Do you ever get bad headaches? Maybe you had too much wine last night? Maybe its “that time of the month” or you’re going through hormonal changes? Maybe you’re detoxing from sugar and coffee (or other addictions) and you’re feeling the effects with a pulsing headache? Maybe you’re not sure what it is, but come mid-afternoon, you get an annoying headache….?
Many of us are used to just popping a pill and praying it subsides. However, as most of you know, I’m no longer a fan of popping a pill because you’re not addressing the root cause and that headache will keep coming back. Plus, all pills have side-effects. Instead, I’d like to share with you some more natural tips when you’re suffering from headaches.
8 TIPS FOR HEADACHE RELIEF
1. IDENTIFY ROOT CAUSE. Take a second to ask your body, why am I getting this headache? Once you identify the likely cause(s) of your headache, it’s much easier to alleviate your pain and prevent it from coming back. Think about your day, your diet, and any recent changes in your body/routine. Common causes for headaches include:
- Menstruation or other hormonal imbalance
- Food sensitivity or allergy (*this is a common one that most people are unaware of!)
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Tension in your body (from poor posture, back pain, eye strain (maybe you need glasses!), etc…)
- Sinus / cold / fever / infection
- Lack of sleep
- Detox from Caffeine, Sugar, or other addictive substance
- Excess sugar (and sometimes, from the drop in your blood sugar 1-2 hours after excess sugar)
ACTION: Review this list in your head to help you identify which of these (maybe it’s more than one) is likely causing your headache, and work to reverse that! Get some sleep, drink more water, eat some protein/healthy fats with your carbs, meditate, etc. And apply my next 7 tips!
2. INCREASE MAGNESIUM. Magnesium is one of the most successful headache remedies, and much safer than taking a painkiller. People who suffer from headaches, especially migraines, often have low levels of magnesium.
ACTION: Increase your magnesium intake from foods (READ MORE HERE) and consider supplementing. Taking 200–600 mg of magnesium a day may reduce your headaches. Magnesium is pretty safe to take; the only common side-effect of too much magnesium is looser stools/diarrhea. If that happens, cut back slightly on your dose. (Regardless, always check with your doctor when introducing a new supplement).
3. B-VITAMINS. Many B vitamins are involved in the formation of neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, which may be deficient in people who suffer from headaches and migraines. B vitamins are water-soluble, so if there is extra in your system, it will be flushed out through your urine. Studies indicate that, in particular, vitamin B2 may reduce the frequency and duration of migraines, and vitamin B3 calms vascular headaches by opening up blood vessels to increase blood flow. Food sources of B2 (Riboflavin) include: liver, natural yogurt (and other probiotic foods), almonds, spinach and collard greens, mushrooms, eggs; Sources of B3 (Niacin) include: legumes (beans, lentils, peas), liver, turkey, chicken, grass-fed beef, mushrooms, nuts and seeds (especially peanuts and sunflower seeds), avocado.
ACTION: Increase your B-vitamins naturally from foods, and take a B-complex supplement (1/ day is usually fine; but always consult with your doctor). A B-complex will have a combo of: thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin B12, biotin and pantothenic acid – which together help with energy levels, reducing effects of stress, improving circulation, immunity, cardiovascular health, brain health, and more!
4. HYDRATION. Not drinking enough water is one of the KEY drivers of a headache, especially when you’re consuming coffee, sugary drinks and/or alcohol. That can leave you with a killer headache!
ACTION: Drink. More. Water! It’s hard to drink too much water, trust me. You should be drinking about ½ your body weight in ounces. For ex., if you weight 140 lbs, you should be drinking about 70 oz of water, that’s roughly 9 full glasses of water (8oz/glass). I suggest keeping a 16 oz GLASS WATER BOTTLE with you at all times and refilling it at least 4-5 times throughout your day. READ MORE HERE.
Additionally, consume more water-rich foods like: cucumbers, celery, radishes, cabbage, zucchini, cauliflower, leafy greens especially spinach, all types of melon including watermelon, all citrus fruits especially grapefruit/oranges and strawberries.
5. SLEEP, RELAX, REST. Very often, headaches are related to tension in our body – coming from stress, too much exercise / heavy lifting, general fatigue, etc – so relaxing and relieving that tension is KEY.
ACTION: First, apply the most basic at-home headache remedy: lie down in a dark, cool room and if possible, attempt to nap. Meditation also helps. Close your eyes and focus on relieving tension in your neck, back, shoulders and anywhere else that you feel it. Additionally, on a regular basis, you should: Get your 7-9 hours of sleep every night (and TRY to take a 30-min nap whenever you didn’t get those 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep). Get a massage. Take a relaxing bath. Take an hour to meditate, zone out, even watch a movie. Whatever helps you RELAX and relieve tension!
6. MOVE YOUR BODY & STRETCH. Just like headaches can come from tension from too much exercise, stress and lack of sleep, it can also come from staying in one position for an extended period of time, like sitting at your desk or computer.
ACTION: Get up, stretch, and make sure you incorporate at least 30 mins of exercise into you day - ideally every day, even if its walking your dog or doing some at home stretches or yoga. READ MORE HERE.
7. ESSENTIAL OILS. Certain essential oils, in particular, peppermint and lavender, are known to be effective at reducing headaches. It’s worked for me! Peppermint oil generates a cooling effect on the skin, can stimulate an increase in your skin’s blood flow and soothe muscle contractions. Lavender oil is more relaxing, and commonly used as a mood stabilizer and sedative. Both of these oils can help relieve tension and headaches when applied topically and even placed in a diffuser.
ACTION: Place a few drops of a good quality peppermint and/or lavender oil (I love DoTerra) into your hands and then gently rub on your forehead, temples and back of neck. If it’s too strong for you (as is the case with me and peppermint oil), dilute it by mixing it with a bit of coconut oil, and THEN apply to your head/neck. Do this, then rest and apply my tip #5! READ MORE HERE.
8. REMOVE POTENTIAL FOOD ALLERGIES/SENSITIVITIES like gluten/dairy/soy/eggs. Many people have food sensitivities (creating symptoms in their body), but are mostly unaware or ignore them. One of the most common food sensitivities that leads to headaches is GLUTEN. If you’re unknowingly sensitive to gluten (or another food/food group), even if you eat only small amounts, it may be leading to your occasional (or regular) headaches. If you take the time to test your food sensitivities and remove them from your diet for a period of time, you may see all of your not-so-great symptoms disappear, or at least reduce significantly, including headaches, as well as allergies, bloating, digestive issues, etc.
ACTION: Try completely eliminating gluten from your diet for 3 weeks, and then reintroduce it slowly, paying close attention to your symptoms. If you feel better and don’t get headaches those 3 weeks, then get them again when you reintroduce glute, you’ll know gluten is best avoided in your diet. If you still get the symptoms during your gluten-detox, try doing a full elimination diet for 2-3 weeks (see me for more info) and gradually introducing key food groups that you eliminated; this will help you identify which foods can be triggering your headaches, in order to permanently fix your issue!
Got a headache? Start with my tip number one, then apply as many of these other tips as possible, and please, let me know how it goes! What did YOU find most effective?
Love and Headache Relief,