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Home Remedies for Migraine Headaches

Updated on March 21, 2015

I think it is quite possible that I have tried every single home remedy for headaches known to man. I have suffered from New Daily Persistent Headache for close to 5 years now, and I've investigated every home remedy, herbal supplement and natural treatment I could find to reduce the pain.

Eat a habenero pepper while hanging upside down? I'll try it. Spin around 7 times chanting "I do not have a headache, I do not have a headache." Sure. Why not. If it will keep me from having to take the best that medical science has to offer - medications that can cause me to randomly bleed internally or drop dead instantly or even worse...gain 30lbs in 30 days....I'll give a whirl.

The truth?

Some work a little.

Many don't work at all.

Some feel nice but do nothing to stop the agony of a migraine headache.

What I have learned over time is that what works wonders for me, may not work at all for you. If you want to get rid of your pain without damaging your body further with the use of powerful and often harmful medications, then it is worth the effort to try every last home remedy out there, no matter how ridiculous or absurd it may seem!

Just for the record, I have never hung upside down while eating a habanero pepper, though it sounds kinda fun.

Most people suffer from headaches at some point in their life. A stress headache will usually go away with a little care and good night's sleep. Other headaches take more to shake off. Certain types of headaches (such as Clusters and New Daily Persistent Headache) don't respond well to the medications of choice, and sufferers search endlessly for a home remedy or natural solution to their pain. Many migraine patients would rather take the natural road and avoid the potentially dangerous side effects of migraine medications -both preventative drugs and pain releivers have significant risks when taken long term.

The Power of Peppers

Headache Home Remedies

What are the options? Are there home remedies for headaches and migraines that actually work? You won't know unless you give them a try. Every body reacts differently to these remedies, so you may find something that works wonders for you, but has failed me miserably!

  1. Drink more water. Dehydration can quickly cause a headache or even trigger a migraine. You may not even realize that you are dehydrated until you get a headache. Always make sure that you are drinking enough water throughout the day to avoid triggering a headache from dehydration.
  2. Hot compress. Moist heat works best. Apply a warm compress to your shoulders and neck area if the muscles feel tight or sore.
  3. Cold Compress. Depending on your preference (many prefer a warm compress) you can apply a cold compress to your neck, shoulders or directly to your forehead or over the eyes.
  4. Drink caffeine. Many migraine patients are told to quit caffeine in an attempt to eliminate the headaches. Often, caffeine can actually stop a headache. Try drinking a cup of coffee as soon as you feel a migraine coming on. If it is early in the day, you can even try having an espresso! Many people swear this works at stopping their headaches as fast as the most popular medications.
  5. Tie a headband around your head. Although there is no scientific evidence to back this up, many people are convinced that this will stop a headache.
  6. Aromatherapy compress - Make a compress using Peppermint, Lavender or Eucalyptus oil. The scents could help you relax and ease the pain.
  7. Capsaicin - This is my personal favorite. You can get capsaicin as a nose spray or a supplement that you can take daily, but when I have one of my high pain days, I will go so far as to eat jalapenos (OK, I admit to loving the taste), spicy chili or anything with enough capsaicin to set off the endorphins in my body. It is also available as a cream that can be rubbed on achy joints.
  8. Guarana - In Brazil, guarana is a popular headache remedy that is even an ingredient in soft drinks. It contains caffeine.
  9. Ginseng is thought to relieve stress, decrease tension in the body and therefore alleviate headache pain. It is widely available in various forms. Be sure to purchase a high quality brand to ensure that you receive the full benefits.

Home remedies for headaches can keep you from taking medications with dangerous side effects.
Home remedies for headaches can keep you from taking medications with dangerous side effects.

WVU Health Report on Headache Remedies

Home Remedies to Prevent Headaches

If you suffer from chronic headaches, whether they are migraine or tension headaches, you will certainly want to make an effort to prevent them or at least decrease the frequency. Although your doctor may prescribe a daily preventative medication to reduce your chronic headaches, be aware that they may have negative side effects that will impact your overall health long term.

