Headaches are an unfortunate part of life. Many of us have them from time to time, for many different reasons. Most people reach for the Tylenol when they have one. However, that can be dangerous. Tylenol (acetomenophen) is the leading cause of liver failure in the U.S. Ibuprofen isn’t any better, being the second leading cause of liver failure and causing ulcers and other stomach conditions. No, drugs are not the answer, especially for a minor headache.
That doesn’t mean you have to suffer, though. There are ways to help!
- Drink water. Dehydration is often a cause of headaches, so the first thing you should do is try drinking some water! A lot of minor headaches will fade.
- Eat something. Low blood sugar/hunger can also cause headaches. Try eating something, especially something containing protein.
- Hot/cold compresses. Choose whichever feels better to you. You can use a wash cloth with hot or cold water, or you can use an ice pack, or a rice-filled heating pad warmed for a few minutes. Different headache causes will require heat or ice, so really, just do what feels right to you.
- Warm/hot bath. Take a bath and relax. If you’re pregnant or sensitive to heat, don’t make it too hot.
- Wintergreen, clove, or lavender essential oil. Wintegreen and clove are the most effective, but also can be dangerous. Wintergreen is best used under supervision of a trained herbalist. Neither wintergreen nor clove are safe during pregnancy. Lavender is safe all the time, so if in doubt, choose that. A few drops in a warm bath, in a diffuser, or on a hot/cold wash cloth (applied to the forehead) can help. Mixed with a carrier oil, this can also be used for a massage.
- Massage. Rub the temples, neck, shoulders — anywhere tension may be. This will help to relax and melt the headache away.
- Rest. Lay down for awhile, sleep if you can. Sometimes headaches are just a sign that you need more rest.
- Exercise. Have you been lying around too much? Do you need to get up and move, get the blood flowing again? Sometimes being too still (especially sitting in an uncomfortable computer chair, for example) can make your head hurt. Move around, stretch out, loosen tense muscles.
- Examine your diet. Have you eaten anything you shouldn’t have? MSG and other food additives can cause headaches. If this is the case, you may just have to ride it out, but you can prevent it in the future.
- Arnica. An arnica salve applied to any sore spots may ease pain and help your headache disappear.
Feel free to use a combination of these methods! I frequently try a warm bath and/or compress, some lavender oil, water, and rest, and this combination usually gets rid of my headache.
What home headache remedies do you use?
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