Have you ever wondered if you could get rid of a headache without taking pain killers? Or perhaps, you’ve taken one or more pain killers and still couldn’t get the headache to entirely go away. In my pain-relief article from a couple of years ago, I mentioned that Aleve was the most effective pain killer for permanently getting rid of a typical tension headache or the headache you get from too much alcohol consumption. There are a couple of problems with Aleve, however: One, it takes a while to work (as much as 2-3 hours). Two, Aleve is an NSAID (non-steroidal-anti-inflammatory), meaning it does present the risk of gastrointestinal side effects. I speak from first-hand knowledge when I say that Aleve, especially after prolonged use, wreaks havoc on the digestive system. One or two advil is another way to get rid of a headache – and it seems to go to work quicker than the aleve; both on the headache and the stomach ache. Advil is also an NSAID and while it goes to work quicker on the headache than aleve, it doesn’t seem to last as long. My headaches always seem to return about 4 hours after taking advil and along with a gut-ache. So, I guess the question is, how to get rid of a headache, naturally? Before we can answer that question, it would helpful to know what actually causes a headache.
What Causes a Headache?
I think headache causes fall under three main categories: Allergies and Sinus Trouble, Dehydration and Tension.Obviously, other things like sleep problems and alcohol play a role too, but as I will explain, they all fall under these three categories.
Allergies and Sinus Trouble
Allergies just aren’t caused by pollen, animal fur and other things we breath into our lungs. Allergies also can be caused by what we eat. I’ve often suspected that wheat and refined sugars can cause a headache along with allergies and sinus problems. There are many other things in our foods that can cause headaches such as nitrites and MSG. I can almost consistenly count on getting a very dull, all-over-the-head, headache the morning after eating more than 2 Bratwursts for dinner. Over indulgence in alcohol can obviously cause a headache too, but I think this falls under the category of allergies and dehydration. Usually, my headaches come-on in early in the morning and continually get worse until I take something to stop it. Since allergies and sinuses affect us most when we sleep, it is no surprise that the stuffy, itchy nose has a good chance of turning into a massive headache, especially, if we’ve been drinking on top of that (See below). Have you ever felt great relief from a sneeze? That’s a good sign that you’re having an allergy headache.
Drinking too much alcohol can certainly cause the dreaded hangover headache. This is due to both, dehydration and the body’s allergic reaction to the toxins in the high amounts of alcohol ingested. There are plenty of other ways to get dehydrated other than just drinking too much alcohol. Have you ever traveled all day or had important business appointments and realized you weren’t drinking much if any water? You may have blamed your headache on tension from your busy day and unfamiliar surroundings when in reality, it could actually be dehydration. Unfortunately, by the time you realize you’ve not drank enough water, it is too late – the damage is already done. Dehydration is a very common cause of a headache.
There are other times when we’ve drank plenty of water, abstained from alcohol and have completely no allergy problems when a headache forms in the back of our head. Tension headaches are the result of stress and easy to identify when we feel them coming on and realize the mood we were in when it occurred. A tension headache doesn’t have to be confined to just the back of the head, but it often is in a completely different place than the typical allergy headaches. Lack of sleep or change in sleep patterns can also cause tension headaches.
Once we’ve identified what causes a headache, we become far more aware of the triggers and signs for preventing them. Obviously, the best way to get rid of a headache is to prevent it from happening in the first place. That is sometimes easier said that done. Still, it may be easier to avoid a headache than to get rid of one once it’s with us. Despite staying hydrated, avoiding alcohol and allergy-causing foods and triggers, sometimes headaches still occur. Taking anti-inflammatory drugs like Naproxen and Ibuprofen everyday are not only hard on the stomach, but we can actually become too dependent on them, which in-turn can actually increase the frequency of headaches. Rebound headaches occur when our body forgets how to naturally avoid them and let them heal on their own. A better, long-term, natural headache remedy is to train your body to cope with it on its own. In my own personal experience, I’ve that almost all headaches will go away on their own within 24-hours whether medication is used or not. But, who wants to go 24 hours putting up with the constant, nagging pain? It will wear you out. Thankfully, there are a few things we can do to relieve the pain and get us through the ordeal.
How to Get Rid of a Headache
7 Natural Headache Remedies
- Since Rinses
I’ve found that the Sinus Rinse and Alkalol remedy for sinus pressure works almost instantly in relieving headaches associated with allergy problems. Do the rinse immediately at the first onset of headache pain and continue using it every 2 hours.
- Cold Compresses
Applying a cold ice pack to the area where the head hurts provides almost instant relief. Gently apply the ice for about 7 minutes at a time as needed. Doing this has gotten rid of some of my headaches completely. To some, especially during the cold winter months, ice might seem counter-intuitive as opposed to heat. Because headaches are caused by inflamed blood vessels, heat might actually make it worse even though it might sound good. Try the ice, but don’t over do it.
- Cayenne Pepper
Cayenne pepper has proven to be a very effective natural medication for a variety of aches and pains. I’ve even endorsed Capsaicin Cream for arthritis pain: Capzasin HP. I doubt it would be helpful to rub the Capsaicin cream on your forehead. A more effective way to get the benefits of peppers is by either eating them or inhaling an over-the-counter, homeopathic nasal spray. Sinus Buster provides instant relief and is even more effective after doing the sinus rinse described above.
Applying direct heat to a headache might not be good, but a hot, steamy shower is often very helpful for relieving allergy/sinus related headaches.
Twenty to thirty minutes of aerobic exercise will often make my headaches completely go away. I realize that Jogging, cycling, etc., is the last thing you feel like you want to do when your head is throbbing, but it really helps. Start-out slow and it gets easier as you go.
A good, strong cup of coffee nearly always relieves my headaches almost right away. Caffeine is a proven pain remedy. The pain usually comes back after the coffee wears off, but at least it’s a tasty way to get started in the morning and improve the outlook of your day.
- Relax and Breathe
Relaxing, deep breaths can often provide immediate relief from headache pain. Don’t gasp for air when you breath – just take deep, natural breaths; hold for a few seconds and exhale slowly and fully.
Is there any one, single, sure-fire, cure-all, but natural, cure for the common headache? Probably not. Will the things above help you feel better while you practice the will-power of refraining from resorting to the medicine cabinet? Absolutely. These seven, natural headache remedies will make your headaches more tolerable until it eventually subsides on its own. By resisting the urge to take over-the-counter, pain pills, you will eventually learn how to cope with headaches in a much more natural, healthier way – and hopefully experience far less of them.