This chapter is an extract from book: Headaches Begone! A Systemic Approach To Healing Your Headaches.
Passionflower (Passiflora alata) is a sedative and helps with nervousness or anxiety-related headaches. It treats migraines through reducing inflammation in the blood vessels. As the name of the herb suggests, it’s a good one for those with headaches from being too passionate or angered about something.
Peppermint (Mentha × Piperita) provides calming and soothing effects and it contains menthol and menthone that help open up the blood vessels that cause headaches when constricted.
- Add a few drops of peppermint oil to a base of ethanol (ethyl alcohol), olive oil, almond oil or just water and apply to your forehead.
- Crush fresh peppermint leaves and apply the paste to your forehead.
- Use the steam inhalation method with peppermint oil.
- Peppermint tea has a calming effect and often aids in diminishing the migraines.
When you’re done with the tea, let those wet peppermint teabags cool and then place them on your closed eyes for several minutes.
Poplar (Cottonwood) contains salicin and populin, which are very useful for headache relief.
- Take poplar tincture
Poplar has several contraindications, so make sure to thoroughly research those.
Evening primrose oil (Oenothera) is rich in gamma-linolenic acid (omega-3 fatty acid), which reduces inflammation, and is often used for PMS and other muscle cramping headaches.
- Take evening primrose oil
Some people are allergic to evening primrose.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) has been found valuable in relieving headaches resulting from cold and also cluster headaches. It improves blood circulation and stimulates the nerves.
- Boil a handful of this herb in a pot with water, and proceed with the steam inhalation application method. This should be repeated till the headache is relieved.
- Drink rosemary tea made from crushed rosemary leaves boiled in a few cups of water. Adding some sage to the tea will make it even more healing.
- Mix a few drops of rosemary essential oil in a tablespoon of carrier oil and massage your forehead and temples with it.
Sandalwood (Chandan) aroma is very soothing for the body. It’s used for headaches related to fevers, stress and anxiety.
- Prepare a sandalwood paste by taking a teaspoon of white sandalwood powder, adding a bit of water to it and making it into a thick smooth paste. Spread that paste over your forehead and let it absorb to relieve a headache.
- Mix a few drops of sandalwood essential oil in a tablespoon of carrier oil and massage your forehead and temples with it.
Sage (Salvia officinalis) is useful for coping with a variety of types of headaches. It works for indigestion headaches (especially after a very large meal). It helps to circulate the blood and thus is good for cluster-type headaches. Those with hormonal issue-related headaches will find it helpful, especially in the case of menopause headaches.
Skullcap (Scutellaria) has antispasmodic properties. It is a relaxing nervine and a mild sedative. It is an excellent remedy for tension headaches and headaches due to stress and anxiety.
St. John’s wort (Hypericum perfortum) increases the levels of serotonin in the brain, which may positively influence migraine and cluster headaches. It’s also useful at inducing sleep.
Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) is rich in B-complex vitamins and thymol, which is a powerful anti-bacterial substance. Thyme can relieve tension headaches. It also contains carvacrol, which is a strong anti-inflammatory agent.
- Take thyme tincture
- Drink thyme tea
- Make a compress with thyme essential oil mixed in water and apply to the forehead.
Turmeric (Curcuma Longa, Curcumin) is a powerful anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory, and is very useful for migraines triggered by inflammatory responses and tension headaches.
- Take turmeric tincture
- Take turmeric supplements. Ideally go for supplements that contain the patented Meriva® phytosome, which dramatically improves curcumin absorption rates.
- Drink turmeric tea after simmering powdered turmeric on low heat in boiling water or milk. Add honey and other spices to make it tasty.
Curcumin is difficult to absorb. It is fat soluble, and therefore it’s recommended to take it together with some kind of fat, like coconut oil.
Valerian root (Valeriana officinalis) may reduce emotional migraine triggers, such as stress and anxiety. It’s believed to have sedative and relaxing effects on people who take it. This may lead to the relief of migraine headache symptoms. Its main impact is aiding the sufferer to fall asleep, which for many is a difficult challenge with the onset of a migraine.
- Drink as a tea, after steeping a teaspoon of dried plant in a cup of boiling water
- Take valerian root tincture. This is a very powerful herb, so start with a very small dose (1 drop) and increase if you don’t feel that it’s too much and causing hangover effects.
To some, valerian root may cause a headache.
Vervain (Verbena officinalis) has a restorative effect on the nervous system and releases tense muscles. It works great for PMS, stress and tension headaches, but also migraines.
This plant is very potent; therefore, you need only a very small doze of it.
