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Natural Headache Cures: From Migraines to Hangovers

Updated on August 17, 2013
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Everyone knows the intense throbbing, tension, pain, and discomfort a headache can bring. We have all experienced it at some point in our lives. But did you know that over 45 million Americans suffer from chronic and recurring headaches. Of these, 28 million experience migraine pain regularly. Regardless of the cause, headaches can be debilitating, making even the simplest things that much harder to do. Fortunately, there are a variety of ways to treat or even prevent your next potential headache.

Examples of Primary and Secondary Headache

Primary
Secondary
Cluster Headaches
Acute Sinusitis
Migraines
Arterial Tears
Tension Headaches
Blood Clots Within the Brain
Trigeminal Autonomic Cephalalgia (TAC)
Brain Aneurysms or Tumor
Chronic Daily Headaches
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Cough Headaches
Dehydration
Excercise Headaches
Dental Problems
Sex Headaches
Hangovers

Headache Causes

Headaches are one of the most common pain complaints.There are various causes and conditions that can result in an aching head. Some are benign while others can be real medical emergencies. Don't panic at the first sign of head pain, however, because most headaches are not the result of any serious illness.

In general, headaches are classified by cause:

  • Primary Headaches are caused by a problem with the pain-sensitive structures in the head. The chemical activity in the brain, the blood vessels or nerves of the head, or muscles of the head and/or neck (or a combination of these factors) often play a role in primary headaches. These type of headaches are far more common, making up as much as 90% of all headache complaints. They are typically not symptomatic of an underlying disease.
  • Secondary Headaches are a symptom of some kind of disease or physical illness. There are many conditions that may cause secondary headaches. These type of headaches can vary in severity, from mild to completely debilitating. Though secondary headaches are rare, it is important to recognize these type of headaches as they may be the result of something requiring medical treatment. A secondary headache will generally not resolve until the specific cause is addressed.

How Often Do You Suffer From Head Pain?

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Natural Headache Cures: Essential Oils for Headaches

There are several essentail oils that have been found to be helpful in relieving headache and migraine pain. These can be used topically for gentle pain relieving massages or as aroma therapy treatments. Essential oils should ALWAYS be diluted in a carrier oil or other liquid when used topically. A great general recipe is:

  • 1 oz. carrier oil of your choice (for example sweet almond oil or jojoba oil)
  • 6-10 drops of the essential oils of your choice (please see list below for some great choices)
  • 1 oz cobalt or amber glass bottle with orifice reducer insert (this is for storing your oil mix)

Combine the carrier oil and essential oils in the bottle and gently roll the bottle in your hands to mix. Use 1-4 drops on your finger and massage into your temples, forehead, neck, etc. You may want to experiment with your oil blend until you find a combination that works for you. One of my favorite blends is 4 drops spearmint essential oil, 8 drops lavender essential oil, and 1 oz sweet almond oil. Oils you may want to try in your mix include:

Peppermint Oil - The menthol found in peppermint oil is known to help relax and ease tension headaches as well as other muscular aches and pains. Applying peppermint oil to the hairline creates a cooling sensation that is believed to relax muscles in the head and neck. This may be a great remedy for tension headaches.

Peppermint is also said to be a great remedy for relieving the pain associated with hangovers. In addition to the above usage, a single drop of peppermint oil on the tongue may calm nausea that often accompanies a hangover headache.

Lavender Oil - The esters (linalyl acetate) found in lavender oil have anti-inflammatory and sedative properties. Many believe that using this oil in a hot footbath may draw blood to the feet and ease pressure on the blood vessels in the head, providing soothing relief.

Eucalyptus Oil - The anti-inflammatory and expectorant properties of eucalyptus oil is said to be especially effective for the relief of sinus headaches. 5 drops of eucalyptus added to one cup cold water is great for making a compress to be applied to the forehead. Just swish a cloth in the mixture, wring, and place over your forehead and eyes.

