I feel like everyone I talk to has been blasted with more headaches than normal over the past year. I mean, it makes sense – we’ve all been living through some pretty crazy, stressful things and our bodies are going to react to that stress.
But, constant headaches can be so debilitating. They can really zap your energy, reduce productivity, negatively impact your ability to work out, get a good night’s sleep, and stay in the right mindset for work and relationships.
Basically, headaches can really call the shots – especially if you’re prone to migraines. Then, it’s game over.
Natural Remedies for Headaches:
I used to get a loooot of headaches. I would deal with headaches with remedies like ibuprofen or more caffeine. Neither work very well, but you probably already know that. Plus, I don’t love taking meds if I can avoid it, because we know more now about gut health and how bad NSAIDS are for that.
Then, I crossed paths with a doctor who knew more about headaches than anyone I’d ever met before, and what they told me was a game changer. I added what I learned from them to some natural remedies of my own to come up with a list that has been pretty effective for me at reducing headache frequency as well as shortening the lifespan of a headache when they do come. I share these ideas in the hopes that they might help you, too, but with anything – always listen to your body and the advice of your own medical team. I’m not a doctor and what works for me may not work for you. I share this as a friend prone to headaches.
Also, kindly note that affiliate links are used below, which means when I recommend products I bought, use and love, I may receive a commission at no cost to you if you decide to try them, too.
1. Use an Ice Pack:
Have you tried this before? Well, if you’re putting an ice pack on your face or your forward, then you might want to try this instead: you’re going to put the ice pack on the base of your neck, where the vagus nerve is located.
If you haven’t learned much about the vagus nerve, I highly recommend googling something like “vagus nerve and headaches” and you’ll see all sorts of research on how vagus nerve stimulation is being used to treat migraines and cluster headaches, oftentimes very effectively. One way you can easily do this at home is by using an ice pack on the base of your neck and it basically cools down and reduces inflammation in the vagus nerve. When this works, it’s like a slow light switch on your headache. You’ll feel it start to dissolve over about 20 minutes.
Because you’ll be laying on that ice pack for awhile, get comfortable. And, get an ice pack with a cover that will keep your skin happy, too.
2. Use Herbal Remedies:
I’m not a super oily person, but I do appreciate the benefits of using essential oils and carrier oils. I love using anything from the earth to heal my body, from food to aromatherapy, I just don’t see enough results to use them in isolation.
However, when something like this headache balm is applied in conjunction with other treatments on this list, I definitely see the benefits to that.
I’ve tried some different roller balls for headaches and various blends, but this headache balm has been my personal favorite and the reviews on it make me think I’m definitely on to something.
Occasinally, they sell out and they’ll redirect the link to a different balm by the same brand. I would just wait for the headache balm to go back in stock.
3. Stretch & Move More:
A lot of times, headaches are started from sitting in hunched over positions while we type our lives away for work (guilty), staring at screens all day and straining our eyes (guilty), or sitting in static positions driving our kids from place to place (guilty three times). We have to find ways to balance the body out, correct our posture, and release muscular strain and stress from these repetitive movements.
Personally, I saw a huge improvement in lots of things, including headaches, when I started reformer pilates years ago. You’re welcome to check out my post on the benefits of pilates, too. You can even grab a video and do mat pilates in your living room. One of my favorite DVDs has 15 minute workouts. You could even do them while watching TV, just play the DVD on your laptop and have the TV on in the background.
Also, just going for a short walk can really help your body stretch out and straighten up. Some people enjoy going for a swim. Do a free yoga or pilates workout from YouTube. You get the idea – find something that works for you, isn’t jarring and high impact on your body, and try to fit it into your schedule. It’ll never be convenient; you just have to make it happen.
A quick note, too, on working on screen time: technology isn’t going away, but make sure to protect your eyes. I have blue light glasses and add blue light protection to all of my affordable prescription eyewear, too, and it’s helped quite a bit.
4. Massage Tension Out:
Also, I think massage, either going and getting a massage, or using an at-home massager or massage gun is a great way to relieve tension and self-correct, like this one. I have a couple different at-home massagers that I think work great and have even bought them as gifts for people I know who have a lot of shoulder, neck and back pain or get lots of headaches and they were met with rave reviews.
I have personal experience with this one and I also really want to grab this massage gun, too. If you’re looking for good, affordable massages, check out the chain Massage Envy. You can join their monthly membership an it gets you an hour massage a month for under $100 bucks. It’s a good deal.
