Headaches every now and again are a normal part of life, but frequent or debilitating headaches and migraines can interfere with your ability to perform daily functions. Even an odd headache striking suddenly a few times per month is something I would rather avoid. But what to do when inevitably you sometimes get that pounding pain in your head?
In this article, I will share my best tips for avoiding them in the first place and what to do when you get one.
Furthermore, I will tell you what are the best herbal teas for treating headaches and migraines.
Believe me, I get my fair share of headaches. Sometimes I wake up with one and I go to sleep with another.
Whatever the cause, I try to avoid medicinal drugs. Instead, I began researching to find the best herbal teas for headaches.
Through exploring and experimenting I found out that teas made from ginger, peppermint, chamomile, feverfew, and willow bark are great natural remedies for your throbbing head.
You have probably heard about these common herbs but maybe didn’t know that they are good for getting rid of this nasty and annoying problem.
Let’s take a look at how you can tame different types of headaches by sipping on these five herbal teas. They are packed with analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties to help you manage pain the natural way.
Types of Headaches
Headache is among the most common types of pain and is generally caused by inflammation of the nerve and restricted blood vessels or muscles around the head or neck. It is so widespread that up to 75% of adults worldwide have suffered a headache in the past year.
Headaches fall into two main groups, primary and secondary headaches.
Migraines, tension headaches, and cluster headaches are primary headaches because they are the main problem.
Secondary headaches are actually symptoms of an underlying condition such as brain injury, tumors, neck injury, or allergy. The pain also varies based on intensity, frequency, location, and cause.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the typical headaches that people suffer from:
- Tension Headaches: These occur when the muscles in the scalp and neck tense up or contract. A tension-type headache makes you feel as if a tight band is around your head. You may also feel pressure, a squeezing sensation, and pain in the head, neck, or behind your eyes. Stress is a common trigger and when the pain hits it can last for hours or days.
- Migraine Headaches: Migraine is the most common form of headache and is usually felt on one side of the head. It triggers throbbing head pain that lasts anywhere between two to seventy-two hours. Other common symptoms are nausea (with or without vomiting) and sensitivity to light and/or sound. Migraines that start after warning signs, such as pain, are called migraines with aura. Migraines without aura are those that begin without pain or warning.
- Cluster Headaches: These consist of a series of intense but short-lived headaches (lasting usually between 20 minutes and two hours). Cluster headaches typically occur during a particular season and then disappear for months or years, only to start recurring again. This type of headache occurs on one side of the head several times a day. You may also experience throbbing or constant pain behind one side of your eyes, tearing, or stuffy nose on one side.
- Allergy and Sinus Headaches: Headaches triggered by allergens or sinus problems are considered secondary headaches, but it doesn’t mean that they hurt any less. In fact, according to Stanford Health Care secondary headaches can be more serious. A common cause of sinus headaches is allergic rhinitis (hay fever). Symptoms of allergy or sinus headaches include nasal congestion and itchy eye, nose, or throat.
How to Prevent Getting Headaches
If you know what triggers your headaches, then you can use that to avoid getting them in the first place. I mostly get them from occasional stress, poor sleeping patterns, and spending too many hours looking at my computer screen.
Here is a list of common triggers for headaches and migraines:
- Tense muscles in the neck, head, and shoulder area
- Emotional/mental stress or depression
- Eyestrain (often caused by looking at a computer screen or phone)
- Lack of sleep or changes in eating or sleeping patterns
- Bright light
- Alcohol use (hangover)
- Withdrawal from caffeine (or other substances)
- Excessive medication use
If your headache is caused by drinking too much, I recommend that you also read my guide with best herbal teas for treating a hangover.
How to Treat Headaches Naturally
Unfortunately, we can’t always avoid being exposed to the triggers that may cause a headache. Then what to do when the throbbing head pain is on and getting worse by the minute?
I recommend that you try these tips to relieve your headache:
- Environment: It is possible that the headache is caused by a noisy and stressful environment. If possible, go to a room that is cool and dark with good air ventilation. This is especially effective for migraine headaches that are often triggered by bright light and noise. Another great option is to take a walk in a forest. Being in nature is one of my favorite remedies for many conditions, and it’s surprisingly relaxing and effective!
