Headaches suck! These are my favorite headache home remedies for helping to relieve the head pain. They're quick, easy, and effective ways to help me (and you) suffer a little less.
Disclaimer: These natural headache home remedies help me to find relief from head pain. I am not a doctor. And these are not cures. I have suffered from headaches since I was a little girl so I've tried lots of natural headache relievers.
It's important for me to have natural remedies to try so I don't rely on pills (especially since my oldest son has started getting headaches too). These are my favorite headache home remedies to find relief when a headache strikes!
Home Remedies for a Bad Headache
As a kid, I got more traditional migraines. I wasn't given medicine back then. I'd lay in a quiet, dark place (I was super sensitive to bright light) with a cold washcloth on my head. Eventually (half a day later), I'd throw up twice and my migraine pain would be gone.
Related post: DIY Cold Headache Bags
I remember on one doctor's visit for a migraine attack, the doctor told my mom and me that I could take a ridiculous amount of Advil a day. Even as a kid, I knew that sounded like a horrible way to treat them. And over the years, I've tried to find natural ways to relieve them.
Thankfully, I outgrew migraine headaches. But I still get severe headaches as an adult. I've tried tons of different headache home remedies in my life. My headaches are a little bit different each time so I usually run down most of these on the list to see if one will work.
I really try to do one of these things before turning to my prescription medications or over-the-counter medications. I've been able to find relief with these natural methods and wanted to share them with you in case you often deal with headache pain too.
6 Natural Headache Home Remedies
Figuring out what types of chronic headaches you get and what will treat them is really difficult. From cluster headaches to tension headaches, the pain and headache treatment at home might be different for each type.
Make sure you talk to your doctor or health care provider so you know if there is a larger medical reason for your headaches.
Know your triggers
Probably the most important thing you can do is learn about your triggers and then learn how to naturally deal with the headache symptoms. For me, one of my biggest migraine triggers was travel. And knowing that, let me prepare for and try to relieve those headaches as they came on.
I also know that if I have a headache and try to do physical activity, the headache gets worse. I like to keep a headache journal so I can keep track of everything.
Too much caffeine, withdrawal headaches from lack of caffeine, lack of sleep, not enough water, food triggers, and emotional stress are all things that can cause you to have different types of headaches.
As most migraine sufferers know, migraine symptoms vary by person and while some of these headache home remedies might help a little, you may find more relief with a prescription, especially if your headaches are typically days long.
Disclaimer: I don't know the science behind any of these methods I'm sharing. If you want more science, you better find another blog to read. I'm simply sharing things that have worked for me over the years.
1.) Drink Hot Water with Lemon
One of the first headache home remedies that I always try when I have a headache is to drink hot water with lemon.
It seems that a lot of headaches (and there are so many different types of headaches!) stem from people not drinking enough water and the body becomes dehydrated.
Drinking any water is often said to help. Adding the juice from half a lemon is supposed to help the acid-alkaline balance in the body.
All I know is that sometimes it works, especially if it is a "poop" headache. TMI? But seriously, it's a thing, although maybe it has a different medical name.
2.) Use Essential Oils
Essential oils are not everybody's cup of tea, I get that. And when I have headaches, certain smells make me want to vomit or are extra irritating. I can still clearly remember the heinous perfume a flight attendant was wearing on a return trip from New York City about 8 years ago.
Essential oils are great for masking offensive smells (peppermint and lavender are really great grounding scents that don't typically make me feel worse than I already do).
You can keep a small bottle with you for when you need to inhale from when gross odors are present. You can use a rollerball bottle with a custom essential oil blend (mixed with coconut oil) to roll on your body (your wrists and temples are great places) or use oils in a diffuser for inhaling if you are at home.
Rosemary oil is said to have anti-inflammatory properties and help to relieve anxiety and depression which can sometimes lead to tension headaches.
My home remedy for a headache is to rub peppermint oil on my scalp and the back of my neck. I do this one a lot for my kids. This is amazing for bedtime when you know you just need to fall asleep but are in pain.
This will make your skin very tingle-y which I think helps relieve the pain super well. Or at least take your mind off of it. Just be sure to wash your hands really well after you apply it. (If your skin is sensitive, you may need to dilute it with some coconut oil or other carrier oil).
I use a fair amount of oil and rub it on my scalp, using my fingertips. I start at my hairline (again - make sure to not get too close to the eyes!) and then move to the back of my head and onto my neck, behind my ears, and under my hair. It can make your hair look a tiny bit oily but it's totally worth it if your head is pounding out of your skull.
Oils are known for promoting relaxation, alleviating tension, and stimulating circulation, all of which can help with headache relief. So this DIY headache relief technique makes so much sense.
