Who has time for a headache? Anyone? …anyone?
No one wants to miss work or cancel plans or deal with loud children or coworkers with a pounding headache. Nor do you always want to reach for medication when you could find fast headache relief naturally.
Fortunately, there are some easy, often surprising ways, to get rid of headaches quickly and naturally. These are seven of my favorite strategies. Hopefully one or more of these tips for getting rid of headaches naturally will bring you relief as well.
#1 Hydrate Well
We all know we’re supposed to get at least 8 glasses of water a day. We know some beverages (i.e. caffeinated and alcoholic drinks) can contribute to dehydration. And we know most of us do not get all the water we need.
Being dehydrated can contribute to headaches. Luckily, the culprit also lends itself to the solution. Drink water. Sometimes a glass or two of water is all our body needs to alleviate the pain. If water is proving insufficient in relieving the pain, another great source of hydration is coconut water. Not only is coconut water refreshing, but it also provides a balance of electrolytes to properly conduct electrical signals throughout the brain and body.
#2 Peppermint and/or Lavender Essential Oils
Peppermint oil is a front-line defender against headaches. Simply rub a little on your temples or forehead for a great combination fighter. Peppermint oil provides a cooling, soothing sensation while simultaneously increasing blood flow and relaxing tightened muscles.
Lavender is more commonly inhaled than used as a topical oil (though it is typically safe to use topically). You can diffuse lavender, rub it in your hands and inhale, or put a small amount on the upper lip for sustained inhalability.
These oils may also be used in tandem for relief. A drop or two of each rubbed onto the source of the discomfort (neck, forehead or temples) may provide the right combination to get rid of headaches naturally.
#3 Proper Amounts of Sleep
Yes, when you have a headache, sometimes you just want to crawl into a dark bed and zonk out. And that may be just what you need. Keep in mind, the best headache remedy is the one that keeps you from getting the headache in the first place! And that’s where proper sleep can really shine.
Insufficient sleep contributes to a plethora of health issues, not the least of which is the increase in frequency and severity of headaches. (Too much sleep can cause them too, though!) Find the balance for your body, your target sleep amount, and work towards making sleep an important, daily habit.
If that means you turn off the TV, set a bedtime reminder on your phone or bump up the get-together time to make your sleep a priority, do it! You’re not being lazy or anti-social. You’re being proactive and taking control of your wellness.
#4 Cold Compress
When the pain starts, grab a cold compress to get rid of a headache naturally. It almost seems an instinctive response, and it should be. Cold can decrease inflammation and slow down nerve conduction, thus decreasing the perception of pain. The best news of all? This is such an easy solution. Fill a sealable bag with ice, then wrap in a towel and apply to the affected area. (You can also just run a washcloth under cold water.)
Stress in the neck? Cold compress.
Across the forehead? Cold compress.
Throbbing temples or sinus pressure? Cold compress.
#5 Warm Compress
I know, I know… didn’t I just say a cold compress was an awesome natural therapy for headache? Yes, yes, I did. So is a warm compress. For some people, or even different types of headaches, different options work better. If you’re experiencing a headache due to tension or anxiety, cold may cause you to tense up more while warm relaxes your muscles and mind.
You can run a towel or cloth under warm water and apply to the affected area. Or, for longer lasting warmth, take a sock or pillowcase and fill with dry rice or beans and tie a knot. Microwave it for a few seconds until it achieves your desired level of warmth, and apply.
For some, alternating warm and cold compresses brings the best relief. Experiment with temperatures and placement until you find what works for you. Remember, depending on the underlying cause, your experience of this therapy could be different from one headache to the next.
It’s almost a cliché, isn’t it? Someone has a headache and starts rubbing their temples or pinching the bridge of their nose. There’s actually a lot of truth to it, though. Massage can relieve tension and stimulate blood flow, which can increase oxygen to the area experiencing pain.
Massage may also provide a welcome, psychological distraction from the pain, which can lessen it. Massaging your own head may provide fast headache relief exactly where you need it.
Having someone else massage your neck or shoulders, rub your head or even stroke your hair can also provide freedom from the pain. When we receive human contact, that sense of touch stimulates the release of endorphin (feel-good) hormones, one of our body’s natural painkillers.
#7 Vibration Therapy
Similar to massage, vibration therapy is an excellent fast and drug-free way to treat headaches. Using a tool such as the easy-to-use 8-motor headband is a relaxing, hands-free way to stimulate blood flow to the brain. It can be moved around to the affected part of the head to provide calming relief and stop a headache in its tracks. Couple vibration therapy with deep breathing to find the best natural headache relief.