Natural Headache Remedies That Actually Work
When you have a headache, you want it to stop. And you want it to stop now. Sure, we can treat migraines and severe headaches with a specialized treatment plan , but if its late at night, or you want to reduce your medication intake, home remedies may be just what you are looking for. They are easy to do and have no harmful side effects. Of course, there are several different remedies available for headaches, and not all of them will work for everyone, but here are a few that are definitely worth a shot.
Found in abundance in dark chocolate, dried figs, mackerel, and pumpkin seeds, magnesium may be the answer to your headache woes. Most people who experience migraines or tension headaches have low levels of magnesium present in their brains at the time. Multiple clinical studies using placebos have proven that when more magnesium is ingested, headaches decrease. And dont worry if you arent particularly fond of figs or pumpkin seeds, you can get the magnesium you need through a supplement. You should aim for 400 mg per day of either magnesium oxide or chelated magnesium.
Soak Your Feet
This blog is written for informational purposes only and should not be a substitute for actual medical treatment. Please contact the APM Augusta office to schedule an appointment if you are in need of medical care.
You Might Also Enjoy…
Headache And Migraine Remedies That Are Safe During Pregnancy
Most women deal with headaches at some point in their lives. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest that one in five women had a severe acute headache or migraine in the previous three months. Additionally, migraines are more common in women than men approximately 18 percent of women have them compared to 6.5 percent of men.
Because headaches and migraines are so common, its probably no surprise that many women deal with them during pregnancy. For the majority of pregnant women, occasional headaches or migraines are no cause for alarm, and most standard treatments are safe. However, suffering a severe headache at key times during or after pregnancy can indicate a serious medical emergency.
Natural Alternatives & Complementary Medicines
Complementary medicines is a term that is frequently used in a variety of contexts in Australia, capturing a large range of different alternative therapies from herbal medicines, traditional Chinese medicines, homeopathy and aromatherapy and also encompasses vitamin and mineral supplements.
Natural Doesnt Always Mean Safe
There can be a perception that because a treatment is available from a health food shop or the supermarket that the risks of using these treatments must be low. Unfortunately that is not always the case. It is important to remember that even natural alternatives are medicines anything that affects biological processes in the body can be considered a medicine. They all have risks and benefits, and health professional guidance is always recommended to help in weighing up the pros and cons of each option.
Regulation of Natural Alternatives
Like prescription medicines and over the counter medicines, many natural medicines and supplements are regulated in Australia by the Therapeutic Goods Administration .
There are two main categories for medicines that are available over the counter. They can be either categorised as a listed medicine or as a registered medicine. Any prescription medicine will be registered . Most natural medicines will be listed medicines and considered to be lower risk in general or used to manage lower risk conditions.
Be Careful Buying Online
You May Like: Migraine Low Heart Rate
Get Rid Of A Headache By Drinking Water
Dehydration is a very common cause for headaches, Dr. Vila says.
When you dont have enough fluids in your body, your blood volume decreases overall. Not only does that lower the amount of oxygen-rich blood flowing into your brain, but it can also cause the brain to contract a bit temporarily.
That tightness, as well as the decreased oxygen, can cause pain. So if you keep your hydration level up to par, that could ward off the pain-causing lack of blood flow.
Take Vitamins Or Supplements
There are many vitamins, supplements, and herbal remedies that can alleviate or prevent headaches, especially migraines.
Devine says these natural remedies work to relieve headaches by improving your circulation, acting as an anti-inflammatory, bringing more oxygen to your tissues, providing muscle relaxation, or offering direct pain relief.
For example, Devine recommends the following:
Recommended Reading: Can You Take Excedrin And Naproxen
Placebo Responses To Medications
The placebo response tends to a negative reputation. It is often used to say something is not an active medicine, its just a placebo. The truth is every treatment contains some component of the placebo effect. Even with registered prescription medicines, theyll have some biological effect and a non-specific or placebo effect. This biologically active molecule will have an impact on your physiology which causes the specific effect of that treatment. Associated with the treatment are a whole range of contextual cues and expectations that create nonspecific treatment effects. It is the sum of whats happened to your biology, and those nonspecific effects that give you the end result.
That is part of the reason why one person might respond to one thing, and another person responds to something else. Or you respond on one day to something, and then you dont respond to it on another day. These may be small variances, but it is interesting to see that this has been clinically shown to affect treatment response.
Factors shown to influence the outcome or your response to treatment can be divided in to three categories. These factors:
- Relate to the patient
- Relate to the health practitioner
- Relate to the treatment
Theres also crossover between some of the other factors. For example if your health practitioner believes in the treatment that theyre giving you, its more likely to work for you.
