The worst kind of headache is the one that sneaks up on you. You could be working diligently, minding your own business, and then a minute later, you start to feel a mild discomfort in your head. If you’re unlucky, it turns into a full-blown headache that’s quite distracting. When it happens to me, I’m almost always tempted to just reach for some medicine—because it’s quick and painless. While that’s not necessarily a bad thing, you might be surprised to find out that there are actually natural ways to cure a headache.
The Best Natural Headache Remedies
Natural headache remedy: Stay hydrated.
I know, it sounds pretty simple, right? But dehydration is actually one of the causes of tension headaches. For me, I get headaches when I’ve got a busy day and I forget to hydrate. Drinking water can relieve headache symptoms in less than an hour.
Natural headache remedy: Rest.
Again, this might seem too good to be true, but headaches form when your body hasn’t had the time to take a break. So the next time you feel a headache coming, close your eyes and move away from your computer. If you’re at home, lie down for 15 minutes or use your lunch hour to sleep. This will also let your eyes rest. Staring at a screen for too long can lead to squinting, which strains the muscles around your eyes and forehead. Trust us, this is a much better idea than powering through and ending the day with a migraine.Continue reading below ↓Continue reading below ↓Recommended Videos
Natural headache remedy: Drink some coffee.
Not your usual amount—just enough to get caffeine into your system. Some might find this tip confusing because a lot of people think coffee dehydrates the body—and it does—but caffeine can also act as sort of a painkiller. This trick usually only works if you don’t drink a lot of coffee to begin with.
Natural headache remedy: Have a snack.
There’s a good chance you have a headache because you forgot to eat or you didn’t eat enough during your last meal. If you can, stay away from too much sodium or processed foods because these can trigger headaches, too. On that note, if you get headaches frequently, it might be helpful to keep a food diary to distinguish your triggers because it’s different for everybody.
Natural headache remedy: Loosen up your ponytail.
If you have long hair and you like to wear it in a ponytail—we get it, it’s hot all year round—make sure it isn’t too tight. It might be pulling on your scalp and creating tensions in your muscles that could lead to a headache.
Natural headache remedy: Use menthol cream.
This tip is from integrative physician and pain specialist Jacob Teitelbaum, MD: “Rub some menthol cream over the tender knots in the neck, as well as the painful area of the head. The cool sensation is carried by nerve fibers that act almost like phone lines. These same fibers actually cause the pain, but the cooling effect of the cream will tie up the phone lines so the pain doesn't reach the muscles. Think of it as your nerves receiving busy signal.”
Natural headache remedy: Take a warm shower.
Understandably, people who live in the tropics probably prefer cold showers over hot ones. If you do this in the morning, it’s also a pretty effective way to wake up fast. But when you have a headache, especially if it’s related to a cold or a sinus pressure, a natural way to deal with that is by taking a hot shower—the moist helps relieve your nasal passages.Continue reading below ↓
Natural headache remedy: Try a massage.
You might be doing this instinctively already: When your head hurts, do you massage your temples? For a split second, you feel better. It’s a temporary solution, but the gentle pressure helps. A study from 2010 found that people who suffered from recurring tension headaches had fewer symptoms and reduced stress 30 minutes after getting a massage.
Natural headache remedy: Start yoga.
Yes, exercise—specifically yoga—can do wonders for your headaches. It’s been shown to help with flexibility and decreased tension if you do it enough (read: not just once when you’re feeling matiyaga). Practicing yoga helps train the body to heal itself and reduce the occurrence of headaches.
Natural headache remedy: Use lavender oil.
A study from 2012 found that 92 out of 129 headaches were treated (partially or completely) after smelling lavender oil for 15 minutes. But actually, most essential oils have therapeutic properties anyway, so if you have other types at home, go ahead and use those to help you relax.