Headaches can have various causes, including stress, congested sinuses, allergies, and poor digestion. Different herbs for headaches can be used to treat these different symptoms. Chamomile, ginger, feverfew, skullcap, and lavender are popular herbs for headaches. They can be taken individually or in combination in the form of tea or capsules that can be found at health food stores. Other herbs that have established a reputation for relieving headaches are cayenne, valerian, passionflower, white willow bark, and rosemary.
Some headaches such as migraines can cause nausea in addition to pain, and there are herbs for headaches that have properties to relieve these symptoms. Peppermint and ginger are good for the digestive tract and can settle the stomach and relieve indigestion, nausea, and other gastrointestinal disorders. Butterbur, white willow bark, and feverfew are herbs for headaches that have an analgesic effect and relieve pain. White willow bark contains salicin, a natural analgesic that was synthesized to produce aspirin, and is equally effective.
Headaches can be caused by hormone imbalances, and some herbs for headaches can treat the root cause, reducing the frequency and severity of hormonal headaches. Dong quai, black cohosh, and soy contain phytoestrogens that can help balance the fluctuating levels of the hormone estrogen that can trigger headaches. Evening primrose oil can ease hormonal headaches and other symptoms of premenstrual syndrome.
Congested sinuses can cause severe headaches. Some herbs for headaches can be ingested or inhaled to loosen and expel mucus. Inhaling the vapors of eucalyptus leaves or ginger root can clear out the nasal passages.
If left untreated, sinus congestion can lead to sinusitis, an infection and inflammation of the sinuses. The root of the purple coneflower known as echinacea is a medicinal herb that contains a natural antibiotic that can remove the source of infection, eventually easing the sinus pressure. Cayenne and other hot peppers contain capsaicin, a substance that causes the body to produce its own pain-killing endorphins to relieve headache pain. Eating hot pepper also clears the sinuses, relieving the pressure that causes sinus headaches.
Just about everyone has experienced the pain of a headache on more than one occasion. Pain relievers like aspirin and acetaminophen are available over the counter at any drugstore, but herbs can be effective analgesics as well. Like drugs, herbs can have side effects and can interact with other substances, so one shouldn’t take herbs to treat any health condition without the guidance of a medical doctor.