- Relaxing: Once you are in a comfortable environment, it’s probably a good idea to lay down, close your eyes, and try to relax all your muscles. Focus on controlling your breathing and inhale slowly in and out. If you feel tired, why not take a nap.
- Treating tense muscles: As mentioned earlier, tense muscles in neck, shoulders, and scalp are a common cause for headaches. Here are three effective ways to address this issue.
- Get a professional massage or ask your spouse to massage the tense muscles. You can also try massaging your own temples and stretching your neck and shoulders. Add peppermint oil to make the massage even more effective (see the section “Peppermint Tea” in this article for the best product).
- Cold compress is especially effective for migraines. You can buy one, or just make it yourself with a cloth and ice cubes. Then place it on your forehead for instant relief. I also like swimming in cold water and taking cold showers, but I know this might be unpleasant for most people.
- Use a heating pad on your neck to relieve tension headaches. For a sinus headache, I recommend putting a warm cloth to the area that hurts. You can also try taking a warm shower.
- Drink herbal teas: As you are about to find out, herbal teas are an effective natural remedy for headaches. Read further to learn more and to find out which tea is best for each type of headache. Sometimes you might also be dehydrated, and herbal teas will help with that as well.
Best Herbal Teas for Headaches
Herbal therapy and teas have been used to treat headache disorders for centuries. Today, you can brew herbal teas for headaches from fresh or dried plant roots, leaves, flowers, powder or liquid extracts, and tea bags. These products are available in health food stores, drug stores, and online.
What’s appealing is you won’t have to worry about nausea, vomiting, dizziness, or other nasty side effects of taking certain pain medications. Besides, you can enjoy the other health benefits these herbal teas provide.
You can soothe away migraine headaches by sipping homemade ginger tea brewed from fresh ginger root, ginger extract, or ginger tea bags.
Alas! You may be able to ditch the sumatriptan (or other migraine drugs) to avoid the dizziness, chest pain, lethargy, and other side effects.
A study from 2014 compared the effectiveness of ginger (zingiber officinale) and sumatriptan for treating migraines with aura. The 100 patients who took part in the trial were given either ginger powder or sumatriptan.
At the end of the one month trial, the researchers concluded that ginger is as effective as sumatriptan. It reduced the severity of migraine attacks two hours after headache onset. The result is due to the abortive and prophylactic effects ginger exerts on migraine headaches. However, ginger has fewer adverse effects than sumatriptan.
Overall, ginger has powerful anti-inflammatory properties and is thought to work by increasing serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a chemical messenger linked to migraine attacks. Increasing serotonin levels may help reduce inflammation and blood vessel restrictions associated with migraines.
If you do decide to make fresh ginger tea, you can try adding honey, lemon, and cinnamon for a more aromatic experience. Aaah!
You can find the best ginger tea bags and blends here: Best Ginger Tea Brands & Products
Peppermint (Mentha piperita) is a cross between water mint and spearmint and is a culinary herb widely used for its therapeutic potential. According to research, peppermint has significant antimicrobial, antiviral, antioxidant, analgesic, and antiallergenic potentials.
Peppermint tea can be brewed from the leaves of the plant and used as a natural remedy for headaches, colds, and digestive problems. Peppermint leaf liquid extracts and capsules are also an effective option.
In addition to tea, the essential oil of peppermint is used in traditional medicines and for adding fragrance to body care products.
In a trial, researchers compared the use of a preparation of peppermint oil and ethanol versus acetaminophen (pain tablet) for treating tension headaches.
41 male and female patients between the ages of 18 and 65 suffering from tension-type headache took part in the trial. Some were directed to take 2 acetaminophens (1000 mg) capsules by mouth. Peppermint oil was spread mainly across the forehead and temples of the other patients and repeated after 15 and 30 minutes.
The peppermint oil solution reduced the tension headache intensity after 15 minutes and the results lasted for more than one hour. Based on the results of the controlled study, peppermint oil in ethanol solution is an efficient, cost-effective way to alleviate a tension-type headache. Peppermint oil also proves to be a well-tolerated alternative to drug therapies.
