These home remedies for headaches give you a range of options for headache relief, and many of them are free or low cost. Note: If you’re dealing with constant headaches, diet and lifestyle changes may be needed. Pain is our body’s way of getting our attention.
If you have chronic or severe headache pain, please see a healthcare professional. Only your health care provider, personal physician, or pharmacist can provide you with advice on what is safe and effective for your unique needs or diagnose your particular medical history. Material on this site is for general informational purposes only, and is not intended to take the place of a healthcare professional. Be careful out there, folks!
Headache Relief Option #1 – Hydrate
Simple dehydration is a common cause of headaches (and muscle aches). Make sure to drink plenty of non-caffeinated beverages over the course of the day. Skip the soda, especially diet, as no-cal sweeteners are a headache trigger for many. Excess sugar ties up magnesium in the body. Low magnesium is another potential headache trigger, so soda or plain juice may hurt more than they help. Plain water or infused water, water kefir, coconut water and herbal tea are all great options.
Headache Relief Option #2 – Cold or Heat
Ice constricts blood vessels, which may reduce pain and inflammation. Try applying an icepack on your forehead or at the base of the skull at the first sign of a headache. Alternatively, if you can tell that your muscles are very tense, try heat. Place a hot pack or heating pad on tight neck muscles, or soak in a warm bath. I’ve tried both, depending on the type of headache.
Core Products is a Wisconsin based company that creates a wide variety of fabric based products, including hot and cold packs. I learned about them through one of my closest friends, who is one of their product designers. She gifted me with a hot and cold pack many years ago, and I liked it so much I’ve purchased several more over the years. These packs have frost free covers and are filled with non-toxic, biodegradable gel. I keep some small ones in the freezer and I use larger ones with heat.
For headache relief, I recommend the 6″x10″ CorPak Soft Comfort Frost-Free Hot/Cold Pack for an ice pack. For heat, go with the larger 6” x 20”Cervical Soft Comfort Hot and Cold Pack. This size is shaped to drape over the shoulders.
Headache Relief Option #3 – Napping
Find a cool, dark, quiet room and take a 10-15 minute nap. This tends to work better for migraines and tension headaches, but can make cluster headaches (those with stabbing pain around the eyes) worse.
Note that too much sleep or a significant disruption in your sleep schedule can trigger headaches. Sometimes I even put a pillow over my head (just leaving an air hole) to block out light and noise. If you have a noisy bedroom with too much light, consider a sleep mask with ear plugs.
Headache Relief Option #4 – Movement
This is a great option for tension headache relief, as physical activity helps to relieve muscle tension. Your muscles want to stay doing whatever they’re doing, which can lead to them knotting up and shutting you down. Get up, take a walk, swing your arms and get that blood flowing and those muscles relaxing. Your chiropractor will be happy you did (even though you may visit them less often).
Headache Relief Option #5 – Massage
Massage is a great DIY headache treatment that you can use almost anywhere. The quick video below demonstrates a simple massage technique for tension headache relief.
Rubbing the temples in a circular motion or firmly massaging the neck and shoulders to relieve tension may also be helpful.
Headache Relief Option #6 – Magnesium
Low levels of magnesium in the blood are commonly associated with headaches, especially in women, particularly migraines and headaches related to the menstrual cycle. 400 – 700 mg of magnesium daily is considered safe. Excess magnesium taken orally can put a strain on the kidneys, so don’t overdose. Some forms of magnesium absorb better than others, so look for magnesium supplements chelated with glysine or lysine for best absorption, like Doctor’s Best High Absorption Magnesium Dietary Supplement. Magnesium citrate oral magnesium is used as a laxative.
Foods high in magnesium include molasses, nuts, spinach, wheat germ, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, seafood, cheese, baked potatoes, broccoli and bananas. You can also add Epsom salts to your bath, or use a spray on magnesium oil. (I highly recommend the book The Magnesium Miracle to learn more about the importance of magnesium in the body.)