Learning how to get rid of a headache on your own can be very empowering.
No need to rush to the doctor or take a sick day, you now have the knowledge to fight off a headache attack.
You see, the key to headache relief, is knowing what to do in the first few minutes, before your headache turns into an raging inferno.
Below is a list of 129 tips, ideas and strategies, to help you win the battle over headache pain.
Remember, these are only suggestions and should not take the place of medical advice from your doctor.
If you feel that something more serious is going on, please do not hesitate to consult with your doctor.
Browse by Category: Click on any of the links below to jump to each category:
Over-the-counter and Prescription Drugs
Natural Headache Remedies
Headache Home Remedies
Simple Lifestyle Changes
1. Trigger Point Therapy
As a massage therapist, I'd have to say, I use this technique 90% of the time when I see clients for headache pain.
Studies have shown that chiropractic adjustments can help with headache pain.
Acupuncture has been found to be a reasonable treatment for chronic tension headaches.
Sometimes you just need to chill and massage is just the ticket. No need for deep deep tissue here, just a nice firm massage should do the trick. Remember, relax.
Again, as with massage, you don't want to over do it. This yoga session should be relaxing and nurturing, like the one on the video.
7. Deep Breathing
Before you start, you want to be aware of your breathing pattern, chest vs belly breather.
Use this calming technique throughout your day
Point #1 GB-41: Locate it by feeling alone the top of your foot. You should feel where the bones of your pinky toe and fourth toe.
Where they connect, they form a "V".
Press there for 60 seconds.
Point #2 Temporal Area: Start at the top of your big toe and work your down.
Continue this motion, top of your toe to the base of your toe for 60 seconds.
Point #3 Point for the face: Rub from the base of your toe nail to the base of your toe. Do this for 30 to seconds.
Point #4 Four Gates Tai Chong (LV-3) and He GU (LI-4)
Warning: Do not rub this point if you are pregnant!
Located on the top of your foot, between the bones of your big toe and second toe.
Find where they intersect and hold this point for 60 seconds.,
Ok, let's move on to OTC and prescription drugs
9. Acetaminophen aka Tylenol (OTC)--Taken for pain relief. No side effects if taken as directed
10. Aspirin (OTC)--Pain relief. Can cause heartburn, GI bleeding and ulcers
11. Fenoprofen aka Nalfon (PD)--Prescribed for tension headaches and migraines. Can cause nausea, diarrhea and dizziness
12. Flurbiprophen aka Ansaid (PD)--Prescribed to tension HAs and migraines. Can cause drowsiness and dizziness
13. Ibuprophen aka Advil, Motrin (OTC)
14. Ketoprophen aka Actron (PD)--Can cause nausea and vomiting
15. Nabumetone aka Relafen (PD)--Can cause constipation and heartburn
16. Naproxen aka Aleve (OTC)
17. Diclofenac aka Cataflam (PD)--Can cause upset stomach and bloating
18. Ketorolac aka Toradol (PD)--Can cause drowsiness and dizziness
19. Meclofenate aka Meclomen (PD)--Prescribed for tension headaches. Can cause nausea and diarrhea
20. Carisoprodol aka Soma9 (PD)--Prescribed for tension headaches. And cause dizziness, drowsiness and nausea
21. Orphenadrine citrate aka Norflex (PD)--Prescribed for tension headaches. Can cause drowsiness, dizziness and blurred vision
22. Methocarbamol aka Robaxin (PD)--Prescribed for tension headaches. Can cause drowsiness, dizziness and darkened urine
23. Cyclobenzaprine HCL aka Flexeril (PD)--Prescribed for tension headaches. Can cause dry mouth, dizziness and drowsiness
24. Metaxalone aka Skelaxin (PD)--Prescribed for tension headaches. Can cause dizziness, drowsiness and nervousness
25. Onzetra Xsail is a nasal powder approved by the FDA to treat acute migraines
26. Gabapentin (PD)--Prescribed for migraine headaches. May cause drowsiness or dizziness
When taking any medication, please follow the following tips:
27. Herbal Tea: Try ginger or chamomile
28. Flaxseed: Either in oil form or as whole seeds. flaxseed is rich in omega 3s, which help reduce inflammation.
29. Buckwheat, just like flaxseed, helps reduce inflammation in your body
30. Feverfew: Not only used for migraines, it's used for fevers, rheumatoid arthritis, toothaches, stomach aches and insect bites
31. Magnesium: The fourth most abundant mineral in our bodies. Low levels are linked to:
Shot for 600mg a day
32. Banana peel and ice: Place the banana peel on your forehead and the ice on top. The compression from the ice and the potassium from the peel are working together
33. Valerian Tea: The compounds in Valerian may have a sedative and relaxing effect on you. This may lead to migraine relief.