White peony (Radix paeoniae alba) root is used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat headaches caused by an hyperactive liver. It enriches yin and pacifies the liver. It’s also good for PMS headaches.
White willow bark (Salix alba) has been used throughout the centuries for the treatment of headaches. Its bark contains salicin, polyphenols and flavonoids that provide pain relief effects similar to aspirin, due to their anti-inflammatory and blood-thinning qualities. The impact is slower than aspirin, but the effects last longer.
- Drink as a tea: simmer powdered dried white willow bark on low heat for 30-60 minutes
- Take 120 mg daily of white willow bark extract capsules (60 – 240 mg of standardized salicin per day)
- Drink it as a tincture (1:5, 30% alcohol). Take 4-6 ml 3 times per day.
Those allergic to salicin or prone to stomach upset shouldn’t use this remedy.
Wood betony (Betonica officinalis) is a nervine and relieves headaches and migraines caused by nervous tension, stress and anxiety.
- Take wood betony tincture
- Drink wood betony tea. It tastes very similar to black tea.
- Smoke wood betony dried herb as tobacco.
This herb needs to be taken for an extended period of time (several months) to have a long term impact, and if patiently persevering some sufferers report their headaches were completely eliminated.
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) has pain-relieving, anti-anxiety, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. It helps with digestive, stagnant, dull aching and toothache-caused headaches.
- Use the steam inhalation method with yarrow essential oil
- Make a compress with yarrow essential oil or tea mixed in water and apply to the forehead
- Drink yarrow tea
- Take yarrow tincture
Even More Herbs
And here are a few more headache-relieving herbs to consider: ambrosia (ragweed), borage, boswellia, chaste tree, clematis, common hops, dong quai, evodia, honeysuckle, kava kava, ligusticum, mate, meadowsweet, mint, mulberry leaf, osha, pennyroyal, prickly ivy, quaking aspen, rose petals, sileris, teaberry, uncaria stem, verbena, vitex fruit, white peony, and yerbamate.
Herbal Tea Formulas
Here are some ideas on making your own migraine-relief tea using a combination of different herbs.
- A herbal tea made from skullcap, valerian root and passionflower is good for dealing with tension headaches. Add lemon balm, lavender and chamomile to improve the flavor and to amplify its relaxing effects.
- Catnip, rose hips and honeybush make for a good anti-migraine tea base.
- Feverfew, lemon balm, peppermint, rosemary, sweet violet (leaves and flowers) is a good tea/infusion recipe for alleviating migraines.
- For stress-related migraines try crampbark, hawthorne berries, lime flowers, skullcap and wood betony.
- Black willow, meadowsweet, passion flower, valerian and wood betony will help to ease pain if drunk at the onset of a migraine.
- Chamomile, feverfew, ginger root, lemon balm and skullcap are good for migraine relief.
Herbal Tincture Formulas
If you prefer working with tinctures, which are more expensive to buy but are easier to use, here are some potent combinations for a better impact against headaches and migraines.
- Skullcap and St. John’s wort.
- White willow bark, pepermint, skullcap, feverfew, chamomille, catnip and fenugreek.
- White willow bark, valerian root, wood betony and scullcap.
- Chamomile, feverfew, passionflower, peppermint and white willow bark.
- Feverfew, lime tree blossoms, peppermint, skullcap, white willow bark and yellow jasmine root.
- Feverfew, ginseng, gota kola, lavender, mugwort, passionflower, skullcap and wood betony.
Experiment with how much of and how often you should take the tincture combination for the best results. You could start with taking 5-10 drops as soon as you feel the migraine is starting and take more every 15min if needed.
Herbal Compress Formulas
Here are some ideas for herb combinations to be used in herbal compresses against headaches.
Prepare a strong herbal decoction or tea from the mixture of herbs you decided to use. Let it cool down. Soak the compress cloth (e.g. a thin towel), wring it and put it in the freezer for a few minutes. Hold the cloth against the areas of the head that hurt, back of the neck, forehead and temples until the cloth warms up to a room temperature. You may want to repeat this several times until relief comes. If you don’t want to wait for the cloth to cool down, prepare 2-3 cloths, and keep the others in the freezer while using one of them on your body.
- Peppermint, white willow bark and lavender.
- Camomile, false unicorn, ginger, lady’s slipper, lobelia and white poplar.
- Catnip, lady’s slipper and scullcap.
- Peppermint, rosemary and wood betony.
Herbal Pillow Formulas
You can make a herbal pillow to alleviate your headaches by stuffing handfuls of dried headache-relieving herbs into a small pouch and then keeping it next to you or over your face.
