Headache Relief: Best-Ever Home Remedies


This soothing, therapeutic bath of hot water and a few teaspoons of mustard powder (used in cooking; available at grocery stores) may help you herd away a headache. The hot water causes your body to redistribute blood from one concentrated area—your throbbing head—and get it flowing all over. At the same time, mustard powder's essential oils stimulate the skin, diverting your attention from the headache.

Expert: Gannady Raskin, MD, ND, dean of the School of Naturopathic Medicine at Bastyr University


This fragrant herb inhibits a substance called thromboxane A2, which prevents the release of substances that make blood vessels dilate. In other words, it can help keep blood flowing on an even keel, which is essential in migraine headache prevention. Grate fresh ginger into juice, nosh on Japanese pickled ginger, use fresh or powdered ginger when you cook, or nibble on a piece or two of crystallized ginger candy daily.

Expert: The Editors of Prevention


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When you're stressed or anxious, you subconsciously clench your jaw and teeth; this strains the muscle that connects your jaw to your temples and can trigger a tension headache. A solution: Put a pencil between your teeth but don't bite. You automatically relax your jaw muscle to do this, which can prevent the pain.

Expert: Fred Sheftell, MD, director and founder of the New England Center for Headache in Stamford, CT

Stand Up Straight

Poor posture creates muscle tension that puts pressure on the nerves that cause headaches. For people who work at computers, a posture problem called head forward posture can develop. Every inch that your head moves forward feels like an extra 10 pounds to the muscles in your upper back and neck, keeping them in constant contraction. Try this technique to correct head forward posture: Align your eyes on top of your shoulders. When you do this you will automatically straighten up.

Expert: Seymour Diamond, MD, director and founder of the Diamond Headache Clinic and the inpatient headache unit at St. Joseph Hospital in Chicago

Watch Caffeine Intake

If you drink too much caffeine on a daily basis—three or more cups of coffee or large amounts of soda—your caffeine intake can cause or worsen your headaches. Moreover, suddenly stopping your caffeine will surely bring on a headache. But if you're not a regular caffeine consumer, one cup can go a long way toward providing headache relief by constricting the dilated blood vessels around your temples. It also increases the efficacy of pain medications, which is why it is found in most headache medicines.

Expert: Alan Rapoport, MD, cofounder and codirector of the New England Center for Headache in Stamford, CT


Try relaxing magnesium (200 to 400 mg) to reduce the muscle tension and spasms that can cause your noggin to throb. But not any type will do. Make sure the supplement contains at least 200 mg of active elemental magnesium. Because magnesium is more preventive than curative, the treatment works best on, say, premenstrual headaches because you can predict when they're coming and take a dose a day in advance. Those with kidney problems should consult a health care practitioner before taking magnesium.

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