Whether it’s a dull ache or stabbing pain, a headache sends most people straight to the medicine cabinet. But pills aren’t the only solution to relieve headaches – or their more severe form, migraines, which often come with nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light and sound. In support of Headache and Migraine Awareness month, we bring you five natural remedies that relieve headache pain — and may even prevent it in the first place.
1. Modify your diet.
Before grabbing that bottle of painkillers, try fighting headaches with your diet. Add more foods with magnesium, found in green veggies and whole grains, and riboflavin (vitamin B2), found in low-fat dairy and eggs. Try eliminating certain foods that, for many people, trigger migraines. And be sure your overall diet is healthy and balanced. Learn why that can keep a throbbing head at bay in this video with neurologist Emily Rubenstein-Engel, MD.
2. Opt for herbs.
Some herbs can be an effective alternative to prescription or over-the-counter pain relief. Ginger helps to soothe migraine symptoms by working as an anti-inflammatory, while feverfew helps to reduce the blood vessel constriction that can lead to headaches. Peppermint oil, rubbed onto the temples and forehead, is also a great way to get relief. Its anti-inflammatory properties soothe the pain and tight muscles common in tension headaches.
3. Grab a yoga mat.
Are you a chronic headache sufferer? Sign up for a weekly yoga class or do yoga moves at home. Preliminary research suggests that yoga can reduce the intensity and frequency of tension and migraine headaches, and may also help reduce your need for pain-relief medications in the future. Yoga is also great for relieving stress, one of the major causes of headache pain.
4. Try acupuncture.
The small, thin needles used in this ancient form of Chinese medicine can offer big benefits when it comes to migraines and headaches. One study found that acupuncture can help prevent migraine attacks and soothe episodic tension headaches as well as standard drug treatments – without the unpleasant side effects of medication.
5. Get better sleep.
Studies have found that not getting enough sleep or having poor sleep habits can trigger migraines and increase the frequency of tension headaches. So make shut-eye a priority. Start with these nine steps to better sleep. If you’ve tried those sleep-hygiene tips and still aren’t sleeping well, talk to your primary care provider. He or she can help you get the sleep you need – which could lead to fewer headaches and better overall health.