Effective Headache Treatment: Natural Remedies and Relief

Discover effective headache treatment options, including natural remedies and over-the-counter medications for relief from migraines, tension headaches, and cluster headaches.

Headaches happen often, bothering many people each day. They can range from just uncomfortable to very painful. Tension headaches are the most usual type. Cluster headaches occur in cycles and are quite painful. Migraines are a severe form of headache. Many use medicine to ease their headache symptoms, but natural remedies can also be very effective. We will look at natural ways to lessen and stop headaches in this article.

Key Takeaways

  • Dehydration is a common cause of headaches, and staying hydrated can help reduce headache occurrence, duration, and severity.1
  • Magnesium deficiency is more common in individuals with frequent migraines, and magnesium supplements may help reduce migraine frequency and severity.1
  • Alcohol can trigger migraines in about one-third of individuals with frequent headaches, so limiting alcohol intake may provide relief.1
  • Poor sleep quality and insomnia are associated with increased headache frequency and severity, emphasizing the importance of adequate sleep for natural headache prevention.1
  • Eliminating histamine-rich foods may help reduce migraine symptoms in individuals sensitive to histamine.1

Understanding Headaches

Headaches have many causes. Some are not serious, like not getting enough sleep, not drinking enough water, or quitting caffeine. On the other hand, real dangers like head injuries or certain health problems can cause headaches too. These include tumors or infections.2

People who are overweight, have trouble sleeping, smoke, or take in a lot of caffeine are more likely to get headaches. If headaches run in your family, you’re also at risk.2

Types of Headaches

2 Over 150 types of headaches are known. They fall into two main categories: primary and secondary. The most common type is the tension headache, affecting about 40% of people.2

Migraines are less common, seen in about 10% of the global population. They are identified by a severe, sudden pain. This could hint at a serious problem like a head injury.2

Migraines are quite distinct. They happen with nausea and a severe headache. Light and sound make it worse. Migraines are more common in females.2

Common Causes of Headaches

2 Daily lifestyle can bring on primary headaches. This includes what we eat, drink, smoking, how we sleep, our exercise, how we sit, and missing meals.3

Sometimes, people get headaches every day. This is a kind of headache by itself. Another kind comes from using too much headache medicine.3

Cluster headaches give very sharp pain on one side of the head. They can last for weeks, then go away for a while. Migraines are more likely to affect women.3

Stay Hydrated to Prevent Headaches

Dehydration can lead to headaches for some people.4 You might feel very thirsty or have a dry mouth. Your urine might look darker and you might get muscle cramps.4 This can happen after tough workouts, during hot days, or when using certain medicines.4 Also, not eating for 8-16 hours can cause a headache.4

Headaches from not drinking enough water can be mild or major migraine types.5 They can be more likely if you’ve had diarrhea, vomited, sweat a lot, had a fever, or peed a lot.5 Some people face a higher risk, including those who live high up, babies, the elderly, sick people, those on meds that make them pee more, athletes, and those in hot areas.5

Drinking more water can lower the chances of getting these headaches.4 Try to drink plenty of water every day. Eating watery foods like fruits helps, too.4 Adults usually need about 8 cups of water daily to stay hydrated.5

If you’re vomiting or have diarrhea a lot, just drinking water might not be enough.5 You might need to go to the hospital to get fluids through an IV. Severe dehydration can cause serious problems like confusion and low blood pressure.5

Dehydration makes tension and migraine headaches worse.4 It can also cause special types of headaches like orthostatic hypotension.4 Drinking water usually relieves these headaches in about three hours.4 If you’re dehydrated, drinks with electrolytes can help, as can common painkillers.4 Putting a cold cloth on your head can soothe the pain, too.4

To prevent these headaches, always keep water with you. Avoiding sugary drinks and not having too much coffee or alcohol also help.4

hydration for headaches

Magnesium: A Potential Headache Remedy

Magnesium is essential for many body functions. It helps with blood sugar and nerve work. Amazingly, magnesium is proving to be a good fix for headaches. People who often get migraines may lack magnesium.6 Taking extra magnesium, in different amounts and types, can cut down migraine numbers and how bad they are.6

