You can get a headache for many different reasons. So the best treatment is to find the root of the problem, says Kristine L. Gedroic, MD, founder of the Gedroic Center for Integrative Medicine in Morristown, NJ. Your doctor can help.
Natural remedies include:
White willow bark. “White willow is nature’s aspirin,” Selhub says. It has salicin, which tames inflammation. It’s good for headaches and may ease low back pain.
You can take it as tea or as a capsule. In research studies, people took 120-240 milligrams per day as a capsule.
Avoid high doses if you have a sensitive stomach. Willow bark should not be used in anyone under 18 because of a higher risk of a serious condition called Reye’s syndrome.
Boswellia comes from the boswellia tree. It’s also known as Indian frankincense. In one study, people who often get cluster headaches had milder, less frequent headaches when they took boswellia.
Caffeine. Combining acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or other pain relievers with caffeine may work better than taking them alone for migraine headaches and tension headaches. But caffeine withdrawal is a known cause of headaches as well.
Feverfew and butterbur. These herbs may help prevent and treat migraine pain. There is some research that shows they might work, but more studies are needed.
What Else Helps
Omega-3 fatty acids. These “good fats” lower inflammation. That can help with joint pain and stiffness, back pain, and pain from menstrual cramps.
Experts recommend foods high in omega-3 fatty acids: fatty fish, canola oil, Brussels sprouts, spinach, and foods with added omega-3s like eggs. Or you can take up to 3 grams of fish oil per day as supplements, with your doctor’s permission.
Probiotics. These bacteria live in your gut and help keep you healthy. Probiotics may lessen inflammation. It may also help with irritable bowel syndrome, especially pain and bloating.
Try foods high in probiotics, like some yogurts (look for “live active cultures” on the label), kimchi, kefir, and sauerkraut. You can also take a probiotic supplement.