  • Learn to relax. Managing your stress level is crucial to maintaining your health and preventing stress headaches.
  • Magnesium -taken as a supplement in a fairly large dose is thought to reduce the intensity of chronic headaches and migraines. Popping a magnesium supplement isn't going to stop your headache in it's tracks, but it may reduce how often you are assaulted by a migraine, if you take your supplement daily.Recommended dosage starts at 400 milligrams per day, but speak with your doctor first.
  • Exercise. Getting regular exercise can keep your body in balance and keep your pain levels under control. A brisk walk in the fresh air can help reduce your over all stress levels.
  • Stretch and breathe. Try taking a gentle yoga class that is designed for relaxation. This type of yoga class will help you stretch your muscles in a safe and effective way and reduce the tension in the headache triggering muscles of the upper back, neck and shoulders. Talk to your yoga teacher before class. Certain yoga poses can help alleviate your head pain, while others may actually make the pain worse. If you suffer from neck and shoulder pain, avoid poses like shoulder stands and plow.
  • Try taking herbal supplements such as ginger, feverfew (derived from the chrysanthemum family of flowers) or butterbur.
  • CoEnzyme Q 10 - This supplement has been shown (in two recent studies) to be helpful in the prevention of migraine. It is thought to reduce the frequency of headaches. A daily dose of 150-300 mg is usually recommended, but speak with your doctor or nutritionist first.

EFT Technique for Migraine Headache Relief

Using home remedies to ease the pain of headaches can be somewhat effective, but they are not a substitute for professional medical care. Proper diagnosis of your type of headache will be necessary if your problem is chronic. 

If you choose to avoid conventional medicine altogether, be sure you find a fully qualified alternative medicine practitioner, who has completed a thorough course of study and obtained all proper licenses.

If you have a headache that comes on suddenly and does not go away, that you would describe as "the worst headache of your life," consult a doctor immediately. This could be a sign of a more serious condition.

Headache Poll

How often do you suffer from headaches or migraines?

See results

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    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 7 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      I cannot imagine the pain of regular (let alone daily) headaches or migraines! Its great to hear from someone with first hand knowledge on the effectiveness of herbal remedies. Best of luck to you with the NDPH!

    • amy jane profile image
      Author

      amy jane 7 years ago from Connecticut

      Thanks Steph! My headaches have been quite a challenge for me. It has given me a unique perspective, and hopefully my experience can help someone else.

    • proudgrandpa profile image

      proudgrandpa 7 years ago from Charlotte, NC

      God bless you Amy Jane,

      I know several ladies who get migraines. I have been blessed to not even get many headaches but I realize the debilitating nature of these headaches. I am amazed at how many options there are for non-traditional medications. I am old and the doctors keep fousting meds on me but I listen to The People's Pharmacy on NPR and they have very practical and well researched alternatives to just about everything. Good luck. NEIL

    • Eileen Hughes profile image

      Eileen Hughes 7 years ago from Northam Western Australia

      Gosh I sympathise with you. I used to drive a courier van and I would be driving down the road and everything would go blurry or I would get what I called zig zags in my eyes.

      My husband used to have to take over from me. Anyway I used to take what women used for the monthly's pain. Cant remember the name. That did help. But, I found as soon as I started to get the slightest symptom I made a cup of tea and took the equivalent to panadol. If that did not work I went straight to the chiropractor.

      One visit he would manipulate my neck and wella it would be fixed. I would just go home and lay down for half an hour and it was great. Until the next time. Oh boy I used to think that people exagerated what it was like Until it happened to me.

      Yes it really does feel as though your head is going to split open or explode with that type of pain. Thanks for a great hub. Try the chiro. believe me it does work. but do not go to a quack. Doctors are for surgery chiros for manipulation when something is out of alignment.

    • amy jane profile image
      Author

      amy jane 7 years ago from Connecticut

      Thanks so much Neil! There are good alternatives to just about everything, and sometimes when traditional medicine doesn't work, the natural remedies are all that's left.

      Hi Eileen, I hope you don't get these headaches anymore! Chiropractic is another great option that works for many people. I'm glad to hear it worked for you.

      I agree - many people think migraines can't be that bad until the experience one for themselves! Not that I would wish it on anyone...:)

    • IdeaMorphist profile image

      IdeaMorphist 7 years ago from Chicagoland

      Wonderful suggestions. I'm bookmarking this for future emergency migraine situations.

    • amy jane profile image
      Author

      amy jane 7 years ago from Connecticut

      Thanks IdeaMorphist - I hope some of these suggestions will help you! :)

    • LdsNana-AskMormon profile image

      Kathryn Skaggs 7 years ago from Southern California

      Thanks for this informative Hub about migraine headaches. My youngest son suffers greatly, so we're definitely going to give a few of these techniques a try:)

    • amy jane profile image
      Author

      amy jane 7 years ago from Connecticut

      I'm so sorry to hear that your son suffers from migraines. I hope that he can find something that works for him. Also, be sure to have a look at his diet and figure out his headache triggers. They are different for everyone. Best of luck!

