4 Steps To Natural Headache Relief Without OTC Pain Relievers

4 Steps To Natural Headache Relief Without OTC Pain Relievers | Growing Up Herbal | OTC pain relievers don't have to be your first choice when it comes to dealing with headaches. Here are 4 natural methods that can help!

Headaches are the pits to me. If any acute ailment is going to make me reach for an OTC pain reliever faster than anything, it’s a headache. The reason is because they just seem to get worse over the course of the day if you ignore them. At least that’s how it often goes when I have them.

When I was younger, and a bit more hormonal, it seemed like I had headaches constantly. Ibuprofen or acetaminophen were my go-to pain relievers as soon as I felt one coming on because I didn’t know what else to do, and I didn’t want to deal with them. However, the older (and the more into natural living) I got the more I realized what a bad habit that had become. I wanted to learn what I could do to get natural headache relief before reaching for the pain relievers.

Since then I’ve learned what things trigger my headaches, and I try my best to prevent getting them in the first place. I’ve also learned of some natural methods (some which are just good ole common sense) to help me deal with headaches so when I do get one I can handle it in a more natural manner right off the bat.

Today I’m going to share the 4 methods I use to help get some natural headache relief. All of these are kid-friendly so if your child ever complains of a headache, these methods can be great options for them as well.

Prevention First

Now before I get into the natural methods (or common sense things) I use to help me and my family with headaches, let’s talk about prevention.

The best way to keep from getting a headache in the first place is to be well rested, hydrated, and nourished. This can’t be skipped, and this is the basis of raising kids (and yourself) naturally. You can’t expect to come down with something like a headache or illness, use some natural remedies to get over it, and be good to go. IF you get rid of your ailment that way, it’s sure to come back because you didn’t address the root cause of the problem.

In all honesty, most problems can be improved greatly by tweaking lifestyle and diet a bit. I always suggest starting here first!

Identify What Type Of A Headache You Have

The next step in trying to get over a headache naturally is to figure out what type of a headache you’re having and where it’s located. Knowing the kind of headache you’re having can help when it comes to picking and choosing the appropriate natural treatment to use. The International Headache Society categorizes at least 14 different types of headaches!! Crazy, I know!

Below you’ll find 5 that seem to be the most common.

Lifestyle Headaches

  • dull ache on both sides of head or back of neck
  • pain can continue to worsen over time
  • usually from lack of sleep, lack of caffeine (if you’re used to it), not eating regularly, not drinking enough fluids, and hormone changes (teenage years and pregnancy)

Tension Headaches

  • dull ache on both sides of head
  • feels like a tight band across head
  • base of the neck or back of the head feel tight
  • come from working hard, muscle strain, or focusing for too long on something (like a book or the computer screen)

Cluster Headaches

  • severe, knife-like sharp pains behind the eye
  • come in clusters over the period of several months
  • disappear for months or years on end before recurring again

Migraine Headaches

  • pounding or throbbing pain
  • usually presents on one side of the head
  • lasts anywhere from 4-72 hours
  • sensitivity to lights, sounds – feel nauseous, dizzy, or faint

Sinus Headaches

  • dull, constant pain near ears, eyes, nose, and cheekbones
  • pain worsens with sudden movement
  • usually accompanied with colds

4 Natural Methods For Dealing With Headaches

1. Water & Breathing

The first thing I do when I get a headache is to drink a big glass of water… bonus points for putting lemon juice and a pinch of sea salt or ConTrace mineral drops in it, and take several deep, cleansing breaths.

Not only does this help hydrate my body quickly, but it gives me extra minerals, increases blood oxygen levels, and helps to reduce stress if any of these things are triggers for a headache in the first place.

My goal is to drink two cups of water (16 oz.) and take 5-10 deep breaths every hour.

If my kids complain of a headache, this is step one as well. The only difference is that they would only need around 1 cup of water (8 oz.) each hour depending on their body weight.

2. Essential Oil Massage

If I still have a headache after 2 hours, I move on to using essential oils to help.

Doctors believe that headaches are due to brain chemistry, and essential oils have been known to have a direct action on brain chemistry by way of the limbic system. The limbic system is a part of the brain that controls a person’s fight or flight response, their emotional reaction to something, hormonal secretions, motivation, pain reflex and mood fluctuations. If you’d like to learn more about how essential oils work with the limbic system to cause these types of responses in the body, Suzanne Bovenizer’s website gives a great overview.

I keep a blend of Plant Therapy’s KidSafe Tension Tamer Synergy blend mixed up to use when I really need it. Having it premade and on hand is such blessing because when I have a headache because I certain don’t want to be thinking of how many drops to dilute in what amount of oil when my head is killing me!

