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Wednesday 3 April 2019

Natural Remedies To Relieve Headaches (Drug-Free!)

I first saw this article on Food Matters site, who saw it on the Everyday Roots site and thought it one to share. There is also more information to read at 'Everyday Roots' that may be of interest to you ...
"Headaches often get brushed aside as nothing more than a common complaint, a quit-your-whining-and-start-working type of thing…if only. While many people suffer them at one point or another, rarity is not the best way to judge just how nasty something can be. The pain of a headache can make day-to-day life a miserable challenge, and forces us to head straight for the aspirin. This is a sticky situation because ultimately that will only perpetuate the problem.

When you take over-the-counter pain killers all you’re doing is smothering your symptoms and ignoring the real issue of what triggers the headache. Natural remedies for headaches may take a bit more thought than simply popping a pill, but don’t brush them off. They won’t wreak havoc on your body like other over-the-counter or prescription pain-killers do, and you’re less likely to become so dependent on them that you need them for every little ache.

Drink Up
Leave the pill packet in the medicine cabinet and grab yourself a glass of water. Scientists have found that regularly sipping water can reduce the severity of headaches and migraines and help reduce the need for prescription medication. On average we don't drink enough water daily, and that alone is cause for a headache. Coffee, alcohol, sugary drinks, all can dehydrate you (hence the pounding headache that comes along with a hangover) and should be avoided. Simply sipping water may seem too obvious or simple to actually work as a headache remedy but it can, and often times does. 

Crush It With Cayenne

Utilizing something spicy may not sound headache helpful, but cayenne is somewhat revered in the kingdom of natural remedies to treat pain and inflammation. The secret behind its success lies in an ingredient called capsaicin, which inhibits something in our body that is one of the main elements in pain perception called Substance P. In short, Substance P is part of what makes us feel pain, and the capsaicin depletes it. Numerous studies, the first in 1998 in The Clinical Journal of Pain, support that when applied topically to the nasal passages; people experience a significant decrease in the severity of their headaches, all thanks to capsaicin.

You will need
1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder
4 ounces of warm water
cotton swabs
Dilute a 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne powder in 4 ounces of warm water.
Soak a cotton swab in the solution and stir it around to make sure it’s covered-the powder can sometimes sink to the bottom.
Apply the moist swab gently to the inside of each nostril until you can feel the heat. It may be a bit unpleasant at first, but take the burning sensation as a sign that it’s working.

When it subsides, your headache will hopefully be wiped out, or at the very least better than before. 

Go Nuts 
Instead of popping a pill when you get a headache, toss back some almonds*. For everyday tension-type headaches, almonds can be a natural remedy and a healthier alternative to other medicine. It acts as a pain reliever because it contains something called salicin, which is also an agent in popular over the counter killers. Try eating a handful or two of these wholesome nuts when you feel the ache start to set in.

*Note: There are some people who suffer from migraines who may find that almonds are a trigger food. 

Find Some Feverfew

Headaches, particularly migraines, can be relieved through the use of the feverfew plant. When a migraine is in the works your blood vessels are changing, and theories suggest that the vessels in your head are expanding and pressing on nerves. Feverfew has been confirmed to relax the tension/constrict blood vessels, easing the painful pressure. It also reduces inflammation and pain overall with a substance called parthenolide, which has results similar to taking daily aspirin, but without the side effects.

You will need
1 ounce fresh or dried flowers
1 pint of boiling water
Add 1 ounce of fresh or dried feverfew flowers to 1 pint of boiling one.
Steep for 10 minutes, and then strain.
Drink half a cup twice a day as needed. 

Apply An Apple Cider Vinegar Compress
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) has a long history in the realm of natural remedies. It’s been used to relieve everything from scurvy to hay fever, and just about any other ailment that falls in between. Some modern-day studies have proven its effectiveness in treating certain illnesses, but most of its clout lies in the reports of people throughout the centuries who have benefited from it. If you find yourself coming down with a throbbing headache, try getting some quality ACV time into your day in the form of a steam-style treatment.

You will need
1/4 cup of ACV
Roughly 3 cups of boiling water

1 cup of fresh cool water
Pour ¼ cup of apple cider vinegar into a large bowl, and then fill the bowl halfway with boiling water.
Place a towel over your head so that it drapes over the bowl, trapping the steam, and hold your face over it. Make sure your face isn’t so close that it gets burned by the steam. Do this for 5-10 minutes, or when the water starts to cool down, breathing in and out deeply the whole time.

When you’re done, use the towel to pat your face dry, and go drink a glass of cool water. 

Stretch, Relax, And Breathe
Our lives are fast-paced, busy, and filled with more than a little stress. Our overworked minds and bodies react to this by tensing and knotting up muscles, usually in the upper back, neck, and shoulders. Thanks to a little something called referred pain-pain felt in an area other than where the actual painful stimulus is-we end up with tension-type headaches. To help head these buggers off, try some of the following tips. 
Do yoga: Yoga will get your mind focused, stretch out your muscles, and get you moving in ways that can help you drop the tension and if you drop the tension, you can drop the tension-headache. Just doing a few moves when the pain starts up can help, but the best thing to do is a set aside a few minutes each day to practice regularly and prevent headaches before they happen.
Breathe: You may think your breathing alright, but if your head is pounding you’re likely not getting the most out of the oxygen you take in. In general, we take breaths that are too shallow, and when we are experiencing pain or stress, we definitely breathe to shallow. Make a conscious effort to take deep, full, breaths that start in your diaphragm and fill up your lungs. This will get you plenty of fresh oxygen circulating through your blood and will also help relax your mind and body. 
Drop your shoulders: This is one I remind myself to do about 5 times a day. Make yourself aware of how you carry your shoulders. When you think of it, tell yourself to drop them down. You’d be surprised at how often we carry them hunched up too high, resulting in soreness and, of course, headaches.

Hot Or Cold? 
Headaches are tricky little things, with what clears them up for one person totally triggering them for another. There’s evidence to support both hot and cold compress treatments, and it all has to do with the muscles and blood vessels. Some headaches are caused, at least in part, by an expanded blood vessel pressing on nerves. For these, applying something cold to the area can constrict those vessels and relieve some of the pressure causing the throbbing ache. Other headaches are caused by tension and anxiety, and cold tends to tighten up muscles that then pinch nerves and enlarge blood vessels. You’ll have to play around to see if you’re someone who benefits from cold/ cool treatment or hot/warm, while some people find alternating between the two works best.

You will need
Cold compress, such as a bag of frozen peas, a bag of ice, or a cold pack.
Hot compress, such as a towel soaked in very warm water.
Find a quiet place to lie down, preferably where you can dim the lights or turn them off.
Place the cold or hot compress on your forehead and relax.
At some point, try switching to the back of your head, or the top, depending on where the pain is concentrated.
You can also try a cold compress at one location and a hot compress on another, either on your head, or place the hot compress on your shoulders if your headache is from tension. Do this for as long as you feel you need to.

Try sipping fresh water through a straw if you can manage during or after the treatment, and make sure to ease back into your daily routine-don’t just dash onto a crowded street in blinding sunlight. 

Avoid MSG
Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is added to food to enhance its flavour. It is derived from an amino acid, called glutamic acid, which occurs naturally in various foods. Many people who suffer headaches find that foods containing MSG trigger migraines or other types of headaches, possibly due to the fact that it excites our neurons. Make sure you read food labels to check if the product has MSG, the FDA is requiring companies to list it, however, it can also be hidden as a component of other ingredients. Watch for some of these words, which can give away “hidden” MSG, and be extra cautious around Chinese food, processed meats, canned vegies, gravy/soup/dip mixes, and soy-based items. 

Munch On Ginger Root 
Prostaglandin synthesis is a process that takes place in some animals (including humans) that makes lipid (fat) compounds within their cells. Those fatty substances are like little chemical messengers that mediate biological processes, like inflammation and alerting neurons to pain. Certain enzymes spark off the prostaglandin synthesis, while some drugs, such as aspirin, inhibit the synthesis. Ginger root, a natural alternative, is thought to inhibit the synthesis as well. On top of that, if you’re getting knocked with a migraine, it can help quell your nausea. Simply sip a nice steaming cup of ginger root tea and relax while you wait for your headache to ease up.

You will need
3 quarter size slices of ginger root
2 cups of water
Slice 3 slices off of a piece of raw ginger root, with each being roughly the size of a quarter.
Gently simmer the pieces of ginger in 2 cups of water, covered, for 30 minutes.
Use something to remove the pieces of ginger and transfer to a mug, or if you prefer, leave them in.
Sip slowly and breathe in the steam if you want.

Apply Peppermint Oil
Peppermint oil has a wonderfully soothing effect when you’re suffering from a headache, easing the discomfort and clearing your mind. It can be applied to various places, and people who use it find that it works quickly to relieve pain. If you have sensitive skin and find that it irritates it, try diluting it with a bit of olive oil or water.

You will need
Peppermint oil
Massage the peppermint oil onto your temples, the back of your jaw, and forehead. You will feel a cooling sensation upon applying it. Breathe deeply, and if possible, find a quiet place to relax and sip some cool water. 

Butterbur For Migraines

Butterbur refers to plants found in the daisy family. Long used by Native Americans as a remedy for headaches and inflammation, Butterbur has gained more and more credit lately in the world of western medicine, and the American Academy of Neurology and American Headache Society both endorse butterbur for preventing migraines based on at least two strong clinical trials. It is thought to be effective because some Butterbur species contain chemicals that work in two ways, one in which inflammatory effects of certain chemicals are lowered, and the other being that it functions as a natural beta blocker, which results in normal flow of blood to the brain. That, in turn, can help control blood pressure/the spasmodic capillary action that can cause migraines. The highest concentration of the plants' helpful chemicals are found in Butterbur root.

Important Please Note: The usual adult dosage is 50-100 milligrams twice daily to help reduce the severity of migraines/ prevent them, but check with a healthcare practitioner before using butterbur as a migraine treatment. Look for a brand of extract labelled PA-Free, which ensures that it was safely processed to remove potentially harmful, toxic, chemicals found naturally in the plant."

Have any of these natural remedies helped you with your headaches?
Do you have other natural solutions that work for you?

Dear reader, you will find a variety of articles and recipe ideas within this blog, and not all may be suitable for you. If you may have any food allergies, or underlying health issues please take these into account. If you are a diabetic and not sure how certain foods may affect your blood sugars, test is best, i.e. use your meter.

All the best Jan


Anonymous said...

great tips!

William Kendall said...

Good suggestions!

Susan Kane said...

These are suggestions which I have never heard of. Thanks.

Professional headacher here.

Christine said...

Thanks for these healthy tips!

Miss Val's Creations said...

Great tips. I usually only get headaches when dehydrate so water is my go to!

only slightly confused said...

You can also relieve headache pain by squeezing your ear lobe on the side of your head the headache has taken root in. Sounds weird but it actually works. Acupressure.

Lady Caer Morganna said...

Thank you so much for the great info! I have suffered from migraines for many years and have managed to control much of it through my diet - THIS DOES WORK!!!

Margaret D said...

Interesting suggestions for those that may need them.

Lorrie said...

Great tips. It's helpful to be aware of headaches of different sorts. Sometimes I know that I need to drink more, other times I need to stretch my neck and drop my shoulders. Thanks for sharing these!

Elephant's Child said...

Drinking water and a cool damp cloth on my eyes and temple sometimes help. Not always, but they are certainly worth trying.

mamasmercantile said...

I am thankful that I don't suffer with headaches very often but worth taking note of these alternatives to medication.

Iris Flavia said...

I´m so lucky I near to never have headache, but if I´ll ask hubby to come back to this!

Valerie-Jael said...

Some good ideas there, and better than pills, for sure. When I walk a lot I don't get headaches. Valerie

My name is Erika. said...

This helpful right now for me Jan as my sinuses have been driving me crazy all winter. It is one constant minor headache I think. Thanks for all the suggestions. hugs-Erika

mxtodis123 said...

I've been blessed. I rarely have a headache and when I do it is usually sinus. Thanks for the good info.

R's Rue said...

Thank you.

Author R. Mac Wheeler said...

What I need is a giant machine to suck up all of this Florida pollen. Ug.

eileeninmd said...


These all sounds like great tips to relieve the headaches. Thanks for sharing!
Enjoy your day and weekend ahead.

Betty J. Crow said...

Lots of good information here. Fortunately, I don't get frequent headaches, but some of these would be helpful for Hubs. Thanks for sharing.

Sami said...

Luckily I hardly ever have headaches, maybe once or twice a year and that's usually because I'm dehydrated.
Thanks for the info, will pass it on to a friend who suffers from headaches.

Bill said...

Good info to have, thanks for sharing!

Out on the prairie said...

There is pressure point in the web between your thumb and index finger. When one has a headache there often is a hardness you feel when you pinch this area, called acupressure.Feverfew can be tough on someone in Menses, it is a blood thinner.My great grandfather had 11 children and ate a raw onion when his came on. Aspirin is grey willow bark originally.

Bob Bushell said...

I never had a headache, but, that's way to do it Jan.

Jordi López Pérez said...

Manudo articulo!!! Muy interesante y documentado.Me gusta!!!

Teresa said...

Muy buena información. Un beso.

Lee said...

Fortunately, I don't suffer headaches...or migraines.

carol l mckenna said...

Some good suggestions here and apple cider vinegar good for lots of things ~

Happy Days to you,
A ShutterBug Explores,
aka (A Creative Harbor)

baili said...

this is a REMARKABLE POST dear Jan!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

back in days i used to suffer ALOT with migraine and headache

since many years i don't have any of these anymore though unless i have to socialize for long

i find all the remedies very useful but i would love to try one with ginger root as it smells good :)

Betsy Banks Adams said...

Hi, Interesting thoughts on headaches. Luckily, I don't get headaches very often... But --the next time I get one, I'll definitely eat a few almonds.... THANKS!!!!

Isn't it amazing how helpful Apple Cider Vinegar is --for so many things????


Crafty Green Poet said...

This is excellent, very informative and I'll pass it on to a friend who suffers really bad headaches as well as keeping it for my own reference.

Somehow I had missed this post earlier so thanks for leaving the link in your comment on my blog!

italiafinlandia said...

Nice to know. Who does not have a headache from time to time?

Magic Love Crow said...

I truly love this post Jan! Thank you for all this great information!