When you have a migraine attack you may ask, what can I do to soothe my headache? Fortunately, there are some natural remedies you can use. If you are looking for a more natural way to treat your headaches, try some of the remedies in this article. Also, you can learn more about different types of migraine, their symptoms, causes and treatments here.
How do natural remedies work?
Each natural remedy has its own probable method of action. Many researchers, and doctors don´t always know how natural remedies work. Many contain numerous compounds that are thought to ease migraine symptoms or sometimes prevent migraine attacks.
Who should not use natural migraine relief?
Pregnant women should speak to their doctors before taking any natural remedy. Most natural remedies haven't been tested in pregnant women. The recommendation is that natural remedies shouldn't be taken by woman who are pregnant, may become pregnant, or are breastfeeding.
All supplements and natural remedies for migraines should be discussed with your health provider first, to determine what the possible risks are, including whether they may interact badly with the medications that you are taking. Discuss:
- What other treatments the person is taking
- What other conditions the person may have
Side effects of natural migraine remedies
People believe there aren't any side effects if the migraine treatment comes from a natural or herbal source. Although they are not drugs, they can cause overdose and can interact with other treatments.
Different supplements may cause different side effects depending on:
- The dosage
- The person
- How often it is used
Here are 12 natural remedies for migraines that people may want to try:
You can choose to use a professional for a massage, but taking a tennis ball and using it to do a self-massage along the shoulders and back is a most cost-effective option.
Massaging the muscles in your neck and shoulders can help you relieve tension and can mitigate migraine pain. If you are stressed, a massage will help you to reduce it.
Try this homemade muscle rub. It penetrates deep into your muscles, bringing both a soothing and relaxing sensation.
Home Made Muscle Rub
- 1/2 cup coconut oil
- 1/4 cup grated beeswax
- 2 teaspoons cayenne powder
- 2 teaspoons ginger or turmeric powder
- 15 drops peppermint essential oil
- 15 drops lavender essential oil
- Glass jar
- Pour all oils (except essential oils) into a jar. Place a saucepan with two inches of water over medium-low heat.
- Place the jar in a saucepan and allow contents to melt. Stir to combine. Add the cayenne and ginger/turmeric.
- Once combined, allow to cool slightly and then add in essential oils. Mix well.
- Pour mixture into metal tins or storage containers and allow to set.
Cayenne Muscle Rub
Cayenne pepper can stimulate your body’s circulation and reduce acidity, and it makes for one of the most surprising headache remedies. When applied topically, cayenne has the ability to relieve headache symptoms and relax your muscles.
The ancient Chinese used cayenne pepper for therapeutic reasons.
Every person has different triggers and you must be aware of your food triggers. Common food triggers for migraines include:
- processed foods
- red wine
- caffeinated beverages
- citrus fruits
You must be aware that is critical to establish what might be triggering your migraines. You may use a food diary or migraine journal to keep track of potential triggers.
If you want to prevent migraines in the future you must change your diet or eating patterns to avoid triggers.
Food intolerances can trigger headaches in some people, according to several studies. The elimination diet removes the foods most related to your headache symptoms.
In a 12-week study, the elimination diet decreased the number of migraine headaches people experienced. These effects started at the four-week mark.
What Is an Elimination Diet? It involves removing foods that you suspect your body can't tolerate well from your diet. The foods are later reintroduced, one at a time, while you look for symptoms that show a reaction. It only lasts 5–6 weeks.
Once you have successfully identified a food your body can't tolerate well, you can remove them from your diet to prevent any uncomfortable symptoms in the future.
There are many types of elimination diets, but all of them involve eating or removing certain types of foods. If you want to read more about the Elimination Diet, click on this link:
Your eating habits can influence your migraines. Consider the basics:
- Eat at about the same time every day.
- Fasting increases the risk of migraines.
- Keeping track of the foods you eat and determining when you experience migraines can help identify potential food triggers.
If you have gluten sensitivity eating foods that contain gluten, can lead to a headache.
