Headaches have been a bit of a plague for my family. My dad gets them a lot, as well as some of his siblings, my cousins, and a few of my own siblings.
Fear of headaches is such an ingrained thing in me, that when I read that the FDA had strengthened its warnings that NSAIDs (that’s ibuprofen type pain meds) increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, I thought “well, I’m doomed”.
I’m either going to spend my life in pain, or die of a heart attack – or both given my family history.
But after my mom passed away from a massive heart attack at the age of fifty-five, I knew that this wasn’t a joke anymore – I had to stop with the NSAIDS, and find another way to control my headaches.
The biggest factor, first and foremost is living a healthier lifestyle. I truly believe that eating healthier, creating healthier habits like drinking plenty of water, cutting out soft drinks, exercising more, paying attention to and addressing muscle tension, have had the single biggest impact on my headaches (or lack thereof).
But even though my own incidence of headaches is greatly reduces, I do still get them occasionally, and when I do, I’ve learned to turn to natural remedies rather than grabbing the bottle of Ibuprofen (That yes, I keep in the cupboard as backup).
Here are my top Five favorite natural headache remedies
Please note, these statements are based solely on my personal experience, and have not been evaluated by the FDA.
Lavender, Peppermint, and Valerian
Simply add 5-10 drops each of Lavender essential oil, Peppermint essential oil, and Valerian essential oil to a roller bottle, and top off with a carrier oils such as fractionated coconut oil, and roll on around the neck and shoulders as needed. This blend has proven to be particularly effective on sinus headaches. The peppermint works to open up the sinuses, the lavender helps to relax aggravated muscles and nervous system, and the valerian has a calming and restorative effect on the central nervous system.
Sometimes, when a headache is caused by tense muscles, they just need some help relaxing again! That’s where magnesium comes in. It’s no secret that much of the United States population is low on magnesium, and a good magnesium supplement could cure your headache. Eating magnesium-rich foods such as broccoli, spinach, and many nuts could also work to ward off future headaches. In retrospect, I wonder how much of my headache reduction could be attributed to the high dark-leafy-greens-and-cruciferous-vegetables diet I adopted a little over two years ago.
Crush up an inch or so of ginger root, add some boiling water (and don’t forget to sweeten it with honey!), and you have a simple, but effective homemade headache remedy. Ginger is known to decrease inflammation, and has been used in Asia for centuries. The neat thing is, ginger tea can work to reduce inflammation in about the same time that an aspirin would. (this is also a remedy my sister swears by for reducing menstrual cramps)
Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it! Find a guided stretching or yoga video on Youtube to follow along with (this is my favorite one), and try it. This works more cumulatively than as an emergency headache relief remedy. I have seen a lot of progress in my neck and shoulder mobility as a result of committing to spending 20-30 minutes 2-3 times a week stretching those ares, and the reduced tension is definitely a factor in reducing tension headaches.
I know, not everyone has access to a massage therapist 24/7, but even the most rudimentary neck and shoulder massage can be helpful, so don’t hesitate to ask you spouse to help you out – chances are he’d rather try than see you in pain and grumpy. I like to have my husband rub Relaxation massage oil into my neck with the massage. It’s so well, relaxing!
Natural headache remedies may not be quite as simple as popping a pill from a bottle, but the cumulative result of living a healthier life, is so incredibly worth it.