This one is actually a great headache and vomiting home remedy. Not only can peppermint help relieve pain (or at the very least distract your from it), it is also great for nausea that comes with your headache.
I like to inhale it through deep breaths. This is one of the severe headache remedies I use most often.
3.) Homeopathic Gel for Headache Relief
I recently found this homeopathic gel and had to try it. If I have a headache at night, I usually try to just go to sleep and skip taking medicine. But sometimes the pain is so intense that I have trouble falling asleep. I tried this gel the other night and it was AMAZING!
This is a similar effect to the peppermint oil but, like, times 10. It doesn't really have a smell so this is strictly for the numbing effect. Put this on the back of your neck and behind your ears. When I have a headache, I usually notice tight muscles in my neck, so this is where I target my pain relief.
I don't know what all the ingredients are and I'm not really sure how natural this is. All I know is that it tingled like crazy and made it easier to fall asleep. I now keep this by the side of my bed in case I wake up in the middle of the night with a horrific headache. And it always comes with me on vacation.
I found this with ibuprofen and acetaminophen in my Walmart. I'm not saying I don't take medicine, because I do. I'm just saying that I usually try to find natural headache relief first.
Sometimes, if I am caught away from home with a headache, there is not much I can do to find relief from the headache pain. One thing I learned years ago is a simple acupressure technique. The area on your hand can help to alleviate the pain associated with a headache.
I would usually stop what I was doing and use these pressure points. And while it helped a little, it just wasn't practical to keep me moving about with my day.
When I learned about Aculief, I instantly asked for a sample.
This product was designed to apply consistent pressure to the pressure point associated with headache relief for you. You simply slip it on your hand and in a few minutes you are able to feel less pain.
While I didn't see it take away my headaches completely, I certainly found myself with less severe pain. What I especially love is that I could keep working (even typing!) because my hands were free.
These are small enough to keep with you in your purse and are great for wearing if you have a headache at bedtime. Since I usually get headaches when I travel, I kept these in my carry-on. I didn't need to use them this time but I loved how easy it was to have them with me.
These don't fit the kid's hands very well but I am super into this awesome natural headache relief device.
This is one of the natural home remedies for headaches that I really like for when I'm in pain but can't actually be at home. Learn more about this natural headache remedy on Aculief.com.
5.) DIY Frozen Headache Bags
I'm not sure if you saw my post about these frozen headache bags. If you haven't, go see the full DIY and make a homemade cold compress for yourself. These cold packs are the sh*t when it comes to my frequent headaches.
These bags have weight to them so they really help by applying pressure to your head which seems to alleviate the pain from the inside. It's like a reusable ice pack and is one of my favorite headache home remedies.
I know some people prefer a heating pad for their headaches, but to me, the cold feels awesome. These work really well for allergy or sinus headaches because (I think - but remember I have no science or medical background and did just ok in school :) the cold helps to shrink the inflamed blood vessels in your nose and eye area.
It's really soothing. If I had to just pick one of these headache home remedies for the rest of my life, these freezer bags would be it!
Don't want to make your own? Aculief also makes a hat. Or try one of these weighted eye masks that you can keep cold.
6.) Herbal Tea
Whenever I feel like I just have a regular, common type of headache I try an herbal tea. I use a headache tea I found from Whole Harmony that has peppermint, licorice root, feverfew, skullcap, passionflower, lavender, lemon balm, and rosemary. It doesn't have any caffeine or sugar.
I mix it with hot water and then sip it while relaxing on the couch. I get away from screens and just inhale while I drink and try to ease any tension I'm feeling. It's an effective remedy for when my headache isn't super severe. And I try to make it when a headache is first coming on.
Ginger tea is another option for sipping to relieve head pain and nausea. If tea isn't your thing, you can try a ginger powder supplement.
There are many supplements that are supposed to make great natural remedies. I wouldn't start taking any of these without first talking to a doctor. A small study showed that a lot of migraine sufferers had lower levels of magnesium in their systems than their counterparts in the study.
Magnesium supplements are said to be a possible migraine prevention method. A supplement taken daily may help to keep them from happening or happening less frequently.
Vitamin B2 is another supplement to look into that may help headaches happen less frequently. As is coenzyme Q10.
I'm a big fan of western medicine but think we should always spend a little bit of time trying to figure out the root of the problem too. And you may be able to find even more headache home remedies by looking to traditional Chinese medicine.
You should still seek professional medical advice to ensure you understand your overall health. Just be sure to advocate for yourself when you feel like you need to.
I hope that one of these natural headache remedies will help alleviate your headache pain.
You may be able to learn more about your headaches by checking out the American Migraine Foundation or the American Academy of Neurology.
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