I simply rub the roller bottle across my temples and gently massage in circular motions for a minute or so before pulling my hair up in a ponytail and running the roller bottle across the back of my neck and shoulders a few times and massaging there for several minutes. Not only does a massage help to loosen muscles and allow blood to flow, but the smell of the oils on my skin allow me to benefit from the aromatherapy properties for longer. I will usually reapply the oils and massage my neck every 1-2 hours or as often as I think I need it. Sometimes I even pop the cap off and just take deep cleansing breaths of the oil blend for some instant aromatherapy effects. You can get my recipe for this blend in the recipe section below or purchase it in a pre-diluted roller bottle instead.

When it come to kids and headaches, this would be the second thing I do with them as well. You can find the recipe I use in the recipe section below.

3. Herbal Headache Tincture/Glycerite

If that doesn’t seem to help I opt for a strong herbal tincture made with antispasmodic, relaxant, stimulant, and analgesic herbs. My goal here is to stimulate my body to dilate my blood vessels to help decrease the pain I feel in my head.

Now keep in mind that herbs are not going to act like an OTC pain reliever will. I have to take small, frequent doses of this blend for it to be effective. You can find the recipe I use in the recipe section below. I should also mention that this remedy should not be used on children who are sick. I’ll talk more about that below, but if your child is sick and you need some natural headache relief for them, use the headache remedy in my Herbal Remedy Recipes e-book instead.

4. Essential Oil Diffusion and Sleep

If all else fails, and if it’s possible, the last step to dealing with headaches naturally is to break out my essential oil diffuser and put 10 drops of my Tension Tamer blend in it to diffuse in my bedroom while I take a nap. Same goes if my kids have a headache.

Just taking some time to get some extra sleep while breathing in the scents of lavender, palmarosa, geranium bourbon, lemon, and chamomile roman is just the thing I need many times to wake up feeling refreshed and headache free.

Natural Remedies For Natural Headache Relief

4 Steps To Natural Headache Relief Without OTC Pain Relievers | Growing Up Herbal | OTC pain relievers don't have to be your first choice when it comes to dealing with headaches. Here are 4 natural methods that can help!

Headache Away Massage Oil

Makes a 3-5% dilution in a 1/3 oz. roller bottle.



  1. Fill roller bottle with carrier oil. Stop before you get to the rings where the lid screws on!!
  2. Add essential oil drops.
  3. Put roller ball in cap, put cap in bottle, and screw lid on snugly.
  4. Roll bottle between hands 10-15 times to mix well.

Headache Ease Tincture



  1. Place herbs in glass jar filling jar 1/3 full. Pour vodka over herbs, filling to 2/3 of the jar. Fill the last 1/3 of the jar with vegetable glycerin. Leave 1 inch of airspace in the top of the jar. Place the lid on, shake well, and store in a dark cabinet for 6 weeks.
  2. When time is up, strain herbs and compost them.
  3. Pour tincture into a clean glass jar. Label and store.


Start by taking 10 drops of tincture for every 25 lbs. of body weight for the initial dose. Afterward, take 20 drops of tincture every 30 minutes until relief is felt.

Note: Do not take if pregnant or breastfeeding. Not for sick children as white willow bark contains salicin and could possibly lead to Reye’s Syndrome.

If All Else Fails… Or When You Opt For OTC Pain Relievers

Now I will honestly say that most times I can get rid of my and my kid’s headaches, which aren’t all that often, using the above methods and remedies. However, if for some reason I let things go too long before taking action or if I just have a particularly bad headache, I will take an OTC pain reliever, but it’s my last choice.

When I do opt for meds, I simply take half a dose along with some seriously spicy cayenne nachos and then take the other half if I need it. Thankfully, this doesn’t happen all that often, and I’ve never had to give my kids a pain reliever for their headaches. The natural methods have always worked for them.

Headache Warning Signs – When To See A Doctor

I should also mention that there are some headache warning signs to be aware of. If you or your children experience these signs you should seek medical attention immediately because it could be a sign of something more serious going on in the body.