34. Rosemary: Anti-inflammatory
35. Cinnamon: Mix a glass of warm water, cinnamon and honey
36. Ginger Paste: Take the paste and rub it on your temples. Leave it on for 3 hours
Ingredients: (makes approx. 2 cups)
Add the water first in the blender (makes it easier to blend). Add the chopped ginger and blend it together in a blender until pureed and smooth.
Store in an air tight container in the refrigerator for about 5-7 days.
37. Olive oil: Another anti-inflammatory, with many health benefits
38. Honey: Seymour Diamond and Donald J. Dalessio in their book titled “the Practicing Physician’s Approach to Headache” record that 30 gm of fructose, when taken in the form of honey, can speed metabolism and reduce the frequency and intensity of headache.
Just take 2 tablespoons before each meal
39. Vitamin B2 aka Riboflavin: Take in pill form once a day
40. Butterbur: Usually taken in pill form
41. Water: Make sure you're getting enough water throughout the day. Don't wait until you're thirsty and try to get it all in at once.
42. Tiger Balm:
43. Dong Quai
44. Willow Bark: Used as an anti-inflammatory
45. Vitamin D and Calcium
46. Glucosamine Sulfate: May help with migraine pain, more research is needed.
47. Cayenne Pepper:
48. Almonds: Rich in magnesium. Some people who suffer from migraine headaches, may find almonds to be a trigger
49. Apple Cider Vinegar:
You will need…
-1/4 cup of ACV
-Roughly 3 cups of boiling water
-1 cup of fresh cool water
Pour ¼ cup of apple cider vinegar into a large bowl, and then fill the bowl halfway with boiling water.
Place a towel over your head so that it drapes over the bowl, trapping the steam, and hold your face over it.
Make sure your face isn’t so close that it gets burned by the steam.
Do this for 5-10 minutes, or when the water starts to cool down, breathing in and out deeply the whole time. When you’re done, use the towel to pat your face dry, and go drink a glass of cool water.
50. Fish Oil: Studies have shown that an increase in omega 3s and a decrease in omega 6s, help decrease headache frequency
51. Coenzyme Q10: A prolonged deficiency of CoQ10 can cause significant muscle pain as well as headaches.
52. Coriander Seed: This seed helps with inflammation
53. Lime Tree Oil (Linden): Used in tea form, may help with your headache pain. Not much evidence though.
54. Raw Potato Cuttings: Can't make this stuff up. Used in European folk medicine for over 200 years. You just cut the potato and rub your temple with it?
55. Horseradish: Its ability to narrow blood vessels may aid in treating migraines, but no clinical trials supports it's use.
56. Honeysuckle: Anti-inflammatory properties have benn discovered in the leaves, stem and flower of the plant. It's believed that honeysuckle can give pain relief just like aspirin and may help migraine pain
57. Mullein (Verbascum): To treat migraines, spasms and diarrhea
58. Yarrow: A plant used to treat a host of things including headaches, wounds and inflammation.
59. Teaberry aka Wintergreen, known to have anti-inflammatory properties
60. Common Hops, a known sedative
61. Betony aka Chickweed, used around the world for headache pain
62. Evodia, the anti-inflammatory and pain reducing properties in the fruit, may help to ease your migraine pain.
63. Cold Neck Wrap: Worn around your neck for 30 minutes, has been shown to help headache pain
64. Ice Massage + Hot Bath: Sit in a warm bath (103 to 110 degrees) up to your neck for 20 minutes. While sitting, rub your head for 5 minutes with a cold pack. A study has shown this to reduce the intensity and frequency of migraine headaches.
65. Gatorade: Helps with rehydration
66. Steam: Helps to clear your nasal passages. Just bring a pot of water to a boil and inhale. Be careful not to burn yourself. Add some essential oils like lavender to the mix.
67. Saline spray: Helps to keep your nasal cavity moist and helps with congestion
68. Use a netti pot for sinus headache
70. Grape Juice: contains vitamin C, riboflavin and B12, which was shown in clinical studies to help alleviate headache pain
72. A foot bath: It's believed that the blood drawn to your feet while soaking in hot water, will help relieve the pressure in your head. Soak your feet in a small tub filled with hot water and mustard powder for 30 minutes.
73. Lavender Lemonadehttp://www.rd.com/health/conditions/headache-relief-without-drugs-natural-remedies/
74. Green apples: the scent of a green apple, may help reduce your headache pain.
75. Eucalyptus oil: A couple of drops used on the temples and wrist.
76. Rose Otto Essential Oil: Again used on the temples and wrist. Can be expensive though.
77. Cloves: Either use fresh clove or clove oil and simply inhale a few times throughout the day.
Certain things we do during the course of our busy days, can trigger a headache.
