19 Homemade Remedies for Headache Pain

Natural Headache Remedies

The other day my husband Dave came home from work with a pounding headache. He usually takes Excedrin for headache relief, but apparently that wasn’t cutting it on that particular day. He actually asked me if I would make up one of my “voodoo essential oil cures”. lol.

Well, I am no expert, but my SISTER is, and I remembered her posting something on her blog, Camp Wander, about Peppermint and Lavender being effective in getting rid of headaches. So I dug through my ever-growing inventory of essential oils and found the Peppermint and Lavender and proceeded to work my “voodoo magic”. ;-)

That “magic” consisted of putting a couple of teaspoons of fractionated coconut oil into a little roll-on bottle, and then adding a few drops each of the Peppermint and Lavender EO’s. I then had him roll it on his forehead, temples and neck.

I got distracted with something else after that, but about a half hour later I remembered to ask him how his head felt. For a split second he didn’t know what I was talking about because I think he’d completely forgotten about it! Headache gone!

After that experience (and numerous others) we have become BIG believers in the power of essential oils in this house….AND in the idea that it’s not always necessary to reach for the pill bottle when you have a headache.

Here are some MORE homemade headache remedies to try:

natural headache remedies

Ginger Tea
Crush up an inch of ginger root and add it to boiling water. This homemade tea reduces inflammation in about the same amount of time as it would take an aspirin to work. It has been used for centuries in Asia to treat a number of ailments.


natural headache remedies

Capsaicin Cream
The active ingredient in this cream is cayenne pepper. Apply a small amount to the inside of your nostril that’s on the side of your head where you are experiencing pain. The cream works to block nerve pain signals.


natural headache remedies

In clinical trials, this supplement from the sunflower family has been shown to be effective for treating migraines. It reduces inflammation, which takes pressure off the nerves and can help prevent migraines entirely.


natural headache remedies

Acupressure Massage
This ancient Chinese healing method involves applying pressure to certain points on the body to relieve pain. Place your finger in the depression between your first and second toe and press firmly for 3-5 minutes. Another technique is to put your thumb in your mouth on the same side as the pain, reaching up to find the cheekbone. Press that bone up and out. Repeat on the other side. Then place both thumbs on the upper palate (inside the mouth) and press the sides out.



Used medicinally since the middle ages, butterbur extract can be taken daily to help reduce the number and severity of headache attacks. It is available commercially in capsules, powder, tincture, or other forms and is thought to have both antispasmodic effects and anti-inflammatory properties.


natural headache remedies

Take a multivitamin containing magnesium. The mineral helps to calm nerves, which tend to get overexcited during a migraine. Some studies have found that migraine sufferers tend to be deficient in magnesium. You can also increase your magnesium by eating foods like broccoli, beans, soy milk, nuts, spinach, etc.


natural headache remedies

Stand in water as hot as you can stand for two minutes (this increases blood flow to the skin), then as cold as you can stand for two minutes (this sends blood to the core of the body). Alternate back and forth for 20 minutes to increase blood flow and circulation, bringing nutrients to organs and carrying away toxins.


natural headache remedies

Cold (or Hot) Compress
Apply icepack to your head, but make sure not to put the ice directly on your head. You can wrap ice or a bag of frozen vegetables in a towel.
Apply heat to the back of the neck with a hot shower, bath, or heating pad. Heat can loosen up the muscles that tighten with tension headaches.


natural headache remedies

Avoiding Eyestrain
Staring at a computer screen for long periods of time can leave your head aching. To avoid eyestrain the most important thing you can do is take frequent breaks from your monitor. Get up at least once every fifteen minutes and focus your eyes on something that is at least twenty to thirty feet away. Adjust the brightness and the contrast on your monitor so that the glare is not hard on your eyes. You should also have your monitor set up so you are viewing it at eye level and keep it at least a foot and a half from your face.


natural headache remedies

Getting Adequate Sleep
Studies indicate that those who sleep an average of six hours a night tend to have significantly more severe and more frequent headaches than those who get more z’s. Keeping a regular schedule that allows for adequate sleep may reduce sleep-related headaches.

