If you suffer from headaches, you’ll be glad to know there may be hope for a brighter, less painful tomorrow. We are not doctors and are not intending to provide medical advice, but we do suffer from headaches and know firsthand how debilitating headaches can be. Fortunately, we have also found remedies that provide us with significant relief.
The list below includes our headache triggers and some of our favorite natural headache remedies based on our own experiences. Give them a try and see if they help but be sure to check with your doctor first!
FIND THE CAUSE
Headaches can be caused by everything from tension to a nutrient deficiency. If you’re not sure what is causing your headaches, keep a journal to find out if there is a specific trigger. Our triggers include the following.
Stress. When we are under stress, our shoulder muscle get tight and inevitably it moves up into our neck and into our forehead. Do you experience tension and a resultant headache within an hour to 4 hours of a particularly stressful event? If so, tension and muscle tightness may be contributing to your headache. We’ve also noticed that sudden movements – including, unfortunately, carnival rides such as rollercoasters – can mimic this effect and create a tension headache so keep that in mind as well.
Magnesium Deficiency. Do you have ringing in the ears (tinnitis) or have been less than diligent about taking your daily vitamins that contain magnesium? Some reports suggest that a magnesium deficiency can cause headaches and we know first hand that this is true for us. When we’re low on magnesium, our muscles not only in our shoulders and neck, but also through our midback, are much tighter and less flexible than normal. We sometimes also experience a high pitched ringing in our ears but not always. Taking a magnesium supplement often provides us with relief within a few hours.
Dehydration. You may not realize it but as with Magnesium, dehydration can make it difficult for our body to work properly – sometimes resulting in headaches. If you have dry lips, are thirsty throughout the day, or frequently drink caffeine or pop, consider switching to water and sports drinks. However, water alone is not sufficient. Your body need electrolytes – including potassium and sodium – to maintain a proper balance so be sure to include sports drinks or electrolyte supplements in your daily routine.
NATURAL REMEDIES WE LOVE
In addition to extra hydration and ensuring our nutrient intake – including magnesium and potassium – are properly balanced, there are a few products that we find provide us with immediate relief.
NOW Foods Arnica Warming Relief Massage Oil – This all natural massage oil from NOW featuring tension-relieving Arnica and antioxidant rich olive oil is one of our favorites. Although it is intended to be a massage oil and, therefore, oily, it massages in well and has a relaxing aroma. Despite the term “warming” in the name, we have not found that the massage oil has a warming effect but it does provide relief from knots and tightness in our muscles. It’s also a great excuse to get a massage from your significant other.
The Village Company Muscle Therapy Relief Natural Lotion – This product is more of a lotion and massages in fully. Even though it only claims to be 90.7% naturally derive, it is still another one of our favorites not only for muscle aches but also for aromatherapy. The combination of juniper, sage, wintergreen and camphor are invigorating yet relaxing, helping to release tension before it even hits our muscles. Once applied, however, it absorbs quickly and provides deeper relief as the camphor, rosemary, wintergreen and sage combine to increase circulations and relieve muscle tightness. Among the ingredients is rosemary which by itself is reputed to increase circulation. Circulation is an important benefit to get lactic acid out of sore, overworked muscles so that healing can begin. We use this lotion alone as a spot lotion, massaging it in wherever our muscles are tight and sore, and also on occasion combine it with the Now Arnica Warming Massage Oil for double impact. Be sure to wash your hands after applying as the camphor and other ingredients can sting if they come in contact with your eyes.
Get Kinky. No not that kind of kinky (although it might work, too). We mean move gently in a way that you usually don’t move that causes your muscles and skeleton to twist and turn slightly. When we get tension headaches, we each have a different way of moving that seems to provide release. For example, pushing one shoulder down while stretching your head in the opposite direction and folding your hips forward has worked wonders for me. I can hear my spine go pop-pop-pop and seem to realign. That feels so much better!
Alternate Hot and Cold. We often hear “put ice on your neck” for headache relief. Unfortunately, for us anyway, that often makes our muscles tighten down further, increasing our tension headache. However, heat which does provide relief also increase inflammation and can cause its own problems. We finally compromised and alternate hot and cold for maximum effect. The cold presses inflammation inducing toxins out of the muscles and the heat increases circulation and provides relief from soreness. If your headache extends from the back of your neck to the front of your eyes like ours, applying heat and cold to both areas and across the top of the scalp is optimal. Our favorite method is to sit in an infrared sauna and then jump in a cold bath or swimming pool. If you don’t have this option or are traveling staying in a hotel put ice in a plastic bag and apply for the cold and heat a wet hand towel in the microwave or soaked in hot water for the hot compress being sure to alternate. Be careful to insert a towel or cloth between the ice and your skin to avoid frostbite.
Epsom Salts. Epsom salts are actually comprised of Magnesium Sulfate. You have probably heard that soaking in epsom salts provides relief from muscle soreness and tension. If one of your triggers is low or deficient magnesium, a hot soak in an Epsom Salt bath may be particularly beneficial for you. We love to combine epsom salts with dead sea salts for double impact since dead sea salts include a variety of other natural minerals that are great for the skin and our bodies. If you are traveling or taking a bath isn’t an option, soaking your hands or feet in hot water in which epsom salts have been dissolved or applying a Magnesium spray is another great way to absorb magnesium through the skin. However, as with any nutrient, too much can be a bad thing so be sure to have your magnesium levels checked by your physician to ensure that you are deficient or that you haven’t overdone the remedy.