Learn to Ease and Prevent Headaches Naturally
Every year, 45 million people suffer from chronic headaches (28 million from migraines) and more than 10 million people visit a doctor or [emergency room] because of a headache, according to the Academy of Pain Medicine. Whether caused by stress, muscle tension, eyestrain, sinuses, hormones, or your significant other (just kidding … sort of), a headache can stop you in your tracks if you’re not careful. As someone who used to suffer from regular migraines, I can tell you that there are effective, drug-free touch-therapy remedies that can help headaches.
Studies now [indicate] that massage therapy, especially stimulation of active trigger points, is helpful in relieving frequent chronic tension headaches. According to researchers leading one study: “The muscle-specific massage therapy technique used in this study has the potential to be a functional, non-pharmacological intervention for reducing the incidence of chronic tension headache.”
These touch-therapy remedies are very effective in relieving and preventing many headache symptoms, including pain, nausea, and pressure. People always ask me if the remedies will take their headache away immediately. Although everyone is different, the instant relaxation that touch therapy brings has a way of decreasing pain very quickly and successfully. I’ve found that if I can identify the signs of a headache coming on before it actually hits (i.e., pressure near my temples, zigzag lines in my peripheral vision, blurred vision—it’s different for everyone), then I can use one of the remedies to ward off a full-blown headache. I’ve used the following remedies almost daily for many years, and I can honestly say that my headaches, which used to be quite debilitating, are a thing of the past. Seriously, I can’t remember the last time I had one! Try using these trigger-point, reflexology, and acupressure remedies for soothing relief, so you can think clearly again.
Headache Trigger-Point Remedy
- Reach behind your head and place your thumbs on either side of the spine, just under the bony ridge (called the occipital ridge) at the base of your skull. Press firmly as you slowly tilt your head forward and back. As you lean your head back, you’ll feel your thumbs moving deeper. Do this several times, then move your thumbs out toward your ears about one-half inch and repeat, dropping your head forward and backward. Keep the pressure firm. Do this until you reach the edge of your skull close to your ears. Trigger points in this suboccipital muscle group are the most common cause of tension headaches.
- Next, place your index and middle fingers at the base of your skull, on either side of your neck, just below your ears, which is the top of the sternocleidomastoid (SCM) muscle. Apply firm pressure for 10 seconds, then move your fingers down the muscle about one-half inch. Again, apply pressure for 10 seconds and repeat all the way down the muscle until you reach the collarbone. Then repeat the same pressure, hold, and release back up the SCM. The SCM has seven trigger points, making it one of the most highly concentrated trigger-point areas in the body.
Headache Reflexology Remedy
- Brain reflex point: This reflex point is located on the big toe of both feet, in the fleshy part behind the toenail. Pinch both big toes with your thumb on the pad of the toe and index finger on the nail for 10 seconds. Release and repeat. You can also make small circles with your thumb in the flesh of the big toe. For more pressure, I recommend using plastic clips (like “chip clips” or even clothespins), which you can snap onto your big toes. Pressing here will release congested energy and ease your aching head.
- Eye reflex point: This reflex point is located at the area between the base of the second and third toes on both feet. Apply pressure with your thumbs for 10 seconds, release, and then make small circles with your thumbs. This can relieve headaches due to eyestrain.
- Neck reflex point: This reflex point is located at the base of the big toe on both feet. Apply pressure for 10 seconds and then make small circles with your thumbs. This increases circulation to the neck and relieves headaches.
Headache Acupressure Remedy
- “Union Valley” points: Apply pressure to the web between your thumb and index finger (pinching it between your other thumb and index finger) for 10 seconds, then make small circles with your thumb in one direction, then the other for another 10 seconds. I like to do this two ways: first with my thumb on the top of my hand and my index finger on the palm side, and then reversed, with my thumb on the palm side and index finger on top. Repeat on the other hand. Firm pressure on this area releases tension from head and neck.
- “Drilling Bamboo” points: With your index fingers, apply pressure to the indentations on either side of the area where the bridge of the nose meets the ridge of the eyebrows for 10 seconds. Release and repeat. This helps to relieve headaches caused by eyestrain and sinus pain.
- “Gates of Consciousness” points: Bring your index and middle fingers to the back of your head and place them underneath the base of the skull, in the hollows on both sides of the neck, between the two vertical neck muscles. Press upward on both sides for 10 seconds, release, and repeat. You can apply fairly strong pressure.
Aromatherapy Recipe for Headaches
4 drops spearmint oil
8 drops lavender oil
2 drops eucalyptus oil
2 ounces unscented natural oil
Before doing the headache remedies, I suggest rubbing a few drops of this powerful blend between your fingertips and inhaling the scent for a minute. As you do the remedies, the lingering scent on your fingertips will soothe your nerves. Be careful not to get too close to your eyes, as they may be sensitive to these essential oils.
Michelle Ebbin is a renowned expert in touch therapy and natural wellness, and the founder of Basic Knead. She teaches touch therapy techniques to relieve stress, soothe the body and mind, and improve well-being. Ebbin is the author of THE TOUCH REMEDY: Hands-On Solutions to De-Stress Your Life (HarperElixir).
This article is adapted from THE TOUCH REMEDY: Hands-On Solutions to De-Stress Your Life, by Michelle Ebbin. Copyright © 2016 by Michelle Ebbin, published by HarperElixir, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
Photos courtesy of HarperElixir/HarperCollins Publishers.