Ever since I was a young girl I have dealt with varying degrees of headaches. I remember my dad being concerned that I was somehow addicted to Tylenol because I asked for it so frequently. As I got older, I realized that I had to find some natural remedies for headaches. I was an unlucky one for whom traditional treatments didn’t do the trick.
When I was 17 I developed migraines on top of my “everyday” headaches. They were (and are) brutal. I had watched my younger sister suffer from migraines most of her life. I’d always counted myself grateful that I didn’t have them until I joined her.
Suddenly my mom was carting both of us off to the emergency room for shots of Phenergan and Toradol. That cocktail was for when the migraines would sideline us for a few days instead of hours. The injections did the trick but they also left me unable to function for at least 24 hours. I began to look for natural remedies for headaches that wouldn’t come with that side effect.
I saw many Drs. over the years but nothing really helped with the headaches or the migraines. A couple of prescriptions could keep them from getting super bad if I took them early enough but the side effects made it so I wasn’t able to work that day or sometimes the next.
I have other health issues and chronic pain so I just got really good at functioning through the haze of frequent headaches, even migraines. My rule was I would go in and get a shot if my migraine lasted 3 days. Otherwise, I would try to use natural remedies for headaches and for the most part that was successful.
Because I didn’t find relief with conventional medications and treatments, I did a lot of research on ways I could help myself deal with the pain. I’m going to share with you some of my go-to ways to treat headaches/migraines at home naturally.
Try and catch it early.
The sooner you can take action, the more likely (in my experience) you’ll be able to lessen or stave off a bad headache. If you have migraines, the minute you start feeling nausea, seeing auras, or experiencing brain fog (or whatever your symptoms are) try and interrupt it with immediate treatment. This is the time to take prescription meds if you aren’t on a daily preventative or to take an over the counter med.
Use a cold compress on your neck, forehead, and wrists.
This is something I try and do at the first signs of a headache but also when it’s really intense. The cold helps with any nausea that comes along with your headache or migraine and also helps to constrict the blood vessels causing the message to your brain to be “Yikes, that’s cold” instead of “OMG I’m in pain”.
Practice deep breathing exercises and/or mindfulness meditation for headaches.
One of the simple things I do is to sit comfortably and focus on my breath. I inhale for a count of 4, hold for a count of 4, exhale for a count of 4, and rest for a count of 4. This repeats several times until I feel thoroughly at peace.
Guided mindfulness meditations are also a great way to not only relax but to relieve headaches. Bill created a round-up of his favorites in 9 Best Guided Mindfulness Meditations. Any of those will work but I found one that focuses on headaches specifically and I found it very helpful.
Practice Yoga for headache or migraine relief.
Use acupressure to stave off or help with a headache.
Acupressure has a lot of devoted followers who swear by its effectiveness. This is the tip that hasn’t really helped me with my migraines but has been useful for some lesser headaches such as tension or stress headaches.
The following video is really great because it helps you identify what kind of headache you are having and then how to use acupressure to relieve it.
Take the best care of your body that you can.
Headaches can be signs that we are neglecting our bodies a bit. Make sure that you are drinking enough to stay hydrated, eating healthful foods often enough to keep your blood sugar stable, practicing ongoing stress management techniques, and seeing your Dr. regularly.
***Please note, having severe headaches, frequent headaches, or headaches with other symptoms are definitely things that you should have a doctor check out. There is a myriad of conditions that a Dr. is the only one qualified to diagnose. It would be a mistake to continue to treat any of the above with natural remedies without checking with your doctor. If you, like me, have seen a Dr. these tips are a great companion to their prescribed treatments and often will be suggested by physicians.