5 Natural Headache Remedies

Before you resort to powerful drugs, try these simple treatments.

We’re so used to taking an aspirin or ibuprofen for headache pain that we often forget to look for the underlying cause. If you have chronic headaches, these five natural remedies may be associated with both the cause and a treatment.

1) Exercise  is such a simple solution to headaches that it's often overlooked. Moving your body improves circulation and increases oxygen in the blood, improves hormone balance, reduces stress and is relaxing, reduces anxiety and depression, and stimulates our brain's natural mood enhancers and pain killers called endorphins.

2) Magnesium   If there had to be one magic bullet for both migraine and tension headaches it would be the mineral magnesium. It's not clear whether magnesium banishes migraines by relieving muscles spasms or changing brain chemistry, but there have been many, many successes curing migraines with this simple solution. If you get migraine headaches, include magnesium in your daily vitamin regimen. You can take 400 mg twice daily (one with breakfast and one before bed) and if you feel a migraine coming on, take 400 mg immediately.

In one study done in Germany, 81 migraine sufferers were giving 600 mg of magnesium daily or a placebo. After two to three months, those taking the magnesium had 42% fewer migraines, while those in the placebo group had only 16% fewer migraines.

3) Feverfew   The herb feverfew is another safe, natural and effective remedy for both tension and migraine headaches. If you tend to get migraines, it's best to take feverfew daily as a preventive until you've found the underlying cause. You can use it in capsule or tincture form, but since it tastes absolutely terrible you might want to stick with the capsules! Follow the instructions on the container.

4) Coffee   If you feel a headache coming on, a cup or two of coffee can constrict your blood vessels enough to prevent it. On the other hand, too much coffee can cause a headache, as can coffee withdrawal. Coffee is a stimulating drug and should be treated as such.

5) Relaxation   Almost anything that helps you relax can help prevent and treat headaches. That includes massage, breathing exercises, visualization techniques and meditation. Soothing herbal teas such as chamomile, skullcap and passionflower can be helpful, and when necessary you can use the more powerful antianxiety and antidepressant herbs St. John's Wort or kava.

Excerpted from Prescription Alternatives by Earl Mindell, R.Ph. and Virginia Hopkins


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