    • Random Person profile image

      Random Person 7 years ago from San Diego, California

      My very good friend, in fact her whole family, suffers from INTENSE headaches. Her mother had a severe brain tumor, but out of a miracle survived. Regularly her headaches get to the point where she vomits. Do you think that it is hereditary, or is there something wrong with her? I know you aren't a doctor, but I am curious about her condition, as her doctor's have never complained of any brain damage.

    • amy jane profile image
      Author

      amy jane 7 years ago from Connecticut

      According to my doctor, migraine disease is very often hereditary and multiple people in the same family will have them. In my family, my brother and I both have headaches. I have New Daily Persistent Headache and he has Clusters. Unfortunately, may people with migraines get to the point of vomiting. It's a common symptom. I hope that your friend has a good headache specialist. It really make a difference in treatment if you are properly diagnosed.

    • Random Person profile image

      Random Person 7 years ago from San Diego, California

      I agree, I will definitely suggest to her that she get checked by another doctor. I appreciate you sharing your experiences, and I will be sure to point her to this hub! Thank you.

    • Silver Poet profile image

      Silver Poet 7 years ago from the computer of a midwestern American writer

      You've got some fresh ideas instead of the same old stuff. Thanks for writing.

    • agvulpes profile image

      Peter 7 years ago from Australia

      amy jane , good hub on a very nasty subject. I have suffered some doozies throughout my life! I have found the best thing is to take some paracetamol tablets and have a lay down in a darkened room :-)

    • Cassidella profile image

      Cassidella 7 years ago

      Hope you will continue to be able to conquer or at least cope effectively with your headaches. Wow! Thanks for sharing this info!

    • profile image

      amitkumar 7 years ago

      Migraine is a dangerous disease and is common in 1 out of every 20 person, However few natural remedies help a lot in migraine elimination like

      1.Apply a cold pack in the forehead region, this helps in circulation of blood back to the veins.

      2.Applying a poultice of mehendi/henna paste helps a lot in controlling migraine.

      3.Cinnamon powder when applied once in a day or taken atleast 4 times in a day with cold water helps in bringing migraine to control.

      You can also have a look at my URL to know more on lifestyle management therapies.

    • amy jane profile image
      Author

      amy jane 7 years ago from Connecticut

      Thank you all for the comments and the encouraging words! There is still much to learn about migraine disease, but sometimes the most simple remedies can help tremendously.

    • profile image

      moons 6 years ago

      wow! I didn't know these things. It will be a big help for me. Thanks

    • rpalulis profile image

      rpalulis 6 years ago from NY

      Great hub, very well researched and written. I am a big fan of natural remedies, and we have several family members who suffer from migraines. I will be sharing this hub.

    • katrinasui profile image

      katrinasui 6 years ago

      I always prefer home remedies because they are without side effects if used properly. Wonderful hub with great suggestions.

    • amy jane profile image
      Author

      amy jane 6 years ago from Connecticut

      Thank rpalulis, I'm glad you found this helpful and I hope some of the suggestions can help your family members who suffer from migraines.

      Hi Katrina - I always opt for home remedies or natural remedies as well because the side effect of western medications are scary and I don't want to create more problems than I already have!

    • KimberlyAnn26 profile image

      KimberlyAnn26 6 years ago

      Great Hub. I used to suffer from migraines too. The thing that worked for me was drinking a ton of water, laying down in my bed and putting a cold compress on my head.

    • amy jane profile image
      Author

      amy jane 6 years ago from Connecticut

      Thanks Kimberly Ann. I'm glad to hear you found a remedy for your migraines. I think it's important to keep trying until we find something that works - it seems to be different for everyone. Lot's of water is great advice. :)

    • profile image

      Darvocet Lawsuit 6 years ago

      I often reward myself with relaxing get-aways and took "chill pills" once in a while to de-stress and prevent migraine occurrence. This is a great post, keep it up!

    • prasadjain profile image

      Dr.S.P.PADMA PRASAD 4 years ago from Tumkur

      Useful hub. Your trial to know yourself the effectiveness of these remedies , is laudable. A sense od detachment from worldly life, even when are involved in it, is the best remedy for all psychosomatic disorders.

    • christryon profile image

      christryon 3 years ago

      Excellent hub. I have been suffering from headaches more often as a result of surgical menopause. I have tried some of the remedies that you mentioned. I just wrote my own hub about my experience. Check it out and let me know what you think!

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