Natural Remedies for Headaches
Simple tips to manage pain during times of stress
Headaches tend to appear when you least need it, when there is already too much going on—usually too little time and far too much to do. But from a natural standpoint, a headache could well be telling your body to slow down and pay attention. So listen—slow down—and if you need the help, follow the instructions below.
Homeopathic medicine is impressive in acute situations like headaches and it’s not expensive to give it a try–a vial typically costs less than $10.00 and lasts for many treatments. The natural medicines typically help alleviate pain and shorten the duration of the headache, but it won’t work exactly like a painkiller–rather it helps your body cope, so that you feel better sooner. Even Dr. Oz and Oprah are on to homeopathic remedies, and you can read about the four adjunct treatments Dr. Oz recommends for headaches on Oprah’s website.
5 simple remedies
To keep it simple, only 5 common headache remedies are listed below. In homeopathy, the closer the symptoms match the medicine, the better it will work, so always make your selection according to the characteristics you experience. Since homeopathic remedies are without side effects and the results are quickly noticeable when the symptoms fit, you can experiment safely with any of the remedies below, but be sure to stop taking the remedy as soon as you feel better. In the natural world, less is always better than more.
- Belladonna: Dr. Blackie, who was the Queen’s MD back in 1968, calls Belladonna “a wonderful acute remedy for a headache following either exposure to heat or cold,” which means that if your headache develops after going outside on a cold day with wet hair—or if you’ve been out in the sun too long—Belladonna is likely your remedy. You’ll find it useful for those kinds of maddeningly throbbing, pulsing, congested headaches that come on fairly quickly and are made worse by bending over or moving around and better with hard pressure, applying cold, sitting up or lying very still. Choose Belladonna if your headache is intense and throbbing, and feels full and congested.
- Bryonia is another great acute headache remedy when it feels like the head will burst from movement. Choose Bryonia when the least motion aggravates the pain, even just moving the eyes. Similar to Belladonna, Bryonia works when pressure and cold applications feel good, but unlike Belladonna, typically the pain comes on slowly and builds over time to a dull, heavy or sharp ache. If you’re not sure, another difference is that Belladonna often works better for right sided—Bryonia for left sided—pain. The person needing this medicine may feel irritable or just want to be left alone, and may be stuffed up with a cold. Choose Bryonia if the main symptoms is worse any movement.
- Colubrina—also known as Nux vomica—is excellent in times of stress, when overwork, lack of sleep or too much alcohol have caused a headache—and the person may find themselves exceedingly irritable and sensitive to everything: noise, light—and conversation. The pain may begin in the morning on waking. It is the main remedy for a hang over, but it’s even good when too little sleep, too much work and even overindulging in food is the cause. Choose Nux vomica if the headache is clearly from overwork and is irritating, but not severe.
- Cocculus is another remedy for stress headaches due to loss of sleep, but in this case excess worry and lack of sleep combine to cause a nervous type of headache, with weakness, even dizziness. If you’ve been caring for a sick family member and your nerves are strained, Cocculus will relieve.
- Choose Gelsemium instead when exhaustion is the overwhelming characteristic associated with your headache. The pain typically feels tight, begins at the back of the head and may continue around to the forehead. Gelsemium is useful for a headache that builds slowly—when weakness and exhaustion stand in the forefront. As with the other headache remedies, motion aggravates, but sleep helps.
If none of the above fit your symptoms, other remedies for headaches are Natrum muriaticum, Lachesis and Pulsatilla—but these are just a few, so I recommend you consult a homeopath to find the most suitable fit.
Self Help Dosages
Take the remedy in a 30c potency, 3-5 pills on the tongue, every 1-2 hours depending on the severity for 3-4 times altogether. As the pain improves, stop the remedy and only continue if the pain returns; if there is no change after 4 doses or so, switch to a more suitable remedy.
3 simple home tips with or without the remedy
- Drink water: drink one or more glasses of water. Many times, water alone will help relieve the headache, so why not try it? If you’re not used to gulping down a tall glass of water, try heating it up—drinking a glass of hot water works better for some people.
- Water therapy in the form of foot baths can relieve congestion and heat in the head by bringing energy down to the feet. Simply soak your feet in comfortably hot water for 5 minutes, then after a deep breath place one leg in cold water for 20-30 seconds, then switch to the other. Repeat the procedure by soaking again in warm water for 5 minutes and ending with the 20 second cold rinse. Dry the feet well and put on warm socks. For headaches due to tense shoulders and neck, apply a hot compress to the neck area for a few minutes, covering with a towel to keep the area warm.
- Sleep: if you can, just lie down and rest. At the very least, plan for an extra hour or two of sleep tonight so you can fully recover. Pain is exhausting!
A word of caution
If headaches are unusually severe, accompany a fever and stiff neck or persist for days despite self treatment measures, do have a medical professional check out more serious causes—just in case.
For recurring headaches
For recurring headaches, you need to seek the care of a homeopath since constitutional care is complex. Studies show that homeopathic remedies as constitutional treatment reduce the frequency, length and severity of recurring headaches naturally and without side effects. For instance, one scientific study published in 1991 in the Berlin Journal on Research in Homeopathy by Brigo and Serpelloni showed that patients receiving remedies such as Belladonna, Gelsemium and Natrum muriaticum had less frequent headaches that resolved more quickly compared to a group who only believed they were given remedies, but were given sugar pills instead. Besides choosing remedies more accurately for when you’re sick, homeopaths can help you achieve long term health goals, keeping you healthier longer—and pain free.