Headache is a common health problem, which affects almost everyone at some point in their life. Most of us suffer from mild to excruciating headache from time to time. It can even make your daily life miserable.
Headache falls into three main categories:
- Vascular headache
- Tension headache
- Cluster headache
Vascular headache is an extremely intense and severe form of headache. It is usually caused due to excess alcohol consumption and smoking.
Tension headache is the most common type of headache. It is triggered by everyday stress like workload, crying babies and traffic jam. Tension headache is often accompanied by tightness in the neck.
Cluster headache occurs for several weeks to months, followed by periods of remission.
Some causes of headache include:
- Constriction of blood vessels
- Genetic factors
- Lack of sleep
- Prolonged stress of tension
- Excessive smoking and drinking
- Abnormal neuron activity
- Lack of water in the body
The treatment for headache depends entirely on the kind of pain you are experiencing. Over the counter medication does not cure the root cause of headaches. It only smothers the symptom to provide you temporary relief. Natural remedies are your best bet for getting relief from headache. It does not even have adverse effects on the body like the painkillers. Here are some simple home remedies for halting the pain before it becomes uncontrollable.
Cinnamon is very effective in treating headache due to cold and sinusitis. Take 1 ½ cup of milk and add 2 teaspoon of powdered cinnamon to it. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add a teaspoon of honey and stir thoroughly. Drink this concoction twice a daily to get a quick relief from headache. Alternatively, grind a stick of cinnamon with water to make a thick paste. Apply it on the temples of the forehead and you will get relief within a few minutes.
Eating apples sprinkled with salt every morning can help cure mild headache. It balances the alkaline and acidic levels in the body, treating headache.
3. Rosemary oil:
Rosemary oil contains menthol that is very effective against migraine pain. It contains rosmarinic acid, a substance that provides anti-inflammatory benefits of the rosemary oil. Massage your scalp with rosemary oil mixed with coconut oil for instant relief. Alternatively, prepare a rosemary tea by infusing one teaspoon of crushed rosemary leave and one teaspoon of crushed sage in one cup of water. Simmer for 5 minutes on low flame and drink warm. Drink this tea three times a day for optimum benefits.
Ginger is renowned for its anti-inflammatory properties. The enzymes present in ginger inhibit the prostaglandin synthesis, the main cause of headache and inflammation. It further reduces the inflammation of the blood vessels, providing relief. Ginger tea can help you get instant relief from headache. To prepare ginger tea, take 1 cup of water and add ½ teaspoon of tea leaves to it. Steep for 3 minutes and add milk and 1 teaspoon of sugar to it. Let it simmer for a few minutes and then add half teaspoon of crushed ginger to it. Serve hot. Alternatively, chewing ginger root or crystallized ginger candy can also help. Applying dried ginger powder and lemon paste on the forehead can also provide relief from headache.
Peppermint is one of the best natural ingredients for curing migraine and headache. The oil provides a soothing effect on the brain and eases comfort. The strong scent of peppermint oil regulates the blood flow in the body, curing headache. People with sensitive skin should dilute peppermint oil with water or any other oil before using. Massage the peppermint oil on the forehead, behind the jaw and on the temples. Breathe deeply in a cool and quiet place. Taking peppermint steam for a few minutes can also help.
6. Lavender oil:
Lavender oil can be both inhaled and applied for treating headache. For inhaling purposes, add 3 drops of lavender oil to 3 cups of boiling water and inhale the oil vapor. You can also apply lavender oil topically on your forehead. Do not ingest lavender oil.
The strong scent of basil makes it a natural headache treatment. The oil relaxes the muscles caused due to tension and tight muscles, treating headache. Boil 1 cup of water with a few basil leaves and simmer for 4 minutes. Leave it aside for a few minutes and then enjoy the tea slowly. Massaging the head with basil oil or chewing fresh basil can also help.
8. Apple cider vinegar:
Whenever you are down with a throbbing headache, try to inhale some apple cider vinegar in the form of steam. Mix ½ cup of apple cider vinegar with ½ cup of water. Boil the mixture in a covered saucepan. Remove from the heat and leave it for a while. Lift the cover and inhale the steam. Do this for 5 to 10 minutes or till the water cools down. This will provide relief from headache caused due to sinus.
Drink plenty of water every day to prevent and treat headaches. As soon as you experience the headache, drink a tall glass of water and keep sipping throughout the day. This will keep you stay well hydrated and your head will also hurt less.
