Headaches: The top ten tips The head becomes clear and pain-free again
Everyone has a headache once in a while. Reaching for painkillers is often unnecessary – herbal power and home remedies help just as well in many cases. With our tips, your head will soon be pain-free and clear again.
An oppressive pressure on the temples, a throbbing in the forehead, a stabbing or dull pain in the back of the head – headaches are one of the most common health problems along with back pain. The causes are often unknown, the treatment consists in relieving the pain.
Common: tension headache
The most common types of headache are tension headaches and migraines. Contributing to the development: sitting too long, bad posture (e.g. at the computer), bad air, lack of fluids or sleep , stress or sensitivity to the weather.
Headaches can also occur when taking medication (e.g. birth control pills and, not uncommonly, too many painkillers). Of course, too much alcohol and too many cigarettes make a thick head.
A special type of headache occurs with sinus or frontal sinusitis . Pain then occurs, especially on the forehead or under the eyes, especially when bending over, coughing or sneezing.
Tip 1:How does peppermint work for headaches?
As early as the 1990s, two strictly controlled clinical studies by the renowned pain researcher Prof. Hartmut Göbel established that there was no difference between the effectiveness of a ten percent peppermint oil/alcohol solution and that of conventional painkillers (1000 mg paracetamol or 1000 mg acetylsalicylic acid) for tension headaches difference existed. There was also no difference to the standard painkillers when it came to the onset of action.
The peppermint oil was applied to a large area on the forehead and temples twice, 15 minutes apart. Already after a quarter of an hour there was a clear reduction in the headache; the intensity continued to decrease over the course of an hour. This effect is based on various ingredients in peppermint (Mentha piperita).
The cooling menthol blocks pain signals through an intricate pathway via cold sensors in the skin, spinal cord, and various nerve pathways. In addition, peppermint oil has a relaxing effect on smooth muscles and increases blood flow in the small vessels of the skin.
If you don’t get a ten percent alcoholic peppermint oil solution (“Euminz”), apply a few drops of high-quality, natural peppermint oil to the pain points on the temples or forehead.
If you are hypersensitive or allergic, you should try another remedy. Peppermint oil should not be used on infants and young children.
Tip 2:Does lavender help with headaches?
One of the oldest home remedies for headaches is the fragrant lavender (Lavandula officinalis). It may even be helpful for migraines, as confirmed in a 2012 placebo-controlled study of migraine sufferers. A tea made from the flowers is used for mild headaches:
- Brew a teaspoon in a cup and let it steep for about 10 minutes. The tea has a calming and antispasmodic effect.
The essential lavender oil has a stronger effect. This can be used to achieve a pain-relieving and relaxing effect on any type of headache.
At the first sign of a headache, rub two to three drops of lavender oil on your upper lip and breathe in the rising scent for about a quarter of an hour.
Alternatively: Drip a few drops of lavender oil onto a cloth and place it on your forehead. The oil used should be natural and, if possible, organic.
Tip 3: Even more natural “tablets”
Other medicinal plants from elderberry to lemon balm can also relieve headaches of all kinds – depending on what is available in the household or garden at what time of the year.
- Willow bark extract (one of the most effective herbal pain relievers)
- Coriander fruits (in addition to drug therapy)
- Butterbur (anti-inflammatory and muscle relaxant properties)
- Fresh elderflowers are dipped in vinegar and used as a poultice (in a cotton cloth) on the forehead and neck.
- Feverfew has a preventive effect against migraines with long-term use, but should only be taken with medical supervision. The following dosage is recommended for a tea cure for migraine prophylaxis: drink a cup of feverfew tea several times a day for a few months. The sesquiterpenes with the main component parthenolide as active ingredients are held responsible for the proven effectiveness of feverfew in migraine.
- If you reach for the exotic vanilla , spread out the contents of a pod and dissolve it in a quarter liter of warm water. If you have pure natural vanilla extract on hand, you can use that (one level teaspoon full) as well. Drink sips
- Woodruff also has a reputation for helping with headaches. It is particularly suitable as a tea blend with lavender blossoms and lemon balm or as a scented sachet with the same herbs. Such a scented pillow relaxes and also helps those suffering from headaches to fall asleep peacefully.
- Lemon balm has been proven to relieve headaches, especially as a “melissa spirit” (drugstore/pharmacy): Take a few drops or apply a compress to the forehead and neck.
- Uncrushed, cubeb pepper helps with headaches (dizziness).
Is there a tasty alternative to coffee and lemon?
Coffee is an old home remedy for headaches. Caffeine increases blood flow to the brain. It is usually recommended to drink a strong espresso with the juice of half a lemon (and without sugar).
More palatable and just as effective is ginger tea, which is also better paired with the squeeze of lemon that enhances the potency of the brew.
Who likes the taste of ginger and can tolerate the spiciness can chew a fresh piece of ginger root; that works pretty fast. A slightly milder version: A piece of ginger root about one centimeter long, grated and mixed with a glass of fruit or vegetable juice. This is also an effective headache reliever and can even stop a migraine from beginning.
Tip 5: Fresh air
Fresh air and some exercise are helpful for headaches in most cases (but not for migraines). Even a short walk refreshes, relaxes and improves blood circulation in the vessels. Stretching exercises loosen your neck and shoulders. Tension in this area is often the trigger for tension headaches.
Tip 6: A nice bath
In the case of cramped muscles and the resulting headaches, a warm full bath also relieves the symptoms. Bath additives such as arnica , devil’s claw or rosemary ensure that the muscles are even better supplied with blood. A bath with a few drops of lavender oil, possibly mixed with a little milk or cream, is beneficial for all types of headaches. Alternating showers can also help: This is particularly pleasant in the neck area.
Tip 7: Warm hair dryer
It is true that the hair dryer in the mountains triggers headaches in some people – but the hair dryer in the bathroom can also banish tension headaches.
If you don’t have time for a quiet full bath and there’s no one around to massage your shoulders and neck, a self-massage with a hair dryer can help:
- Allow the airflow (moderately warm, not hot!) to circulate over the back of your head, neck and shoulders for a few minutes. A warmed cherry pit pillow or a hot water bottle also relaxes tense muscles and thus contributes to relief.
Tip 8: Cold also helps
A cold compress relieves a headache: A wet washcloth on your forehead and a few minutes of relaxation while lying down can sometimes work wonders. If you like it particularly cool, put the washcloth or damp cloth in the fridge for a few minutes. The old household remedy quark, packed in a cloth and placed on the forehead, brings cooling relief. A cool pad is particularly effective – a gel pad from the refrigerator compartment is also suitable – in combination with peppermint oil, which is applied to the forehead and temples.
Apply very cold pads for a maximum of three minutes and only cool again after a break.
Tip 9: With diet against headaches?
Headaches can be the result of not drinking enough fluids. Therefore, drink enough – it should be at least two liters (of water) throughout the day. Vegetable juices help prevent or eliminate headaches.
Eat regularly – a balanced, wholesome, vitamin-rich diet is the “diet” of choice.
Whole grain products keep blood sugar levels stable over a longer period of time; they are also rich in magnesium, which relaxes muscles and calms nerves.
- If you suffer from frequent headaches, you can try whether avoiding certain foods will bring you relief.
Sweet and greasy foods, chocolate, red wine, pork, cheese or the flavor enhancer glutamate are suspected of causing headaches. However, migraine experts assume that the influence of sweet and fatty foods as a trigger for migraine attacks plays a minor role.
According to Prof. Hartmut Göbel from the pain clinic in Kiel, the consumption of these foods is not a trigger, but rather a symptom of an imminent migraine episode. Studies show that migraine sufferers have an above-average energy requirement in the brain. If the brain does not have enough energy available, a migraine attack occurs. There is no question that a healthy and varied diet can help relieve headaches. According to a study in the British Medical Journal, a diet high in omega-3 and low in omega-6 fatty acids can reduce the number of headache days. Some subjects were also able to limit their use of medication.
- If there is a food intolerance , this can also be responsible for the headache. The only thing that helps is testing, preferably with medical supervision.
Tip 10: Temple massage
If you have a headache, try a gentle pressure massage, with or without peppermint oil.
To do this, place your fingers on the pain points on your temples or forehead and keep gentle pressure for at least 30 seconds.
Release and then apply pressure again for 30 seconds. Repeat as often as is good for you. Massaging the bridge of your nose between your eyes can also help relieve the pain.
Go to the doctor if…
- … accompanying symptoms appear such as high fever, chills, muscle or joint pain.
- … the pain is accompanied by dizziness, paralysis, impaired vision and balance or tears in the eyes.
- … there is a suspicion that the headaches are caused by poor eyesight or incorrect loading of the jaw/teeth.
- … memory, concentration or orientation disorders occur.
- … the headaches become more frequent or increasingly severe.
Headache Emergencies: Hurry!
- In addition to the headache, there is a stiff neck and possibly a fever. It could be meningitis.
- “Thunderclap headache”: very sudden, very rapid, of the greatest previously unknown intensity. You may experience symptoms such as nausea, vomiting or sensitivity to light. Cause could – does not have to! – be a dangerous cerebral hemorrhage.
- The headache is caused by a fall, bump or hit to the head.
Can medication cause headaches?
In the case of excessive consumption, synthetic drugs no longer fight the symptoms, but instead trigger chronic headaches themselves. What is supposed to help is actually the opposite. According to Professor Dr. Hartmut Göbel from the pain clinic in Kiel, this so-called medication-induced headache is “a diffuse and pulsating permanent headache without the typical side effects of migraines.” Alternatively also from the plant world .
What is chronic migraine?
Migraines are considered chronic if you suffer from them for at least 15 days a month. According to the Swiss Headache Society, every sixth woman and every 16th man is affected, a total of almost a million Swiss. In order to track down migraines, what counts above all is the description of the patient; it cannot be detected with imaging methods. Doctors diagnose headaches that last between four hours and three days and meet at least two of the following criteria. Criteria of Chronic Migraine .