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8 Natural Headache Remedies You Should Try Before Reaching For Medication

When your head starts hammering, it’s easy to reach for a pill bottle for relief. But conventional and prescription drug medications aren’t for everyone, and they don’t need to be used for every headache. (Here are six more natural cures and home remedies.)

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Dr. David Greuner of NYC Surgical Associates notes that 3-4% of the general population suffers from chronic headaches, so it can be extremely common for people to start overusing either prescribed or over-the-counter medications, even if a natural alternative or lifestyle change might also give them relief.

Greuner says that overuse of headache medications can cause many issues, including Medication Overuse Headaches (MOH). “When someone suffers from chronic headaches and overuses different medications, MOH can potentially lead to depression and anxiety, or even end up causing headaches. As the headache medication wears off, the pain returns, leading to the individual to take more.” This can cause a surprisingly common pain cycle, with MOH affecting 1-2% of the US population.

To avoid overusing medication next time your head is pounding, there are many natural remedies for headaches to try first. Here are seven that experts recommend.

woman drinking water

Change your health habits.
Greuner notes that headaches may actually be an indicator that your body is missing something like enough water, certain vitamins, or sleep. Stress, fatigue, allergies, poor posture, alcohol, low blood sugar, and hormones can also trigger headaches.

So sometimes a lifestyle change can be paramount in putting headaches to a halt. Examine your diet, your water intake, and how much sleep you’re getting first. To start off eating right, here are the 11 healthiest foods for you and the planet.

headache hat

Ice packs
Many people who suffer from frequent headaches or migraines swear by a simple natural remedy: the ice pack.

You can use an ice pack you already have in your freezer (just put a cloth or fabric between your head and the ice to prevent burn), or invest in an item like

cayenne powder

Greuner suggests a cayenne muscle rub to stimulate your body’s circulation and reduce acidity. The capsaicin in cayenne is good for treating pain and inflammation. Studies have found that if you apply cayenne (about 1/4 teaspoon diluted in four oz of water) topically with a Q-tip around your nostrils, it can relieve headaches and relax your muscles.

healing teas

Healing teas
A good tea can have a surprising effect on even a fierce headache. Dr. Nada Milosavljevic, founder and director of the Integrative Health Program at Massachusetts General Hospital and tea specialist and founder of Sage Tonicteas, says “Peppermint has been shown to calm the discomfort related to tension headaches. Cinnamon, known to have anti-inflammatory properties, can also ease an upset stomach, a symptom commonly paired with headaches.”

Milosavljevic offers headache-fighting herbs like peppermint and cinnamon in her Sage Tonic Clear Head Tea. She also recommends feverfew leaf tea, which has been used for centuries to ease headache pains. (Here’s more on what happened when a writer drank matcha tea instead of coffee every morning.)

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