Posted on: October 14, 2016 at 12:46 pm
Last updated: September 27, 2017 at 10:25 am

This article was shared with permission from


Medicine is supposed to help us, not hurt us, but if you’ve got a pounding headache that just won’t go away, your go-to pain reliever may be causing the problem.

The story might sound familiar: The pounding between your temples wakes you up in the morning. Pain medication works for a little while, but the headaches start crunching in every few hours, like clockwork. So you pop some more.



If those pills are over-the-counter aspirin or acetaminophen (found in Tylenol), they could be the culprit — when taken too frequently to treat a headache disorder, such as a migraine, they could cause headaches just as much as prescription migraine medication, especially when exceeding recommended daily dosages.

Combination pain relievers like Excedrin, which mix caffeine with those two substances, are also a problem when it comes to medication-overuse headaches, as are combos like Tylenol with Codeine, according to the Mayo Clinic.

And it gets even worse: Caffeine in coffee and soda could also trigger the pain.

But there is some good news. You can probably breathe a sigh of relief if you’re taking ibuprofen meds like Advil and Motrin, or naproxen sodium medication like Aleve — the Mayo Clinic says those “have a low risk of contributing to medication-overuse headaches.”


For those suffering from these ironic headaches, as well as nausea, memory problems or other symptoms that could tag along, what is there to do other than stopping the medication, gritting your teeth and bearing the withdrawal symptoms that could linger for days or weeks?

Natural Headache Relievers


There are things doctors can do to alleviate the pain, like prescribe drugs or hook you up to an IV, but there are also more natural options.


Acupuncture, the traditional Chinese practice that involves using needles to stimulate certain parts of the body, could help. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, part of the National Institutes of Health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, says acupuncture may “reduce the frequency of tension headaches and prevent migraine headaches.”

Supplements: Feverfew and Butterbur

There are also supplements that reduce tension. The Mayo Clinic lists magnesium, feverfew, and butterbur while warning that supplements could potentially interfere with other medications and don’t have much science proving their effectiveness.

What the heck are feverfew and butterbur? Well, both have been traditionally used for pain relief, but the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health notes different secondary uses.

Feverfew has also been used traditionally to treat infertility and labor — it can make the uterus contract — as well as toothaches, fevers, and stomach aches.

Butterbur, on the other hand, has more allergy-related uses, such as treatment for asthma, itchy eyes, and skin irritations.

These may sound like a golden ticket, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry, so it’s important to seek a doctor’s advice before using an alternative treatment.

It may seem like a big pain, but people with chronic headaches are not alone: The World Health Organization estimates half of Earth’s adults have a headache disorder, and about 1.7 to 4 percent has a headache at least every other day. They feel your pain.

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