Aromatherapy for Headaches: Room Mist Air Freshener

  • 4 oz. spray bottle with a fine mist setting
  • 30 - 40 drops of your favorite essential oil or essential oil blend
  • 3 ounces of distilled water or hydrosol

Directions: Fill the spray bottle with 3 ounces distilled water or hydrosol. Add 30-40 drops of essential oil. Shake the bottle prior to use. The aroma may change after the solution has had time to sit. Wait one day before making conclusions regarding aroma strength or weakness. You may substitute 1.5 ounces of high-proof alcohol (such as vodka) for 1.5 of the distilled water or hydrosol. Using alcohol will help the aroma linger for a longer period of time. Mist the room lightly being careful to avoid furniture or open beverages.

Spearmint Oil - Often substituted for peppermint oil. Though spearmint does not contain as much menthol as peppermint, there are many who prefer the smell of spearmint oil and find it just as effective for headache relief.

Rosemary Oil - Rosemary oil contains carvacrol which acts as a COX-II inhibitor (found in anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen). A dab or two on each temple and on the forehead while gently massaging is said to relieve headaches after several minutes of sitting quietly.

Roman Chamomile Oil - This oil is high in esters much like lavender oil. It, therefore, has anti-inflammatory as well as sedative properties. This is great for relieving evening or nighttime headaches.

How to Make a Herbal Tincture

Herbal Pill Recipe for Tension Headaches

  • 2 tablespoons valerian, dried
  • 2 tablespoons chamomile, dried
  • 2 tablespoons skullcap, dried
  • 2 tablespoons peppermint, dried
  • 2 tablespoons rosemary, dried
  • Honey

Using a food processor or coffee grinder, grind all herb until powered. Blend with enough honey to bind. Break off small, pill-sized pieces and roll into a ball, flattening slightly. Dry then store in a tightly sealed container. Use 1 or 2 to help relieve a tension headache.

Natural Headache Cures: Herbs for Headaches

Herbal teas, herbal baths, and even herbal tinctures can be a great way to treat a variety of headache types.

Ginger - Crushing fresh ginger root and adding boiling water creates a great homemade tea that reduces inflammation and is, therefore, great for treating tension headaches. This remedy is said to work in the same amount of time as an aspirin. It may also be useful for hangover relief.

Cayenne Pepper - The active ingredient in capsaicin cream is cayenne pepper. If you are experiencing a cluster headache, identify which side of your head is hurting then apply a small amount of capsaicin cream to the nostril that is on that side of your head. The cream works by blocking the nerve signals of pain and has been found to be most effective by users.

Feverfew - This supplement is part of the sunflower family and has been found to be quite effective for treating migraines. Feverfew works by reducing inflammation thereby taking pressure off the nerves. In this way feverfew can prevent migraines all together.

Willow Bark - Willow Bark is know as "natures aspirin." Mix with cold water for a bitter tonic or make a tincture. Willow bark tinctures can often be found ready-made in many health food stores.

Chamomile - Chamomile has properties that is said to relieve tension and ease pain. Slowly sipping hot chamomile tea and sitting quietly for a few moments may be just the thing to ease your next headache naturally.

Butterbur - Butterbur extract can be very effective against migraine pain. Studies have shown that this herb significantly reduced migraine attacks when compared to a placebo.

Sage - This herb is said to be great for hormonally cause headaches and those related to digestion. May also work for tension headaches as well.

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Kudzu Root - This is a great preventative measure for hangovers. Kudzu root may actually reduce the desire to drink.

Turmeric - The curcumin found in turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties, making the spice great for many different ailments. Turmeric may be especially useful in when it comes to hangovers as well. It helps to "mop up" the acid residue that alcohol leaves. This may prevent or relieve nausea, detoxify the liver, and help your mood.

Skullcap - Headaches that may result from dental issues such as teeth grinding or jaw tension may respond well to skullcap.

Peony - Headaches and neck spasms that result from sensory over stimulation may respond well to peony. This herb is rather cool and is not recommend for headaches which are aggravated by cold.

Vervain - For conditions such as PMS and tension headaches, many have found vervain to bring about relief. A very small dose of the herb in a tincture is enough.

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Acupressure and Headaches

According to the ancient Chinese healing method of acupressure, applying pressure to certain points of the body can relieve pain. Use caution, however, when engaging in self acupressure. Though there are no toxic effects, there are a few warnings to be aware of.

1.If you are pregnant, please only practice self acupressure under the guidance of a doctor or trained practitioner. Acupressure can induce labor if you are not careful.

2. Those who bruise easily, having bleeding disorders, or are taking blood thinners or steroids treatments should not engage in acupressure.

3. Acupressure points can become sore or tender following a treatment.

4. Some have become dizzy and/or lightheaded following acupressure. Use caution until you feel normal again.

5. Avoid acupressure if you have osteoporosis, a spinal injury, or any orthopedic injury.

With these words of caustion in mind, acupressure can be an effective treatment for headache and migraine pain.

There are various pressure points on the body that have been found to relieve the pain caused by headaches. These points relieve pain by releasing the body's natural pain relievers known as endorphins. Some common areas that include pressure points for headaches include:


The Head Massage - Using a light, slow movement similar to washing you hair, work your entire scalp with a small circular motion. Do not drag your fingers from one section to the next. Instead, lift them completely, gently placing them again on the next section to be massaged.

The Toes - Place your finger in the depression between your first and second toe. Press firmly for approximately 3 to 5 minutes.

The Base of the Skull - There are five pressure points for headache relief along the base of your skull. The first is in the middle where the spine come up to meet the skull. With you thumb press and hold the small indentation in this area.

The second and third points are located approximately one inch out on either side of you spine. These should be worked as a pair. The forth and fifth point are also worked together. They can be found just behind the ears.

The Temples - We instinctively tend to rub our temples when we have a headache. The temples are a natural spot for headache relief. Use the pads of your fingers to apply gentle pressure to your temples, massaging in a slow circular motion.

Natural Headache Cures: Foods that Help Headaches

Lastly, there are other foods that can aid in preventing and treating headaches. Keep a few of these on hand to pull out the next time your head begins to throb.

Baked Potato - Particularly great for alcohol related headaches, baked potatoes are potassium rich and can help alleviate hangovers by replenishing electrolytes loss by the alcohol consumption.

Watermelon - Dehydration is one of the most common causes of headaches. Water-rich foods, such as watermelons, can help prevent and treat these type of headaches and keep you hydrated. Other water rich food choices includ berries, soups, cucumber, melon, lettuce, and tomatoes.

Coffee - An age old remedy for hangover pain, the caffeine in coffee is a vasoconstrictor and can alleviate a headache by reducing the size of the blood vessels. This should be done in moderation, however, because too much caffeine can actually increase dehydration and increase the severity of a headache.

Almonds - Almonds are rich in magnesium which may protect the body from headaches by relaxing the blood vessels. Other magnesium rich roods include avocados, dried apricots, bananas, legumes, seeds, cashews, and brown rice.

There are more headache remedies out there that can ever be contained in one article, but hopefully the above suggestions will get you started on healing or even preventing your next potential headache naturally and effectively.

© 2013 LQWILLIams

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    • HeatherH104 profile image

      HeatherH104 3 years ago from USA

      Very interesting and useful! When I get headaches I start with drinking a glass of water first. This usually helps except when it's a sinus headache which I end up having to resort to decongestant.

      I have heard of peppermint oil being useful for headaches (and bad sinuses) but never tried it. I think I'll try it next time.

      Voted up and shared.

    • LQWILLIams profile image
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      LQWILLIams 3 years ago

      Thank you for reading and commenting. Let me know if the peppermint oil works for you.

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