Various types of headaches exist, with tension headaches being the most common. Cluster headaches are painful and happen in groups or “clusters,” while migraines are a moderate-to-severe type of headache.
Headaches are just common condition that many people deal with on a daily basis.
Ranging from uncomfortable to downright unbearable, they can disrupt your day-to-day life.
Although many medications are targeted at relieving headache symptoms, a number of effective, natural treatments also exist.
Here are 10 effective simple home remedies to get rid of headaches.
1. Drink Water
Inadequate hydration may lead you to develop a headache.
In fact, studies have demonstrated that chronic dehydration is a common cause of tension headaches and migraines (1).
Thankfully, drinking water has been shown to relieve headache symptoms in most dehydrated individuals within 30 minutes to three hours (2).
What’s more, being dehydrated can impair concentration and cause irritability, making your symptoms seem even worse.
To help avoid dehydration headaches, focus on drinking enough water throughout the day and eating water-rich foods.
2. Get Adequate Sleep
Sleep deprivation can be detrimental to your health in many ways, and may even cause headaches in some people.
For example, one study compared headache frequency and severity in those who got less than six hours of sleep per night and those who slept longer. It found that those who got less sleep had more frequent and severe headaches
However, getting too much sleep has also been shown to trigger headaches, making getting the right amount of rest important for those looking for natural headache prevention
For maximum benefits, aim for the “sweet spot” of seven to nine hours of sleep per night
3. 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.
4. Drink Caffeinated Tea or Coffee
Sipping on beverages that contain caffeine, such as tea or coffee, may provide relief when you are experiencing a headache.
Caffeine improves mood, increases alertness and constricts blood vessels, all of which can have a positive effect on headache symptoms (31).
It also helps increase the effectiveness of common medications used to treat headaches, such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen (32).
However, caffeine withdrawal has also been shown to cause headaches if a person regularly consumes large amounts of caffeine and suddenly stops.
Therefore, people who get frequent headaches should be mindful of their caffeine intake (33).
5. Try Acupuncture
Acupuncture is a technique of Traditional Chinese medicine that involves inserting thin needles into the skin to stimulate specific points on the body.
This practice has been linked to a reduction in headache symptoms in many studies.
A review of 22 studies including more than 4,400 people found that acupuncture was as effective as common migraine medications.
Another study found that acupuncture was more effective and safer than topiramate, an anticonvulsant drug used to treat chronic migraines.
If you’re looking for a natural way to treat chronic headaches, acupuncture may be a worthwhile choice.
6. Relax with Yoga
Practicing yoga is an excellent way to relieve stress, increase flexibility, decrease pain and improve your overall quality of life.
Taking up yoga may even help reduce the intensity and frequency of your headaches.
One study investigated the effects of yoga therapy on 60 people with chronic migraines. Headache frequency and intensity were reduced more in those receiving both yoga therapy and conventional care, compared to those receiving conventional care alone.
Another study found that people who practiced yoga for three months had a significant reduction in headache frequency, severity and associated symptoms, compared to those who did not practice yoga.
7. Avoid Strong Smells
Strong odors like those from perfumes and cleaning products can cause certain individuals to develop headaches.
A study that involved 400 people who experienced either migraine or tension headaches found that strong odors, especially perfumes, often triggered headaches.
This hypersensitivity to odors is called osmophobia and common in those with chronic migraines.
If you think you may be sensitive to smells, avoiding perfumes, cigarette smoke and strongly scented foods may help decrease your chance of getting a migraine.
8. Sip Some Ginger Tea
Ginger root contains many beneficial compounds, including antioxidants and anti-inflammatory substances.
One study in 100 people with chronic migraines found that 250 mg of ginger powder was as effective as the conventional headache medication sumatriptan at reducing migraine pain.
What’s more, ginger helps reduce nausea and vomiting, common symptoms associated with severe headaches.
You can take ginger powder in capsule form or make a powerful tea with fresh ginger root.
9. Get Some Exercise
A few simple exercises to stretch your head and neck can help reduce the intensity of the headache. Move your chin upwards and downwards, left and right, and bend your neck sideways towards each shoulder. You can also try to slowly rotate the neck in clockwise and anticlockwise directions to help the shoulder and neck muscles relax. So when a headache looms, you know what to do.
10. Soothe Pain with a Cold Compress
Using a cold compress may help reduce your headache symptoms.
Applying cold or frozen compresses to the neck or head area decreases inflammation, slows nerve conduction and constricts blood vessels, all of which help reduce headache pain.
In one study in 28 women, applying a cold gel pack to the head significantly reduced migraine pain
To make a cold compress, fill a waterproof bag with ice and wrap it in a soft towel. Apply the compress to the back of the neck, head or temples for headache relief.
“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.”