5. Check Your Diet:
Yeah, I know, nobody wants to talk about this – but food is medicine. I’ve learned this 10 times over when looking for ways to reduce inflammation from autoimmune diseases. So, if people can use food to heal their bodies from diseases, why can’t we use it to heal from headaches?
I would start by checking if you’re drinking enough water. I have a 22 oz. water bottle and I am to fill that up 3-4 times a day, which equals over a gallon of water a day.
Then, start eliminating inflammatory food groups one at a time for a few days to a week and see if you notice less headaches. I would go after the food group you feel any other symptoms with. For example, do you know you’re slightly dairy intolerant? Eliminate dairy first. Then, move through this list, choosing the ones that you think could be inflammatory for your body:
- Do a sugar detox (a big one, for a lot of people)
- Do a gluten detox
- Do a dairy detox – if you didn’t start with it
- Incorporate more anti-inflammatory foods
- Drink more anti-inflammatory smoothies (my favorite recipe!)
- Remove alcohol known to trigger headaches
- Reduce salt
- Remove caffeine (Some people have headaches when they don’t have enough, while others find any caffeinated beverages will trigger headaches. Hard to know which camp you’re in.)
6. Get Adjusted:
I know people have mixed feelings on seeing a chiropractor. I’ve had seasons where I go regularly, such as after a very bad car accident in my 20s, and then seasons where I am not going. I actually just made an appointment to go again after years of hiatus. I find the adjustments to be really helpful in balancing the body and also removing areas where strain or stiffness accumulates.
I feel like sometimes, our bodies just need a little help getting back into alignment. Anything, from age, to injury, and especially pregnancy, can really move things around and our bodies may not also heal or move back into position the way they are supposed to.
My personal experience with chiropractic has been positive, so I suggest it as something to consider. But, please do your research, ask for referrals from people in your area, read Yelp reviews, and if a chiropractor drops the line, “One leg is shorter than the other,” get out of there.
7. Try Meditation:
There is no doubt that our mental health deeply effects our physical health. That’s why with so many unknowns and life upheavals, people are experiencing more headaches than normal.
I love using meditation apps and even wrote a whole post on the free ones that I have tried and love.
Totally check them out and consider doing a daily meditation to help reduce stress and anxiety. You can also practice breathing exercises for anxiety, too.
If that’s not your jam, don’t discount the value in talking with a professional therapist to work through things that are really bogging you down. Life is hard; take care of yourself.
8. Get Acupuncture:
I used acupuncture years ago when I was struggling with infertility. I didn’t have very high expectations for what it was going to do, but I ended up being blown away by the experience. I went for months and I really loved it. The acupuncturist I worked with also created custom Chinese tinctures that were designed to address imbalances in the body and they had a specialized massage therapist who did some amazing things.
The one I saw was highly trained and specialized in fertility, but I have heard of people going to acupuncturists for all sorts of ailments, including headaches. I think you could find someone who has a lot of experience treating headaches and might find it to be very effective!
If nothing else, it’ll be an interesting experience you can tell your friend about, lol.
The Get Rid of Headaches Action Plan:
This is a lot of information. Let’s break it down to a simple headache action plan. First, start working through elimination diets, starting with things that have triggered any other issues for you in the past. Get stomach pain when you eat a lot of bread and gluten? Start with that one, etc.
Meanwhile, when a headache does strike, try this:
- Massage tense areas for 20 or so minutes
- Apply headache balm or aromatherapy
- Lay on your ice pack for 20 or so minutes, longer if it’s relaxing
- Meanwhile, drink tons of water
Usually, by the end of that cycle, I’m feeling a lot better. I actually go into a bit more detail on this method in my first post on how to get rid of headaches fast.
There are some other methods I’ve seen or heard about that other people have great success with. I’ll share them here, too, but I’m not adding them to the list yet, because I haven’t actually tried them.
- Put your feet in cold water while putting ice pack on your head
- Put your hands in cold water while putting ice pack on your head
Just goes to show, you really never know what’s going to work – but be open to trying new things and giving your body and mind a chance to heal and work through whatever is going on.
Do you have a favorite headache remedy that works? Have you tried any of these things? If you love natural remedies like this, you might also dig these posts:
- 5 celery juice benefits for gut health
- 12 castor oil packs and how to do them
- 10 anti-inflammatory supplements for autoimmune diseases
- 7 health benefits of hemp
Have a fabulous day,
Great tips! I’m going to start with drinking more water and stretching/exercising and see how I go from there!
Drinking more water can improve almost anything. Good luck!