Headaches can be a real… well, headache. They can make work difficult and relaxation impossible. Most of the time, a common headache can be warded off with a few painkillers, but what about natural solutions?
Given that humans have been suffering headaches throughout history, there’s a pretty vast array of supposed natural remedies. Some work great, others not so much. Here, we’ve put together a few of the most reliable natural remedies for each type of headache. Remember though: if you’re suffering regular, debilitating headaches, then the best remedy is your GP.
Having said that, let’s look at a few home remedies for headaches!
1. Tension headaches
We’ve all experienced this type of headache. After all, tension headaches are, by far, the most common type of headache. The symptoms are familiar: a constant ache or pressure that may envelope much of the head. Generally though, the pain is most severe around the temples or back of the head. Sometimes, the pain might stretch down the neck, though further symptoms like vomiting are unusual.
Most sufferers of a tension headache will immediately reach for something like an aspirin, ibuprofen or acetaminophen. However, before medicating, consider a natural, easy solution: a glass of water. That’s right, beating a tension headache usually shouldn’t require medication at all. Studies have shown the single most common cause of the common headache is little more than dehydration. Luckily, drinking water is proven to alleviate most tension headaches in as little as 30 minutes. What could be easier than having a glass of water?
On the other end of the spectrum to the common tension headache is the migraine. Anyone who has experienced a migraine knows that once the pain starts, you’re probably in for a rough ride for the next few hours. Nothing can stop it, and you just have to deal with it.
Expect a deep throbbing pain that feels like it’s trying to punch its way through the inside of your skull. Nausea and vomiting are common, along with light and sound sensitivity.
However, there are some things you can do to reduce your risk of suffering a migraine. These include increasing the amount of magnesium in your diet, getting more fiber, omega-3 and vitamin B2. Even acupuncture may help. For an in-depth explanation of all of these, check out our article on five ways to naturally beat migraines.
3. Cluster headaches
Often called the “suicide headache,” clusters have a notorious reputation for driving their victims to tragic suicide. On the pain scale, these headaches are pretty much the worst agony a human being is physically capable of experiencing, and make childbirth look positively enjoyable. The symptoms are quite distinct: a searing hot pain behind the eyes, or on one side of the face. They usually come in clusters, which can last for days or months.
The causes of cluster headaches are poorly understood, though there are some proven treatments. Oxygen therapy is widely used, along with medications like Sumatriptan, Verapamil and Methysergide.
There are also some emerging natural treatments that look promising. Capsaicin therapy might have potential to reduce the symptoms. Kudzu (Japanese arrowroot) is also popular among sufferers, who say it can help with reducing the intensity of cluster attacks. There’s some good scientific research suggesting there may be something to this, with one 2009 study finding around half of patients saw the frequency of their headaches drop noticeably while using kudzu.
4. Sinus headaches
Taking things down a notch, sinus headaches aren’t as well known as migraines and clusters, but they’re nonetheless quite common. As you may expect, sinus headaches are usually linked to a respiratory infection, and are the result of inflammation of the sinuses. It basically feels like you’ve got a cold, only your face is on fire. You may have a fever, along with pain and swelling around the eyes, cheeks or forehead.
To clear up an infected sinus quickly, you’re probably going to need antibiotics. Your doctor might also prescribe antihistamines or decongestants, depending on your specific case. However, if you’d rather avoid medication for any reason, then luckily there’s an incredibly cheap and effective natural remedy for most sinus headaches: time.
According to the U.K.’s National Health Service, most sinus infections clear up in anywhere from two to three weeks. In the meantime, the symptoms can be reduced using some other simple home remedies. The NHS recommends applying warmth to the affected area.
For example, try resting a warm tea towel or cloth over your face for a few minutes, several times a day. Alternatively, you can inhale steam from a hot tub of water to clear up congestion. If that doesn’t work, associate professor of otolaryngology Dr. Spencer C. Payne advises patients to flush their sinuses with a saline solution or neti pot.
“Saline washes have been studied and proven to be effective, and should be the first line of defense against sinusitis,” he said.
So before contributing to the world’s chronic antibiotic overuse, try one of those natural remedies. If symptoms persist for more than three weeks, then you can start looking at antibiotics.
Got any good natural remedies of your own for headaches? Let us know in the comments below!
— Ryan Mallett-Outtrim