best herbal remedies for headaches

Headache, also known as migraine, is a very widespread disorder – 1 in 7 people suffer from it. There exist different types of headaches and, according to the underlying causes, we are going to see the best herbal remedies for headaches.

Even though it is a very common issue, headache causes aren’t always known. Its frequency and symptoms are several: ache may be mild or pulsating, sometimes accompanied by vomit, discomfort with light, smells and noises.

How many types of headaches are there?

First of all, it is necessary to distinguish between secondary and primary migraine.

Secondary migraine is the symptom of another issue, like for example high blood pressure, sinusitis, arthritis, tooth inflammation, nerve lesion or inflammation, meningitis, concussion, brain cancer, etc.

Whereas, primary migraine, is a headache as a disorder of its own, when CAT and RMI and scan don’t seam to show any other causes.

Did you know that migraine may affect people’s normal daily activities? Actually, according to the World Health Organization, migraines are among the 10 main causes of disability worldwide.

The most common types of headache are:

#1 Tension headache (tension-type headache)

tension headache

Most people experience this kind of headache once in a while. Tension-type headache is the result of tense muscles in the neck and in the head, putting pressure on blood vessels, muscles and nerves in the skin and scalp, thus triggering pain.

Tension-type headaches may be caused by:

  • caffeine,
  • alcohol,
  • poor digestion,
  • stress,
  • anxiety,
  • fatigue,
  • prolonged driving,
  • irregular meals,
  • taking medications,
  • prolonged work on PCs or industrial machines,
  • poor neck position during sleep, etc.

This type of headache may also be accompanied by stiff and tender scalp, neck and jaw.

The ache, usually mild at the beginning, dull and not pulsating, may increase thus making you feel your head like in a trap.

If it becomes chronic, tension-type headaches may lead to depression, anxiety, insomnia and other more or less severe disorders.

#2 Vascular-type headaches (migraines)


The specific mechanisms of this type of headache haven’t been clarified yet. The ache may be triggered by blood vessels in the head.

Migraine is part of this category, with its countless forms. In most cases, the ache strikes in just one side of the head and lasts for hours, often accompanied by nausea and vomit.

The main causes triggering migraines are:

  • menstrual cycle,
  • pregnancy,
  • birth-control pill,
  • menopause,
  • stress,
  • anxiety,
  • depression,
  • foods containing nitrates,
  • alcohol,
  • smoking,
  • fatigue,
  • prolonged exposure to light, noises and strong smells, etc.

Another form of migraine, even though a lot rarer, is cluster headache (migraine), with short though very painful attacks, which may repeat during several weeks.

#3 Occipital neuralgia


This type of migraine is characterized by gnawing pain in the posterior head (Occipitis). This form of headache is part of painful cranial nerve pain, like facial neuralgia.

Facial neuralgia is mainly caused by the inflammation and/or irritation of three nerves:

  1. The greater occipital nerve is a spinal nerve, specifically the medial branch of the dorsal primary ramus of cervical spinal nerve 2. This nerve arises from between the first and second cervical vertebrae, along with the lesser occipital nerve. It ascends after emerging from below the suboccipital triangle beneath the obliquus capitis inferior muscle. It then passes through the semispinalis muscle before ascending to innervate the skin along the posterior part of the scalp to the vertex. It innervates the scalp at the top of the head, over the ear and over the parotid glands.
  2. The lesser occipital nerve or small occipital nerve is a cutaneous spinal nerve arising between the second and third cervical vertebrae, along with the greater occipital nerve. It innervates the scalp in the lateral area of the head posterior to the ear.
  3. While under the Trapezius, the medial branch of the posterior division of the third cervical nerve gives off a branch called the third occipital nerve (also known as the least occipital nerve), which pierces the Trapezius and ends in the skin of the lower part of the back of the head. It lies medial to the greater occipital nerve and communicates with it.

Several factors may cause the inflammation or irritation of these three nerves:

  • head and neck trauma,
  • excessive sport or work activity,
  • poor joint mobility,
  • nerve pathology, etc.

How to cure migraines?

Beside taking painkillers, and specific migraine medications (triptans and ergotamine), there exist several herbal remedies effective in treating the underlying causes of migraine.

Before using any natural remedy or taking any drugs, it is best to ask for medical advice.

6 herbal remedies for headaches:

#1 Rosemary


Rosemary may be helpful, when headaches are caused by poor digestion. Large meals and/or meals eaten too fast may cause migraine, with yawning, nausea and even vomit. In such cases, it could be helpful to purify the body with a rosemary infusion.

How to?

Put 20 gr of Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) inflorescences in one liter of hot water for 15 minutes. Drink 3 cups a day after every meal. The meals must be light. Drink the Rosemary infusion for about other 10 days after the headache is gone, in order to purify the body to the best.

#2 Watery mint

watery mint

Watery mint is helpful if the issue is of digestive origin. In this case you should use mother tincture.

How to?

You have to take 15 drops of watery mint mother tincture in half a glass of water after breakfast and dinner, for 7/8 days.  

Watery mint mother tincture is not to be taken by pregnant women, breast-feeding women and children.

#3 Linden


Linden (Tilia tomentosa) is helpful if tension-type migraines are caused by anxiety and stress, and the ache is in the nuke. In this case you use linden glyceric macerate, which has anxiolytic effects and is muscle-relaxant as well. It is then recommended if headache is caused by tense shoulder muscles or excessive nervousness.

How to?

Take 30 drops of linden glyceric macerate in a little water for 8/10 days after the main meals. A gentle massage may help promote psychophysical relaxation.

#4 Grapevine


When headache is in the back neck, it may be caused by cervical arthrosis. In this case it may be helpful to take grapevine glyceric macerate (Vitis vinifera), which soothes pain caused by chronic illnesses, like arthrosis.

How to?

Take 30 drops of grapevine glyceric macerate in half a glass of water before breakfast and dinner 20 days a month for 3 months.

#5 Rosehips

rose hip

If headache is recurrent, it may help to take rosehips glyceric macerate (Rosa canina).

How to?

Take 60 drops in two fingers of water before dinner for 20 days in a month. Repeat for 3 months.

#6 Lavender


Headaches often show up in the evening, because of all the tension building up during the day. In this case it might be a good idea to use lavender essential oil (Lavanda officinalis), as it has relaxant and antidepressive properties.

How to?

Massage the temples with 2-3 drops of lavender essential oil.

Besides these herbal remedies for headaches, there are also different other options and techniques that may help treat the pain in a natural way, such as:

  • massage (shoulders, neck, jaw, scalp, etc.),
  • relaxation techniques and meditation,
  • yoga etc.

In order to solve headache issues, it is important to seek the causes, even though it isn’t always easy. It is important not to underestimate the persistent symptoms, and seek for medical advice to determine the causes and come up with the appropriate therapy.

It is essential to take care of oneself, following a healthy life style, a well-balanced diet and taking moderate physical exercise. These adjustments may prevent migraine attacks.


#1 Il Grande Atlante della Salute, National Geographic

#2 Associazione Neurologica Italiana per la Ricerca sulle Cefalee (the Italian Neurological Association for Research on Migraines)

#3 The Veronesi Foundation

#4 La Clinica del Mal di Testa

#5 The Migraine Trust

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Stay healthy!

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