Three Natural (and Proven) Headache Cures

Tension headaches.

The annoyance, discomfort, pressure, dullness, and pain. If you’ve had one, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Tension headaches are extremely common — impacting up to 86% of the population.

Headaches can really throw a wrench into your life. I would know — I’ve suffered from headaches since I was a child. For years I thought the only way to manage a headache was to take ibuprofen (known as Advil or Motrin) or suffer until it went away.

But then I realized there were other options. Options that were effective, safe, natural, and honestly better for me.

So if you or a loved one suffer from headaches, please read on. I’m sharing THREE natural and proven headache cures.

Disclaimer: This is for informational purposes only. This is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure disease. The information in this post is not a substitute for medical advice or care.


The Treatment

Peppermint (or Mentha x piperita) is a common herb found in North America and Europe that has been used medicinally for centuries. While it is most commonly used for digestive issues (that’s why mints are offered after meals at restaurants), peppermint is well known as a headache treatment.


How to Use

To treat headache, peppermint is applied topically.  For best results, apply 10% peppermint oil to the pain area at the onset of headache and reapply 30 minutes later.

Side effects of peppermint oil use include skin sensitivity and rashes.

The Evidence

There are many studies that show the effectiveness of peppermint for headache. A randomized, controlled trial compared 10% peppermint oil to 1000 mg of acetaminophen (known as Tylenol), a common headache treatment. The study found both groups had improvement of headache symptoms. The kicker? There was no difference in relief of headache symptoms between groups. Translation: peppermint oil was as effective as the medication.

Reference: Gobel H, Fresenius J, Heinze A, et al. [Effectiveness of Oleum menthae piperitae and paracetamol in therapy of headache of the tension type]. Nervenarzt 1996;67:672-81.


The Treatment

Caffeine is something you are probably familiar with. You know it can give you a jolt of energy and keep you awake. But did you know caffeine can relieve headache symptoms?

How to Use

To treat headache, caffeine is ingested orally. Doses range from 50 mg up to 130 mg.  You can take caffeine in tablet form or by drinking caffeine-containing beverages. Caffeine can be used by itself or in combination with medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin).

Side effects of caffeine include insomnia, nervousness, restlessness, stomach upset, tremors, or heart rate quickening.

The Evidence

Caffeine has been studied by itself and in combination with medications. The best evidence for caffeine is in combination with other analgesics.


The Treatment


Even if the idea of needles scares you, please read on.

Acupuncture, the Chinese technique of inserting thin needles through the skin, has been used for thousands of years for various ailments.

As someone who has personally experienced acupuncture, I can attest that it is not painful. When completed by a skilled acupuncturist, the needles can barely be felt entering or exiting the skin. You may, however, feel sensation if the needles are stimulated during the treatment.

How To Use

While I'm a huge DIY kind of person, acupuncture is best left to professionals. Ask around or search for reviews to find an experienced provider in your area.

The Evidence

There are multiple publications touting the benefits of acupuncture. A meta-analysis of 26 different trials found acupuncture to be effective in treating migraine and tension headaches.

Reference: Linde K, Allais G, Brinkhaus B, Fei Y, Mehring M, Vertosick EA, Vickers A, White AR. Acupuncture for the prevention of episodic migraine. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2016, Issue 6. Art. No.: CD001218. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD001218.pub3.


So the next time headache strikes, you have peppermint oil, caffeine, and acupuncture as natural and effective weapons in your arsenal.

Do you have an amazing headache cure I didn’t mention? I’d love to hear all about it!


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