Natural Relief of Headaches

Headaches can be caused by stress and tension

Headaches can be caused by stress and tension

Don’t you just hate it when you get a headache? Whether it is a dull ache or a pounding head it really stops you from concentrating properly and detracts from your happiness. It can feel like our brain is screaming out but actually the bones of the skull and the brain itself do not hurt as they do not contain the nerve fibres to sense pain – headaches are felt in the scalp, face and in the tissues which surround the brain.

Most headaches are caused by ‘non-organic’ factors with only 2% of headaches being to result of something serious such as a tumour, high blood pressure or another disease/pathology. It is always worth investigating the cause of your headaches if you experience them on a regular basis or for long periods of time to determine if they are caused by illness/imbalances or not. It is always better to be safe than sorry – I lost my step-dad as he put off the fact that he was experiencing headaches for ages until finally the doctor diagnosed a brain tumour which was beyond trratment!! Most headaches are caused by tiredness, emotional issues, allergies or dehydration. When a headache is caused by muscle spasms it is classed as a tension headache and when it is due to dilation of blood vessels it can be called a vascular headache.

As a herbalist in order to resolve a persons headaches I have to determine the cause of the headache. headaches can be subdivided into the following groups:

Environmental – such as pollution, lighting, noise etc.
Stress – physical, mental or emotional stress in a persons life.
Dietary – some foods or additives can trigger allergic response headaches.
Organic – the 2% of people who experience headaches due to an underlying disease/illness/imbalance.

As a herbalist there are pain-relieving herbs which can be used but this is quite a symptomatic approach. Remember pain releif without resolving the cause is like there being a fire in a house and just opening the window to get rid of the smoke!  Therefore by determining the cause of the headache then the appropriate herbs can be given to resolve them for example giving anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic herbs to alleviate the underlying muscles contractions in tension headaches or offering herbs which balance the contraction and dilation of blood vessels in vascular headaches.

Luscious lavenderI recommend lavender oil for tension headaches – the aromatherapy oil can be purchased and is easy to use – if you find relief from this then you should look at the stress in your life and see if you can reduce any of it. I also recommend rosemary oil – this essential oil should be diluted in a carrier oil (I recommend hemp oil as it is quickly absorbed into the skin). If rosemary oil improves the headaches then you know that the cause is due to cerebral circulation (how the blood moves around the head). If you would like to purchase some from me then just email myself on: (I have paypal facilities). Chamomile or peppermint tea are both delicious ways of taking herbs which can help to improve and hopefully resolve headaches. There are several herbs which can act like natural aspirin as they contain salacyclic acid – the key point is that as a whole herb they also tend to be anti-inflammatory and help to stop bleeding (although they do not thin the blood to prevent clots).

If you attend a herbal consultation to discover the cause of your headaches possible triggers would be explored which include: stress, emotions, muscle tension, a change in the weather/seasons.altitude or time zones, changes in your sleeping patterns or meal times, smoking, polluted air or stuffy rooms, blood clotting, caffiene and food. There are multiple foods which can trigger headaches in sensitive people including: nuts, chocolate, vinegar, bananas, anything fermented, citrus fruits etc. Once the cause has been determined then a herbal prescription is designed to suit your unique health issues to help resolve the cause as well as alleviate the symptoms.

Citrus fruits can trigger headaches in sensitive people.

There are several home remedies for headaches such as using a warm cabbage leaf as a compress, eating garlic regularily (to reduce blood pressure), making steam inhalations of eucalyptus, rosemary and thyme to resolve sinus headaches, feverfew tea for migraines and a raw potato on the forehead to relieve a headache caused by too much sun!


Natural Pain Relief

Prior to my journey of natural herbal medicine I used to take aspirin and paracetamol when I experienced pain which most people do at one point or another. It was only through learning about health from the view point of the whole that I realsied that taking pain killers are not at positive as we were led to believe.

Imagine if there was a fire in a house, you need to put the fire out to stop the damage to the house. Now imagine that the house is your body and the fire is the cause of the pain – taking painkillers is a bit like opening a window to let out the smoke. The problem is still there and just because one of the symptoms of the issue is masked/reduced doesn’t mean that the problem is solved, it is in fact getting worse.

