16 Apr 2014

Herbal Remedies for Headaches

Headaches, especially migraines, are no joke. They can strike out of nowhere, rendering a functioning person into a weak, whimpering puddle of misery in no time at all. I should know – I have suffered from them for a good deal of my life! Using these simple herbal remedies for headaches, I’ve finally gotten a hold on them. Here’s how I’ve done it.

The first step in finding resolution for chronic headaches and migraines is to check the basics:

  • Are you hydrated? Water is MANDATORY for your health. Put down the coffee pot and have a glass of water instead and relax…that is often the quickest fix for an aching head.
  • How are your eyes? Do you find yourself squinting? Perhaps you need to go get your vision checked – my childhood headaches went away when I finally got glasses.

But there are indeed some times when the basics won’t cut it. No amount of water will help, and you need to turn to your herbal allies for relief. Here are a few (we purchase our herbs at Mountain Rose Herbs) that have proven themselves my stalwart companions!

Headache Herbal Allies

Chamomile - Herbal remedies for headache relief


When I first began to suffer from migraines in high school, I was not an herbalist at all. I did not even consider it as an option – yet when I couldn’t sleep at night for the painful throbbing in my head, I was called to try a strange little bag of tea that I found in the kitchen, something called chamomile. Waiting for the pot of water to boil, I smelled the flowery, powdery scent of the tea and found myself relaxing a bit out of the haze of pain. I allowed it to steep for about ten minutes and then drank it down in my quiet bedroom. I could feel my shoulders relaxing and my eyes getting heavier, and then I slept the best, deepest, most rejuvenating sleep I’d had in months!

Herbal Remedies for Headaches -Feverfew


This little white flower with a big yellow heart has been used for centuries for migraine and severe headache relief. When brewed as tea it can be quite bitter, but that is indeed part of its magic and medicine. This potent little firework of a flower is a go-to migraine aid for many people; however, it is not suggested for use by pregnant or breastfeeding women.

Passion Flower for Headache Relief pd


A sleepy little friend – these brilliant purple flowers are breathtaking when they grow, but dry up into gray little curled nests after being harvested. Despite their lurid name, the passionflower is magnificent for relaxing your body and encouraging sleep – the sedative nature of this herb makes me feel like a bobble-head when I drink a cup of passionflower tea on its own.

Young Lemon Balm for Headache Relief - Herbal Academy of New England

Lemon Balm

Sweet Melissa! This lemony, citrusy herb is a delight in the garden as well as on the palate.  Not only is it delicious, but effective. Lemon balm is a sedative and it will help to relax the nerves as well as stressed and strained muscles in the neck and back, aiding in the headache relief effort.

Now, the problem with headaches is that they vary in cause and therefore remedy. One of my other headache allies is a trigger that causes them in other people: Caffeine


When I was thirteen years old I began to fail my classes and lose my friends – I was suffering from migraines on a daily basis and I was in desperately dire straits. My family doctors prescribed varieties of multi-colored pills with huge lists of side effects and none of them seemed to help the pain, and they each caused their own issues with my stomach, or gave me brain fog, or vivid nightmares. None of these supposed remedies for headaches were helping.

After one particularly bad night where the pain had driven me so far inside myself that I couldn’t even hear my mother calling my name to get my attention, she panicked and drove me to the emergency room. Hours of waiting later, the doctor who saw me read through my list of prescription medicines and shook his head. He told us to go home and brew up a strong pot of coffee and take two Ibuprofen with it. I laughed, miserable – over the counter pain relievers hadn’t worked in months, why would they now? But we went home and tried his suggestion anyways.

Cradling that cup of coffee in my hands in the middle of the night, I found myself taking small sip after sip…within an hour, my headache had receded to the point where I felt like a person again. The second cup made it back off even more.  And I went to sleep, sobbing happily into my pillow, realizing that the pain was not permanent and life was worth living.

Herbal Remedies for Headaches - Herbal Academy of New England

Lifestyle Considerations

Another thing to consider is your set and setting. When you are suffering from a migraine or severe headache, drink a cup of tea with some of the herbs from the list above. Then lay yourself down in a dark, quiet room with no strong scents – basically, remove external influences as much as possible. Put a cold washcloth or any other cold thing over your eyes and take deep breaths. Allow your body to relax and your brain will eventually slow down and give you a break.

Finally – keep a notebook. Write down when you have a headache, and how long it lasts. Write down the food you ate that day, and what you did to help relieve the headache. This journal can be invaluable in finding the triggers for your headaches and isolating the herbal allies that can help you along your headache pain-free journey!


This post was written by Amber Shehan, the head pixie at Pixiespocket.com. She’s been eating things out of her yard and brewing them up as teas and tinctures for over 15 years now.

Pictures of lemon balm and passion flower are provided by Amber Shehan.


To learn more about how to use herbs for a better health as a whole check out our Online Intermediate Herbal Course, your online doorway into the wild and wonderful world of plant medicine.