Sarah Biren
Sarah Biren
June 4, 2024 ·  6 min read

10 Natural and Effective Treatments For Headache and Migraine Relief

Debilitating and often accompanied by throbbing pain and sensitivity to light and sound, headaches and migraines can quickly derail our daily activities. While over-the-counter medications have been the go-to method for headache and migraine relief, natural and effective treatments offer an alternative approach for managing and preventing these painful occurrences. These are some of the best, natural ways to prevent and alleviate headache and migraine pain.

Migraine vs. Headache: Understanding the Difference

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A headache is a common form of pain that nearly everyone will experience at some point. They can range from mild irritation to severe and can be caused by various factors, including stress, muscle tension, dehydration, and eye strain. On the other hand, migraines are a type of headache that is often more intense and can last for several hours or even days. Migraine pain is usually accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound. (1)

Read More: 8 Surprising Triggers You Didn’t Know Were Causing You Headaches

Causes of Headaches and Migraines

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While headaches will happen to everyone from time to time, migraines are more serious and signify a larger issue. The exact cause of migraines is unknown, but it’s believed that they are caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Some people may be more susceptible to migraines than others due to their family history or other medical conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes. Hormonal changes, particularly in women, can also be an important factor in triggering migraines.

As already mentioned, there are several factors that can trigger headaches and migraines. These include stress, hormonal changes, certain foods, sensory stimuli, changes in sleep patterns, and physical exertion. It’s essential to recognize these triggers to help manage and prevent the onset of headaches and migraines.

Preventative Measures for Headaches and Migraines

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Preventing headaches and migraines involves adopting a healthy lifestyle and taking proactive measures to avoid common triggers. While there are certain triggers that are more common than others, what triggers a migraine will be highly individual. Discovering your triggers is the first step to avoiding the onset, which most are related to lifestyle. Proper sleep and a healthy diet that avoids triggers such as caffeine and processed foods are critical, as well as any foods that might be a personal trigger. Some people benefit from taking an allergy test, which can better help determine which foods are problematic for you. Other lifestyle tips for avoiding migraines include staying hydrated, using hats and sunglasses in bright light, consuming omega-3-rich foods, maintaining proper vitamin B12 levels, and practicing yoga and relaxation techniques. These can all help reduce the frequency and severity of headaches and migraines. (2)

10 Natural and Effective Treatments

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No matter how hard you try to avoid all of your triggers, life and other factors out of your control will always be at play. You will likely still suffer from a headache or migraine from time to time. If you are looking for quick headache or migraine relief without having to take pharmaceuticals, there are several things you can try. These are some of the best natural options for migraine relief:

1. Neurostimulation Devices

Myostimulation. Face lifting. Microcurrent therapy. Portable Myostimulation Face And Body. Whole body electro myostimulation. Miostimulation is fitness without a gym.
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One of the things we are learning about migraines is that they may start with the pain-sensing nerves in the brain. Neurostimulation devices use harmless electrical pulses to shut down these nerve signals, essentially blocking your brain from sending pain signals. These portable devices deliver electric pulses to the nerves, which can help alleviate migraine pain. This is a new technology, however, so the devices are quite expensive. (3)

2. Applying an Ice Pack

Woman applying ice pack as cold compress on forehead due to headache, migraine, tired after work, sitting indoors in apartment. Put cold on head for relief hurt and fever
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Applying an ice pack to your head and neck can help numb the pain and reduce inflammation associated with migraines. Where you apply will depend on the source of your migraine pain. Make sure the cold pack is not too cold, as this can make this worse. (4)

3. Applying Heat 

Hot Therapy Woman
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If cool doesn’t work, try a warming pack. Heating pads can be used on the head, neck, hands, or feet to relax tense muscles and relieve headache symptoms. (5)

4. Stay Hydrated

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For many people, hydration is a primary cause of headaches and can also trigger a migraine. Drinking a large glass of water can alleviate headaches caused by dehydration. For prevention, be sure to stay well-hydrated throughout the day. (6)

Read More: 10 Warning Signs Your Headache Could Be Dangerous

5. Self-Massage

Young indian exhausted business man massaging temples suffering from headache in modern home office with laptop on desk. Overworked burnout academic Hispanic student feeling migraine head strain.
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Gently massaging the temples, neck, and shoulders can help relieve tension and reduce the severity of headaches. Focus on the areas where you have muscle tension, which could be triggering your headache. (7)

6. Self Acu-Pressure

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Applying pressure to specific points on the body, such as the V between the thumb and finger, can help alleviate headache symptoms. There are various acu-pressure points on the body, with many of them located in the hands and feet. (8)

7. Caffeinated Beverages

Aerial view of various coffee
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Drinking a small amount of caffeine can help relieve migraine symptoms, but it’s essential not to overdo it, as excessive caffeine consumption can lead to rebound headaches. Caffeine can also be problematic if you become dependent on it. If you are unable to have your regular cup of coffee, you could experience withdrawal symptoms, such as a migraine. (9)

8. Peppermint Oil

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Applying diluted peppermint oil to the temples can help reduce the severity of headaches and provide relief from tension. This is thanks to its active ingredient menthol, which is known to have numbing effects. The evidence on peppermint oil, however, is quite limited and therefore not 100% confirmed. Lavender oil is another essential oil that may help if peppermint oil does not work for you. You use lavender oil for headaches simply by smelling it. (10)

9. Rest

Top View of Beautiful Young Woman Sleeping Cozily on a Bed in His Bedroom at Night. Blue Nightly Colors with Cold Weak Lamppost Light Shining Through the Window.
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When you are struggling with headache pain, sometimes this is your body signaling to you that you just need some good rest. Closing your eyes and resting in a quiet, dark room can help ease the symptoms of migraines and provide relief from sensory stimuli that exacerbate the pain. (11)

10. Ginger

Green Tea With Lemon Ginger
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Ginger is well known for its anti-nausea properties, among its many other benefits. Consuming ginger, whether in the form of tea or supplements, can help mitigate migraine symptoms due to its anti-inflammatory properties. (12)

When to See a Doctor

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While natural treatments can be effective for many people, it’s crucial to seek medical attention if headaches or migraines become more frequent, severe, or if they interfere significantly with daily activities. Additionally, if new symptoms such as visual disturbances, weakness, or cognitive changes accompany the headaches, a healthcare professional should be consulted.

The Bottom Line

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Natural and effective treatments can provide relief for headache and migraine sufferers, offering an alternative to traditional medications. By understanding the causes, triggers, and symptoms of headaches and migraines, individuals can take steps to prevent and manage their conditions, ultimately improving their quality of life without relying solely on pharmaceutical interventions.

Read More: 4 Natural Ways to Stop Teeth Grinding and the Headaches, Poor Sleep and Tooth Decay It Causes

Sources

  1. Migraine vs. Headache: How to Tell the Difference.” Pen Medicine. March 31, 2022.
  2. Migraines: Simple steps to head off the pain.” Mayo Clinic
  3. Migraine and Neuromodulation: A Literature Review.” NCBI. Varun Tiwari and Sachin Agrawal. November 7, 2022.
  4. Can Ice Packs Treat Headaches?Healthline. Sara Lindberg. March 8, 2019
  5. Heat vs. Ice for Migraine Relief: The Ultimate Showdown Explained.” Cefaly. May 3, 2023.
  6. Dehydration Headache.” Cleveland
  7. Effects of feet reflexology versus segmental massage in reducing pain and its intensity, frequency and duration of the attacks in females with migraine: a pilot study.” Science Direct. Wojciech Kobza, Pawel Lizis, Halina Romualda Zięba. April 2017.
  8. A randomized controlled trial of acupressure as an adjunctive therapy to sodium valproate on the prevention of chronic migraine with aura.” NCBI. Ji-hua Xu, MM and He-yin Mi, MM. July 2017.
  9. Habitual caffeinated beverage consumption and headaches among adults with episodic migraine: A prospective cohort study.” Pubmed. Maggie R Mittleman , Elizabeth Mostofsky, Angeliki Vgontzas, Suzanne M Bertisch. March 2024.
  10. 5 Essential Oils for Headaches and Migraine Attacks.” Healthline. Ana Gotter and Sarah Kester. October 31, 2022.
  11. Association between sleep quality, migraine and migraine burden.” Frontiers. Shaojie Duan, et al.
  12. Comparison between the efficacy of ginger and sumatriptan in the ablative treatment of the common migraine.” PUBMED. Mehdi Maghbooli 1, Farhad Golipour, Alireza Moghimi Esfandabadi and Mehran Yousefi. March 2014.