older woman hand to head looks confused

How do you manage headaches? If the pain is mild or infrequent, a common pain reliever such as acetaminophen, aspirin, iburofen or naproxen might work well enough. But if headaches occur often or the pain is severe, you may be looking for a natural cure for headaches.

Is There a Natural Cure for Headaches?

Q. I suffered for many years with recurring headaches. Medications produced awful side effects.

An amazing natural cure got rid of my headaches. I stirred two tablespoons organic apple cider, two tablespoons lemon juice and two tablespoons honey into 8 ounces hot water and drank it daily. Within three days my headaches lessened and within a week they were gone.

Now if I feel a slight headache coming on, I drink the mixture and within 15 minutes my headache disappears.

TRP Channels and Headaches:

A. Thanks for this recipe. Perhaps the secret lies in the lemon juice stimulating TRP (transient receptor potential) channels. The result is to stop the headache.

TRPA1 appears to be important in the development of migraine headaches, and stimulating neurons with TRPA1 channels may overwhelm them so they are no longer able to register pain (Benemei et al, The Journal of Headache and Pain, Aug. 13, 2013). TRPA1 channels respond to a range of stimuli, from horseradish and garlic to cinnamon, cloves and ginger.

Inducing Brain Freeze as a Natural Cure for Headaches:

Other people have found that triggering “brain freeze” may also stop a headache, perhaps through a similar mechanism. Here is a testimonial:

“I had a painful headache today. I drank two glasses of really cold water to get a brain freeze effect. The pain was quickly reduced. I felt so good that instead of lying down because it hurt to even move, I vacuumed my apartment–something that would have been too painful to do just minutes earlier.”

Other Ways to Find a Natural Cure for Headache:

Research indicates that acupuncture, yoga and biofeedback may be helpful in easing head pain (Millstine et al, BMJ, May 16, 2017). Massage and chiropractic care may also be helpful. For some people with migraine headaches, a combination of riboflavin, magnesium and Coenzyme Q10 can be helpful.

There are many other natural approaches to headache relief in our Guide to Headaches & Migraines.

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  1. Patricia
    North Carolina

    Two TB honey seems like a lot for people who are sensitive to sugars. Any suggestions for cutting back on the amount of honey or using some other sweetener? Stevia?

  2. RD

    Since I had a brain bleed some years ago I am very cautious about using analgesics. When I have a headache, I alternate inhaling lavender and peppermint essential oils for a few minutes, right from their bottles. The headache simply goes away. I take no analgesics of any kind and this “treatment” works for me and for those with whom I’ve shared this remedy .

  3. Brit' Bunny

    I use Hylands Headache – 2 pills and headache is gone….I have no affiliation with Hylands Company.

  4. Marcia N

    I usually drink orange Gatorade. Little gulps of an 8 oz bottle when I feel a headache coming on. On other med required – maybe 1 regular Tylenol if needed.

  5. Peggy
    Charleston, IL

    I used to suffer from frequent migraines. Thankfully, after menopause, they no longer tormented me. But during those prior years, I found that the herb, feverfew, if taken daily, helped to lessen the frequency of the headaches. (It is not a remedy once you already are suffering from the headache, but more, a preventative if taken regularly.) You can find feverfew at health food stores and wherever herbal products are sold.

  6. Jude
    Decatur, GA

    I frequently have a mild headache in the morning, but have an almost instant remedy! Hierba mate tea, which is from the Southern Cone Area of South America (specifically Uruguay and Argentina), is has a high antioxidant capacity and high amounts of minerals and vitamins.

    I have been drinking a tall cup of this tea for the past 35 years or so, and I swear by it. (It’s the BEST thing for a hangover, in case you’ve over-indulged the night before.) It can be found on the Internet if you don’t have an Hispanic grocery near you. The best brand I’ve found is Canarias, packaged in Brazil or Uruguay. I would love for you guys to comment on hierba mate (Spanish spelling; sometimes spelled yerba mate in English).

  7. Ronnie

    From reading your most informative column, I found that if I brew a cup of BLACK tea (k cup or teabag), and drink, that helps my headaches now. If I have not acted quick enough, I will just brew another cup.

  8. GB

    About adding the cardamom, how much did you add? Also, I’m assuming you mean ground cardamom.

  9. Home remedies for headache

    I did the ginger tea today and it worked but I must add, it works even better to add cardamom. Cardamom not only helps my headaches but also treated a problem I had where I felt the need to burp but could not release it. The problem escalated to choking and causing me to make scenes in public because my esophagus was going crazy on me! But cardamom and ginger kombucha solved the problem.

  10. GB

    I also wondered if the woman who wrote meant “apple cider vinegar” and not “apple cider”. I see someone else asked the same question above on August 7, 2013, but I don’t see an answer. Then JC wrote on August 10, 2013 that he or she “tried the lemon, vinegar and honey”.
    So is it apple cider vinegar? Or apple cider?
    People’s Pharmacy response: All we have is what was written: “apple cider.” We don’t know if the intention was apple cider vinegar, which might be more typical.

  11. JC

    Get migraine type headaches freguently. They always start in the middle of the night, but usually if I put a hot water bottle on my head and get rid of it before I get up, I’m shakey the rest of the day, but OK. Today no such luck even after taking Aleve, B2, and magnesium. Checked People’s Pharmacy and tried the lemon, vinegar and honey and, thank goodness, it WORKED. Thank you. It will now be my go-to remedy.

  12. Diana C.

    Do you mean organic apple cider or organic apple cider vinegar? I have had a hard time locating organic apple cider and most of the remedies that pop up online use apple cider vinegar. Can you clarify, please?

  13. BB

    My mother used to swear by red plum jam. When she got a migraine, she ate toast with red plum jam on it and her headache went away.

  14. Terrence Gry.

    People who have chronic headaches and exhausted available remedies without success might consider finding a Craniosacral Therapist. There is a practioners site on http://www.Upledger.com. Dr.John Upledger, an osteopatic physician, surgeon and researcher developed Craniosacral Therapy and began teaching practioners about 1985.
    Many people have headaches due to stress in their cranial sutures that jam up the natural movement of the plates in cranium. Jammed sutures can be a result of trauma to the head or fascial stress from other parts of the body, in particular stress that is transferred from the sacrum and pelvic girdle via the dural tube that encases the spinal cord. A Craniosacral Therapist is trained to gently release stress in any part of the body as well as release jammed up sutures in the cranium. I have great success working with clients who have headaches. When you look for a Craniosacral Therapist, make sure they have taken more than one or two courses and have a lot of experience. On the Upledger site, the courses each practioner has taken is listed.

  15. DS

    I used to suffer from migraines and headaches from glare. I read in the newspaper that a study in Belgium found that a B vitamin, B6 I think, would prevent these headaches. I can never recall which B vitamin it was, so I just take a B complex and I seldom get any kind of headache now. Also I think you are more likely to get a headache if you get dehydrated, so I try to drink water throughout the day.

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