We all know that headaches are no fun. Usually most people reach for aspirin the moment they feel a headache coming on. However, relying on aspirin or ibuprofen can make you resistant to it and can damage your stomach, especially when used often.
Rather than popping that bottle the next time you feel the pain coming on, opt for a natural home remedy instead. The remedies listed below are effective and safe, and may even work better than your usual remedy.
Ginger is a great anti-inflammatory and can reduce inflammation of the blood vessels, which is often the cause of a headache. You can chew on one or two pieces of crystallized ginger candy or boil some ginger and inhale the vapor.
Menthol is very effective in calming headaches. If you have fresh mint handy, you can extract the juice and apply it directly to your forehead and temples. If all you have is mint tea, enjoy a cup of that and once the tea bags/leaves have cooled, place them on your forehead. Because peppermint oil also contains menthol, it is another good option to soothe a headache.
Use peppermint tea leaves (or mix them with your mint leaves) for a tea and forehead application. You can also combine a few drops of peppermint oil with water and apply it to your forehead, neck, and temples.
The scent of lavender is soothing and lavender oil can help relieve tension headaches. While lavender oil should never be taken orally, you can simply drop some lavender onto a tissue and inhale the scent. You can also combine 2-3 drops of lavender oil with a carrier oil (like olive oil) and massage it onto your forehead and temples.
Something as simple as an ice pack can help relieve headaches because the temperature helps to reduce inflammation. Don’t apply the ice pack directly to your skin, but use a thin towel as a barrier. Apply the cold pack to your forehead and neck as needed. If you don’t have an ice pack, frozen vegetables are a good alternative, or even just a cool, damp cloth.
Rosemary also has anti-inflammatory properties which can help soothe your headache. If you have your own rosemary plant, simply take a couple whiffs of the herb, or turn it into a tea by boiling a handful of rosemary in 2 cups of water, strain, let it cool, and drink up. If you don’t have your own plant, you can simply combine rosemary oil with a carrier oil and apply it to your forehead and neck.
Cloves can be especially effective in treating tension headaches. Simply crush a few cloves and place them in a clean handkerchief (or other thin cloth, or sachet if you have one) and inhale; the smell of the crushed cloves will provide relief for your headache. Similar to other oils mentioned, you can also mix 1-2 drops of clove oil with a carrier oil and apply to head and neck.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Place ¼ cup of apple cider vinegar into a bowl; pour in 2-3 cups of boiling water (fill the bowl about halfway). Place your face over the steaming liquid and keep a towel over your head so that the steam stays in front of you. Steam for about 5-10 minutes, making sure to keep your face a safe distance from the hot liquid. If you don’t have any apple cider vinegar at home, apples are another headache remedy; just munch on one when you feel the headache coming on.
Almonds are an extremely effective natural remedy for headaches, especially tension headaches. Salicin is found in many over-the-counter aspirins, and it also resides naturally in almonds, which makes these nuts so effective for headaches.
It is also important to make sure you are drinking plenty of water. Headaches are most often a result of dehydration. You should be drinking 8-10 cups of water per day, and may need more depending on your weight, activity level, and geographic location. When you do feel a headache coming on, regardless of whichever natural remedy you opt for, start drinking water right away, and plenty of it. Also, try to incorporate more water-dense foods into your diet, such as celery, grapes, and watermelon.
The second most common culprit that results in a headache is environmental or dietary triggers. Many people have a reaction to certain types of food, such as sugar, so it is important to pay attention and notice any possible dietary triggers that may be resulting in your headaches. Allergies to trees, pollen, dander, and more may also be causing your headache.
In addition, sometimes people are just more genetically predisposed to have headaches, especially migraines or cluster headaches. If this is the case for you, always be sure to drink at least 10 glasses of water every day, eat a well-balanced diet, get plenty of exercise, and get plenty of restful sleep to help avoid these awful headaches as much as possible.
Next time you fall victim to a headache, try one of these natural remedies before you reach for the aspirin. You might just find that they work faster and better, not to mention they have no adverse side effects.
Photo credit: Flickr/Andy (Creative Commons)