If you are taking pain killers which are prescribed from the doctor please do not stop them straight away, several pharmaceutical medications require a gradual withdrawal otherwise severe side effects can occur – please speak to your GP if you would like to stop taking your pain killing medication.

Pain is our body’s way of signalling to us that there is something wrong. Pain has a purpose – it is classed in medicine as either acute or chronic. Acute pain warns us that there is something wrong quickly in a very direct manner our body is telling us that there is something wrong and we need to do something about it. Medically chronic pain has been deemed “pain without a purpose” I disagree with this phrase as our body is still signalling that there is something wrong but our body doesn’t have the right nutrition and environment to restore itself.

If you would like support to reduce the pain you experience there are many natural methods which can be effective such as massage, acupuncture, transcutaneous electrial nerve stimulation (TENS), relaxation, meditation, acupressure and herbal medicine. I would like to stress that if you would like to try any of these therapies seek the advice and consultation of a fully qualified specialist. As a herbalist I can support you with reducing and resolving pain if you live in the Grimsby and Cleethorpes area of North East Lincolnshire in England.  Check out my website:

Although up to 60% of modern medicine are plant based or synthesised from herbs the isolation and extraction of specific compounds removes the natural balancing effect of the whole plant. A pharmaceutical drug usually contains one active ingredient where the whole herb can contain hundreds!! I also feel that our body reacts if we ingest food or medicine which isn’t natural. When we take modern pharmaceuticals we only absorb up to 50% of the drug, this is because our body is effective at protecting us against possible threats, as pharmaceuticals are synthetic the body tried to expell as much of the drug as possible and we eliminate most of the drug untouched where it can then affect our environment and ecosystem. (Just think how many women are on the contraceptive pill and eliminating their daily dose into the water supply – now think about the reduced fertility of animals and even us).

Aspirin was synthesised from herbal medicines, I have meadowsweet and white willow in my dispensary, both are high in an active ingredient called salacylic acid which is a natural pain reliever. Aspirin is a synthesised version of this active ingredient called acetyl-salacylic acid. I would rather take meadowsweet and willow that swallow two aspirin as possible side effects of the drug include high incidences of digestive irritation with blood loss as well as spasms of the lungs and skin reactions to the drug! There are no confirmed side effects of taking meadowsweet or willow although certain people can be senstive to the salicylates – so if you are sensitive to aspirin you will probably be sensitive them too.

Meadowsweet is a natural anti-inflammatory and pain killer

Meadowsweet is a natural anti-inflammatory and pain killer

“Herbal medicine is effective for aches and pains due to headaches, migraines, depression, eyestrain, earache, tinnitus, sinusitis, toothache and sore gums, mouth ulcers, sore throat, neckache, coughs, colds and flu, bronchitis, asthma, pleurisy, pneumonia, tuberculosis, angina, circulation problems, stomach ache, indigestion, heartburn, nausea, ulcers, gallstones, constipation, diarrhoea, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), haemorroids, urinary tract infections, cycstitis, kidney stones, fibromyalgia, bursitis, gout, arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, heat rash, boils, blisters, tinea, ringwrom, ezcema, dermatitis, psoriasis, prostatitis, herpes, prolapse, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), painful periods, vaginitis and cancer.”Herbalists have a variety of ways to get to the root cause of the pain whilst also providing symptomatic releive including: analygesics, nervines, anti-depressants, circulatory stimulants, demulcents, mucilages, anti-inflammatories, anti-spasmodics, soothers, cleansers, balancers, settlers and many more.



Brinker, F (1998) ‘Herb Contraindications and Drug Interactions’ USA Eclectic Medical Publications
Joint Formulary Committee (2007) ‘British National Formulary’ Germany BMJ Publishing Group Ltd and RPS Publishing
Thomas, R (2007) ‘The Complete Book of Natural Pain Relief’ Singapore, Quantum Publishing Ltd