Headaches are among the most common afflictions. Fortunately, home remedies can significantly reduce their frequency and intensity, and even eliminate them. The first step to finding effective headache treatments is to determine what is causing your headaches.
Headaches may be precipitated by several factors. Stress, hormones and allergies may trigger headaches. Vascular headaches, such as migraines and cluster headaches, are common. Headaches may occur with minor illnesses as well as with serious ones. If you have a headache unlike any that you have preciously experienced, an exceptionally severe headache, or if your headaches do not respond to simple home and over-the-counter treatments, consult with your health care provider for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Keep a Headache Journal
If you experience recurrent headaches, you may find that keeping a wellness journal is valuable. Document foods, exercise, sleep and what you were doing prior to the beginning of a headache. List actions that you take to relieve headaches and if the interventions are effective. Rate the intensity of the headache.
In time, you will likely find a pattern which provides useful clues to what triggers your headaches. Once you know what your triggers are, you can be proactive and implement an effective prevention and treatment plan. Keeping a headache diary will also help you to evaluate interventions which work and those that are ineffective.
Prevent and Eliminate Stress Headaches
The most common types of headaches are stress headaches. Stress headaches may be experienced as a feeling of tightness around the head. Stiffness of the neck and shoulder muscles often occur simultaneously. Some people experience stomach upsets as well.
The key to elimination of stress headaches is to prevent them. Learn some simple meditation and relaxation techniques and practice them every morning and evening for a few minutes. Research has shown that these methods are beneficial.
If you start to experience a headache, stop what you are doing and spend a minute or two consciously relaxing your muscles. Take deep breaths and remind yourself that you have the power to choose how to approach challenging situations. Sometimes just taking a one minute break and thinking about relaxing can thwart a headache.
If a stress headache does arise, you may want to employ the herb willow. Willow is one of the original sources for the active ingredient in aspirin. Unlike aspirin, willow bark does not cause stomach irritation for most people. Willow is available as a bulk herb for teas, as tinctures, and as capsules.
Herbal compresses are great for relieving stress headaches. To make a compress, simply brew a cup of herbal tea. Peppermint, lavender or chamomile are excellent herbs to use. While you are brewing tea for your compress, prepare an extra cup of tea for you to savor. Soak a washcloth in one cup of the tea and apply it to the back of your neck or forehead. Most people prefer warm compresses, but if you like cold compresses, store a pre-soaked cloth in your freezer.
Vascular headaches, such as migraines, are notoriously painful. They are usually experienced as throbbing or steady pain on one side of the head. These headaches may last for days. Foods and hormonal changes often precipitate migraines.
I find that the herb feverfew is effective for the treatment of migraine headaches. It must be taken consistently as a preventative. I can attest that when used regularly, feverfew reduces the frequency and intensity of migraines. I have not found it to be effective at relieving a migraine once it occurs, however.
Feverfew is an easy-to-grow herb. It may even be grown in containers. Simply nibble on a couple of leaves twice daily and soon you may find that your migraines decrease. Alternatively, I recommend using the tincture. You may purchase the dried herb or feverfew capsules, but in my experience, they do not work as well as the fresh plant and tincture.
It is important to note what foods trigger your migraines. Red wine, cheeses, chocolate and processed meats are likely offenders.
Migraines and Menses
Many women suffer from migraines during or before their menstrual periods. Taking a multivitamin and a supplement rich in essential fatty acids may be helpful. Flax, borage and evening primrose seed oils are all valuable. Try limiting your intake of salt if fluid retention is a problem. Fluid retention may precipitate a migraine. Eating dandelion greens, drinking dandelion leaf tea, or taking a dandelion leaf tincture may alleviate fluid imbalances. Be sure to use the leaves, not the root, as dandelion root does not offer the same benefits.
Seasonal allergy sufferers may have sinus headaches. Headaches caused by changes in weather, dry indoor air during winter, and upper respiratory infections may cause sinus headaches. Sinus headaches are usually felt behind the eyes or in the forehead. Your face may feel tender as well.
If your sinus headaches are seasonal, try taking nettle herb regularly. It must be consumed for at least a month prior to your allergy season to be effective.
If you do suffer from a sinus headache, I find that consuming the herb goldenrod rapidly clears the sinuses and relieves headaches. Many people think that goldenrod causes headaches, but the truth is that it relieves them. Ragweed is generally the offending plant which causes sinus headaches and allergies.
In addition to drinking hot dandelion tea, make an herbal steam. Simply place some herbs, such as thyme, rosemary, or peppermint in a heatproof bowl. Cover the herbs with boiling water. Sit facing the bowl. Make a tent over your head and the bowl with a bath towel. Inhale the herbal steam for several minutes. Your sinuses will unclog and your headache will dissipate.
Employ natural remedies and preventative techniques for headaches. They may be used alone or in conjunction with conventional treatments. Check with your health care provider if you have questions.
What are your favorite all-natural remedies for headaches? Share your tips in the section below: