Headaches are so common that many people will brush them off. Your boss may roll his eyes if you call in because of a headache, despite how debilitating it may be. Though headaches may be a frequent occurrence that everyone is likely to experience at least once in their lifetime, it doesn't take away how painful they can be. Finding natural headache remedies that work for you will allow you to enjoy life again.
While your gut reaction may be to grab for over-the-counter drugs when you have a headache, it may only perpetuate the problem. You may fix the issue short term, but it is important to get to the root of the problem to prevent it from happening again. Repeatedly taking over-the-counter medication can wreak havoc on your body, so it is best to turn to natural headache remedies when you can.
Common Headache Triggers
There are many things that can trigger your headache. Getting to the root of the issue may help you in the prevention of the next headache. Below are common headache triggers, along with some headache remedies depending on the trigger.
When you feel anxious or stressed, you naturally tense your shoulders and grit your teeth. This tension can trigger debilitating headaches, so take a deep breath and try to relax your muscles.
We live in a time where we are always staring at a screen. The light from your TV, phone or computer can be too much when used repeatedly. Limit the light, or at least turn down the brightness.
When you think of noise triggering a headache, you may think of events that have repetitive loud noises, such as concerts. However, even low volume sounds that are continuous can trigger your headache.
As with most things in life, moderation is key. When you avoid eating when you are hungry, it can cause some pretty painful headaches. If you feel like you are eating a relatively healthy diet and eat when you are hungry then you may have a food sensitivity.
Not Drinking Enough Water
The average person is not hydrating near enough, and this can cause headaches. It may sound like a simple solution, but before you grab for the Tylenol try drinking a tall glass of water.
Have you ever stayed up all night working on a project? You may have had a headache the next day. Lack of sleep isn't the only thing that can trigger a headache, however. Sleeping too much can also be too much of a good thing, giving you a headache. Aim for 7-8 hours each night.
Some medications can have side effects that include headaches. Let your doctor know if you notice that your headaches have increased since taking the medication.
Working Out Too Hard or Not Enough
If you push yourself too hard in the gym, you may overwork your body, causing swelling in your blood vessels in your neck and head. On the other hand, not working out enough can trigger headaches. Again, moderation is key. Talk with your doctor to determine the best workout plan for your body.
If you have ever heard your mom say, "Sit up straight!" then you may know how important posture is. Keep your circulation going by sitting up straight and moving your body throughout the day.
It is common for women to get headaches right before their periods due to the drop in estrogen levels. Do your best to keep track of your period so you can plan ahead.
10 Headache Remedies
There are many natural ways to relieve a headache, even when it seems impossible for it to go away. Below are 10 of the top natural headache remedies.
1. Drink Water
As mentioned before, not drinking enough water can be a big headache trigger. If you haven't been drinking your 8 glasses of water, give chugging water a try before grabbing the medications. Sugary, caffeinated, or alcoholic drinks can dehydrate you and should be avoided as much as possible. Pour a tall glass of water if you feel a headache coming on and continue to sip throughout the day. You should notice it decrease.
2. Cayenne Pepper
Cayenne pepper is a spice known for its anti-inflammatory properties. It contains an ingredient called capsaicin, which inhibits one of our pain preceptors, Substance P. Start by mixing 1/4 TSP into 4oz of water. Soak a cotton swab in the mixture and make sure it covers the pepper that's stuck to the bottom. Apply the swab to each nostril until the pain subsides. It may be a little uncomfortable at first, but you should notice your headache dissipate.
Grab a handful of almonds the next time you have a headache. It contains a pain reliever that is used in many medicines, called salicin. However, if you have migraines, almonds may be a trigger food.
4. Apple Cider Vinegar Compress
You probably already know apple cider vinegar can be used as a natural remedy for an array of issues, and you can add headaches to the list. Pour 1/4 a cup of ACV into a large bowl with 3 cups of boiling water. Drape a towel over your head so that the steam from the bowl hits your face, just make sure not to burn yourself from the steam. Do this for 5-10 minutes.
5. Mint Juice
Mint contains menthol and menthone, which can be effective in relieving headaches. Extract mint juice from mint leaves and apply it to your temples and forehead to treat your headache.
6. Lavender Oil
Just breathing in the scent of lavender oil can help soothe your headache. Place a few drops of lavender oil into a tissue and inhale. Do not take lavender oil orally.
7. Move Your Body
I'm sure moving your body is the last thing you want to do when a headache comes on, but light exercise can loosen up your muscles and relieve your headache pain. You could also do light yoga to stretch out sore muscles that could cause your headache. Exercising and doing yoga regularly could help prevent you from having headaches.
8. Use Your Imagination
Find a peaceful spot to rest your head, close your eyes, and think of something other than the pain you are experiencing. Think of a place that makes you happy, such as an open field or crashing ocean waves. Adding in some soft music can help shift your focus even further. Take deep breaths and be patient as this may take practice.
9. Gently Bite a Pencil
Holding a pencil between your front teeth can almost immediately relieve tension headaches. Doing so activates your smile muscles, which relaxes your jaw. When doing this exercise, make sure that the pencil is gently resting between your teeth.
10. Improve Your Posture
If you have poor posture, you are far from alone. Having an office job where you are hunched over a computer all day can result in less than perfect posture. Sitting up straight can do wonders for your tension headache. Consider getting an ergonomic chair to help with posture throughout the day.
When to Consult a Professional
Sometimes using headache remedies will not be enough to make your headaches go away for good. If that is the case, it may be time to seek professional help.
If a Headache Is Accompanied by Other Symptoms
Headaches can sometimes be a symptom of something serious, such as meningitis or a stroke. If you are experiencing the worst headache you have experienced, or are having one or more of the below symptoms, go to an emergency room or call 911 immediately.
When Your Headaches Have Patterns
If headaches are a normal part of your day, then it may be time to schedule an appointment with your doctor. See your doctor if you experience one or more of the following.
Despite how common headaches can occur, they can be debilitating enough to ruin your entire day. Rather than reaching for over-the-counter drugs, it is better to find the root of the problem and use natural headache remedies to soothe the pain. Headaches can be triggered for many reasons from lifestyle habits to food sensitivities. Many of the triggers give you an idea of what the remedy may be, such as drinking water if your headache is triggered from being dehydrated.
When headaches return despite using natural headache remedies, it never hurts to contact a professional. Sometimes headaches are a symptom of something more serious, such as a stroke. Call an emergency phone number or contact your doctor if you have any doubt.