- Cloves, rose petals, lavender flowers, betony leaves and marjoram leaves
- Cedar, eucalyptus, peppermint, sage and spearmint leaves
- Wild ginger seeds and lemon pepper
You can of course purchase a variety of such pillows instead of making your own.
Essential Oil Blend Formulas
There are many powerful essential oils for dealing with different types of headaches, yet it’s possible to make the treatments even more powerful by combining two or more essential oils together.
You can combine your favorite ones or use some of the formulas listed in this section.
Once you make your own or buy the essential oil blend of your liking, you can gift it to your body by making a compress with it, using the steam inhalation method or a vaporizer.
In the following formulas all listed ingredients are essential oils.
- Anise seed, coriander, ginger and marjoram (migraines).
- Anise seed, lavender, niaouli and peppermint (tension headaches).
- Basil, cinnamon, eucalyptus, ginger, Helichrysum italicum, lavender, lemongrass, peppermint, ravensara, roman chamomile, rosemary and spearmint (tension headaches) (here).
- Lavender, peppermint, marjoram, rosemary and clove (smog headaches).
- Camphor, menthol, clove, cardamon, eucalyptus, peppermint and chamomile (headaches).
- Basil, chamomile, frankincense, lavender, peppermint, rosemary, sweet marjoram and wintergreen (headaches) (here).
- Chamomile, helichrysum, lavender, marjoram and peppermint (migraine).
- Clary sage, lavender, marjoram and peppermint (headaches).
You can also make a herbal pillow from any of these essential oil blends by pouring the mix into a plastic bag containing several cups of rice in it. Shake it up to evenly spread the oils within the rice and then let it sit for a few hours to let the rice absorb the oils. Next, transfer the contents of the plastic bag into a cloth pillow and enjoy your home-made herbal pillow.
Proprietary Herbal Formulas
Here are some custom-made herbal products made for headache and migraine relief.
MigraSpray(R). A proprietary formula that consists of dandelion, feverfew, goldenseal and wood-decay fungus Polyporus officinalis (Laricifomes officinalis). This mixture is sprayed under the tongue to get a faster absorption into the blood stream. Consumers using this product reported either a full migraine recovery or a great improvement in their condition.
Badger Balm Headache Soother is an aromatherapy product that is applied to temples, forehead and nape. Product reviews report a soothing of headaches and migraines. Ingredients: Olea europaea (extra virgin olive) oil, Cera alba (beeswax), Ricinus communis (castor) oil, Lavandula angustifolia (lavender) essential oil, menthol (menthol crystals), essential oils of Mentha piperita (peppermint), Eucalyptus globulus (eucalyptus), Citrus nobilis (mandarin), Santalum album (sandalwood), and CO2 extracts of Calendula officinalis (calendula), and Rosa canina (rosehip).
Wild Thera Headache Balm is a headache and migraine reliever. This balm is massaged into the temples, the forehead, the base and the back of the head at onset of symptoms. It is then re-applied every 5-15 minutes if the migraine is still there. As with any headache remedy, it works well for some and doesn’t for others. Ingredients: chamomile, eucalyptus, lavender, lemon balm, menthol, peppermint, roman chamomile, rosemary and St. John’s wort.
Tiger Balm, developed in 1870s in Burma by herbalist Aw Chu Kin, is a very popular and inexpensive product. For some people the White (cold) version works well; others swear by Tiger Balm Ultra, which has the strongest concentration of its normal ingredients and also contains cassia oil. It should be applied to the temples, the forehead and the back of the neck. Ingredients: camphor, menthol, cajuput oil (or eucalyptus oil), mint oil, clove oil and some other secret ingredients. You must be very careful not to get the balm into the eyes.
Dr. Knowles’ Migraine Prevention Formula contains 4 clinically-proven ingredients to prevent migraines: feverfew leaf extract, butterbur root extract, chelated magnesium and riboflavin (vitamin B-2). It’s recommended for migraines, in particular for PMS, hormonal, postmenopausal migraines and also for the cluster, tension, chronic, and caffeine-withdrawal headaches. For many consumers it helps to dramatically diminish the frequency and intensity of their headaches.
And here are three more similar products that are popular with migraine and headache sufferers:
- Preventa Migraine contains butterbur root, feverfew, riboflavin, and magnesium.
- Migravent contains butterbur, riboflavin , magnesium, and CoQ10
- Migrelief contains feverfew, magnesium, and riboflavin
- End Migraines & Headaches using Herbs, Spices, Seeds & Nuts (Part 1)
- End Migraines & Headaches using Herbs, Spices, Seeds & Nuts (Part 2)
Or read the complete book: Headaches Begone! A Systemic Approach To Healing Your Headaches.