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Headaches are a common condition that many people deal with on a daily basis.
Ranging from uncomfortable to downright unbearable, they can disrupt your day-to-day life.
Several types of headaches exist, with tension headaches being the most common. Cluster headaches are painful and happen in groups or “clusters,” while migraines are a moderate-to-severe type of headache.
Although many medications are targeted at relieving headache symptoms, a number of effective, natural treatments also exist.
Here are 18 effective home remedies to naturally get rid of headaches.
1. Drink Water
Inadequate hydration may lead you to develop a headache.
In fact, studies have demonstrated that chronic dehydration is a common cause of tension headaches and migraines (1).
Thankfully, drinking water has been shown to relieve headache symptoms in most dehydrated individuals within 30 minutes to three hours (2Trusted Source).
What’s more, being dehydrated can impair concentration and cause irritability, making your symptoms seem even worse.
Magnesium is an important mineral necessary for countless functions in the body, including blood sugar control and nerve transmission (3Trusted Source).
Interestingly, magnesium has also been shown to be a safe, effective remedy for headaches.
Evidence suggests that magnesium deficiency is more common in people who get frequent migraine headaches, compared to those who don’t (4).
Studies have shown that treatment with 600 mg of oral magnesium citrate per day helped reduce both the frequency and severity of migraine headaches (3Trusted Source, 5).
However, taking magnesium supplements can cause digestive side effects like diarrhea in some people, so it’s best to start with a smaller dose when treating headache symptoms.
You can find magnesium supplements online.
3. Limit Alcohol
While having an alcoholic drink may not cause a headache in most people, studies have shown that alcohol can trigger migraines in about one-third of those who experience frequent headaches (6Trusted Source).
It’s a vasodilator, meaning it widens blood vessels and allows blood to flow more freely.
Vasodilation may cause headaches in some people. In fact, headaches are a common side effect of vasodilators like blood pressure medications (9Trusted Source).
Additionally, alcohol acts as a diuretic, causing the body to lose fluid and electrolytes through frequent urination. This fluid loss can lead to dehydration, which can cause or worsen headaches (10Trusted Source).
For example, one study compared headache frequency and severity in those who got less than six hours of sleep per night and those who slept longer. It found that those who got less sleep had more frequent and severe headaches (11Trusted Source).
However, getting too much sleep has also been shown to trigger headaches, making getting the right amount of rest important for those looking for natural headache prevention (12).
For maximum benefits, aim for the “sweet spot” of seven to nine hours of sleep per night (13Trusted Source).
5. Avoid Foods High in Histamine
Histamine is a chemical found naturally in the body that plays a role in the immune, digestive and nervous systems (14Trusted Source).
It’s also found in certain foods like aged cheeses, fermented food, beer, wine, smoked fish and cured meats.
Studies suggest consuming histamine may cause migraines in those who are sensitive to it.
Some people are not able to excrete histamine properly because they have impaired function of the enzymes responsible for breaking it down (15Trusted Source).
Cutting histamine-rich foods from the diet may be a useful strategy for people who get frequent headaches (16Trusted Source).
6. Use Essential Oils
Essential oils are highly concentrated liquids that contain aromatic compounds from a variety of plants.
They have many therapeutic benefits and are most often used topically, though some can be ingested.
Peppermint and lavender essential oils are especially helpful when you have a headache.
Applying peppermint essential oil to the temples has been shown to reduce the symptoms of tension headaches (17).
Meanwhile, lavender oil is highly effective at reducing migraine pain and associated symptoms when applied to the upper lip and inhaled (18Trusted Source).
Buy peppermint oil and lavender oil online.
7. Try a B-Complex Vitamin
B vitamins are a group of water-soluble micronutrients that play many important roles in the body. For example, they contribute to neurotransmitter synthesis and help turn food into energy (19).
Some B vitamins may have a protective effect against headaches.
B-complex vitamins contain all eight of the B vitamins and are a safe, cost-effective way to naturally treat headache symptoms.
B vitamins are considered safe to take on a regular basis, as they are water soluble and any excess will be flushed out through the urine (23Trusted Source).
You can find B vitamins online.
8. Soothe Pain with a Cold Compress
Using a cold compress may help reduce your headache symptoms.
Applying cold or frozen compresses to the neck or head area decreases inflammation, slows nerve conduction and constricts blood vessels, all of which help reduce headache pain (24Trusted Source).
In one study in 28 women, applying a cold gel pack to the head significantly reduced migraine pain (25Trusted Source).
To make a cold compress, fill a waterproof bag with ice and wrap it in a soft towel. Apply the compress to the back of the neck, head or temples for headache relief.
9. Consider Taking Coenzyme Q10
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a substance produced naturally by the body that helps turn food into energy and functions as a powerful antioxidant (26).
Studies have shown that taking CoQ10 supplements may be an effective and natural way to treat headaches.
For example, one study in 80 people demonstrated that taking 100 mg of CoQ10 supplements per day reduced migraine frequency, severity and length (27Trusted Source).
Another study including 42 people who experienced frequent migraines found that three 100-mg doses of CoQ10 throughout the day helped decrease migraine frequency and migraine-related symptoms like nausea (28Trusted Source).
To discover if a certain food is causing frequent headaches, try an elimination diet that removes the foods most related to your headache symptoms.
Aged cheese, alcohol, chocolate, citrus fruits and coffee are among the most commonly reported food triggers in people with migraines (29Trusted Source).
In one small study, a 12-week elimination diet decreased the number of migraine headaches people experienced. These effects started at the four-week mark (30Trusted Source).
Read more here about how to follow an elimination diet properly.
11. Drink Caffeinated Tea or Coffee
Sipping on beverages that contain caffeine, such as tea or coffee, may provide relief when you are experiencing a headache.
Caffeine improves mood, increases alertness and constricts blood vessels, all of which can have a positive effect on headache symptoms (31Trusted Source).
It also helps increase the effectiveness of common medications used to treat headaches, such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen (32Trusted Source).
However, caffeine withdrawal has also been shown to cause headaches if a person regularly consumes large amounts of caffeine and suddenly stops.
Therefore, people who get frequent headaches should be mindful of their caffeine intake (33).
12. Try Acupuncture
Acupuncture is a technique of Traditional Chinese medicine that involves inserting thin needles into the skin to stimulate specific points on the body (34Trusted Source).
This practice has been linked to a reduction in headache symptoms in many studies.
A review of 22 studies including more than 4,400 people found that acupuncture was as effective as common migraine medications (35Trusted Source).
Another study found that acupuncture was more effective and safer than topiramate, an anticonvulsant drug used to treat chronic migraines (36Trusted Source).
If you’re looking for a natural way to treat chronic headaches, acupuncture may be a worthwhile choice.
13. Relax with Yoga
Practicing yoga is an excellent way to relieve stress, increase flexibility, decrease pain and improve your overall quality of life (37Trusted Source).
Taking up yoga may even help reduce the intensity and frequency of your headaches.
One study investigated the effects of yoga therapy on 60 people with chronic migraines. Headache frequency and intensity were reduced more in those receiving both yoga therapy and conventional care, compared to those receiving conventional care alone (38Trusted Source).
Another study found that people who practiced yoga for three months had a significant reduction in headache frequency, severity and associated symptoms, compared to those who did not practice yoga (39Trusted Source).
14. Avoid Strong Smells
Strong odors like those from perfumes and cleaning products can cause certain individuals to develop headaches.
A study that involved 400 people who experienced either migraine or tension headaches found that strong odors, especially perfumes, often triggered headaches (40Trusted Source).
This hypersensitivity to odors is called osmophobia and common in those with chronic migraines (41Trusted Source).
If you think you may be sensitive to smells, avoiding perfumes, cigarette smoke and strongly scented foods may help decrease your chance of getting a migraine (42Trusted Source).
15. Try an Herbal Remedy
Certain herbs including feverfew and butterbur may reduce headache symptoms.
Feverfew is a flowering plant that has anti-inflammatory properties.
Some studies suggest that taking feverfew supplements in doses of 50–150 mg per day may reduce headache frequency. However, other studies have failed to find a benefit (43Trusted Source).
Butterbur root comes from a perennial shrub native to Germany and, like feverfew, has anti-inflammatory effects.
Several studies have shown that taking butterbur extract in doses of 50–150 mg reduces headache symptoms in both adults and children (44Trusted Source).
Feverfew is generally considered safe if taken in recommended amounts. However, butterbur should be treated with caution, as unpurified forms can cause liver damage, and the effects of its long-term use are unknown (45Trusted Source, 46).
Feverfew is available online.
16. Avoid Nitrates and Nitrites
Nitrates and nitrites are common food preservatives added to items like hot dogs, sausages and bacon to keep them fresh by preventing bacterial growth.
Foods containing them have been shown to trigger headaches in some people.
Nitrites may trigger headaches by causing the expansion of blood vessels (47Trusted Source).
In order to minimize your exposure to nitrites, limit the amount of processed meats in your diet and choose nitrate-free products whenever possible.
17. Sip Some Ginger Tea
Ginger root contains many beneficial compounds, including antioxidants and anti-inflammatory substances (48).
One study in 100 people with chronic migraines found that 250 mg of ginger powder was as effective as the conventional headache medication sumatriptan at reducing migraine pain (49Trusted Source).
What’s more, ginger helps reduce nausea and vomiting, common symptoms associated with severe headaches (50Trusted Source).
You can take ginger powder in capsule form or make a powerful tea with fresh ginger root.