Benefits of Magnesium Supplements

Taking 600 mg of magnesium citrate could ease migraine pain.6 But, magnesium supplements might cause tummy issues like diarrhea for some. It’s smart to begin with a low dose for headaches. Ask a doctor for the best advice on how much to take.6

Recommended Magnesium Dosage

The usual dose of magnesium oxide for migraines is 400 to 500 milligrams each day.6 Foods like spinach and chard are rich in magnesium, giving almost half of what you need in a daily cup.6 Women expecting a baby should take 350 to 400 milligrams a day in tablet form.6 Fortunately, most people don’t eat enough magnesium.6 Too much magnesium can lead to stomach pain, throwing up, and low blood pressure. If you have gut problems, talk to a doctor before you start taking extra magnesium.6

Limit Alcohol Intake

Alcohol as a Headache Trigger

Sipping an alcoholic drink might not give you a headache, but for some, it’s a trigger. Studies show about one-third of those who get headaches often find alcohol to be a culprit.7 If you often have tension or cluster headaches, cutting down on alcohol might help.7 Experts believe alcohol might cause headaches by starting inflammation, activating certain parts in our brains, leading to dryness, and making our blood vessels wider. The exact cause isn’t clear yet.7 So, cutting back on alcohol could improve how you feel if you’re often bothered by headaches.

In 2016, a study found that 10% of people noticed they got headaches after drinking alcohol.8 A more recent study in 2020 showed a much higher rate at 95%.8 This 2020 study also found that women are more at risk for alcohol-related health issues like hangovers, trouble remembering, and liver disease.8 Reports from a study in 2019 say that drinks like red wine are big culprits for sparking migraines.8 It’s advised to drink water when you drink alcohol to stay away from triggering headaches.8

See also  Types of Headaches Chart: A Comprehensive Visual Guide

For those who suffer from migraines, roughly a third see alcohol as a problem.9 Ten percent find it happens quite often.9 Be cautious with dark alcohol types because they have more substances that could trigger a migraine.9 Alcohol can lead to dehydration, a common trigger of migraines, because it makes you pee more.9 Also, it can change the size of your blood vessels and make migraine attacks more likely.9 Try to avoid alcohol when you have a migraine to keep the bad symptoms at bay.9

Get Adequate Sleep

Not getting enough sleep can harm your health and might bring on headaches. Studies have found that poor sleep is linked with more and worse headaches.10 This includes morning headaches for people with sleep apnea and stronger headaches for those with tension headaches.10 Yet, sleeping too much can also start headaches.11 So, the right amount of sleep is key for avoiding headaches.

Sleep and Headache Connection

When we don’t sleep well, our body has trouble fixing itself.11 Individuals with chronic migraines are much more likely to also have trouble sleeping.11 Not enough sleep can cause tension headaches and make our bodies hurt more than they should.11 Both too little and too much sleep can start migraines.11 If you can’t sleep well, your migraines might become a constant problem.11

Recommended Sleep Duration

From 18-64 years old, 7-9 hours of sleep is best for your health.10 Younger and older folks need a bit more sleep.10 A lack of sleep might cause your body to make more proteins that lead to chronic pain.10 Not getting enough REM sleep has been tied to more painful headaches.10 In 2015, a study showed that people with sleep problems feel more pain.10 And in 2018, researchers found a close link between not sleeping enough and getting tension headaches.10

How much sleep you need depends on your age and can vary. Adults should aim for 7-9 hours.11 Babies need much more sleep, while preschoolers need 10-13 hours.11 It’s helpful to keep a record of your headaches and sleep to find the best treatment.11 To avoid headaches from lack of sleep, try to sleep and wake at the same times every day, make your sleep space calming, stay away from caffeine before bed, be active in the day, and stop using screens before sleep.11 Not sleeping enough can lead to problems like memory issues, bad moods, trouble focusing, changed blood pressure, and even seeing things that aren’t there.11

Avoid Foods High in Histamine

Histamine is a key chemical in the body that affects the immune, digestive, and nervous systems.12 You can find it in certain foods, like aged cheeses, beer, and cured meats.12 Some people are sensitive to histamine.13 For them, eating these foods might trigger migraines.13

Histamine Sensitivity and Headaches

Some people can’t break down histamine well due to enzyme issues.12 Avoiding these foods could lower the risk of headaches for those sensitive to histamine.12 Those with histamine intolerance might also have gut and migraine issues.13 This happens because histamine affects how inflammation happens in migraines.13

Migraine ranks high globally for disease and disability.13 It affects up to one billion people.13 A diet low in histamine can either reduce or stop symptoms in these individuals.13 Studies suggest a low-histamine diet works in improving these health issues.13

If you have allergic rhinitis, you might get migraines more often.13 In one case, 28 people with headaches had their symptoms go down by 68% after a month on a low-histamine diet.13 In another study, nearly 90% of participants had either fewer headaches or none at all after four weeks of the same diet.13 Doctors often recommend a low-histamine diet for people with histamine intolerance.13

Around 1 percent of people have histamine intolerance.12 Conditions like gut issues, Crohn’s, and liver problems can make it worse.12 Some medications also cut down on the enzyme needed to break down histamine.12 Diagnosing this can be tricky, but eliminating certain foods might help.12

It’s hard to measure histamine in food, and the levels change with age and storage.12 Fermented foods have the most histamine, while fresh foods have the least.12 A low-histamine diet is often used to see how much histamine someone can handle in their food.12 People’s tolerance to histamine varies widely.12 Before trying a low-histamine diet, especially if you’re a child, talk to a doctor. Nutrient problems could be a risk.12

Aromatherapy with Essential Oils

Essential oils are super strong liquids from various plants. They bring many health benefits and people often use them on the skin or even eat them.14 Studies show that oils like peppermint, lavender, and eucalyptus can really help when you have a headache.14

If headaches bother you a lot, you might want to try using these oils. You can either smell the oils by using a diffuser. Or you can mix a little peppermint or lavender oil with another oil, like jojoba, and put it on your skin. Try your wrists or temples for quick relief.

Peppermint Oil for Headache Relief

14 Many like to use peppermint oil for headaches because of its cool menthol. It helps muscles relax and lessens pain.15 In fact, a big review found that a bunch of oils, including peppermint, can make migraines less severe and less often.

Lavender Oil for Relaxation

14 Lavender oil is great for relaxing and beating stress. It also helps with easing headaches, with a lot less pain felt after smelling it for just 15 minutes.15 A big look at different oils found that lavender, along with others like peppermint, can make migraine pain and how often they happen go down.

See also  How to Treat a Headache? Effective Tips and Remedies

Supplement with B Vitamins

B vitamins are a group of water-soluble micronutrients crucial for your body. They help with making neurotransmitters and using food for energy.16 Some B vitamins can even lower the likelihood of headaches.

Studies show that B vitamin supplements, like riboflavin (B2), folate, B12, and pyridoxine (B6), may ease headache symptoms.17 B-complex supplements, having all eight B vitamins, offer a natural way to handle headaches.16B vitamins are safe for regular use. Since they are water-soluble, any extra amount gets removed when you urinate.

Cold Compress for Headache Relief

Using a cold compress can help lower your cold therapy for headaches symptoms. Place a cold compress on your neck or head to reduce inflammation.

This also slows down nerve signals and makes blood vessels smaller. All these actions can cut down headache pain.18 Some studies show that cold compresses for headaches work well for certain kinds of headaches, like those from heart medicine.18To make one, put ice in a waterproof bag and cover it with a soft towel. Then, put it on the back of your neck, on your head, or on your temples for relief.

19 In 2013, a study found that a cold neck wrap eased migraine pain fast.19 It’s thought to work by cooling blood that goes to the brain, cutting brain inflammation. This makes migraines hurt less.19Dr. Tania Elliott from EHE says to use an ice pack for 15 to 20 minutes at a time. Do this when you have a headache or migraine.19Dr. Alex Tauberg, a sports chiropractor, suggests putting the ice where it hurts or at the bottom of your skull, keeping it for 20 minutes, taking it off for an hour. Do this until the pain stops, but make sure you don’t let your skin get too cold. Tauberg says your skin should feel cold, then burn, then hurt, then go numb. After it goes numb, take off the ice to avoid hurting your skin.

Coenzyme Q10: A Natural Headache Treatment

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is made by your body and helps make energy. It also fights off harmful stuff as an antioxidant. Studies say CoQ10 can help ease [CoQ10 for headaches] and [CoQ10 for migraines].20

For instance, in a study with 80 people that had migraines, taking 100 mg of CoQ10 daily helped. It made their migraines less often and less severe. Another review from 2021 looked at 6 studies and found that taking 30–800 mg daily cuts down on how many migraines you get and how long they last.21

Benefits of CoQ10 for Migraines

CoQ10 might cut how much of a pain-causing protein you have in your body during a migraine. This can stop migraines from happening.20

Plus, groups like the American Academy of Neurology suggest using CoQ10 to prevent migraines.

Cove’s Beam has CoQ10, magnesium, and riboflavin in one pack to fight migraines.20

Recommended CoQ10 Dosage

To prevent migraines, you might need to take between 100 and 200 mg of CoQ10 a day. Here’s the great part: In one study, folks saw their number of headache days cut in half.20

But, going over 300 mg a day doesn’t help for sure. CoQ10 is safe for most, but not for pregnant or nursing moms without checking in with a doctor.20

It’s rare, but some might not like how CoQ10 tastes, or they might feel sick. Don’t worry if it takes a few months to work. And it’s ok to take it with other migraine meds. Just talk to your doctor first.20

Try an Elimination Diet

Studies show some people get headaches from certain foods.22 To check if a food causes your headaches, use an elimination diet. First, stop eating foods that could be triggers. Then, add them back slowly to see if they affect you.23 Foods like those high in histamine, caffeine, or tyramine are often the culprits.24 Knowing your triggers can help you avoid headaches.

Food Intolerances and Headaches

Migraine sufferers might react to their favorite foods.22 It varies, though. Some might be sensitive to more than one type of food.22 For some, low blood sugar leads to headaches.22 An elimination diet might help, especially with migraines.22 It has been successful for those wanting to cut tyramine or certain additives from their diet.22

Around 20% of people globally have food intolerances.23 Such a diet usually lasts 5 to 6 weeks.23 It can also cut IBS symptoms by up to 26%.23 For over 75% of those with EE, symptoms dropped a lot.23 And it’s shown to help with ADHD signs.23

The Headache Elimination Diet is good to do for at least 3 months. Then, you slowly reintroduce foods to see what affects you.24 Avoiding certain chemicals in food, like tyramine or aspartame, can cut how often you get headaches.24 This diet might also help you lose weight, feel more energized, and have less acid reflux.24

Eliminate common triggers like caffeine, chocolate, and MSG.24 Also avoid processed meats, cheese, and nuts.24 Be careful with soy and products that contain soy, like miso.24 Watch out for headache-triggering pharmaceuticals and diet supplements.24 Sticking to the diet might improve your headache tolerance and food sensitivity over time.24

Relaxation Techniques for Headache Management

Relaxation training can make a big difference for those battling headaches. It not only eases headache pain but also brings down stress and worry.25 You can try techniques like taking deep breaths, listening to guided meditations, and learning to relax your muscles.

See also  Constant Headaches Every Day: Causes & Relief Tips

Deep Breathing Exercises

Doing deep breaths boosts blood with oxygen and soothes the brain. One study found that deep breathing can cut headache pain by 40%.25

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Progressive muscle relaxation helps by tensing and then relaxing your muscles step by step. This can significantly lessen how often headaches happen.25 Making this a part of your daily life may help tackle tension headaches and migraines.

Caffeine: A Double-Edged Sword

Benefits of Caffeine for Headache Relief

Having a drink with caffeine like coffee, tea, or soda might ease a headache. Some headache medicines have caffeine because it helps them work better.26 A study in the Journal of Headache and Pain said caffeine can make tension headaches or migraines feel better.26 Caffeine makes blood vessels relax, helping blood flow better and easing pain.26

Caffeine Withdrawal and Headaches

Yet, quitting caffeine can cause headaches among those who usually drink it.26 If you often get headaches, try cutting back on caffeine to see if it helps or makes it worse.2627 Of 108 people in a study, 36 stopped using caffeine entirely.27 In this group, 72.2% found that their headache treatments worked very well, compared to 40.3% in the group that still drank caffeine (a significant difference).27 Quitting caffeine made the treatments more effective, a difference that was statistically confirmed.27 Those who quit caffeine also seemed to get less headaches overall (although not by a large amount).27 Caffeine sources varied from brewed or drip coffee to cola, with doses ranging from 36 to 136 mg for an 8-ounce serving.27

