Natural remedies for headaches include drinking more water, applying compresses, learning relaxation techniques, getting extra sleep, and many more.

This article looks at a range of home and natural remedies for headaches. People can try many of these remedies right away, and some might help prevent headaches in the future.

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Drinking enough water may help prevent headaches or reduce their severity.

Dehydration can be an underlying cause of many simple headaches. It may also alter how a person feels, acts, or thinks.

As a study in the journal Antioxidants notes, even slight dehydration may alter how people think and function, making them feel worse, with or without a headache.

Although some studies are more cautious, water may help make someone in this situation feel better.

Staying hydrated may be as simple as carrying and sipping a water bottle throughout the day. Eating foods high in liquid, such as fruits, smoothies, or soups, may also improve hydration.

Learn more about headaches.

A cold compress may be a simple headache solution that many people have on hand. Applying an ice pack or another cold item to the head or neck may help constrict the blood vessels and reduce inflammation. Doing so could temporarily relieve headache pain.

Some studies have found that applying cold therapy can relieve migraine symptoms, which are more severe headaches.

In other cases, such as with a tension headache where the muscles are too tight, a warm compress may help relax these muscles and bring relief.

A warm compress could be as simple as a heated towel. People may get the same effect from a tepid shower or bath.

Learn more about tension headaches.

In some cases, there is a physical reason for a headache. Check for anything that is putting too much pressure on the head. This may be a ponytail or bun that is too tight or a hat or headband that has been on too long.

Some people who get headaches become sensitive to light. Bright office lights or even a smartphone’s bright light may worsen symptoms.

It may help to rest in a dark or dimly lit room while recovering from a headache.

Learn more about lights and headaches.

Herbal tea may be a useful way to add water to the diet while enjoying the benefits of other natural compounds.

For instance, ginger tea may help with a migraine. One study found that ginger can help reduce migraine pain, as well as reduce nausea and vomiting. A simple tea of warm water and ginger powder may help with symptoms.

Other potentially calming teas include herbs such as peppermint, chamomile, and lavender.

Learn more about food and drinks for migraine.

Exercise may help keep the body healthy and promote better circulation, reducing the chances of a headache.

One 2018 review of research published in the journal Children noted that too little exercise may influence adolescents’ headaches. Regular, moderate exercise may help, such as brisk walking or riding a bike for 30 minutes daily.

Sometimes, food intolerances may be the underlying cause of symptoms such as a headache.

If a headache seems to show up after meals, it may be helpful for people to keep a food journal of everything they eat each day. This may enable them to identify and avoid foods that could trigger headaches.

Different issues may lead to headaches, and sleep problems are among the more common ones.

Getting too much or too little sleep or not sleeping soundly may cause a headache or migraine in some people, as they have not fully rested their body.

Learn more about sleep and headaches.

Acupuncture is part of traditional Chinese medicine, where practitioners place small needles into the skin’s surface. The aim is not to cause pain but to stimulate the body’s own energy.

The review published in Children notes that research has shown acupuncture to be an effective way to prevent migraine and tension headaches or reduce their frequency.

Learn more about acupuncture.

Massaging certain pressure points may help relieve tension in the head and reduce headaches. When stressed, many people do this instinctively, such as rubbing the back of the neck or pinching the top of the nose.

There may be some truth to these instincts. Many people find that massaging the temples, jaw, or neck may help relieve tension and reduce tension headaches caused by being too stressed.

Some other areas to try massaging include the area between the eyebrows and the two spots at the base of the eyebrows on either side of the bridge of the nose. These spots may hold tension from the eyes or head, and massaging them could help relieve this tension.

Massaging the neck near the base of the skull may also help release tension.

Learn more about massaging pressure points.

Again, the review in Children notes that relaxation training and techniques may help many people with their headache symptoms while also reducing stress and anxiety.

Relaxation techniques include practices such as deep-belly breathing, guided meditations, and actively focusing on relaxing the muscles.

Drinking a beverage with caffeine, such as coffee, tea, or soda, may sometimes help ease a headache.

Some pain medications for headaches include caffeine, which may improve their effectiveness.

A review published in the Journal of Headache and Pain notes that caffeine alone may help reduce symptoms of a tension headache or migraine. Caffeine relaxes the blood vessels, which may support circulation and ease tension.

Learn more about caffeine and migraine.

Aromatherapy that uses some essential oils may also relieve symptoms of a headache. The 2018 review in Children noted that inhaling lavender essential oil for 15 minutes reduced the severity of headaches, according to one study.

A separate study posted to the journal Pain suggested that peppermint oil is more effective at reducing tension headaches than a placebo.

The smells of essential oils may bother some people, and experimenting with different oils that individuals find relaxing may be a way to ease headache symptoms.

Learn more about essential oils for headaches.

There is some evidence that people who regularly experience headaches or migraine may be more likely to have low magnesium levels.

Adding magnesium to the diet as a supplement may help reduce headaches or prevent them in these cases.

Some B vitamins may help protect against headaches or reduce them. A study noted that B vitamins, including vitamins B-6 and B-12, may all play a role in preventing migraine headaches or reducing headache symptoms.

Learn more about vitamin B.

Vitamin E may also play a role in headache symptoms. Vitamin E may relieve headache pain and symptoms from menstrual migraine with a low risk of side effects.

This may be valuable for women who experience migraine during their menstrual cycle, as vitamin E may help keep their hormones balanced to prevent symptoms.

Learn more about vitamin E.

Some people may not respond well to drinking too much alcohol. A headache is one of the more common side effects of a hangover. This may be because alcohol acts as a diuretic, making the body release more water via the urine.

These kinds of headaches do not only occur with bouts of heavy drinking. Even with light or moderate drinking, alcohol may lead to mild dehydration symptoms in some people or make headaches worse.

Anyone uncertain if alcohol affects them in this way could try limiting their drinking and seeing if it changes or prevents their symptoms.

Learn more about hangover headaches.

For people who often experience migraine, avoiding strong smells may be a wise step to take when trying to prevent them.

One review found that odors from sources such as perfumes or other strong-smelling chemicals may trigger migraine after just a few minutes of exposure.

It may help if people avoid sources of these smells, such as department stores, others who wear a lot of perfume, or chemical smells from cleaning products.

There are many types of headaches, and one natural remedy may be more suitable than another to ease a specific kind. Some common headache types include:

  • Tension headaches: The most common headache occurs after a person has become overstressed and their muscles have tensed. The pain appears in the middle and top of the head, which may feel as if it has a tight rubber band around it.
  • Sinus headaches: This type involves pain behind the eyes and nose and a general congested feeling in the head. A similar headache occurs when a person has a hangover.
  • Cluster headaches: These headaches may appear throughout the day, causing a stabbing, sharp pain in one head spot.
  • Migraine: Migraine usually causes a throbbing pain behind the eyes that grows and pulses throughout the head. The person may also become very sensitive to light, activity, or movement.

Learn more about the different types of headaches.

People can try several natural and home remedies to get rid of a headache without using medication. Some of these may work better with different types of headaches.

In the end, some headaches may still not respond to these methods, and taking an over-the-counter drug, such as ibuprofen (Advil), acetaminophen (Tylenol), or naproxen (Aleve), may bring relief.

It is essential not to ignore a persistent headache. An ongoing symptom may be a sign of an underlying issue. People may want to discuss a persistent or particularly severe headache and other symptoms with a doctor to find and resolve a problem.