Headaches are an irritating inconvenience at best and debilitating at worst. They can affect work or school productivity, and a bad headache can put you out of commission, no matter what you had planned. Medications can help relieve pain, but some of these pain relievers have side effects such as stomach pain or stress on vital organs, and if taken over too long a period, pain relievers can cause a rebound effect (in the form of another headache) when you stop taking them. This article provides some natural ways to prevent or relieve headaches.

Some of the common causes of headaches are muscle tension, dilation and constriction of the blood vessels in the brain, food sensitivities, and hormone fluctuations. If you haveve seen your health care practitioner and have ruled out any medically serious causes, here are some natural approaches to headache relief that you can try.

1. Cramp Bark (Vibernum opulus)

As the name of the herb suggests, Cramp bark helps alleviate muscle tension and cramps. Vibernum prunifolium is also sold as “Cramp bark,” but it is generally used to relieve uterine cramping. Cramp bark (Vibernum opulus) is touted as a prevention and treatment for muscle tension headaches. It is generally taken in capsule form, but a tea made from the bark can also be used.

2. Massage

The relaxing effect of massage can help ease muscle tension and increase circulation, both of which might help a headache. There are massages you can do yourself in your own home or have someone else do them for you, or you may go to a professional masseuse for headache relief and prevention.

3. Chiropractic

Muscle tension can cause bone and joint misalignment, say chiropractic practitioners, and then the misalignment exacerbates the muscle tension as muscles work to pull the bones back into alignment. Getting an adjustment at a chiropractor can bring almost instant headache relief, and seeing the chiropractor regularly (say once a month) can help stave off future headaches.

4. Feverfew

This daisy-like little flower is considered by some herbalists to be a very effective remedy for headaches, particularly migraines. While there are many ways to take Feverfew, capsules are probably the easiest and have the fewest side effects. You may take feverfew regularly to prevent migraine attacks.

5. Willow

You might have heard of white willow for pain relief; but actually, various willow (Salix) species can help relieve pain. The precursor to aspirin, the inner bark of the white willow can provide pain relief for headaches. It also has an anti-inflammatory effect. White willow (and other willow bark) is usually taken in capsules.

6. Stress Management

It’s generally understood that stress and headaches are interconnected. Engaging in regular stress relief may help prevent the onset of headaches. Stretching, meditation, Yoga, Pilates, and other methods can help align the body and reduce stress.