Millions of Americans suffer from headaches everyday. According to studies and statistics, migraine headaches affect approximately nine percent of the population. The stress and tension of everyday life, allergies, sleep deprivation and many other factors can lead to the development of an occasional, painful headache. While most immediately turn to OTC or prescription pain relief medications to alleviate symptoms, there are many different natural home remedies that are equally effective.
Apples and apple cider vinegar are common kitchen products that aid in headache relief by adjusting the body’s acid/base balance. Bring a mixture of ½ cup of apple cider vinegar and ½ cup of water to a boil and inhale the steam. Add two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar to a glass of cold or warm water. Add a splash of lemon. Sweeten with honey and drink. Eat an apple slice sprinkled with salt then drink a glass of warm water. Repeat two to three times daily.
The strong aroma of the common kitchen herb features natural analgesic and relaxant properties. Use an essential basil oil for massaging the forehead, temples and neck regions. Make a tea using three or four fresh basil leaves steeped in a cup of hot water. Sweeten with honey and enjoy. Basil leaves can also be chewed or used to make an invigorating inhaled steam in boiled water.
The ancient spice is also known to have anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. Add a dash or two of the powdered spice to a cup of hot apple cider, apple cider vinegar drink or herbal, sweetened tea. Use cinnamon essential oil or make a paste using cinnamon powder and water to massage the forehead, temples and neck nape while relaxing.
Similar to menthol, cloves provide a cooling effect along with having anti-inflammatory properties. Crush a few cloves into a tissue or handkerchief and inhale the scent. Add a few drops of clove oil to almond or other base oil and use the combination to gently massage head and neck regions. Apply the oil along with gentle rotating pressure to the tender areas of your head or neck using the index fingers or thumbs. Hold the pressure for a count of 15 and release. Repeat as needed.
5) Eucalyptus Oil
The aromatic oil has been used for thousands of years in many world cultures as the evergreen extract is known to have analgesic, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. The oil effectively reduces tissue swelling and sinus congestion while reducing pain. Simply inhale steam made from boiling water and the essential oil. Add a few drops of the oil to almond or another base oil and massage the forehead, temples and nape of the neck regions.
In addition to flavoring food, the ancient spice has been used for centuries as a homeopathic remedy for the root’s anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. For headache relief, steep the root or powder in hot water, or combine equal portions of ginger and lemon juice, sweeten and drink. Powdered ginger is safe for consumption in one or two divided doses of up to two grams daily.
7) Lavender Oil
For many, the scent of lavender is known to immediately produce relaxing effects. Apply a few drops to a tissue and inhale, or add a few drops to boiling water and breathe in the steam. Combine with another base oil and massage the mixture into the forehead, temples and nape of the neck. Enjoy a full-body relaxing experience by adding drops of the essential oil to warm bath water to enhance blood flow and promote muscle relaxation.
8) Peppermint Oil
The menthol in peppermint dilates blood vessels and helps encourage blood circulation. Drink tea made from one teaspoon of dried leaves in boiling water that steeps for about 10 minutes. Add honey and drink slowly. While relaxing in a quiet, darkened room, inhale the scent. Add a few drops of the essential oil to almond or another base oil and use the mixture to massage your temples, forehead and the back of your neck.
The common cooking herb in the form of an essential oil can also be applied and massaged into the head and neck regions. The rosmarinic acid in rosemary contains anti-inflammatory properties and also has the ability to alleviate nasal congestion and other allergy-related symptoms.
10) Ice Packs
Applying ice or cold packs to the forehead and the back of the head reduces tissue inflammation while causing blood vessel constriction. Extreme blood vessel dilation is the primary cause of migraine headaches. An alternative approach involves soaking your feet in very warm water, which encourages blood flow downward and away from the head.
Simple Tension Relief Exercises
When headaches develop secondary to the tension in head and neck muscles, basic movements encourage relaxation and help reduce the pain. Start by looking forward and lower your chin into your chest. Hold the position for a count of five to 10. Now, slowly tilt your head backward until you are able to gaze at the ceiling. Once again, hold the position.
Again, start by looking forward then turn your head sideways and try to look over your shoulder. Hold the position. Bring your gaze back to the front and repeat the process by turning in the other direction. Repeat each exercise up to five times.
Another muscle relaxing technique involves slowly rotating your head downward, to the side, back, to the other side and downward in clockwise and counterclockwise positions.
Seek Medical Assistance
Sometimes headaches accompany other symptoms that together signal a more serious underlying condition that requires immediate medical intervention. These symptoms might include:
- Sudden and severe pain unlike any other headache experience
- Headaches associated with neurological symptoms that might include dizziness, generalized weakness, numbness, tingling and paralysis on the face along with confusion, inability to speak coherently or seizures
- Headaches accompanied by fever, stiff neck, rash or breathing difficulty
- Head pain along with nausea and vomiting
- Head pain associated with head injury