Headache Natural Remedies

natural remedies for headaches

Headache natural remedies address different types of headaches in different ways.  Consider the right herbal remedy for unique headache symptoms, while recognizing limitations.  In some cases, a simple remedy like peppermint oil may beat painkillers for treating certain types of headache symptoms.

The many forms of headache

Headaches show up in many different forms.  Whether it comes as a sharp stabbing sensation or a dull throbbing pain, a headache may reside in the forehead, neck, or temple.  What they all have in common is discomfort in varying degrees. Thru modern western medicine, we know over 200 different types of headaches, ranging from the common tension headache to the less frequent weight-lifting headache, caused by physical exertion.

Peppermint oil for relieving headache

Depending on severity and frequency, headaches may rise to the level of a doctor’s visit.  Particularly, where they become persistent in occurrence and arise in unusual form.  For those experiencing mild to moderate headache symptoms, natural remedies can bring relief.

These headache natural remedies work best on symptoms, which have been experienced from time-to-time in the past. For example, persistent headaches after a stressful workday or a sleepless night.

Hildegard and Headache Natural Remedies

In her Physica alone, Hildegard von Bingen makes dozens of references to headache natural remedies and herbal applications addressing the discomfort of headaches. Similarly, in Causae et Curae, Hildegard speaks to the topic of headaches several times.

Among Hildegard’s bodily juices, she considers “black gall” the primary offender in causing migraine headaches. For Hildegard, balance among the bodily humors represents a primary health factor. As we fall out of balance, black bile in the blood develops as a dark residue, resulting in bad juices throughout.  

Hildegard’s bärwurz, aka spignel (meum athamanticum)

In Germany, bärwurz (spignel) is a common folk remedy.  Hildegard advised for a mixture of spignel (meum athamanticum) and pear with honey as a headache natural remedy, which in the form of “spignel pear honey” brings natural relief to many types of headaches (and, sometimes resolve discomfort altogether). A small dose taken regularly over several months helps resolve persistent headaches.

Spignel mixture combined with pear to help headaches

Along with this natural headache remedy, impose a diet at the first signs of headache: no nicotine, no alcohol, no toxins, no raw vegetables, no milk, no cheese, no chocolate. This approach follows the slow medicine approach that our modern rituals have all but abandoned. 

In addition, there are a number of other headache natural remedies derived from monastic medicine, traditional German medicine, and klosterheilkunde to alleviate the symptoms.

Heat for Headaches

Heat application appears particularly effective in addressing tension headaches, as the process reduces muscle tension. Try a warming application to the neck, using a warm cherry stone pillow, a damp-warm compress, or a neck shower (with a warm shower jet). While tempting, a hot bath may not do the trick, as blood pressure can drop, causing headaches to intensify.

Traditionally, warm foot baths or mustard powder foot baths work effectively headache home remedies, particularly for migraines. Also, switching between hot and cold temperatures in the shower, consistent with Sebastian Kneipp’s water therapy, or bathing the feet and arms, directly, with alternating temperatures can help.

Cool Treatment of Headaches

Applying cool temperature to a throbbing headache serves to relieve pressure and pain. Holding a gel cushion from the refrigerator or a cold washcloth on your forehead or temples for several minutes reduces discomfort. A cold arm bath, consistent with Sebastian Kneipp’s water therapy increases blood circulation in the arms, and thus changes the circulatory conditions in the upper half of the body. This circulatory stimulating and refreshing technique can help with headaches accompanied by fatigue and low blood pressure.

Cold water therapy as headache natural remedies

Dip the arms in cold water from the hand to the middle of the upper-arm, one after the other or simultaneously. Wait until you feel cold, then remove the arms and cover them with a towel or transition to warm water. Switch back to cold when hands and arms are warm. The reaction to cold stimulus, helps improve blood circulation in the arms.

Essential Oils for Headaches

The pain-relieving effect of peppermint oil serves as a natural remedy for headaches.  Headache natural remedies, such as peppermint and willow bark have proven track records in scientific studies, comparing favorably to conventional pain-relieving tablets.

The decisive factors in using peppermint oil relate to the area of application throughout the forehead and temples, and ensuring generous distribution. Beware of eye and skin irritations.  And, avoid using pure peppermint oil, but rather the essential oil in a diluted form. Pharmacies typically carry products containing ten percent peppermint oil. 

peppermint oil for headaches

Oil from peppermint plant for headaches

Note: Essential oils are not suitable for small children. People who suffer from asthma should also check with their doctor beforehand to validate appropriate remedies. Application to the skin and rubbing with the hands supports a relaxing effect. Mint oil stimulates cold receptors on the skin, promoting a pain-relieving effect.

Headache natural herbal remedies

In Germany, willow bark serves as a popular herbal pain reliever. It contains salicylates, precursors of the well-known pain reliever acetylsalicylic acid (ASA or Aspirin). The ingredients from the willow bark have a similar, but less intense effect as compared with aspirin. 

Those who take willow bark in its form as tea may encounter an unpleasant bitter flavor.  Of course, Hildegard would extol the virtues of bitter flavors. Alternatively, willow bark in tablet or capsule form may serve as a pleasant alternative. Willow bark is not recommended for people taking blood thinners and willow bark preparations are also not suitable for children.

Meadowsweet, a natural remedy for headache

For those who suffer from headaches during a flu-like infection, teas with the medicinal plant meadowsweet have established their worth. Meadowsweet contains precursors of acetylsalicylic acid and has a mild analgesic effect. Important: Those who are allergic to salicylates should not use willow bark and meadowsweet.

Caffeine a Headache Natural Remedy

Headache Natural Remedies coffee promotes circulation low blood pressure

Especially in young women, low blood pressure often triggers headaches. An espresso or coffee can improve these symptoms, as caffeine narrows the blood vessels and increases blood pressure. According to studies, however, the effect is particularly noticeable in people who do not drink coffee habitually, but rather in small quantities. With regular and higher consumption, the effect of caffeine often diminishes through habituation.

Exercise

In many cases, a painful “vice feeling” on the crown, back of the head and neck can be corrected by movement, stretching and loosening exercises. Sometimes a twenty-minute walk in the fresh air is enough. The increased oxygen supply in the open air stimulates metabolic processes and blood circulation. And, surprisingly a broad view strengthens the eyes, because an overload by constant close vision at the computer can lead to headaches.

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