Proper Sleeping Conditions
Make your sleeping place comfortable. Be sure that it is dark, quiet, and not too warm or too cold. If light is a problem, try a sleeping mask. If noise is a problem, try earplugs, a fan, or a “white noise” machine to cover up the sounds.


natural headache remedies

Exercise increases blood circulation and the fresh air will also help to relieve headache. Also, it allows the whole body to relax. Most tension headache sufferers find immense relief with the addition of exercise.


natural headache remedies

Relaxation Techniques

  • Count to 10. This makes you stop and relax before you react to a stressful situation.
  • Take deep breaths. This makes you breathe slower and helps your muscles relax.
  • Think positive. Remember the things that are good in your life.
  • S T R E T C H. Stretching makes muscles relax and helps you feel less tense.
  • Take hot baths or showers to help you relax.
  • Massage tense muscles. The muscles in the back of your neck and upper back usually get tense when you are stressed.
  • Listen to relaxing music.


natural headache remedies

Boil a handful of rosemary in a liter of water and place it in a bowl after it boils. Place a towel over your head and inhale the steam for as long as you can. Keep repeating this until the headache goes away. Peppermint, lavender, eucalyptus, sandalwood, and basil work well also.


natural headache remedies

Staying Hydrated
Probably the most common reason people get headaches is because they are dehydrated. A headache is a warning sign, letting you know that something is wrong. Most people don’t drink enough water. Drinking at least 4-6 glasses of water every day will ease a lot of headaches.


natural headache remedies

Fresh lemon juice with tea is one of the best cures for headaches. The lemon peel is also very useful. Pound the lemon peel into a fine paste and apply it as a plaster on the forehead.


natural headache remedies

Avoiding Certain Foods
Some foods can cause headaches and migraines. Limit foods rich in sodium (salt), saturated fats, cholesterol, Trans fats, and added sugars. Foods like milk, butter, cheese, cream, meat products, red wine, caffeine, and chocolate are known headache triggers. You should also try to avoid foods with nitrites and sulfites in them. These dilate capillaries in the brain and increase blood flow which causes pain.


natural headache remedies

And possibly my FAVORITE natural headache remedy…….


A headache is often brought on by lack of oxygen to the brain.  Laughter increases our intake of oxygen, so, you feel better!  :-)


What natural remedies do you use to relieve headaches?

Headache remedies

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    • Monika says

      Thank you so much for the GREAT post.
      Wanted to share with you all a breakthrough I had using essential oils. Have been suffering from bad migraines and headaches and tried about everything, diet, massage helped, acupuncture, reflexology, EFT, quiropractor, etc. Most of the time the medication Relert helped, but made me feel so groggy.
      Last week I discovered the magic potion for myself.
      Mixed equal parts of ORGANIC ginger and peppermint essential oils and rub from 3 to 5 on my stomach and liver area and 5 under each sole of my feet. In the beginning I would dilute in carrier oil to see how my body accepts the oils, now I use it straight. First time I used it, it took my headache away, so I decided to keep applying it twice a day for a while.
      Have also started to use the magnesium oil.
      Blessings to all and may you all find your magic potions!

  1. Jen K. says

    What a great post! Thanks for all of the wonderful good things! :) Just would like to add, if I may, that lavender is so effective on headaches for my family and I that we just waft under the open EO bottle. With each sniff of lavender the headache dissipates a little more until it is just gone all together. I know it doesn’t seem like it would work, but it is my go-to cure for a headache. Lavender mood mist sprayed around the room helps too. Thanks again!

  2. Kim F says

    To say I LOVE your site is an understatement…. This “one good thing” came at the perfect time for my family as we are all dealing with different types of headaches and don’t want to reach for the med bottle each time.

    If I were to start building my essential oils stock – what are your top 3-5 oil picks that are MUST haves – for headaches or ANYTHING for that matter!?

    Thank you!!

    • says

      Kim….like I said in my post above…I’m no expert….but the top 5 oils *I* personally use most often are: Lavender, Peppermint, Lemon, Rosemary, and Eucalyptus. :-) If you have more questions about essential oils you can contact my sister through her Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/CampWander

  3. Jennifer says

    Hi Jillee — I am a pharmacist and I have studied natural remedies. I also suffer from intense headaches from time to time. Your post is helpful and contains many of the nuggets of advice I pass on to my patients. If I could add the following:

    1. I would avoid capsaicin. First, it depletes substance P which is a neurotransmitter that helps to transmit the pain signal. Generally, headache sufferers are looking for more immediate relief than can be provided by capsaicin which may take weeks to be effective at relieving pain. More importantly, capsaicin is an irritant and is typically applied with latex gloves and while wearing a mask to avoid exposure to tender mucosal tissue. It’s just not a practical choice for headache.

    2. Feverfew can be effective for prevention of migraine headache only. Many headache sufferers don’t know the type of headache they suffer from (webMD can help you determine the most likely type of headache) but this information is crucial to selecting the treatment plan. With migraines, you use a headache journal to try to discover triggers (food, chemical exposure, etc) and you use preventative medications, like feverfew. However, feverfew is a member of the Asteraceae family and can cause an allergic reaction in those who have ragweed allergy. One of the many types of headache, sinus headache, can be triggered by swelling in the sinus cavities secondary to exposure to an allergen. Therefore, feverfew can actually make headaches WORSE in some patients.

    3. There is an additional pressure point between the web of the thumb and first finger. Handy to know if you’re in public and can’t take off your shoes and socks.

    4. Magnesium can help migraine sufferers as a preventative. Studies show that migraine sufferers can be low in magnesium so supplementation with 400 – 600 mg a day may help. But remember, there is no corresponding study to say that those who DON’T suffer headaches have adequate levels of magnesium. So take it with a grain of salt, as something to try. It’s a may help, can’t hurt type of thing.

    5. In that same vein, (can’t hurt might help) CoQ10 (100 – 300 mg day) may help. Take this in the morning as it can also boost energy and you don’t really need an energy boost at night.

    Enjoy reading your blog and I hope you don’t mind some points of clarification on your helpful post.

    • says

      Jennifer….I never have a problem with people wanting to add to, clarify, or even respectfully disagree with my posts. That’s what this “community” of readers is all about for me. Thank you for sharing your expertise on this! Good stuff to know!! I hope you will continue to read and contribute. :-)

      • says

        That’s probably why you seem to foster such a great community here. :) So awesome of you to take this stance on comments; it seems few do these days!

    • elaine williams says

      For those mommy’s to be. The pressure points between the thumb and first finger also relieves nausea. Press on this pressure point you may find what feels like a small pea roll around until you feel the nausea subside.

      • says

        I must comment as I am a licensed acupuncturist. The point between the thumb and index finger called Hegu or Large Intestine 4 is normally contraindicated during pregnancy! It can help with some types of headaches. Please only a licensed acupuncturist should stimulate this point. For nausea during pregnancy – “Sea Bands” for motion sickness can be purchased at most drug stores. It applies pressure on the acupuncture point Pericardium 6, about 3 fingers width down from your wrist crease and between the tendons. You must wear them continuously to really benefit.

  4. says

    Great advice! You forgot to mention a big one – hormones!! Many folks who have migraines are on birth control pills or other hormones, once they get off their migrains stop. Sometimes it is the other way around.

    • Cynthia says

      EXACTLY!!! I have been on birth control pills for 10 years now, since I was 13, due to cycle problems. I missed the first two days of my 8th grade year because I literally couldn’t get out of bed with a migraine. I would suffer through week-long migraines while being on my period and dealing with school all year long. Wasn’t until I went back to my gyno that she told me I was going through withdrawal from estrogen that’s in the pills while I was on the placebo pills.
      She recommended Excedrin Migraine to me. After that, it was always my go-to medicine. I suffered the headaches for YEARS, until I switched to a generic version of the pill I’d been on. Then, they miraculously cleared up. However, I got braces put on my teeth when I was 17 and Excedrin didn’t help the headaches I got from that. My orthodontist recommended Motrin or some other anti-inflammatory drug. Now, if I have a bottle on hand, it’s my go-to drug.
      Now, however, I am on yet another brand of pill and experience headaches once in awhile. Thankfully, they aren’t nearly as severe as they used to be. But, I am experiencing less-severe headaches scattered throughout the month and not concentrated to the week I’m on my period. I’ve looked for natural remedies for years, and nobody seems to have much info on them…so, thank you Jillee for posting this! And, because I’m making an effort to do things the natural way, I will definitely be trying some of these methods! I need to lose my dependency on that pill bottle!

      • Teree says

        I’m hoping this little tidbit of advice will be helpful to some. I realize it won’t for those of you with severe &/or never-ending headaches, but for most others… Anyway, My Gyno (father of 3 girls) told me years ago, to lessen pain & discomfort from your period, take 2 Advil (Ibuprofen) 1-2 times a day every day for the whole week before your period. It does work. I’ve been doing it for many years. After having 3 daughters of my own (8, 6 & 2) my period kept changing after each birth, thanks to hormones, and this relatively simple trick has been a lifesaver for me.

    • Jenn says

      That is exactly why I am here now! I was put on DepoLupron and now have the luxoury of going through “menopause” at the age of 21, but the shot has been causing me extreme constant headaches and dizziness. I’ve never been one to get headches, and I HATE taking pills. I just sprayed some (far from pure) lavender spray on my pillows and it seems to help a little, except for that dizzy factor. Oh lady troubles =)

  5. Christy says

    I have had A HEADACHE, yes that is right ONE headache, for the past 15 years. I have been to countless doctors and have tried several remedies and so far none have taken the pain away. I have noticed that ginger helps lessen the pain to a small degree and I have been known to carry a small bottle of the spice in my purse to sprinkle on my food. I am willing to try anything at this point. I will try some of these remedies and let all know if they work.

    • KD says

      Have you tried seeing a dentist? DH was having horrible headaches last year, no one could figure out what was going on. Went to dentist, turned out one of his teeth had broken underneath a crown, couldn’t see it on anything except an xray.

      • Christy says

        I have seen dentists, had Lasik, accupuncture, even went to a Native Amrican Healing ceremony in Nebraska on the Sioux reservation. Been to neurologists, an internist, my family dr and had my eyes rechecked again and got new glasses. I am at the point that I will probably have this headache for the rest of my life. I wish for it to go away but I do not think it will happen but thank you for the suggestion KD, I appreciate the thought. Lately it hasn’t been too bad.

      • says

        Christy, I had the same problem for 8 years. Some days debilitating on my back headaches others just a burning feeling but every day, day in day out for 8 years.
        Cat scans and neurologists could find nothing. Physio and chiro. Nothing.
        And then once I started going into menopause they stopped. I rarely get them now. It is like a miracle and I feel great. If you are not there yet at least there may be some hope for you.

      • says

        Hello There, Christy!
        I hate to hear about your headache! But, have you considered the copper hat? Or blood test? Just a thought, and I am very sorry again!
        Wanda Burns

      • Christy says

        Thanks for the advice .. I will look into them, I am getting desperate at this point.. now I believe I have fibromyalgia on top of it all and it is kind of seasonal for the symptoms showed up when the snow storm did.

      • Brittney says

        I totally feel your pain. I had one headache for about two years. Like you I tired everything, they even hospitalized me to try iv meds to try and kick it. I am currently feeling better!!! I had to do a lot of research, but what helped me the most is a book called Heal Your Headaches the 1-2-3 diet. He talks about triggers and preventative medicine and how you need to combine them sometimes. The bummer is I also just figured out gluton was a trigger too! Sheesh. Anyway please don’t give up! I really believe that you can get better, if you try hard enough. The diet sucks and there is so much you can’t eat..let me just warn you. But it works!!! And if your like me you would do ANYTHING to feel better!!! Here is a link t the book, and you can read tons of reviews on amazon from real people who have done it! Please give it a read!! http://www.amazon.com/Heal-Your-Headache-Program-Taking/dp/0761125663/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1352865934&sr=1-1&keywords=heal+your+headache+123

      • Heather says

        Christy I too have had the same headache for several years. They even thought I might have a tumor on my pituitary gland and I was actually excited that it might be the case as then I would have a “reason” for this headache, not that I wanted cancer or anything but you DO reach a point of wanting an answer any answer! Whenever it starts to get worse, or to a point I can no longer deal with it, I take some icy/hot gel, just a drop, and massage it on my forehead. It really helps. It doesn’t alleviate all the pain but it makes it more bearable! I hope you find answers!

      • Kristi says

        Christy – try the Diamond Headache Clinic in Chicago. I have had daily migraines for the last two years waking up with them and going to bed with them at a pain level 4/5 and going up from there and with their help I am no headache free or nearly headache free most days. Its worth the trip to see if they can help you too. Dr. Merel Diamond is the best. : o )


    • Shelley says


      Wow, as a former migraine sufferer, I hate to hear that anyone has a headache that lasts long. Here’s one more suggestion to add to your list. Let me explain a little though. Firstly, I started seeing a general physician that is also a top sports medicine doctor for LSU. I told him of the great pain I had in my lower back and in between my knees when I would “run” any decent distance and I also had daily headaches. He referred me to a local Physical Therapist. I was skeptical as I had seen a PT a few years ago and they did nothing for me. Apparently all PT’s aren’t the same. At my first appointment this guy told me that I no longer need to see my chiropractor for my back and headaches, that my problem was muscles that were “knotted” and needed to be lengthened. To get the “knotted” muscles loose, he said he would use a technique called trigger point needling or dry needling. Sounds painful but when in pain, you’ll try anything. Apparently, this is becoming standard practice in sports therapy, even the NFL and by the US military in war zones. This sounds like acupuncture but that is nerve related, these needles go into the muscle. I didn’t realize the muscles I have right behind my ears, the base of my skull, neck, shoulders, back and even my lats were contributing to my headaches. They also “lengthened” or “released” my muscles by stretching techniques. I now have no back pain (I’m a month into the Insanity workout) and rarely have migraines or headaches. Check out these links which gives more information on “Needling.” This technique is not available in all states due to individual state laws. Hope this helps!!!



    • JERI says


    • tami klumpyan says

      Hi there,
      I have also had a chronic headache for 16 years. Is yours a pressure headache? Mine is. I won’t post much more until I hear back from you. If we are suffering with similar headaches, maybe we can find an answer together. We could each try different remedies. Thank you in advance if you respond. Sincerely,

    • brunswickborn says

      I have a friend who found out that her never ending headache was due to Arnold–Chiari malformation. She saw a neurologist who sent her for an MRI. I had never heard of it, but apparently that never ending headache is frequently a symptom.

  6. says

    I love the “voodoo cures”. My family acts as if I have a cauldron in the back yard brewing up my potions.

    I gave my grandson’s girlfriend a roller bottle of eucalyptus in fractionated coconut oil and she said it relieved a sinus headache in about 5 minutes. I use that and lavender all the time.

  7. Glenda M says

    You have the most wonderful site on the “net”. I can always look forward to a very interesting newsletter with useful hints. Thanks so much for your effort in putting these together.

  8. CTY says

    This is a great list– thanks sooo much! Especially with the holidays coming.
    Another thought DON’T give yourself a headache– Pace Yourself, Delegate, Know your Limits, and Be Organized in whatever you do.
    Just as an FYI– One of the side effects Tylenol is headaches. That is why J & J advertises use for minor aches & pains. Check medications you take for side effects and talk to your DR about alternatives.

  9. Sarah says

    Another migraine trigger to avoid is MSG or monosodium glutamate. It is found in many processed foods including salad dressings and chips. Reading labels and keeping a food journal can help you learn which foods trigger you.