Start this headache remedy by eliminating gluten for three weeks, then slowly introduce foods containing gluten. Pay attention to the way you feel when adding more gluten to your diet and find your balance.
3. Avoid Nitrates and Nitrites
To keep foods like hot dogs, sausages, and bacon fresh, nitrates and nitrites are added to them. These are common food preservatives added to prevent bacterial growth.
People who eat these foods have proven that they trigger their headaches.
Nitrites may trigger headaches by causing the expansion of blood vessels.
Try to avoid processed meats.
4. Stay hydrated
One of the most common triggers for migraines and headaches is not drinking enough water. It only takes minor dehydration to bring on a headache.
To avoid dehydration you must try to drink more water every day. When people have severe dehydration, they may initially need an oral rehydration solution to replace missing electrolytes.
Drinking water throughout the day, and maintaining a healthy diet eating water-rich foods is usually enough to stay sufficiently hydrated.
Inadequate hydration may lead to you getting a headache.
The dehydrating effects of coffee, sugary drinks and alcohol can certainly leave us with a killer headache.
You can also stay hydrated with fruits and veggies some of which may have up to a 90% water content. Try adding these nutritious fruits and veggies to your diet in order to stay hydrated throughout the day:
- green peppers
5. Drink Caffeinated Tea or Coffee
Drinking beverages that contain caffeine, such as tea or coffee, may provide relief when you are experiencing a headache.
Caffeine improves your mood, increases alertness and constricts blood vessels, all of which can have a positive effect on headache symptoms.
It also helps to increase the effectiveness of common medications used to treat headaches, such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen.
However, caffeine withdrawal has also been shown to cause headaches if a person regularly consumes large amounts of caffeine and suddenly stops.
Consequently, people who get frequent headaches should be mindful of their caffeine intake.
6. Essential oils
Essential oils are often used as natural remedies or as an antimicrobial in homemade cleaning products.
Essential oils are highly concentrated liquids that contain aromatic compounds from a variety of plants. They have many therapeutic benefits and are most often used topically, though some can be ingested.
Peppermint & Lavender Essential Oil
The calming and relieving effects of both peppermint and lavender oils make them perfect tools for headache relief.
Essential oils make very effective remedies for headaches so take advantage of their benefits by placing a few drops of peppermint or lavender oil into your hands and then rubbing the blend on your forehead, temples, and back of your neck.
- Peppermint oil- Applying peppermint essential oil to the temples has been shown to reduce the symptoms of tension headaches. It generates a long-lasting cooling effect on the skin. Research shows that peppermint oil stimulates a significant increase in skin blood flow in the forehead, and it soothes muscle contractions. One study showed that peppermint oil, in combination with ethanol, reduced headache sensitivity.
- Lavender oil – This is an essential oil often recommended as a remedy for stress, anxiety, and headaches. It is commonly used as a mood stabilizer and sedative. Research has shown that the use of lavender oil is a safe and effective treatment of migraine headaches. It is also efective at reducing migraine pain and associated symptoms when applied to the upper lip and inhaled.
You can dilute peppermint or lavender oils down, if the smell is too strong for you, or if the peppermint is too chilling. You can dilute them by mixing the essential oils with almond, grapeseed or coconut oil. By adding coconut oil, you can take advantage of its own amazing health benefits, like balancing hormones, moisturizing skin, and decreasing wrinkles.
Ginger root contains many beneficial compounds, including antioxidants and anti-inflammatory substances. It helps reduce nausea and vomiting, which are common symptoms associated with severe headaches.
One study in 100 people with chronic migraines found that 250 mg of ginger powder was as effective as the conventional headache medication for reducing migraine pain.
You can take ginger powder in capsules or make a powerful tea with fresh ginger root.
