Victoria is a stay-at-home mom, author, educator, and blogger at Healthy at Home. She currently lives in Colorado with her family.
Headaches a truly an annoyance. They can take over your day, keep you from being productive, and make you feel bad all over. If only there were a way to prevent headaches altogether—wouldn’t that be great? Headaches always tend to crop up at just the wrong time, in just the wrong place, every time. On the day when you are the busiest and have the most on your plate, that’s when you wake up with one. They can’t just come when you have a relaxing day ahead and can get in the bathtub with a glass of wine.
I hate taking medication when I don’t have to. I work hard in my house to keep everything natural, eat a good diet, and keep us as healthy as possible. The last thing I want to do with a headache is pop unnecessary chemicals into my body (especially while breastfeeding) to take the chance that it might just work. So, I have collected a host of great natural remedies for curing a headache that don’t include herbs, essential oils, or special ingredients that I don’t normally have on hand. I’m sure that all of those other ingredients are great, and are extremely effective for curing a number of issues, but this isn’t that kind of article.
I needed something I could do at the drop of a hat without having to purchase anything special. I just wanted to be able to do something with what I normally, and most other people, have on hand at any given moment. So this is a collection for those people that need something quick and easy to get rid of that pesky headache.
Reasons for Headaches
Discovering the reasoning behind your headaches is going to be your first step in curing your immediate headache, and even preventing headaches in the future. There are so many different types of headaches, and each one comes for a specific reason. “The World Health Organization points out that nearly everyone experiences a headache once in a while. Although headaches can be defined as pain “in any region of the head,” the cause, duration, and intensity of this pain can vary according to the type of headache.” (Healthline)
The traditional stress headache is called a tension headache. It’s an all over achy feeling to your whole head, closely related to the exertion headache from pushing it too hard, or getting too hot. There’s also the allergy or sinus headache that’s due to seasonal allergies or an allergic reaction to something. This is usually felt in your forehead and behind your eyes, in your sinuses due to a backup of fluids or allergic reaction.
Then there’s the much more serious migraine headache. This headache is felt deep within the head and usually off to one side, behind the temple. With these, individuals may also experience dizziness, flashes of light, blind spots, sensitivity to light and sound, nausea and throwing up, and a complete debilitation. These can be triggered by dehydration, sleep disruption, skipped meals, allergic reaction to food or chemicals, and stress or overexertion. Those that get migraines usually get them through genetics.
By understanding the headache, we can now come up with the appropriate solution for getting rid of them.
Getting Rid of That Headache
Most of the time, a headache of any kind is caused by stress, not enough sleep or dehydration, all of which are easy to cure by simply getting what you are missing out on. But there are some more elusive symptoms, especially if you don’t know where to start to figure out what’s wrong, that we can try some other solutions for.
I put this one first because it’s the absolute easiest to do, and it’s the quickest cure. Oxygen deprivation is way more common than you’d think, leading to a number of very familiar symptoms like foggy brain, tiredness, stress, headaches, etc. By breathing deeply, in through your nose, allowing your chest and stomach to expand, and out through your mouth, whenever you think about it, you’ll be surprised at how much better you already feel.
“Over time our breathing patterns have shifted as a reaction to environmental stressors, like temperature, pollution, noise, and other causes of anxiety. When we breathe in a shallow way, the body remains in a cyclical state of stress—our stress causing shallow breathing and our shallow breathing causing stress.” (Headspace)
Dehydration is another extremely common problem that is very easy to remedy. According to a study conducted at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, there is such a thing as a water-deprivation headache. Luckily, the treatment is free and easy. Drinking more water may reduce headache pain, improve irritability and concentration, and increase energy.
Water is vital to our systems. Without adequate water intake, our body cannot function like it’s supposed to, and therefore, you can feel sluggish, get dizzy, get really tired, and even get really sick without it. Health authorities commonly recommend that we drink at least 8 to 10 (8oz) glasses of water a day, or aim to drink your body weight in ounces. It’s really easy to keep a water bottle or two at your desk, or next to you during the day all day, to stay hydrated.
If you didn’t already know, drinking more water can also help you to lose weight. It is said that normally when we start feeling hungry during the day, it’s usually thirst not hunger that we are feeling. By drinking water, the hunger goes away and we are sated, as well as getting the water our bodies need. By eating less, and snacking less during the day, we automatically lose weight. Combine this with a healthy diet, and you are well on your way to feeling better in a number of different ways.
Stretching and Improving Posture
It’s easy to get settled into an office chair, or on the couch, and not move for long periods of time. This slumping may be causing a pinched nerve, a stiff neck, or even a sore back, all of which can lead to at least a headache, if not a host of other issues as well. Just like drinking water and breathing deeply when you think about it, it’s important to try and sit up straight in your chair while you are working, or limit your time on the couch.
If you must be sitting for long periods of time, try sitting in different ways, like sitting with your legs crossed on the floor without reclining on anything, or getting a back support in your office chair to help you sit correctly. You could request to get a stand up desk, work while walking back and forth, or just get up and stretch every so often to get the muscles in your body moving. Whatever you do, get your body moving throughout your day to keep the blood pumping and keep your body functioning.
