Natural headache remedies

Home remedies for minor ills can really help, if you know the right ones. Here are natural remedies for headaches that work.

Natural headache remedies

Running hot and cold

Before you reach for a pill, try these tricks and you shouldn't have to.

  • To cure a tension headache: Dip a washcloth in hot water, wring it out and fold it into a compress. Now place it on your forehead or the back of your neck to relax tight muscles.
  • To ease vascular headaches (including migraine and cluster headaches): Follow the same procedure, but using cold water, which constricts the blood vessels and reduces blood flow, taking the pressure off a hurting head.

A cup o' joe makes the headache go

A clinical trial in Illinois found caffeine, which reduces the swelling of blood vessels, can reduce both the intensity and frequency of headaches. Subjects in one group were given caffeine alone and 58 per cent reported complete relief. Subjects in the other group were given caffeine in combination with ibuprofen and 70 percent saw symptoms disappear.

Self-massage to relieve sinus headaches

Use your middle fingers to massage the points of the face just opposite your nostrils — that is, at the level of the tip of your nose. Massage with clockwise circles for two or three minutes.

The fuss over feverfew

The herb feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium), whose medicinal applications were recorded as early as 78 AD by the Greek physician Discorides, was used to treat everything from joint pain to melancholy — and yes, fever. Flash forward to the 1970s, when clinical trials in London showed the herb to be an effective treatment for migraines.

The active principles in feverfew leaves and flowers, called parthenolides, inhibit the body's release of serotonin, prostaglandins and histamines into the bloodstream, all of which can inflame tissue and trigger (and worsen) migraine headaches. To help prevent migraines, chew two or three freshly picked feverfew leaves after breakfast and dinner each day, swallowing only the juice. (Take note: Some people develop canker sores and other mouth irritations after chewing feverfew — stop chewing fresh leaves at the first sign of oral irritation.)

The herb, which modern herbalists also recommend for colds, indigestion and diarrhea, is also sold in capsules and as liquid extract. Another unprocessed option is an infusion made from feverfew flowers and leaves.

Wear a headband

Tie a scarf, necktie or bandana tightly around your forehead to reduce the flow of blood to your scalp and, in turn, throbbing, swollen blood vessels.

Head-to-toe headache remedy

Blood drawn to the lower body will reduce pressure in the blood vessels of the head and what's lower than your feet? To help soothe a throbbing vascular headache, soak your feet in a small tub filled with hot water mixed with mustard powder. After a half hour or so, dry your feet and feel better!

Sip ginger tea

When it comes to treating headaches, ginger works especially well for migraines. Make a tea by pouring 750 millilitres (three cups) of water over 30 grams (two tablespoons) freshly grated ginger. Let steep four to five minutes, then strain through a small sieve into a teacup. Ginger tea bags are also available, but the tea lacks the punch of fresh ginger.

Try one of these natural headache cures. You'll be up and about — and smiling — in no time at all.

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