Reflexology is an ancient Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) healing art in which certain points or zones of the feet are stimulated to encourage healing in the corresponding parts of the body. Researchers still aren’t entirely sure just how reflexology works, yet it is indeed effective in treating a variety of conditions, including headaches. Perhaps massaging your toes could help eliminate your headache
You can try stimulating some headache-relieving reflexology points at home. There are four headache remedy pressure points on your feet and one on your hand, which when stimulated can help give you some headache and migraine relief. First massage the area between your big toe and your second toe. If your headache is in your right temple, massage this point on your left foot and vice versa. To relieve a headache, you can also press the Tai Chong or Liver 3 point on the top of your foot. Again massage this point on the foot opposite to the side of your head where you feel pain. Or, massage both feet if you have pain on both sides of your head.
Acupressure therapy may help relieve some migraine symptoms.
Acupressure involves applying pressure to specific parts of the body. Stimulating specific points of the body in this way is believed to release muscle tension and alleviate pain.
One popular pressure point is the LI-4 point in the space between the base of the left thumb and index finger.
Applying firm but not painful circular pressure to the LI-4 point, using the opposite hand for 5 minutes, may relieve headache pain.
10. Herbal Supplements
Headaches can be relieved naturally through the use of tension-easing herbs.
Butterbur and feverfew are two herbal supplements that may be helpful in reducing migraine pain and frequency.
- Butterbur root comes from a perennial shrub native to Germany and, like feverfew, has anti-inflammatory effects. Butterbur is an herb that reduces the inflammatory effect of chemicals that trigger headaches, especially migraines. It also acts as a beta blocker, resulting in normal blood flow to the brain. Doses of 50–150 mg twice daily seem to be necessary for the best headache-reducing results in both adults and children when taken for about 3 months.
- Feverfew leaves are used to make medicine. Feverfew is a flowering plant that has anti-inflammatory properties. Research shows that consuming feverfew reduces the frequency of migraine headaches and headache symptoms, including pain, nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light and noise.
Some studies revealed that feverfew is less effective than butterbur. Feverfew may be helpful for some people.
Feverfew is generally considered safe if taken in recommended amounts. However, butterbur should be treated with caution, as unpurified forms can cause liver damage, and the effects of its long-term use are unknown.
Before using these herbs you need to consult with your doctor because in some cases there are risks involved.
Magnesium is one of the most successful headache remedies, first of all, because it’s much safer than taking a painkiller. People who suffer from serious headaches, like migraines, often have low levels of magnesium, and several studies suggest that magnesium may reduce the frequency of migraine attacks in people with low levels of it.
Taking 200–600 mg of magnesium a day can reduce the frequency of headache attacks. Both oral and intravenous magnesium are widely available, extremely safe and inexpensive.
However, taking magnesium supplements can cause digestive side effects like diarrhea in some people, so it’s best to start with a smaller dose when treating headache symptoms.
To increase your daily magnesium intake, eat more fiber. Dietary sources of magnesium include beans, whole grains, seeds, nuts and vegetables like broccoli, squash and leafy greens. Dairy products, meats, chocolate and coffee also include decent levels of magnesium.
12. Avoid Foods High in Histamine
Histamine is a chemical found naturally in the body that plays a role in the immune, digestive and nervous systems.
It’s also found in certain foods like aged cheeses, fermented food, beer, wine, smoked fish and cured meats.
Studies suggest that consuming histamine may cause migraines in those who are sensitive to it. Some people are not able to excrete histamine properly because they have impaired function of the enzymes responsible for breaking it down.
Cutting histamine-rich foods from their diet may be a useful strategy for people who get frequent headaches.
Histamine intolerance occurs when there is a buildup of histamine in the body. Drugs, medical conditions, the environment, nutritional deficiencies, and diet can lead to histamine intolerance.
According to the current research, everyday foods and drinks rich in histamine include:
- aged cheeses
- canned, pickled, and fermented foods
- smoked products, such as sausage, ham, bacon, or salami
- legumes, such as chickpeas, soybeans, and lentils
- many prepared meals
- salty snack foods
- sweets with preservatives
- chocolate and cocoa
- green tea
- most citrus fruits
- canned fish, such as mackerel and tuna
- chili powder
Foods that may trigger the release of histamine include:
- most citrus fruits
- cocoa and chocolate
- wheat germ
- additives, preservatives, and dyes
- beans and pulses
Compiled using information from the following sources: