Headaches can be a pain, but there are many natural remedies that you can use to cure them (Image: Getty)
We all suffer from headaches from time to time. They are usually caused by dehydration, stress or diet. However, it is not always necessary to seek painkillers – or help – to alert experts. Try some of these tips and tricks first …
It is known for its analgesic and sedative properties and a study published in the medical journal European Neurology showed that it helped relieve migraine pain better than a placebo.
In fact, 71% of patients' attacks were resolved or partially resolved by inhaling lavender.
Look for the word “essential” on the label and place a few drops on your palms or wrists or inhale from the bottle.
It can also be massaged in temples or added to bathwater, says Claire Kelly, an aromatherapist at Indigo Herbs (indigo-herbs.co.uk).
… Or peppermint:
The menthol in peppermint helps to relax the nerves that cause headaches.
Sprinkle a few drops of peppermint oil on a tissue and take a deep breath or wring out two peppermint tea bags and place them on the closed eyelids or forehead for five minutes.
Rest your head on a book:
Tension headaches usually originate in the small muscles that connect the neck and the back of the head.
Positioning the knotted part of the back of the head against the edge of the book and bending the chin down towards the chest can stretch these tight little muscles and relieve pain in the head.
Feverfew contains a variety of biochemicals, including parthenolide, that fight the widening of blood vessels that occur in migraine.
Studies suggest that taking capsules of dry leaves of fevers every day can reduce the number of migraines in those who are prone to them.
Try Healthspan Feverfew Migraine Relief Capsules (£ 14.95 for 60; healthspan.co.uk).
Try a hand towel wrapped in a pillowcase:
Use this if you wake up with a headache and neck, advises YouTube physical therapist Bob Schrupp.
Wrap a hand towel longitudinally and insert it into the bottom of the pillow, inside the cover, or wrap it around your neck.
This "fills the gap" to support your neck while you sleep and can make all the difference in the way you feel when you wake up.
Complete your magnesium levels:
Evidence suggests that deficiencies in certain nutrients may be a contributing factor to migraine attacks.
American researchers have found that up to half of patients have low magnesium levels.
Increasing your intake of magnesium-rich foods, such as green and leafy vegetables and taking a supplement, has been shown to reduce the frequency and severity of migraines.
Visualize the pain outside:
Relaxation techniques are effective in dealing with tension headaches, according to Sloan Sheridan-Williams, a life coach and wellness consultant (sloansw.com).
"Just be quiet, inhale and exhale slowly and use affirmations or visualizations while contracting and relaxing various muscle groups, starting with your toes and going up to your head," she says.
"Visualize the pain as a color or number and change the color from black and gray to bright white and yellow or count down from 10 to one over a few minutes."
Another tip is to visualize the pain as hot bars in an electric fire. Then imagine turning off each bar one by one and watching the bright orange fade to an opaque gray.
Stretch your neck:
Many headaches are created by tension in the neck muscles, caused by bending over tables or devices.
Gently stretching your neck can relieve muscle tension and pain.
"Lower your head by bending your chin toward your upper chest," says Lexie Williamson, author of The Stretch Bible.
“Lift your head and look slightly upwards. Now continue to nod your head slowly and gently.
Snack on the nuts:
Anecdotal evidence suggests that a small handful of shelled almonds can relieve headaches, as they contain salicin, a natural painkiller similar in chemical composition to aspirin.
Nuts are also rich in magnesium, which works as a muscle relaxant.
Massage your head:
Even if there is no one around to do it for you, doing it yourself will still help. Focus on your temples and apply pressure slowly in a circular motion.
… or hand:
With a firm, circular motion, massage the skin web between the base of the thumb and forefinger.
Continue for a few minutes, change hands and repeat until the pain subsides.
Acupressure experts call this trigger point the fleshy area of LIG4 and maintain that it is linked to parts of the brain where headaches originate.
Below a large glass of water:
Dehydration is the most common cause of headaches, experts say.
Research published in Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice found that people who suffer from frequent headaches and who increased their water consumption by 1.5 liters a day had fewer serious attacks.
Take a vitamin B3 supplement:
"It acts as a vasodilator (dilates blood vessels), so it can cause a feeling of flushing or increased heat, but it can often stop a headache in the early stages," says nutritionist Rosie Millen (missnutritionist.com) .
A medical study showed that the number of migraines was cut in half among people who take 100g of niacin (vitamin B3) daily, she reveals.
Dealing with teeth grinding:
If you wake up with a headache, you can tighten your jaw or clench your teeth (bruxism) while sleeping.
Seeing your dentist with a specially designed mouth guard made of soft plastic can not only prevent continuous damage to your teeth, but also relieve headaches and jaw pain.
Put your legs against the wall:
This yoga posture improves circulation, slows breathing and calms the mind, lawyers say.
Lie on the floor on your back, with your back against the wall and stretch your legs up so that you are lying at right angles. Chill.
Go hot and cold:
Heat and ice can be used to reduce headache, according to the United States' National Headache Foundation.
His research found that most migraine sufferers prefer cold packs, while those with tension headaches or muscle contractions benefit from the heat.
Cold constricts blood vessels and reduces blood flow to provide relief, while heat can relax tense muscles.
Try applying an ice pack to your forehead and temples and use heat bags on your neck and back of your head.
Change your breathing:
If the headache is related to stress, breathing relaxation techniques may be one of the easiest natural remedies for headaches, say researchers at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, United States.
Find a quiet space to sit or lie down and inhale for five seconds and exhale for another five seconds.
Repeat as necessary, paying attention to how your body relaxes, as your breathing becomes slower and rhythmic.
Hold a pencil between your teeth:
According to aesthetic expert Dr. Jane Leonard, the key is simply to hold the pencil in your mouth and not bite it.
This apparently helps the jaw muscles to relax and stop sending the spasms of stress and tension that cause pain in the head.
Make cherries your favorite fruit:
Compounds called anthocyanins – the same phytonutrients that give cherries their rich ruby color – block inflammation and inhibit pain enzymes in a similar way to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen, experts say.
Don't chew gum:
"Research has shown that when a group of individuals who suffered from headaches were told to stop chewing gum, 86% of them showed a marked improvement in reducing headache," reveals Sloan.
Jump between the leaves:
German neurologists have discovered that sex can lead to "partial or complete relief" of the headache, because it triggers the release of endorphins, the body's natural painkillers.
Wear your hair down:
Braids, chignons, high ponytails, tight hats and Alice sashes can cause headaches if the hair is pulled back, forcing connective tissue from the scalp.