Seven Natural Ways To Relieve Headache Pain
Headaches can strike at anytime and for seemingly any reason. Below are seven easy and natural ways to prevent and relieve nagging headaches.
By Lynell Ross, Certified Health and Wellness Coach
If you suffer from headaches and migraines, you understand all too well the associated pain and often accompanying symptoms of nausea, digestive issues, light sensitivity, neck stiffness, sharp pain and throbbing head. Headaches can take many forms—you can wake up with a splitting migraine; tension headaches can appear without warning; or dull headaches can slowly build after a long day of dealing with stress and looking at a computer screen. No matter which type of headache you deal with, there may be natural ways to treat your symptoms.
If you are a long-time migraine and headache sufferer and prefer not to resort to prescription medications, you many want to test the following natural remedies for yourself before, or in conjunction with, over the counter medicines. Of course, you should always consult your doctor regarding about treatment options if your headaches and migraines are persistent.
1. Hydrate Properly
Drinking enough water is crucial to stave off migraines and headaches. Most people do not understand how easy it is to become dehydrated. The average person needs at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day, and may need more depending on their size, their local heat and humidity, the amount of exercise they get and the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables they consume. If you are in a humid area, out in the sun, or exercise vigorously, you will need more water to replenish what you sweat out. Tea, coffee and alcoholic beverages are also dehydrating, so you need to drink a cup of water for every alcoholic or caffeinated beverage you take in. Dehydration is a major cause of headaches. These types of headaches can occur after sweating when the body loses essential fluids and is dehydrated. The brain can temporarily contract from fluid loss causing the brain to pull away from the skull resulting in pain and a dehydration headache. Hydrate with 16 to 32 ounces of water right away.
2. Take A Break in a Quiet, Dark Space
Instead of pushing through the pain, the quicker you take a break from whatever you are doing and sit or lay down in a quiet, dark place, the better your chances of feeling better faster. Stress, anxiety and nervousness can raise blood pressure which can cause a pounding headache. Taking a few minutes or longer to calm down and recline in quiet reduces pressure and calms our nervous system, often bringing headache relief. If you are prone to migraines, use anti-glare computer screens and daylight bulbs rather than standard fluorescent. Wear sunglasses outdoors, and allow yourself to relax and take the pressure off.
3. Use Ginger
Ginger helps ease nausea. You can make your own ginger tea, or take a supplement. Studies have found that ginger can ease pain for people with migraines, similar to how it has eased nausea symptoms for generations.
4. Reduce Pain with a Cold or Hot Compress
Use a cold compress on your forehead or the back of your neck. Typically, about 15 minutes is needed for the cold pack, with an additional 15 minutes of rest to reduce pain. For a sinus headache, try a warm shower, or apply a warm cloth to the area that aches.
5. Peppermint Oil May Open Airways and Nasal Passages
Breathing peppermint essential oil has been shown to relieve sinus and tension headaches. Used with another carrier oil such as almond oil or fractionated coconut oil, rub a drop or two onto the back of your neck or temples. Be sure not to get the peppermint oil in your eyes. Wash your hands after applying. Always make sure you are using 100% natural peppermint essential oil.
6. Maintain a Better Sleep Schedule
People don’t often equate lack of sleep with headaches, but getting too little sleep can be a factor in headache pain. In a large study of migraine sufferers, half said sleep disturbances contributed to their headaches. And those who slept only six hours a night on average had more frequent and more severe headaches than those who slept longer.
7. Make Good Nutrition a Priority
What we eat, or don’t eat, can play a key role in triggering headaches and migraines. There are many foods thought to trigger migraines, such as MSG, aged cheeses, red wine, canned soups, dried fruits, artificial sweeteners and nitrates (found in hot dogs, sausage, bacon, lunch meats, pepperoni and soy sauce). Watch out for these foods and other chemicals such as sulfites, tannins, tyramine, aspartate, and salicylates.
Headaches can also be caused by skipping meals, eating high sugar foods or dieting, which starves our bodies of nutrients. Delaying meals or eating at irregular meal times can also contribute to headaches due to low glucose levels.
Alternatively, eating a well-balanced diet with vegetables, fruits, low fat proteins and whole gains, helps maintain a nutrient rich diet. When we eat a balanced diet, we get the vitamins and minerals we need to stay healthy. In some cases, studies have shown that vitamin deficiency can lead to migraines and headaches, particularly when lacking in vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin D, Vitamin B6, folic acid, Magnesium, Vitamin B12 and coenzyme Q10.
These seven natural remedies may help to prevent or reduce the effects of headaches and migraines.
Warning Signs of a Stroke
It is vital to understand that a headache may be a sign of a stroke. A stroke can occur at any time. Stokes occur when blood flow to an area of the brain is cut off. Strokes that arise in the carotid artery, a major artery in the neck that brings blood to the brain, may cause a headache in the forehead. A headache with stroke will typically occur with other symptoms including weakness or numbness on one side of the body. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, one sign of stroke is a sudden severe headache with no obvious cause. Also look for sudden confusion and weakness or numbness on one side of the body. A stroke is a medical emergency and prompt medical treatment is crucial. Taking early action can minimize brain damage and potential complications.
Headache Relief Smoothie
One way to get power-packed nutrients quickly is by drinking a smoothie. Before you head off for work or take the kids to school in the morning, whip up a delicious, nutrient dense “power smoothie” and watch your headaches disappear.
Banana Green Berry Booster
1 cup almond milk, oat milk or 1 % milk
1 frozen banana sliced
½ cup frozen berries
1 handful or kale, spinach or use 1 scoop “green powder”
2 Tablespoons flax meal
How these ingredients help your head:
Spinach and kale are rich in magnesium, which can bring headache relief. And as a bonus, researchers have found that people who ate greens such as spinach, kale, swiss chard and other leafy greens over a five-year period have the cognitive abilities of those 11 years younger. Bananas contain potassium, and vitamin B6 which is a headache fighting powerhouse. Flax seeds (ground) and flax meal are considered a “superfood” for being high in anti-oxidants and omega-3 fatty acids. The typical American diet is sadly too high in Omega 6 fatty acids, and low in Omega 3’s, which can cause an imbalance in our systems. Omega 3 fatty acids have been linked to the reduction of cardiovascular disease, inflammation, cancer and cognitive aging. On the flipside, consuming Omega 3’s contributes to better cognitive function, brain health and mental health.
Smoothie Tips: Buy bagged, washed chopped kale and spinach mix and keep it in your freezer. Pull out a handful to drop in your blender. This is the solution for not wasting fresh produce which goes bad quickly. If you are out of your freezer stash of greens, you can keep a canister of green powder in the freezer as well. The benefits of adding a green powder or protein powder to your smoothies are that they alkalize the body, helping restore pH balance, aid in digestive health, boost your energy, exercise performance, repair muscles and are full of antioxidants. Some powders also include green tea, which contains catechins, potent antioxidants. Adding green powder to your smoothie will provide you with additional nutrients that may be difficult to get if you aren’t shopping for and preparing lots of fruits and vegetables consistently.