If you want to try peppermint oil, I recommend this 100% pure product available on Amazon.
Chamomile is a herb that comes from daisy-like flowers of a plant family known as Asteraceae. The herb has long been consumed in ancient civilizations as a sleep aid and a natural remedy for a variety of health conditions. Today, chamomile tea is commonly used to treat anxiety and trouble sleeping because of its sedative effects.
Due to its relaxing properties, chamomile may help with loosening up the tense muscles in the head, face, and neck and soothe away your headache. In fact, studies support chamomile as a potential natural remedy for migraine headaches without aura (no preceding warning signs). This is owed to its sedative and inflammation-reducing abilities.
During the clinical trial, scientists tested the ability of topical chamomile to relieve pain linked to migraine headaches without aura. An oleogel preparation containing traditional chamomile oil was given to 100 patients who participated in the trial.
The patients observed their symptoms and reported that the oleogel chamomile reduced their pain, nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound. So the next time you have a headache or migraine, feel free to brew yourself a fresh cup of chamomile tea using dried chamomile flower or chamomile tea bags.
You can find the best chamomile tea brands in this article.
In addition to treating headaches, chamomile tea is of the best herbal teas for stress and anxiety.
Like chamomile, feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) is a flowering plant in the daisy family, Asteraceae. These plants look quite similar and it’s not a surprise that feverfew is also a medicinal plant. It is used to make a tea that is good for treating fevers, migraine headaches, and other types of pain.
Scientific studies confirm that the herb has powerful agents that can help treat and prevent migraine headaches. There is also evidence that supports the use of feverfew for cluster headaches and other types of headaches, including those related to the menstrual cycle.
A trial was carried out on patients who treated themselves with feverfew for years. Some continued taking the medicinal herb (capsule of feverfew) while others were given pain medication. At the end of a 6-month treatment period, there was no change in the incidence of headaches in patients who treated themselves with feverfew for years and continued taking it during the trial. They also experienced less nausea and vomiting.
On the other hand, patients who switched to drug treatment experienced increased headaches, nausea, and vomiting. The headaches were also more severe and disabling. Overall, feverfew may provide effective migraine headache relief because it possesses anti-inflammatory agents that reduce inflammation associated with headaches and blood vessel restrictions in the head.
I often drink Buddha Teas Organic Feverfew Lemongrass tea. Not only because it helps with headaches, but it also tastes delicious!
Willow Bark Tea
Some days when a headache gets the better of me, I reach for a cup of willow bark tea, which I make myself using willow bark powder extract (available on Amazon). As rumor has it, it’s one of the best herbal tea for headaches. In this case, the rumor is true.
Come to think of it, I remember my grandmother used to drink willow bark tea when she felt unwell. It was only after I became an adult, I discovered its powerful healing properties for headaches and other common maladies.
Here is what I’d like to share with you concerning willow bark (Salix) as a natural remedy for headaches.
The herb has been used for centuries to treat pain and inflammation, thanks to its anti-inflammatory and analgesic activities. It has pain-relieving effects on the body similar to aspirin due to the presence of an ingredient called salicin.
No wonder it’s known as “nature’s aspirin.” When consumed, the body changes salicin into a chemical substance called salicylic acid that helps fight inflammation in the nerves. Finally, the salicylates, flavonoids, and polyphenols found in willow bark may also play a significant role in the therapeutic effects.
Hello, Herbal Teas! Bye, Bye Headaches!
All in all, drinking a warm cup of tea made from ginger, chamomile, peppermint, feverfew, or willow bark may be just what you need to ease that headache.
While herbal dietary supplements are generally safe to consume, some may cause an allergic reaction or react with medications you are taking. So if you have some illness and are on medication, you can include these herbal teas in your headache management plan after you speak with your doctor or healthcare professional.
I hope that these tips will help you with avoiding headaches as much as possible and treating them whenever they occur.
Any questions or comments? Please post them below!
Ps. If you found this article useful, please share it so others can also try these tips. Thanks!
Enjoy your herbal teas and stay healthy!
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