Going on a walk, even if it’s just a short one around the block or through the neighborhood will improve your respiration and increase blood flow to your brain. Sometimes we are just stale and need to do something different. It’s easy for your brain to get overloaded by screen time, or to be underused by boredom and being in the same environment doing the same thing day after day. Even our rains need some variety.
Getting out for a walk will give your brain a break from technology, get you more oxygen because you’ll be breathing deeply again, give you a little variety and vitamin D and will get your blood flowing again. There are so many benefits to walking, it’s crazy that we all don’t plan one every day.
Nuts, Seeds, and Bananas
Given the vitamin starved diets that most of us are eating on a daily basis in today’s world, and the chronic stress that most of us consistently live with, more than 75% of Americans are magnesium deficient. Magnesium contributes to over 300 functions in the human body, including muscle and nerve functioning, bone development, energy production, the maintenance of normal heart rhythm, and the regulation of glucose and blood pressure.
Without a sufficient amount, we suffer from symptoms like brain fog, tiredness, loss of concentration, loss of appetite, anxiety, insomnia, and even headaches. But this too can be easily remedied. Simply keep a store of a variety of nuts and seeds nearby to snack on through the day, and make sure to add bananas and leafy greens to your diet when you think about it. All of these are a rich source of magnesium, and can at least get rid of one more possible cause of headaches in your life.
I like that all of these are so easily fixed, and most can be done right from your desk, or wherever you are. Here’s another great solution for getting rid of your headache. Just wrap up some ice in a bag, and wrap a towel around it. Press it to the area that hurts and you should feel some relief. Applying cold or frozen compresses to the neck or head area decreases inflammation, slows nerve conduction and constricts blood vessels, all of which help reduce headache pain.
I wouldn’t recommend keeping the ice pack there for over 15-20 minutes at a time though. If the blood flow is restricted to an area of your body for too long, your brain will signal that something is wrong and send a large amount of blood flow to the area making your situation worse rather than better.
Epsom Salt Bath
This one may be a little harder to pull off, but if you’re in desperate need, you’ll do anything. Draw yourself a nice warm bath, but not too hot. Add in some Epsom salt to assist with the drawing out of toxins from the body. Epsom salt is known for relaxing muscles, and so is warm water. Place a rolled up towel underneath your neck to support your head, close your eyes and relax.
I don’t, however, recommend trying to continue working on your phone while in the bathtub though. Your brain and your eyes need a break if your headache is going to go away. Use this time to rest and give your body and your brain some relaxation. 30 minutes to an hour should be sufficient, but you may enjoy the rest so much that you’ll want to stay.
And if all else fails, try to take a nap or get to bed early. According to the CDC, 1 in 3 Americans suffers from sleep deficiency. (cdc.gov) Not only are we not getting enough sleep when we do lie down, but our sleep isn’t quite as restful because of bad sleep habits.
Many people work on their phones right before bed or watch TV. Most Americans have a television or a computer in their rooms that provide light, distraction, or just contributes to the brain not relaxing at night. Many of us eat right before laying down to sleep, which means that our digestive tracts are working as we are trying to settle down, keeping us from sleep restfully, or we drink some sort of caffeinated beverage before sleeping.
Health authorities recommend keeping all technology out of the bedroom, eating at least 2-3 hours before going to sleep followed by some light exercise, keeping caffeinated beverages out of your diet within 6 hours of bedtime, and sleeping in a dark, quiet room at night. The average person needs roughly 8-9 hours of sleep for our bodies to go into the sleep cycles it needs to feel and truly get rested. Start working some of these items into your routine, and you might start seeing fewer headaches in the future.
Headaches are a sign to our bodies that something is wrong. Either we are sick, or there is something wrong inside our bodies, like a pinched nerve, we are deficient in some area like oxygen, water, magnesium or sleep, or we just have a poor lifestyle that needs a better diet and some exercise. It definitely doesn’t help to pop Tylenol and just ignore the warning signs. Your body is trying to keep you healthy and functioning properly. If you can listen to what it’s telling you, maybe you could eliminate your headaches altogether.
In some cases, a headache may require immediate medical attention. Seek immediate medical care if you’re experiencing any of the following alongside your headache:
- stiff neck
- the worst headache you’ve ever had
- slurred speech
- any fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher
- paralysis in any part of your body or visual loss
Most headaches can easily be fixed by providing your body the right ingredients for success, but not all of them. Don’t hesitate to contact your medical professional if you experience any of the above symptoms alongside your headache, if you can’t get rid of it by changing some habits in your life, or you get frequent, recurring headaches often. Once again, your body is trying to tell you something with these headaches.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2018 Victoria Van Ness
Victoria Van Ness (author) from Fountain, CO on July 19, 2018:
Absolutely! Thank you for the comment!
Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on July 19, 2018:
I very rarely get headaches, but the next time I do, I'll keep these suggestions in mind, Victoria. These are all great tips. As they say, prevention is the best medicine!