5 Natural Remedies for Headache Relief

Written by Phil Rossi

NowRx Pharmacy

women with headache looking for natural remedies to reduce headache symptoms

Headaches are universal and will likely affect you or a loved one at some point in your life.

But what causes headaches and how do you deal with them?

Let’s take a look at the different types of headaches, what causes them, and some effective natural remedies you can try if you’re experiencing frequent and recurring symptoms.

What Is a Headache?

Simply put, a headache is a painful sensation in any part of the head – although this pain can vary significantly in terms of intensity, location, frequency, and cause.

Headaches can be grouped into two main classifications: primary and secondary.

Primary headaches are when the headache itself is the issue and there is no apparent underlying disease or condition. Some of the most common types of primary headaches include migraines, tension headaches, hypnic headaches, and cluster headaches.

Secondary headaches are when a disease or condition triggers the headache. These are less common than primary headaches but can signify a more serious underlying condition such as brain or neck injury, tumor, or other serious problems.

While both can be painful and even debilitating, secondary headaches are usually rare and considered much more dangerous.

Let’s take a look at a few common types of headaches.

Types of Headaches

The most common types of headaches are primary headaches – those that have no apparent underlying disease.

In fact, scientists estimate that 90% of headaches experienced each year are primary headaches.

Let’s take a look at 4 of the most common types of primary headaches.


Migraines are a common type of headache that can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days.

They are typically characterized by a recurrent throbbing that occurs on one side of the head and may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light or sound.

Migraines are genetic, chronic, and currently have no cure.

However, with the proper management, the condition can be kept under control. Effective treatment will vary from person to person and even for the same person over time!

Cluster Headaches

Cluster headaches have a reputation for being the most severe, painful headaches.

They are always one-sided and characterized by a relatively short duration as well as distinct symptoms on the affected side such as redness or a drooping eyelid.

Unsurprisingly, cluster headaches come in clusters that typically last several weeks or even months before falling into pain-free remission periods.

Unfortunately, these periods seem to be highly unpredictable.

Tension Headaches

Tension headaches are another common type of headache that usually lasts from 30 minutes to 7 days.

They are generally characterized by pain on both sides around the back of the head, the temples, and the forehead. Tension headaches are usually dull in pain and involve a feeling of tightness and pressure.

There are three main types of tension headaches: infrequent episodic, frequent episodic, and chronic.

Currently, there are a number of different ways to treat and prevent tension headaches including medication, biofeedback training, and other relaxation techniques.

Hypnic Headaches

Hypnic headaches are one of the less common primary headache disorders.

Also known as alarm clock headaches, these headaches develop during sleep and wake the individual up several times a week for at least 15 minutes or more.

Counterintuitively, caffeine is considered to be the most effective treatment for hypnic headaches and is recommended for both preventing and relieving symptoms.

Generally, hypnic headaches begin in people after the age of 40.

Headache Causes

Headaches are caused by a number of factors and conditions. Some factors that may contribute to their frequency or severity include:

  • Stress
  • Lack of sleep
  • Dehydration
  • Fatigue
  • Hunger
  • Caffeine Withdrawal
  • Certain Foods
  • Pulsating or Bright Light
  • Medication
  • Underlying condition (brain injury, tumor, etc.)

Headaches can be caused by any one of these factors, or a combination of factors. The particular trigger or combination thereof is specific to the individual.

Why Do I Wake Up With a Headache?

Waking up with a headache can be frustrating.

Although there is no single cause, here are a few common reasons you might have woken up with a headache.


If you had too much alcohol the night before, you might wake up the next morning with a headache for a couple reasons.

First, alcohol contains an ingredient called ethanol, which can dilate your blood vessels. Vasodilation has been shown to cause headaches in some individuals.

Second, ethanol has diuretic effects which leads to excretion of salt, vitamins and minerals from the body through the kidneys. This produces dehydration and chemical imbalances in the body that can trigger headaches.

Although, quantity will also play a role, try to avoid or minimize the consumption of alcohol to avoid waking up with a headache.

Sleeping Issues

Poor sleep is another common reason you may wake up with a headache.