What Are The Four Stages Or Phases Of A Migraine Whats The Timeline
The four stages in chronological order are the prodrome , aura, headache and postdrome. About 30% of people experience symptoms before their headache starts.
The phases are:
It can take about eight to 72 hours to go through the four stages.
Don’t Miss: Ear Piercing That Relieves Headaches
Whats A Migraine Journal
- Keeping a migraine journal is not only beneficial to you, but it helps your healthcare provider with the diagnosis process. Your journal should be detailed and updated as much as possible before, during and after a migraine attack. Consider keeping track of the following:
- The date and time of when the migraine began specifically when the prodrome started, if youre able to tell its happening. Track time passing. When did the aura phase begin? The headache? The postdrome? Do your best to tell what stage youre in and how long it lasts. If theres a pattern, that may help you anticipate what will happen in the future.
- What are your symptoms? Be specific.
- Note how many hours of sleep you got the night before it happened and your stress level. Whats causing your stress?
- Note the weather.
- Log your food and water intake. Did you eat something that triggered the migraine? Did you miss a meal?
- Describe the type of pain and rate it on a one to 10 scale with 10 being the worst pain youve ever experienced.
- Where is the pain located? One side of your head? Your jaw? Your eye?
- List all of the medications you took. This includes any daily prescriptions, any supplements and any pain medication you took.
- How did you try to treat your migraine, and did it work? What medicine did you take, at what dosage, at what time?
- Consider other triggers. Maybe you played basketball in the sunlight? Maybe you watched a movie that had flashing lights? If youre a woman, are you on your period?
Acute Migraine Headache: Treatment Strategies
LAURA MAYANS, MD, MPH, and ANNE WALLING, MB, ChB, University of Kansas School of Medicine, Wichita, Kansas
Am Fam Physician. 2018 Feb 15 97:243-251.
Patient information: A handout on this topic is available at .
Migraine is a primary headache disorder characterized by recurrent attacks. Acetaminophen, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, triptans, antiemetics, ergot alkaloids, and combination analgesics have evidence supporting their effectiveness in the treatment of migraine. Acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are first-line treatments for mild to moderate migraines, whereas triptans are first-line treatments for moderate to severe migraines. Although triptans are effective, they may be expensive. Other medications such as dihydroergotamine and antiemetics are recommended for use as second- or third-line therapy for select patients or for those with refractory migraine. The pharmacologic properties, potential adverse effects, cost, and routes of administration vary widely, allowing therapy to be individualized based on the pattern and severity of attacks. Several treatment principles, including taking medication early in an attack and using a stratified treatment approach, can help ensure that migraine treatment is cost-effective.
SORT: KEY RECOMMENDATIONS FOR PRACTICE
SORT: KEY RECOMMENDATIONS FOR PRACTICE
Recommendations from the Choosing Wisely Campaign
BEST PRACTICES IN NEUROLOGY
Read Also: Why Do You Get Headaches When Your Pregnant
Overview Of Common Headache Types & Symptoms
Generally headaches can be separated into two main categories. There are primary headaches, where the headache is the condition itself and secondary headaches, which are caused by an underlying condition or some other factor.
Most people have probably experienced a temporary cold or flu at some point in their life, thus have probably experienced a cold-associated headache. This type of headache would be a secondary type of headache.
The most common type of headache is tension-type headache. Statistically, the vast majority of the population has experienced a tension-type headache at some point. Tension-type headaches are the type of headaches that feel like a band of pressure around your head or a kind of tightening or squeezing feeling.
The pain is usually located on both sides of the head at once. The quality of the pain is usually a sort of a dull, aching type feeling and is usually fairly constant.. In terms of intensity, we generally call these headaches mild to moderate, however some people can experience severe tension-type headaches.
Tension-type headaches typically last for a few hours. Unfortunately for some people, they can last all day or even for multiple days in a row. Often tension-type headaches are associated with tension or tightness in the muscles and neck, which is where they originally got their name.
When Headaches Are Secondary To Other Problems
Headaches can result from other conditions, some of which are life-threatening:
Stroke: Sudden and severe headaches might be a sign of a stroke. Women who have strokes during pregnancy or after delivery typically describe the pain as the worst headache of their lives. They also might report other symptoms, such as speech problems, vision issues, or functional problems on one side of the face or body. At the emergency room, the doctor will evaluate you for stroke symptoms, such as visual changes, facial drooping, and arm or leg weakness. If you are having or had a stroke, we will get you emergency treatment at our Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center.
Preeclampsia: A headache with preeclampsia can indicate a dangerous spike in blood pressure. The doctor will assess you and might admit you to the hospital for management of blood pressure and treatment to prevent seizures.