Here's a list of things you might want to look at and see if a subtle tweek might do the trick.
78. Avoid Food Triggers:
Thyramine and Phenylethylamine: two amino acids fund in chocolate, aged cheese, soy foods, nuts, citrus fruits and vinegar
Aspartame: watch out for diet sodas, sugar-free candy and light yogurts.
Sulfites: found in red and white wine and dried fruits
Tannins: found in teas, red skinned apples, apple juice and cider and red wine
Nitries: found in hot dogs and deli meats
79. Get 8 Hours of Sleep: Your headache could be causing you to snore or your snoring could be causing your headache. Headaches can be a result of lack of sleep.
80. Avoid caffeine
81. Quit smoking: A study in the Journal of Headache and Pain showed that people who smoked more than 5 cigarettes a day, were likely to have a migraine headache
82. Avoid stress: Avoiding stress is easier said than done
83. Keep a headache diary: For years we've been telling our clients to keep track of their headache pain, how often they get one and what might be causing them. But a study from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, suggests that this may be too difficult on your own. They suggest that you should still see a doctor and have test run.
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Ramsden CE, Faurot KR, Zamora D, et al. Targeted alteration of dietary n-3 and n-6 fatty acids for the treatment of chronic headaches: A randomized trial. Pain. 2013;154(11):10.1016/j.pain.2013.07.028. doi:10.1016/j.pain.2013.07.028.
Food Chem. 2015 Jan 15;167:24-9. doi: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2014.06.120. Epub 2014 Jul 5. Evaluation of coriander spice as a functional food by using in vitro bioassays. Zhang CR1, Dissanayake AA1, Kevseroğlu K2, Nair MG3.
Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013;2013:893050. doi: 10.1155/2013/893050. Epub 2013 Dec 29. Antimutagenic Effect of Medicinal Plants Achillea millefolium and Bauhinia forficata In Vivo. Düsman E1, de Almeida IV1, Coelho AC1, Balbi TJ1, Düsman Tonin LT2, Vicentini VE1.
Molecules. 2014 Dec 8;19(12):20498-20520. Polyphenolic Profile, Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Activity of Eastern Teaberry (Gaultheria procumbens L.) Leaf Extracts. Michel P1, Dobrowolska A2, Kicel A3, Owczarek A4, Bazylko A5, Granica S6, Piwowarski JP7, Olszewska MA8.
Acta Physiol Hung. 2012 Jun;99(2):133-9. doi: 10.1556/APhysiol.99.2012.2.6. The sedative effects of hops (Humulus lupulus), a component of beer, on the activity/rest rhythm. Franco L1, Sánchez C, Bravo R, Rodriguez A, Barriga C, Juánez JC.
Sprouse-Blum AS, Gabriel AK, Brown JP, Yee MH. Randomized Controlled Trial: Targeted Neck Cooling in the Treatment of the Migraine Patient. Hawai’i Journal of Medicine & Public Health. 2013;72(7):237-241.
64. Sujan MU, Rao MR, Kisan R, et al. Influence of hydrotherapy on clinical and cardiac autonomic function in migraine patients. Journal of Neurosciences in Rural Practice. 2016;7(1):109-113. doi:10.4103/0976-3147.165389.
70. Shaik MM, Gan SH. Vitamin Supplementation as Possible Prophylactic Treatment against Migraine with Aura and Menstrual Migraine. BioMed Research International. 2015;2015:469529. doi:10.1155/2015/469529.
74. Headache Quarterly 1998;9:159-163.
75. Cephalalgia. 1994 Jun;14(3):228-34; discussion 182. Effect of peppermint and eucalyptus oil preparations on neurophysiological and experimental algesimetric headache parameters. Göbel H1, Schmidt G, Soyka D.
American Academy Of Neurology. "Snoring Linked To Headaches." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 April 2003. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/04/030422080309.htm>
81.. López-Mesonero et al. Smoking as a precipitating factor for migraine: a survey in medical students. The Journal of Headache and Pain, 2009; 10 (2): 101 DOI: 10.1007/s10194-009-0098-2
82. American Academy of Neurology (AAN). "Does more stress equal more headaches?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 February 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140219162732.htm>
83. Dana P. Turner, Todd A. Smitherman, Vincent T. Martin, Donald B. Penzien, Timothy T. Houle. Causality and Headache Triggers. Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain, 2013; 53 (4): 628 DOI: 10.1111/head.12076
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