One study found that poor sleep quality correlated with high migraine frequency in 357 subjects from an outpatient headache clinic.

Factors that can affect sleep quality include caffeine, nicotine, and other stimulants close to bed

Although, more research needs to be carried out to determine cause, getting a good night’s sleep can help you minimize at least one potential trigger!

Underlying Condition

In addition to external triggers like alcohol or not getting enough sleep, waking up with a headache may be due to an underlying medical condition.

These can include medical conditions that affect sleep quality like sleep apnea or bruxism.

If you are waking up with headaches frequently, talk with a trusted healthcare provider to see what treatment options are available.

How To Get Rid of a Headache Naturally

Medication can be an effective way to ease symptoms of a headache, however, if you don’t have access or prefer to use more natural remedies – here are a few tips to get rid of a headache naturally!


Drinking lots of water may help reduce the severity of a headache.

Dehydration is one factor in many headaches and hydrating can help you feel better overall.

Developing the habit of carrying around a water bottle can help increase your overall water intake and keep you hydrated. Furthermore, eating foods that are high in water (i.e. fruits) can help hydrate you and provide vital nutrients to relieve your symptoms.

Get Quality Sleep

Lack of quality sleep can produce headache symptoms or make existing symptoms worse.

Making sure you get enough quality sleep every night can be a great way to reduce the frequency and severity of recurring headaches.

A few tips to improve your sleep quality:

  • Avoid screen time 30 minutes before bed (TV, Phone, Computer, etc.)
  • Try to sleep and wake at consistent times
  • Minimize the amount of light and noise in your bedroom
  • Keep a consistent and comfortable bedroom temperature
  • Don’t eat late in the evening

Follow these tips and try to get 7-9 hours of sleep each night in order to maximize the benefits.


Regular exercise can reduce tension headaches and migraines.

Exercise achieves this in a few ways. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins that have natural painkilling effects. What’s more, exercise has been shown to increase the quality of your sleep, which itself can help improve symptoms of many different types of headaches.

Even just 30 minutes of brisk walking every day can be enough to trigger the release of those pain-relieving hormones.

Just remember: always warm-up before exercising. And if it’s been a while, make sure to talk with your doctor before beginning any new exercise routine.

Drink Caffeinated Coffee or Tea

The caffeine in coffee and tea can help reduce headache symptoms in a few different ways.

First, caffeine reduces inflammation which may play a role in migraine frequency and severity. It also improves mood which can help reduce reported symptom severity.

Additionally, some research has demonstrated that caffeine boosts the effectiveness of common pain relief medications.

That said, it’s important to keep your coffee intake moderate. For some individuals with caffeine sensitivity, coffee may actually make them worse. The best thing to do is keep track of your symptoms as you consume caffeine and be aware of how your body reacts to it.

Avoid Triggers

Headache triggers will vary by person.

Figuring out what your triggers are can help reduce the frequency of headache symptoms.

Some triggers may include:

  • Stress
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol, especially red wine
  • Certain foods
  • Bright lights
  • Strong smells

If you experience migraines, you may want to consider keeping a journal on when your migraines happen. Then you can eliminate activities, foods, or certain stimuli to figure out what your specific triggers are and how to eliminate them from your environment.

Find What Works Best For You

Headaches are still a bit of a mystery.

Triggers vary by person and they seem to come and go at times with nearly no pattern.

However, with some diligence, you can figure out what works best for you in terms of reducing symptom frequency and severity. Try the tips above until you find something that works and stick with it.

To recap,

  • Hydrate
  • Get Quality Sleep
  • Drink Moderate Caffeine
  • Exercise
  • Avoid Triggers

If none of these natural remedies don’t help much, you may want to talk with your doctor to see if they’re able to treat an underlying cause. As always, if you have any questions visit or send us an email at and we’ll be happy to help.

Disclaimer: This website does not provide medical advice and the information provided throughout the website, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images, and other material are for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and you should always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care providers if you have questions regarding a medical condition or treatment or before starting or stopping any healthcare or health related regimen. Do not ever disregard or delay seeking medical advice from a qualified professional because of something you have read on
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