10. Hot and cold compress:
Hot and cold compress can also give instant relief from headache caused due to blood vessels pressing on the nerves and tension. Applying a cold compress can constrict the vessels and relieve the throbbing headache. It also tightens up the muscles that pinch nerves and enlarge the blood vessels. Apply ice or a washcloth dipped in ice-cold water on one side and a cloth dipped in hot water on the other side of the head. Repeat this process several times a day. Your headache will vanish within half an hour. Place a hot compress on the forehead or the nape to relax the knotted muscles in this area. Soaking the feet in hot water will also help you treat headaches. This will draw blood to the foot, easing pressure on the blood vessels in the head.
11. Cayenne pepper:
Cayenne pepper is revered to treat pain and inflammation. It contains capsaicin, a substance that inhibits substance P, the main element of pain perception. Cayenne pepper, when applied topically to the nasal passage can significantly decrease the severity of headache. Mix ½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper in four ounces of warm water. Soak a cotton swab in it and cover it with the cayenne pepper properly. Apply the moist swab gently inside each nostril until you feel the heat. It will sting and burn for a while. The stinging sensation implies that the remedy is working. As the stinging sensation subsides, the headache will also wipe out.
Almonds are effective for treating mild, tension headache. It contains salicin, a substance that acts as a natural pain reliever. This substance is used in many over the counter medicines. Try eating a handful of almonds whenever the headache strikes to feel better. People suffering from migraine should not take almonds as it can exacerbate the condition.
Migraine induced headaches can be cured by using feverfew plant. It relaxes the constricted blood vessels, easing the migraine pain. Pathenolide, a substance in feverfew acts as aspirin, reducing inflammation and overall pain. Add one ounce of fresh or dried feverfew flowers in 200 ml water and simmer on low for 10 minutes. Drink a half cup of this tea whenever your head hurts.
14. Fish oil:
Some studies have proven that ingesting fish oil can reduce migraines and head pain. The omega 3 fatty acids in fish oil help to reduce inflammation and blood clot. These actions reduce the inflammation of blood cells that press and pinch the nerves. Mix one tablespoon of fish oil into a glass of cold orange juice and drink. Regular consumption will prevent the onset of headache.
Butterbur is a flower belonging to the daisy family. It has been used for several years by the Native Americans to treat headache caused due to migraine. The American Headache Society has found butterbur useful for preventing migraine. It contains chemicals that act as a beta-blocker, promoting normal blood flow to the brain. This controls the spasmodic capillary action that causes migraine. Taking 50 to 100 milligrams of butterbur twice a day can reduce the severity of migraine and can even prevent its onset. While purchasing butterbur, make sure that it is safely processed to remove the harmful chemicals and toxins found naturally in the plant. Do not forget to consult your health care practitioner before taking butterbur.
16. Mint juice:
Mint contains menthol and menthone, the primary components responsible for alleviating headaches. Place mint tea compress of the forehead to get rid of the discomfort. Alternatively, apply the mint juice on the forehead and temples to treat headache.
Cloves can also help ease tension headaches. Crush a few cloves and place them in a clean handkerchief. Inhale the scent of the cloves to get relief from pain. Alternatively, make a paste of three to four cloves and apply it on the forehead. The cooling effect of the clove will give you relief within minutes of application.
Massaging head in firm and circular motion with the base of the thumb and forefinger can provide you relief from headache. It promotes the blood circulation in the brain, relieving tension. Gently massaging the bridge of the nose can help to get rid of migraine and sinus headache.
Prevention and Tips:
- Physical activities like exercising, jogging, walking and swimming will prevent headache during pregnancy.
- Eating regular meals will also prevent headache. It will keep the blood sugar levels stable, preventing headache.
- Coffee, sugar drinks and alcohol dehydrate the body. Hence, should be strictly avoided.
- Avoid eating MSG. MSG can trigger migraine and other types of headache by exciting the neurons.
- Improving the sitting and sleeping posture can prevent tension type headache.
- Mental imagery is also shown to reduce milk and severe headache.
- Restrict your caffeine and chocolate intake, as they are common triggers for headache in many people.
- Grinding the teeth or clenching the jaw will also prevent headache.
- Lack of sleep is another common cause of headache, especially during pregnancy. Make sure you get 8 hours of sleep daily to prevent headache.