We’ve all experienced overwhelming anxiety and stress in our lives. Through some stress can be momentary, for many, this type of anxiety can turn into tension headaches.
While medication can help relieve the pain of this headache, they don’t resolve the underlying cause, typically. So instead, try one of these home remedies to try to heal the pain. Or, better yet, to prevent it when you feel its oncoming.
What are Tension Headaches?
Though all headaches may cause a similar level of intense discomfort, there are different types of headaches caused by a variety of triggers.
Tension headaches result in a tight, dull pain that adds pressure to the forehead, neck, and the back of the head. Many attest that a tension headache feels as though a clamp is squeezing their skull. As a tension headache is triggered by the pressure from life’s stressors, they’re often referred to as stress headaches and are particularly common in adults.
A tension headache falls into two categories: episodic and chronic. An episodic tension headache occurs less than 15 days a month. On the other hand, a chronic tension headache occurs 15 days a month or more frequently.
These types of headaches last anywhere from 30 minutes to several days. Episodic headaches often begin gradually and often begin at midday. Chronic headaches occur for a longer length of time. Pain may ease up or intensify throughout the day, however, the pain is usually persistently in the background.
Useful Home Remedies for Tension Headaches
The Cleveland Clinic states that between 30 to 80% of adults experience these types of occurrences during their lifetime. If you frequently get headaches, consider using a more natural method of treatment. Tension headaches are often unbearable, especially if they don’t respond to medication.
Thankfully, simple lifestyle shifts can help you defeat these types of headaches once and for all. Read on for 12 home remedies to treat tension headaches.
1. Drink More Water
Though the human body needs a significant amount of water to function properly, many people aren’t consuming adequate amounts of water, resulting in perpetual dehydration. Being dehydrated on a regular basis can lead to frequent headaches with several studies showing that chronic dehydration is a common trigger for headaches.
If you’re hoping to put an end to habitual headaches, start drinking more water. If you’re currently suffering from a headache, you’ll start to feel better 30 minutes – 3 hours after hydrating again.
Making a habit of staying hydrated throughout the day will reduce your chances of triggering a headache. Fill your diet with water-rich foods and drink adequate amounts of water throughout the day to make sure you’re hydrated and healthy.
2. Take More Magnesium
Just as it’s important to drink water to stave off headaches, minerals like magnesium are an important part of your diet and play a significant role in keeping headaches at bay.
As magnesium is important for your body’s nerve transmission and blood sugar control, a lack of magnesium can lead to frequent headaches.
Studies show that 600 mg of magnesium citrate can reduce the severity and frequency of headaches. It’s best to consult a doctor before beginning magnesium supplements to determine the right amount for you.
3. Avoid or Limit Alcohol (a common trigger for tension headaches)
Most people can enjoy one or two alcoholic drinks without experiencing a headache. However, alcohol is responsible for triggering headaches and migraines in individuals that experience frequent headaches.
Moreover, other research suggests that alcohol is a common cause of tension headaches. As alcohol is a vasodilator, it widens the blood vessels in one’s body, causing blood to flow freely. This vasodilation can cause headaches in certain people as headaches are often a side effect of other vasodilators.
Additionally, alcohol causes an individual to lose electrolytes and fluids through frequent urination. This can cause dehydration, which will only worsen headaches.
4. Sleep Properly
Sleep deprivation is another common culprit of headaches in many people. One study shows that individuals with less than 6 hours of sleep a night experience more severe and frequent headaches.
Ironically, getting more than the required amount of sleep can also trigger tension headaches. For headache prevention, experts recommend sleeping between 7 – 9 hours every night.
In addition to tracking the amount of sleep you receive throughout the week, it’s important to make sure your quality of sleep isn’t compromised. Improve your quality of sleep by creating a restful environment using blackout curtains, white noise machines, and anything else that will make your bedroom cozier.
Additionally, if you find that you can’t fall asleep at night as a result of too much coffee or tea, try consuming caffeine earlier in the day. As caffeine is a stimulant, consuming any too late at night can rob you of the sleep you need. Drink coffee before 4 p.m. to make sure caffeine is out of your bloodstream by bedtime.
5. Avoid Foods with High Amounts of Histamine
While most people associate histamines with medication, this is a naturally occurring chemical found in the body. Histamine plays an important role in our digestive, nervous, and immune systems.
Found in foods like beer, cured meats, fermented food, aged cheeses, and the like, histamine may also be a trigger for headaches and migraines.
Anyone sensitive to histamine won’t be able to properly excrete this chemical. If you find that histamine-rich foods are triggering headaches for you, it’s best to cut these foods from your diet.
6. Use Essential Oils
Essential oils are often lauded for their healing properties when used to treat other common ailments. When treating headaches, essential oils can also be used for their therapeutic benefits.
These concentrates and aromatic liquids are especially helpful for almost anyone dealing with a headache.
Lavender and peppermint are often considered the best essential oils for treating these types of headaches. Use peppermint essential oil by applying it to your temples to reduce your symptoms. Take advantage of lavender oil by mixing it with almond oil, applying it to your upper lip, and inhaling it.
7. Take More Vitamin B
Vitamin B deficiency is another issue that can trigger tension headaches in both children and adults. This important nutrient helps the body convert food into energy. Without an adequate amount of B vitamins, your body may experience various headache symptoms.
The best way to correct this deficiency is to take B vitamin supplements like B6, B12, folate, and riboflavin. B-complex vitamins have all of the essential B vitamins and are an effective remedy for headaches.
8. Use a Cold Compress
If the pain of your headache just won’t go away, consider relying on the age-old method of a cold compress. Applying a frozen or cold compress to your head or neck will decrease inflammation and slow nerve conduction, resulting in reduced headache pain.
Make a cold compress by putting ice in a waterproof bag and wrap it with a soft towel. Use the compress by applying it to your temples, head, or your neck for immediate headache relief.
9. Take Coenzyme Q10
Coenzyme Q10 is a naturally-occurring substance that helps the body transform food into energy. Research shows that taking CoQ10 supplements is a natural and effective way to alleviate headache symptoms.
According to one study, participants found that taking 100 mg of CoQ10 reduced the severity, length, and frequency of their migraines.
10. Drink Caffeinated Coffee or Tea
Caffeinated beverages are another quick-fix to consider when trying to treat your headache.
Caffeine can improve one’s mood, constrict blood vessels, and improve alertness, all of which positively affect headache symptoms. Moreover, drinking caffeinated beverages can impair the effectiveness of certain headache treatments.
Ironically, caffeine withdrawal is also a trigger for headaches. These types of caffeine-related headaches occur in a caffeine-lover that suddenly stops drinking caffeine.
11. Stay Away From Strong Smells
It’s not always up to you what smells invade your space, but whenever possible, do what you can to avoid strong smells from cleaning products and perfumes.
Smells that are particularly overwhelming can cause an individual to develop intense headaches. For example, some studies indicate that perfumes are a common culprit in triggering headaches.
If you tend to be particularly sensitive to cigarette smoke, scented foods, or heavy perfumes, it’s important to stay away from these odors as best as you can.
12. Exercise Frequently
Another way you can control the severity and frequency of your headaches is to add more physical activity to your weekly schedule.
One study shows that cycling at least three times a week is an effective way to reduce the frequency of headaches. Other studies associate a lower level of exercise with an increase in headaches.
Final Thoughts on Trying These Home Remedies for Tension Headaches
Though there are many over-the-counter ways to treat headaches, they don’t get to the root of the problem. By making a lifestyle change using the most effective home remedies, you’ll be able to eliminate the need for Advil, Tylenol, and similar pain pills.
Don’t let headaches take over your life. Putting these home remedies into practice will help you lower your stress and prevent headaches from developing.