How To Get Rid Of A Headache Without Pills

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Do you need a way to get rid of your headache fast without taking NSAIDs or other medication? Maybe you’re pregnant and can’t safely take them, maybe you have an allergy to NSAIDs, or maybe you just don’t like the negative side effects on your body. Whatever your reason, I know it’s an awful feeling to be desperate for pain relief. This is a problem I’ve faced for several years due to various issues with my neck. Thankfully, chiropractic adjustments have helped a lot. Sometimes I still get headaches though, so through a lot of trial and error, I’ve found some natural solutions for pain relief that I’m sharing with you today. Let’s be honest, my favorite way to help with the pain is undoubtedly a professional massage, but I can’t afford to drop $100 each time I’m in pain, so I’m sharing some more budget-friendly things you can try at home.

Here are my top 3 recommendations, in order of how effective they’ve been for me. These are my go-to’s for the heavy-hitting, intensely painful headaches that disrupt your whole day and/or keep you from sleeping.

  • TENS Unit – TENS = Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation. Sounds intense, right? I first encountered these units during my college internship in a Physical Therapy clinic, as they were often used to help those suffering from chronic pain. They’re simple to use: just place the sticky pads on your skin surrounding the areas of pain, attach the electrodes, set your intensity level, and relax while it goes to work on your muscles. At the proper intensity, it can actually feel like someone is physically massaging your muscles because it makes them move independently of your control (sounds odd but you will feel so much better afterward). My husband and I both get good use out of the one we have. You can find them for less than $30 here.
  • Acupressure Mat/Pillow – It might seem counterintuitive to lay on spiky things when you’re in pain, but using the acupressure pillow has helped relieve my pain multiple times. You can also stand on the acupressure mat barefoot for 5-10 minutes to activate the pressure points in your feet to relieve the pain. Read more about my experience with acupressure here.
  • Heat/Ice – Fill a long tube sock with rice, tie the end, then heat it in the microwave for about 3-4 minutes until warm. Test it out to be sure it’s not too hot, then place around your neck for 10-15 minutes to relax your shoulder and neck muscles. This has been soothing for me and has helped to reduce pain to the point where I can sometimes get rid of my headache. Other times, I have tried wrapping a soft ice pack in a towel and draping that around my neck for about 10 minutes. The cold serves to numb the pain enough that I can focus and get through the day, though it doesn’t usually completely eliminate it.
Ice Pack Time

Now that I’ve shared my top performing remedies, here are a few that have been hit or miss for me. These I would recommend for more mild headaches that don’t keep you from sleeping.

  • Topicals – Try rubbing peppermint essential oil (mixed with a carrier oil like coconut oil) on the areas producing the pain. I’ve tried this on my neck, shoulders, and temples. Also, you can try using Biofreeze and topical CBD pain relief cream.
  • Cryotherapy – You can read about my experience here. I can’t personally vouch for its effect on headaches, but my husband had a headache before his cryotherapy session and after he was done, his headache was gone. Worth a shot!
  • Turmeric – If a headache is stress-related, I try closing my eyes, sipping on some Turmeric tea, and putting on some soft, relaxing music. Turmeric has strong anti-inflammatory properties so it can be an effective pain reliever.
  • Feverfew and Boswellia – I’ve tried brewing Feverfew tea and drinking that for pain relief, but didn’t notice any effects. The Boswellia provided mild relief. Since we all react differently, these both may be more effective for you than they were for me.

Whether or not you try any of the remedies I mentioned above, there are also several important preventive measures you can take to hopefully avoid headaches from happening in the first place.

Blue-Light blocking glasses
  • Eye Strain – Working at a computer all day can be rough on your neck and shoulders, but also your eyes. I have started using these blue-light blocking glasses to protect my eyes during the day and prevent eye strain which can lead to headaches. I also make sure to take periodic breaks from staring at the screen and close my eyes a few times throughout the days when I’m working.
  • Magnesium Deficiency – Nearly 50% of the population is deficient in Magnesium, so chances are good that your levels are too low. I use this spray and this drink to increase my levels. Magnesium controls so many key functions in the body, most notably nerve and muscle function, so if you’re deficient, you will likely be overly tense and tight. This also means you’ll be more prone to getting headaches. Dark chocolate , spinach, and lentils can also give you a decent Magnesium boost if you’re in a pinch and don’t have supplements on hand. Just note, you will need to eat almost a full chocolate bar (oh darn) and a LOT of spinach to get the daily recommended amount of Magnesium (this is why I use the spray).
  • Fragrances – Sometimes it’s impossible to avoid strong fragrances. People wearing perfume/cologne and people smoking nearby can be problematic for those sensitive to chemicals. If you can, remove yourself from these environments quickly and/or ask those who work near you to be considerate about what they wear so they won’t trigger a headache.
  • Stretching – Try these stretches if you’re feeling tense or if you wake up feeling like you slept on something wrong. Taking the time to loosen up your muscles can make a world of difference and prevent tension headaches.
  • Dehydration – Make sure you’re consuming enough water. So simple, but this is a huge factor in prevention! Aim to drink half your body weight in ounces each day.

I hope you find something on my list that is helpful. Do you have any other effective natural remedies that I’ve missed? Please share them below! All of the products I’ve mentioned in this post are linked here in my storefront if you want to check them out.

Thanks so much for reading!


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how to get rid of a headache without medication


  1. Thanks for this! I just added the TENS unit to my Amazon wish list because I have never heard of it before but I think I remember one of my massage therapists using something like this at the end of my massage back when I used to get massages (when I could afford them LOL).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Really Great post! White willow bark is also very effective for headaches! I take it along with a caffeine pill and feverfew, works like a charm!


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