Headaches. We’ve all had them and know how debilitating they can be, especially when they take the form of migraines (a topic for another article). They’re often caused by staring at screens for too long, lack of sleep, poor nutrition and dehydration. To make matters worse, painkillers such as Tylenol and Advil are commonly abused to manage the pain from headaches, leading to a host of liver issues.
However, there are many natural remedies for headaches, some of which have existed for thousands of years. I personally prefer to deal with my headaches using natural ingredients, as I am aware of the damage that NSAID (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) drugs can have on the body long term. Here are a few successful natural remedies for headaches that I’ve tried in the past.
One of the more common reasons why people get headaches is dehydration. With a busy day-to-day schedule weighing down on our shoulders, it can be very easy to forget to drink water. Essentially, when you don’t drink enough water, you essential organs and bodily functions begin to slow down and fail.
The same goes for your brain! When it is dehydrated, the brain will actually begin to shrivel up and shrink, pulling away from your skull and causing that throbbing pain you know as headaches. Here’s a tip: every time you pass your sink or water dispenser in your office, stop and take a drink. Your thirsty brain will thank you for it.
Get Enough Sleep
Have you ever stayed up all night, whether it was from studying for an exam or comforting a crying baby, and woke up to a pounding headache? Sleep deprivation has been shown to increase the likelihood of developing a headache, and can even trigger migraine headaches for some. As seen in a conversation between two sleep and headache experts, the scientific community acknowledges the correlation between sleep deprivation and headaches.
Use a Cold Compress
Another common natural remedy for headaches is a cold compress. Found in nearly any pharmacy and many grocery stores, cold compresses or even a gel ice pack, can be great to relieve the pain experienced during migraines and headaches. By constricting the blood vessels with low temperature, you can help to reduce the pain and throbbing. Try placing the cold compress on the forehead, back of the neck and temples.
This last remedy is traditionally used in Eastern cultures such as China and Vietnam. Growing up in a Asian household, I can personally vouch for its effectiveness for relieving headache pain almost instantly. While it may help with the pain in the moment, I’ve experienced the headache gradually returning if I do not deal with the root of the problem. For example, if I am experiencing a headache from lack of sleep, acupressure may help reduce the pain but the headache will not truly go away until after I’ve taken a nap.
While acupressure exists in many forms, here’s how I’ve used it to soothe my headaches. First, you have to know where to apply pressure to achieve the desired results. My favorite spots are located on the head: the temples, where your eyebrows meet your nose, the soft spot between your nose and cheekbones, and finally the edge of your jaw line, about two inches below your ears. There also exists some effective pressure points running down the centerline of your skull, but these are a bit more difficult to locate.
Simply rotate applying pressure to these areas using your thumbs and index fingers, pressing firmly for about fifteen seconds before moving to the next area. After about three rounds of each spot, you should notice a relief in pressure and pain. Again, this is only a temporary remedy for the pain and you should always prioritize dealing with the source of the headache.