10 Natural Ways To Reduce Tension Headache Pain
A tension headache is characterized by a dull pain, pressure, or tightness either across the forehead or near the back of the head and neck. Approximately eighty percent of people in the United States get them occasionally, and three percent suffer from them daily. Tension headaches can last anywhere from thirty minutes to several days. They are more likely to affect women than men and are considered chronic when an individual experiences them for at least fifteen days in one month. Thankfully, there are ways to reduce the pain associated with tension headaches. In fact, there are even natural methods!
Feverfew is a herb that has been proven to reduce headaches. Research shows that ingesting it frequently reduces nausea, pain, vomiting, and sensitivity to light associated with tension headaches. A substance in feverfew, known as parthenolide, may also help reduce inflammation and prevent the constriction of blood vessels, which is often the culprit behind headaches. Feverfew has also been shown to be safe to take and does not produce harmful side effects.
It can be purchased in supplement form, and the recommended dosage is fifty to one hundred milligrams each day. Some research indicates it may take up to two weeks before relief is felt. Reports do indicate feverfew is best utilized as a preventative measure, which is why it's perfect for individuals who suffer from chronic tension headaches.
Get More Exercise
Most individuals spend many hours hunched over in front of a computer screen all day, which, unfortunately, is often how tension headaches start developing. Sitting in this position for hours at a time puts an additional twenty to thirty pounds of pressure on the neck, and this pressure, particularly when it happens most days, is not healthy. The good news is, even stretching every thirty minutes can really help alleviate this tension. Yoga and aerobic exercises are particularly beneficial for relieving tension headaches, improving respiration, and increasing blood flow to the brain. A simple balance ball and yoga mat are inexpensive ways to start setting up a workout center designed for tension headache relief in your home.
Drink More Water
According to a study conducted at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, there is such a thing as a water-deprivation headache. Luckily, the treatment for a tension headache caused by dehydration is free and so incredibly simple. Drinking more water reduces headache pain, improves irritability and concentration, and increases energy. Drinking alkaline mineral antioxidant water is an excellent way to stay hydrated while flushing toxins, which may be contributing to a headache. Keeping a dedicated water bottle at hand is an excellent way to make sure you stay hydrated. Note tension headache relief from drinking more water is not immediate. It will take up to twenty minutes for water to really take effect in the body.
Cayenne pepper does not just taste good in spicy dishes: it can also be used to stimulate circulation and blood flow while reducing acidity! Capsaicin, which is what gives cayenne pepper its spice, is the active ingredient in cayenne responsible for reducing pain and inflammation, because it depletes a pain-causing substance that is often the reason individuals develop a tension headache in the first place. Add a few drops of water to a teaspoon of cayenne pepper to create a paste and apply topically to the temples by rubbing in a circular motion.
Take A Detox Bath
Detox baths are an excellent way to get rid of a tension headache because they bring toxins to the surface of the skin where they can quickly be released. For maximum benefits, make the bath as hot as can be tolerated. Add essential oils, lavender and peppermint are great choices, and two cups of apple cider vinegar, which is a natural pain-killer. Add some Epsom salt to assist with the drawing out of toxins from the body. In addition to drawing out toxins, hot detox baths also help relieve tense muscles throughout the body, which often accompany tension headaches. When muscles relax, pain associated with the tension they previously held starts to lessen as well.
Work On Posture
This may be surprising to some, but posture actually does play quite a significant role in pain in many forms, including pain developing from tension headaches. Thus, adjusting posture can relieve at least some of the pain associated with these headaches. One study even shows seeing a chiropractor regularly can alleviate headache-causing free radical damage in the body just like antioxidants.
Research indicates spinal manipulation therapy has been shown to reduce headaches. If seeing a chiropractor is not an option, try working on simple posture adjustment methods at home by sitting up straight, stretching, and doing strength training exercises for the back. Sitting up straight all the time will take quite a bit of conscious effort in the beginning, but it will eventually become second nature.
Individuals who experience chronic headaches, including those of the tension variety, are often deficient in certain neurotransmitters, such as serotonin. One of the many jobs of B-vitamins is to form these neurotransmitters. B-vitamins also help increase energy production to promote healthy blood cells and adrenal effects, which may improve headaches. Studies have shown vitamin B2 may be able to reduce the frequency of blood vessels while vitamin B3 opens up blood vessels, allowing increased blood flow to the brain, thus taking away the pain associated with constricted blood vessels in this area. Taking a B-vitamin supplement daily may also help reduce the pain of tension headaches.