MedLine Plus says that if you experience the following things, call your doctor immediately:

  • the first headache you have ever had in your life and it interferes with your daily activities
  • headache develops right after activities such as weightlifting, aerobics, jogging, or sex
  • headache is suddenly and explosive or violent
  • headache as “the worst ever,” even if you regularly get headaches
  • have slurred speech, a change in vision, problems moving your arms or legs, loss of balance, confusion, or memory loss with your headache
  • headache gets worse over 24 hours
  • have fever, stiff neck, nausea, and vomiting with your headache
  • headache occurs with a head injury
  • headache is severe and just in one eye, with redness in that eye
  • you’re over 50 and have a new onset of headaches
  • headaches contribute to vision problems and pain while chewing
  • have a history of cancer and develop a new headache
Do you get headaches? If so, what triggers them, and have you had success using natural methods to relieve them? Let me know what you use and how it works for you in the comment section below!

plant-therapy-logoThis post was underwritten by Plant Therapy. All opinions are mine. Plant Therapy offers 100%, pure, undiluted essential oils sourced from some of the top essential oil suppliers in the world. They have single oils and synergy blends as well as a line of synergy blends specific to children. Not only do they offer high-quality essential oils, but they also offer carrier oils, hydrosols, and other essential oil accessories to help you keep yourself and your home naturally healthy.


  • Campellone, J. (2013, October 29). Headaches – Danger Signs. Retrieved May 12, 2015, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/patientinstructions/000424.htm
  • Bovenizer, S. (n.d.). The Limbic System. Retrieved May 12, 2015, from http://www.suzannebovenizer.com/aromatherapy-essential-oils/the-limbic-system
  • ICHD-II Full Text Search. (n.d.). Retrieved May 12, 2015, from http://www.ihs-classification.org/On/
  1. Krista says:

    I always reach for water first too, that seems to do the trick a lot of the time. I also have a “happy eye pillow” filled with flax seed & lavender that does wonders if you lay down with it for about 15 minutes. I’ve never tried an EO blend but I think I’ll mix up a roller bottle to have on hand!

    • Meagan says:

      Oooh I like the happy eye pillow idea. I really need to make something like that. Thanks for the idea! And yes, I’m loving the Headache Away blend… it’s designed for kids, but it works great for adults too.

  2. Jamie says:

    The only time I get headaches are when I’ve had caffeine or MSG and then I’ll get a withdrawal headache. It helps me to keep eating healthy! I don’t think most people realize that MSG can cause bad headaches and migraines.

    • Meagan says:

      Yes! I’ve noticed that sometimes I’ll get a headache after accidentally eating some chips that had “yeast extract” in them… a sneaky MSG ingredient. 🙁 I try to be careful about it, but unfortunately even healthy bags of chips can sometimes have that ingredient listed.

      • Heather says:

        I did not realize “yeast extract” was code for MSG!!!! Explains a lot. I get migraines regularly, but did not like the way my body responded to prescriptions 12 years ago. So I used to take excederin and sleep. Then with pregnancy/nursing for past 6 years straight usually just tylenol, though tried peppermint oil and didn’t help. Just got PT kid safe headache oil so will try that next time. But I know #1 thing I need to do is clean up my diet and my children’s! Thanks

  3. Megan Stevens says:

    This is the best post I’ve read on headaches, and we’ve had them for years! ACV is the other go-to for my daughter. Mixing 2 tsp. into 8 oz. of water often brings her relief. I love your measures and we have found several of them to be our aids as well. Sharing. <3 🙂

    • Meagan says:

      Thanks for saying so Megan, and I’ve never heard of the ACV thing. I’ll definitely try that next time and add it to my “natural headache regimen”… thanks!!

  4. Holly says:

    Using the Neti pot is my #1 go-to treatment for headaches, because most of ours are sinus. #2 for us is rest. I am adding these others to my list as well and look forward to trying them out next time the headaches strike.

    • Meagan says:

      Thanks for sharing Holly! I’m glad you’ve had success dealing with them naturally, and thanks for your comment!

  5. Laura says:

    I have never tried water as a way to help! I’ll have to try it. I’ve been getting migraines for about 10 years now and while I want to do all natural cures, they reached a level that I eventually broke down and got prescription pain meds, I hate it but. .. I use EOs that I love, eye pillows, a heating pad for my neck, soaking my feet in Epsom salt (and lavender EO) and herbal teas to help them as well. Soaking my feet is a big one for me though! Thanks for sharing your tips!

    • Meagan says:

      Thanks for sharing Laura, and there’s nothing wrong with managing your pain with prescription meds if nothing is working for you. The idea is to try to prevent them from happening as naturally as possible and getting the body into a balanced state so that they don’t happen. Unfortunately you can’t always do that right away. Sometimes it takes years of finding what works for you, and if medicine is needed here and there, then you do what you have to do. On the bright side, my MIL suffered with migraine for years until she dramatically changed her diet to a real food diet, got her supplements straight, and used a variety of alternative therapies to help. Now she doesn’t have any so she’s off all her prescription meds as well. Best of luck finding a solution to your problem. Don’t give up!! Thanks for your comment!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *