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Natural Relief from Headaches and Migraines

Preventive natural relief treatments can help you stop headache and migraine pain before it starts.

| April/May 2007

  • Massage For Headaches
    Massage boosts blood flow to targeted areas of the body, which helps relieve tension headaches.
  • Exercise For Headaches
    Yoga and aerobic exercise help decrease stress and loosen muscles to alleviate tension headaches.
    Photo courtesy PHOTODISC/RYAN MCVAY
  • Headache
    Ninety percent of Americans deal with headache pain in a year.
  • Feverfew For Headaches
    Studies show that, when taken preventively, feverfew extract is an effective migraine-busting herb.

  • Massage For Headaches
  • Exercise For Headaches
  • Headache
  • Feverfew For Headaches

Almost everyone gets headaches. According to the American Headache Society (AHS), 90 percent of men and 95 percent of women have at least one headache a year. And an unfortunate 12 million Americans endure chronic headaches — meaning they have headaches more than 15 days out of every month.

Three Main Headache Types

Seventy-five percent of people with headaches have tension headaches, with steady, vise-like pain on both sides of the head and/or neck. Many of us respond to a frenetic day by tightening these muscles, which can lead to pain. In fact, if you contract any muscle hard enough for long enough, you’ll reduce blood supply, which can cause pain — just try clenching your fist for five minutes.

About 12 percent of people experience migraines, and three quarters of these are women. The pain is usually throbbing, localized to one side of the head, accompanied by nausea with or without vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound. About one in five migraine sufferers (also called migraineurs — so French it ought to be fun) gets some advance notice by way of an aura, or visual disturbance. Auras can include brightly colored or blinking lights that move across the migraineur’s field of vision.

Cluster headaches are rare, severe and primarily afflict men. The pain tends to localize around one eye, which becomes red and watery, though mercifully, doesn’t last more than an hour. Unfortunately, this headache typically recurs over a period of days. Alcohol is a common trigger, and patients frequently have a history of heavy smoking and drinking.

Whatever the headache type, the good news is that many therapies can reduce headache pain and better yet, prevent it. These include eating well, sleeping enough, engaging in regular and relaxing physical activity, and not letting stress knot mind and muscle. Vitamins, minerals and herbs represent a second tier of self-treatment, while biofeedback and acupuncture provide further nonpharmacologic relief. And drugs, used wisely, can spare you from spending the day in a dark, quiet bedroom at the mercy of a migraine.

Identifying Triggers

If you have frequent head pain, try keeping a diary to help you pinpoint triggers. Do particular emotions set you off? What about the weather, smells, dehydration, specific foods, skipping meals or sleep? If you’re a woman, do bouts of pain come in sync with your menses or the use of female hormones?

8/9/2017 1:44:01 PM

I use Chill stick to take care of my headaches. It's a blend of Rosemary, Peppermint, Lavender and Eucalyptus and it's all organic. They sell at some of the Mother Earth News Fairs and you can buy them online at

5/26/2015 9:37:47 PM

A very comprehensive article on the many things that can factor into headaches and migraines. As a naturopath, I always dig deep with patients who present with recurrent headaches to truly understand the cause of them - when did they start, what was going on for them at that time, familial history, food allergies, environmental triggers and so on. The good news - so many natural ways to support the body rather than popping those pills (although I believe they have a place). I shared a few thoughts on a blog recently too;

Kathy Bau
2/2/2015 11:51:15 AM

I received TranquilRx as a gift and was very pleasantly surprised at the results. TranquilRx helps relive my headaches better than any other I have tried.

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