Headache Treatment with Vitamins

Besides B vitamins, other vitamins might help with headache symptoms too. Some studies suggest a link between headaches, low magnesium, and migraine. Taking magnesium supplements could lessen or even stop headaches for some.28

Vitamin E for Menstrual Migraines

For women facing migraines during their period, vitamin E could be key. It helps manage hormone levels, often easing migraine symptoms. Plus, research shows it can reduce headache pain safely.28

It’s vital to talk with a healthcare provider before trying new vitamins or supplements for your headaches. Everyone’s body reacts differently. This is especially true if you’re pregnant, nursing, have health issues, or take medications.28


What are the different types of headaches?

The main types of headaches are tension, migraine, and cluster headaches. Tension headaches are most common. Migraines and cluster headaches are usually more severe.

What are the common causes of headaches?

Headaches can come from many things like not drinking enough water or missing vitamins. Your lifestyle, how much you sleep, and if you’re stressed can all lead to headaches. Even things like giving up caffeine, drinking alcohol, or certain foods can start a headache.

How can staying hydrated help prevent headaches?

Not drinking enough water is a big reason for headaches. To stay hydrated, drink water and eat foods with a lot of water. This can make headaches less often, shorter, and not as bad for some people.

How can magnesium help treat headaches?

If you get a lot of migraines, it might be because you don’t have enough magnesium. Taking about 600 mg of magnesium citrate can make migraines happen less often and not feel as bad.

How does alcohol contribute to headaches?

Alcohol can cause migraines, tension headaches, or cluster headaches in some people. It makes your blood vessels change and dehydrates you. These effects can start a headache.

How can sleep impact headaches?

Not sleeping well or not enough can make headaches happen more and feel worse. But, sleeping too much can also be bad for headaches. Try to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night to keep headaches away.

How can histamine-rich foods contribute to headaches?

Foods like old cheese, fermented products, and cured meats that have a lot of histamine can trigger migraines in some people. If you stop eating these foods, your headaches might get better.

How can essential oils help with headache relief?

Oils like peppermint, lavender, and eucalyptus can calm headaches when you smell them or put them on your skin. They help by reducing swelling, making blood vessels smaller, and calming you down.

How can B vitamins help treat headaches?

Some B vitamins like riboflavin, folate, B12, and B6 can protect against headaches. Taking a B-complex pill is a good way to help your headaches without spending a lot of money.

How can a cold compress help with headache relief?

Put a cold pack on your neck or head to help with some types of headaches. It reduces swelling, makes your nerves work slower, and makes your blood vessels smaller. This can make your headache feel better.

How can CoQ10 help treat migraines?

CoQ10 supplements can make migraines happen less often and not feel as bad. Taking about 100 mg a day seems to work for some people.

How can an elimination diet help identify headache triggers?

Stopping foods that might start a headache and then trying them again one by one can help find what causes your headaches.

How can relaxation techniques help manage headaches?

Doing things like deep breathing or slowly tensing and relaxing your muscles can help you feel less stressed. This can help with tension headaches and migraines.

How does caffeine impact headaches?

Caffeine can help make a headache hurt less by making your blood vessels smaller and working with pain meds. But for people who usually drink caffeine, stopping can make a headache start.

What other vitamins can help treat headaches?

Besides B vitamins, magnesium and vitamin E might help with headaches, especially migraines. Adding more magnesium and vitamin E to your diet might make your headaches better. Vitamin E can be good for women who get headaches when they have their period.

Source Links

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  15. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10822728/
  16. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9860208/
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  18. https://www.excedrin.com/migraines/treatment/ice-pack-for-migraines/
  19. https://www.healthline.com/health/ice-packs-for-headache
  20. https://www.withcove.com/learn/coq10-migraine-prevention
  21. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8105190/
  22. https://www.va.gov/WHOLEHEALTHLIBRARY/docs/Clinician-Guide-Nutrition-Headache-Elimination-Diet.pdf
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