Spinal fluid leak: A headache after an epidural or spinal block can indicate a spinal fluid leak, especially if it worsens when you sit or stand up. The most effective treatment is an epidural blood patch, in which the doctor injects a sample of your blood into the leaking area, essentially plugging the hole. This therapy provides dramatic relief right away.
Don’t Miss: Does Motrin Help Headaches
Acute Treatment For Cluster Headaches
Given the severity and also the relative brevity of cluster headaches, acute treatments need to work quickly to relieve the pain and suffering caused by them. According to neurologist and headache expert and researcher Peter J. Goadsby, MBBS, writing for the American Headache Society, effective acute treatments for cluster headaches include:
- Inhaled oxygen
- Injected dihydroergotamine
- Topical lidocaine nasal drops
Another option, the drug Emgality , was approved in 2019 to treat cluster headaches, becoming the only drug specifically approved for this type of headache. Its also approved for the prevention of migraine attacks.
When used to treat cluster headaches, Emgality is self-administered using three, 100-milligram prefilled syringes, which are taken one after the other at the start of a cluster period and then every month until the end of the cluster period.
Emgality belongs to a class of drugs known as calcitonin gene-related peptide antibodies. Drugs in this class are either targeted against CGRP receptors or against CGRP itself.
Drink Caffeinated Tea Or Coffee
Sipping on beverages that contain caffeine, such as tea or coffee, may provide relief when you are experiencing a headache.
Caffeine improves mood, increases alertness and constricts blood vessels, all of which can have a positive effect on headache symptoms .
It also helps 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.
Therefore, people who get frequent headaches should be mindful of their caffeine intake .
Certain herbs including feverfew and butterbur may reduce headache symptoms.
Feverfew is a flowering plant that has anti-inflammatory properties.
Some studies suggest that taking feverfew supplements in doses of 50150 mg per day may reduce headache frequency. However, other studies have failed to find a benefit .
Butterbur root comes from a perennial shrub native to Germany and, like feverfew, has anti-inflammatory effects.
Several studies have shown that taking butterbur extract in doses of 50150 mg reduces headache symptoms in both adults and children .
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 (
Foods containing them have been shown to trigger headaches in some people.
Also Check: Migraines And Fever
Reach For An Ice Pack Or Hot Pack
Which one you prefer is up to you, but they both can help with migraines and headaches. “Ice packs work because they basically numb the area,” Dr. Newman says. “Hot packs work because they increase the blood flow to that area.” If you’re at home, try stepping in the shower and letting the warm water hit your head.
What Are The Causes Of A Migraine
Migraines arent the same as other types of headaches. Migraine is a genetic neurological disease in which there is an interplay between the pain neurons in the brain and the blood vessels.
Migraines can be set off by different stimuli, foods, and conditions. These triggers vary from person to person, with the most common including:
Don’t Miss: Migraine Goes Away After Vomiting
Use Caffeine With Caution
Caffeine is an analgesic. Its up there with aspirin and naproxen and ibuprofen, says Cowan, which means that drinking coffee or strong tea may help reduce migraine symptoms in the short term. But in the long run, he says, you may be better off without caffeine in your diet.
It has a definite downside in that your body quickly becomes dependent on it, Cowan says. So if you consume caffeine on a regular basis but then skip it one day, that can trigger a migraine. But as long as you stick to a consistent intake, he says, consuming some caffeine shouldnt be a problem.
When To Seek Professional Treatment
Knowing when you need to see a doctor is another critical aspect of living with migraines. Get emergency medical help if you experience:
- A headache worse than any youve experienced in the past
- Problems speaking, along with vision and motor function
- Loss of balance, or other neurological symptoms
- Sudden onset of headache
In addition, call your doctor if any of the following happens:
- Theres a change in the pattern of your headaches.
- Your treatments arent working anymore.
- Youre experiencing side effects from medications.
- Youve started taking birth control while on medications.
- Youre taking pain medications three or more days a week.
- Headaches are worse when youre lying down.
Recommended Reading: Confusional Migraine Treatment
Relaxation And Breathing Exercises
The goal in relaxation and breathing exercises is to produce the bodys natural relaxation response, which is characterized by slower breathing, lower blood pressure, and a feeling of increased well-being, according to the National Institutes of Health.2 Relaxation techniques can help a variety of health conditions and may help with chronic pain and headaches in children and adolescents, according to the NIH.
We tend to breathe short breaths when we are in pain, Dr. Znidarsic says. Learning to breathe deeply can help alleviate the pain. It is important that you learn to relax your muscles and do deep breathing.