symptoms. This simple (and free) remedy will keep you feeling full, energized and headache-free.
You can also quench your thirst and stay hydrated with fruits and veggies – some even have a water content that’s over 90 percent. Try adding these nutritious fruits and veggies to your diet in order to stay hydrated throughout the day:
A study done at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery concludes that there is indeed a water-deprivation headache. The study notes that while water deprivation is common and recognized by the public, it’s not described in medical literature. The research indicates that headaches from a lack of water include impaired concentration and irritability, too! (9)
So if you feel a headache coming on, consider your water intake and drink up.
6. Detox Bath to Reduce Tension
A detox isn’t just for cleaning your body, but also for ridding your body of toxins that will make you sick and can be one of the best preventative headache remedies . To bring toxins to the surface of your skin, make the water as hot as you can tolerate; then, as you sit in the cooling water, the toxins will be released.
You can dress up your detox bath to boost its tension-reducing capabilities:
Add a cup of baking soda to hot bath water. Baking soda kills bacteria, leaves your skin clean and smooth, and minimizes skin irritability – making it a handy and inexpensive product.
Add essential oil to your bath water – there are so many surprising essential oil uses and benefits. The soothing, calming, invigorating and cooling qualities of these oils will release any pent-up tension that your body is holding on to. Try lavender, peppermint, lemongrass, frankincense or sandalwood oil.
7. Stretching and Moving
Staying in one position for an extended period of time, like sitting at your desk or computer, can lead to body tension and create headache symptoms.
Plus, let’s face it, many of us spend hours a day hunched over, such as peering at your smartphone. This position, with your head sticking out, puts an extra 20-30 pounds of pressure on your neck!
Doing yoga is a great way to relieve built-up tension. Yoga clears your mind and loosens your muscles – it improves respiration, vitality and muscle strength, and it’s great for the circulatory system. If you feel a headache coming on, try a few yoga poses like the downward facing dog or child’s pose.
A 2012 study done by the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation in Finland measured the results of a stretching program for 60 women. The 12-month program resulted in a 69 percent decrease in headache frequency and symptom intensity. In addition to stretching, the results were even better when participants added muscle endurance and strength training exercises to their routines. (10)
8. Cayenne Muscle Rub
Cayenne pepper can stimulate your body’s circulation and reduce acidity – and it makes for one of the most surprising headache remedies. The capsaicin in cayenne is good for treating pain and inflammation — cayenne depletes the bodily element that makes us feel pain, called substance P, by stimulating a pain response in another area of the body.
When there is less substance P, the pain messages no longer reach the brain, and you feel relief. When applied topically, cayenne has the ability to relieve headache symptoms and relax your muscles. (11)
In the U.S. today, cayenne pepper is mostly used as a spice, but in many societies and parts of the world, it goes far beyond just flavoring food. For Native Americans as well as ancient Chinese, cayenne pepper is consistently used for therapeutic reasons.
Homemade Muscle Rub
Try this homemade muscle rub, it really works! It penetrates deep into the muscles, bringing both a soothing and relaxing sensation. This is one of my favorite things to use after I’ve done my morning high intensity interval training workout, and it’s especially helpful in reducing headache pain and tension.
Total Time: 20-30 minutes
1/2 cup coconut oil
2 teaspoons cayenne powder
2 teaspoons ginger or turmeric powder
15 drops peppermint essential oil
15 drops lavender essential oil
Mix all ingredients in a jar in a saucepan with water over low heat and allow contents to melt.
Stir to combine.
Pour mixture into metal tins or storage containers and allow to set.