Dr. Bell's Blog

5 Effective Natural Remedies To Relieve Headaches

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Headaches, including migraines, are one of the most common chronic health problems.  More than 15% of adults in the United States alone complain of regular severe headaches or migraines.  The prevalence of headaches is twice as high in women as it is in men.  Before we dive into some helpful remedies, let's take a look at the 3 most common headaches people suffer from.

Types of Headaches

Tension:  This is the most common type of headache. Close to 90% of the population will have one at some point in their lifetime.  It generally presents with a dull pain/pressure on both sides of the head/neck that is often tender to the touch.

Migraine:  This is the second most common headache that affects roughly 16% of the population.  They are typically, but not always, unilateral (one side of the head) and usually have some sort of trigger that will kick off the headache. The pain is generally throbbing and many times there is light sensitivity.

Cluster:  These are the least common (<1% of the population), but are the most severe.  They generally will come on very abruptly and appear in cycles that can last from hours to days.  Thankfully for the victim, they usually leave just as abruptly as they come.

5 Effective Natural Remedies

1.  Hot or Cold Compress:  Which one will work depends on the person as well as the type of headache.  In my experience with patients, the cold compress seems to be effective more often than the warm.  In the scientific community it is not well known why this works, but is likely tied to inflammation and/or blood flow.  No matter the reason, it can be very effective to lessen the symptoms of a headache.

2.  Chiropractic: There is a strong nervous system correlation with all types of headaches.  Removing nerve pressure/interference in the upper portion of your neck can not only help to get rid of a headache, but most importantly help prevent them from coming in the first place.

3. Massage:  This is especially effective for tension headaches.  Muscular tension will develop at the bottom of your head where it meets your neck.  This can produce and/or keep a headache from going away.  Gentle massage to the back of the head and neck can help loosen those muscles, relieve the tension, and ultimately ease the headache.

4.  Butterbur or Feverfew: These are two of the more effective herbs at relieving headaches, particularly migraine headaches.  Multiple studies have shown Butterbur in particular to reduce migraine headaches in those who suffer from them by as much as 50%.  Be sure and look for Butterbur that is "PA-free".

5.  Essential Oils:  Basil, lavender, and peppermint oil have all been shown to relieve symptoms of a headache. Massage the head/neck with a few drops of the oil mixed with a carrier oil like coconut oil.  Lavender oil can also be added to a warm bath for the benefits as well. 

Like many health problems, it's always wise to approach the care and correction of headaches with a big picture approach.  Look at all aspects of your life in order to figure out what may be causing them.  This can include diet, posture, stress, sleep, and many more. Taking care of yourself in a holistic approach can not only improve the frequency and severity of headaches, but can also improve the overall quality of your life so you too can...

LIVE well.  BE well.