A headache can really ruin your day – and don’t even get me started on migraines.
Headaches can distract us from work or school, they can make us irritable, and they can prevent us from wanting to spend time with family and friends.
Aspirin and other painkillers are effective in treating headaches, but can cause serious side effects if used too frequently.
Keep reading to learn more about what causes headaches and how you can relieve them without painkillers – including home remedies for migraine headaches in adults.
Common type of headaches
There are over a 100 classification of headaches. The most known are migraines, cluster headaches, sinus headaches, and tension headaches.
The most popular headache is the tension headache. Also called a “stress headaches,” this condition causes mild-moderate pain that does not get worse. In many causes, it is a daily occurrence.
A migraine is a severe headache that can last up to three days. People who suffer from migraines usually get them at least once per month. Migraines typically include other symptoms like nausea, sensitivity to noise/light, and loss of appetite.
There’s also something called a “mixed headache” or “transformed headache” which is basically a migraine mixed with a tension headache.
A cluster headache is characterized by severe pain right behind your eyes. It is the least common but most painful headache type. As the name implies, cluster headaches may occur over a short period in groups lasting between a few weeks until a few month. Cluster headaches may not return for several months or even years before they occur again.
A sinus headache is associated with other cold symptoms including fever, runny nose, and pressure inside the ears. Sinus headaches can cause pain the forehead, cheeks, and bridge of the nose.
Click here to learn more about headaches (source: WebMD).
There are many things that can cause a headache, including:
- Heredity (esp. migraines)
- Poor posture
- Tobacco smoke, strong perfumes, and other chemicals
- Hormone imbalance
- Low blood sugar
- Nutritional deficiencies
Headache treatment at home
Maintain hydrated throughout the day
The popularity of sugar-filled drinks and alcohol have created a culture in which most people in America simply aren’t drinking enough water.
Staying hydrated is probably the easiest ways to prevent headaches, stay energized, and reduce cravings. In addition to water, you can stay hydrated by eating more fruits and veggies such as:
- Green peppers
I would also recommend taking a B-complex vitamin.
People with chronic headaches can find relief by taking 200-600mg of magnesium per day. Magnesium pills are easily available, but you can also add these foods to your diet:
- Whole grains
- Seeds and nuts
- Leafy greens
- Dairy products
Sitting in the same position all day can cause tension and headaches. Make sure to get an adequate amount of exercise, and to periodically walk and stretch during the day to reduce headache risk.
If you work at a desk, we recommend taking a break every 30-60 minutes, even if it’s just to stretch and move your head and neck around.
Instant home remedies for headache
The remedies above are mostly for the prevention of headaches. If you’re looking for relief right now, try these methods:
Mix one teaspoon of coconut oil with a few drops of peppermint or lavender oil. Rub this mixture on your forehead, temples, and neck – you can do it yourself or ask your partner.
Peppermint oil: has a cooling and relaxing effect right on skin and a scent that has been shown to soothe muscles, stimulate blood flow, and reduce headache sensitivity.
Lavender oil: commonly known for as a sedative and mood stabilizer, lavender oil has been shown to effectively treat migraines.
Get a full body massage
This is my personal favorite. While it’s not always an option, a full-body massage has been known to decrease stress, tension, and headaches. You can also sit in a massage chair or ask your partner for a massage.
Take a nap
Sometimes, going to sleep is the best way to cure a headache. It might not always seem like you have time for a nap, but taking a short nap could end up making the rest of your day more productive.
Resting in a dark room has been shown to help relieve migraines.
Take a detox bath
A detox bath rids the toxins on the body that can make you sick. To bring toxins out of the skin, start your bath with very hot water.
Add the following to your bath for a better experience:
- 1 cup baking soda (can kill bacteria, leaving skin smooth)
- Essential oil (try lavender, peppermint, lemongrass, or sandalwood)
- 2 cups apple cider vinegar (draws out uric acid and helps relive pain caused by arthritis, gout, and headache)
Visit your chiropractor
Chiropractic care, a great alternative to painkillers because it is drug-free, natural, surgery-free, and widely available. Regular chiropractic care can reduce stress and tension, both of which contribute to headaches. It can also help you improve your posture and reduce oxidative stress (damage caused by free radicals).
Acupuncture is an old Chinese therapy that is used to treat a wide variety of problems and diseases, including headaches and migraines. Acupuncture focuses on balancing the body’s energy (or “Qi”) by stimulating specific points on the body.
Reflexology is a type of massage, also with Chinese origins, that focuses on the hands and feet to relieve a wide variety of health concerns.
Reflexologists use charts that match pressure points on your hands and feet to certain organs in the body. For example, there is a small point a few inches in front your heel that is associated with relieving insomnia.
Headache relief pressure points: feet
You can try to use reflexology to relive headaches by applying pressure to certain spots on the hands and feet. Start by massaging the spot between your big toe and second toe, AKA the “Tai Chong” pressure point (see above image). If your head hurts on one side, massage the opposite foot.
If your headache runs from the side into the forehead, focus on the point just between your pinky toe and second to last toe.
Third eye point (see above image): apply pressure to the spot between your eyebrows, where your forehead meets the bridge of your nose. This can help with headaches, eye strain, and pain from ulcers. Apple pressure for 1 minute before moving to the next pressure point.
Bright light point (see image at left): This one is located just below the eyebrows, in the inner corner of the eye (see image at left). Apply pressure for 1 minute on each side to relieve sinus headaches and allergy symptoms.
Wind pool point (see image at left ): These two points are located at the back of the head, equidistant between the spine and your ears. Applying pressure to these points will help relieve eyestrain as well as pain in the head, throat, and ears.
Applying pressure to the wind pool points has also been shown to help reduce migraines and to unblock nasal congestion.
Click here to learn more about the benefits of foot reflexology.
Click here to read more about acupuncture, including how it feels and what to expect after treatment (source: National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health).