According to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, even patients who have not been diagnosed with celiac disease see a significant reduction or complete resolution of headaches after shifting their diets and going gluten-free. Even if an individual tests negative for celiac disease, they may still experience headaches due to gluten sensitivity. There is a scale from being able to tolerate gluten to being allergic to the point of celiac disease, and part of that is being able to eat some gluten, but also being sensitive to it. A gluten sensitivity might trigger symptoms when the amount of tolerable gluten is passed. Start by eliminating all gluten for several days then slowly reintroduce products containing gluten back into the diet to observe what the big triggers are. Keeping a food journal of symptoms is a good way to detect gluten sensitivity.
Certain essential oils, such as lavender and peppermint, have calming and numbing effects that are perfect for relieving headaches and restoring concentration. Lavender oil is commonly used to promote calmness and relaxation. One study even showed inhaling lavender oil every thirty minutes for two hours can help relieve tension headache pain. Peppermint oil has a cooling effect that has been demonstrated to stimulate blood flow to the forehead and relieve muscle contractions. Both oils are proven safe to use either topically on the forehead or when inhaled. Oil can be dabbed on the temples, for instance, or put into an essential oil diffuser to help with pain relief. Another added benefit of essential oils is their role in aromatherapy, which has been shown to reduce stress, a major cause of many headaches.
Individuals who experience chronic headaches may have a low level of magnesium in the body; therefore, supplementing with magnesium may help lessen the frequency of these headaches and make them easier to handle when they do occur. Magnesium works by preventing the brain signal that produces sensory and visual changes often associated with a tension headache. It also blocks chemicals that send pain messages to the brain. Magnesium is considered much safer than many pain relief medications. Take two hundred to six hundred milligrams a day to reduce the frequency of tension headaches.
Ginger has long been used as a natural remedy for many ailments and their symptoms. The most popular, as many individuals know, is relieving nausea. However, ginger can work wonders on tension headaches as well, not only because nausea can often come into play for severe headaches.
Along with ginger's anti-nausea properties, it also appears to be an anti-inflammatory, which is a great help to many headaches, since the cause behind them is often linked in some way to inflammation. Thus, reducing inflammation is a key way to relieve the pain associated with tension headaches. Individuals can find fresh ginger root at most grocery stores, though it is also available as a powder, in supplement form, as well as in tea. Just make sure whatever purchased is real ginger, as some products just take the flavors of ginger rather than the substance itself.
Get More Sleep
Another popular cause of tension headaches is sleep deprivation for many reasons, including the fact sleep deprivation puts an individual at a higher risk for stress, a popular trigger for tension headaches. Studies have shown tension headaches increase in frequency and severity for individuals who consistently got less than six hours of sleep a night. Of course, other research shows too much sleep may also trigger these headaches, which makes falling in the ideal seven to nine hours of sleep a night the best possible choice, particularly for individuals who suffer from chronic tension headaches.
Apply A Cold Compress
Some reports indicate cold compresses are great relievers of inflammation. This idea is perhaps most popular when dealing with a sprained ankle, as many individuals choose to place a frozen bag of peas or something like that over the injury to reduce the swelling and pain. Cold compresses for headaches help decrease inflammation, release pressure, regulate blood flow, and subsequently, relieve pain.
All of these are wonderful when dealing with a tension headache, provided the proper actions are taken of course. Individuals can either apply the cold compress to the back of the neck or rest it on their forehead. In either case, lying down is the most comfortable position for using a cold compress to relieve a tension headache. Cold compresses can be ice packs or ice cubes wrapped in cloth, gel packs, or even a bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in cloth. The key, of course, is to wrap anything frozen in cloth so the sensation isn't too intense to handle.
Monitor Caffeine Intake
Caffeine plays a role in headaches in a couple of major ways. It can help relieve headaches, but withdrawal from caffeine can also make tension headaches not only occur, but also worsen. Thus, it is crucial to monitor caffeine intake when dealing with tension headaches. Individuals who consume high amounts of caffeine daily (e.g., lots of coffee to get through the day) should not quit drinking coffee entirely overnight. Instead, to help with tension headaches due to withdrawal, individuals should slowly lessen their caffeine intake over time. Doctors can better assess this process for each patient, since it will depend on the patient, their lifestyle, and the amount of caffeine they consume and how long they've been consuming it for.
Alcohol, like caffeine, can cause tension headaches and worsen their symptoms in many individuals. Of course, this typically applies to excessive consumption, and a glass of wine every so often with dinner, for instance, is often fine. But for individuals who experience chronic tension headaches, it is important to examine what role alcohol may play in it. One of the major reasons alcohol can result in a tension headache is because alcohol dehydrates the body. Thus, it is often because of dehydration that a person is experiencing a hangover headache the next morning.
Lowering alcohol intake is a great way to reduce the pain and likelihood of tension headaches, as is drinking water alongside a glass of alcohol. Of course, some individuals find specific types of alcohol gives them a tension headache, but others do not. Some may, for instance, report red wine gives them a headache, but white wine does not. In this instance, individuals may want to limit or even stop drinking red wine, but only drink white wine when they do wish to drink wine.