9 Surprising, Natural Headache Cures That Work

9 Surprising, Natural Headache Cures That Work

Smart, science-backed, and all-natural ways to alleviate headache pain.

By: Maressa Brown

Blame seasonal allergies or stress, but we all suffer from the common headache on occasion. And while it’s easy enough to pop a pain reliever, you can also get rid of the discomfort with a plethora of natural therapies. Here, nine of the most popular and effective headache cures. (You may want to check with your doctor before trying any of these remedies.)

1. Take a whiff of peppermint essential oil: Tension headaches are often caused by poor blood flow, and peppermint oil has vasoconstricting and vasodilating properties to help open and close vessels to promote healthy flow. What’s more, if your headache is the result of a stuffy nose, peppermint is a smart choice. It can open up your sinuses and allow more oxygen into the blood stream.

2. Add basil to your cooking: Like peppermint oil, basil is recommended for tension headaches. That’s because it works as a muscle relaxant. For the desired effect, sniff the essential oil of the aromatic herb or incorporate into dinner (think pesto or sprinkle it into sauce or soup!).

3. Give yourself a massage: Rubbing your temples may be instinctual when your head hurts, but massaging another spot may actually work to make the headache go away. Researchers in Brazil found that massaging the greater occipital nerve -- the area in the back of the head, right under your skull -- reduces the intensity of migraine pain.

4. Take feverfew: If you suffer from frequent migraines, you may want to consider supplementing with this herb. A major study in the UK showed that 70 percent of participants had less migraine pain after taking two to three fresh leaves of the herb daily. Other research shows taking dried leaf capsules of feverfew every day may reduce the number of migraines chronic sufferers face.

5. Strike a yoga pose: Not only does it help you stretch and calm, but getting your downward dog on can also help with headaches! A small study found migraine patients who were also yoga participants had less frequent and painful attacks, as well as less anxiety, than patients who relied on self-care instead.

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6. Try fish oil: Not only is omega-3-rich fish oil good for heart and brain health, but it may help you treat migraine pain. In a small study done at the University of Cincinnati, 9 of the 15 subjects showed reduction in the frequency and severity of migraine attacks while taking fish oil. There was also a 40 to 50 percent reduction in the headache scores (derived from frequency and severity).


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7. Drink more water: The reason for your pain may be dehydration, so upping your water intake may help. According to a study published in the journal Headache, subjects who drank an average of 500 mL (a little more than 2 cups) of water relieved their migraines within 30 minutes.

8. Give acupuncture a shot: For frequent headaches, acupuncture can help, says a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. Almost 500 subjects in the study received traditional Chinese acupuncture or a sham treatment. At the end of the four-week study, everyone -- even those in the sham group -- reported 50 percent fewer days with migraines.

9. Get aerobic exercise: Moving your body is beneficial for many reasons, including for relieving headaches, according to research published in the journal Headache. Migraine patients who were not already regular exercisers joined a 12-week indoor cycling program. As a result, they improved their quality of life and reduced the number of migraines they had, as well as the intensity of the pain.

Which of these have worked for you?

Maressa Brown is a senior staff writer for The Stir. She loves writing about and reading up on health/fitness, relationships, and pop culture -- preferably on a beach somewhere.

Image ©iStock.com/brown54486

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