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  • Dr Andrew Roberts

10 Natural Tips To Reduce Headaches & Migraines

Did you know that up to 11 MILLION Australians each year will be impacted by headaches or migraines. The direct and indirect cost of migraines alone are calculated as over $35 BILLION! (1). Aside from that, and more important to those suffering with these headaches and migraines is the physical and emotional cost. This can range from mild annoyance & loss of concentration right up to not being able to plan things for fear of a migraine attack, loss of work or even the effects on personal relationships. I will be the first to admit that I don’t suffer pain very well. And in those cases it can be really

easy to reach for the medications, but there are also some simple and effective more natural remedies that you can also try. First it’s important to understand what type of headache you are experiencing as that could affect the type of approach you take. This is a very basic infographic of the common types of headaches.

Tip 1 - Heat: This may help tension type headaches where all the muscles in the neck are really stiff and right and pulling up into the skull. So pop a heat pack on the back of the neck or even back of the head.

Tip 2 - Cold: Wait what? Didn’t I just say heat? If you’re suffering with a migraine, then you don’t want to use heat. Cold packs or ice packs may also assist when placed across your forehead, back of head or even the neck.

Tip 3 - Self-massage: This technique can be really beneficial for many different types of headaches, especially sinus headaches across the forehead. You can do some gentle massage on your temples, or because a lot of headaches come from the muscles in the neck you can massage right at the base of the skull and into the neck.

Tip 4 - Relaxation: Physical and emotional stress can exacerbate or even cause headaches. There are many tips that you can try, from box breathing, relaxing in bed, focusing on your breath for 3-5 minutes or there are also many free meditation apps. I recommend the Smiling Mind app with over 300 free meditations to choose from.

Tip 5 - Sleep: Sleep is incredibly important in allowing your body time and space to heal and also to reduce stress levels in the body. There is a large body of research that shows an increased frequency of headaches and migraines from poor or lack of sleep, but also changes in our bodies ability to regulate pain. So if you find you’re getting repetitive headaches or migraines then it may be a good idea to make sure you’re getting adequate sleep and also try to keep your sleep in a regular routine. It may also be a good idea to look at your pillow to make sure you have a good sleep posture.

Tip 6 - Water: Now surprisingly dehydration related headaches are actually more rare than you’d think. But that doesn’t mean reaching for water isn’t a bad idea when suffering from a headache. But even better would be to make sure you’re adequately hydrated all the time. The best key to staying hydrated is to not wait until you feel thirsty. Try to make sure that throughout the day you are drinking around 30ml of water for every Kg of body weight - I’ll let you do the math. But it’s often more than we think. Caffeine and sugary drinks can dehydrate us, so take that into consideration also. And if you’re working hard physical labour or outdoors a lot in the sun, then you will need to drink even more.

Tip 7 - Posture: We’ve been told over and over again by our parents to sit up straight when we were growing up. Many people will think posture is simply an aesthetic thing, however there are a lot of consequences from poor posture. And that includes stress and tightness in those joints and muscles in the neck we talked about earlier. So make sure you look at your posture in all areas of your life. Working, standing, driving, sitting on the couch.

Tip 8 - Magnesium: Magnesium is used in over 300 different processes within the body, and as such is a very important mineral that sometimes our diets can be low in. Research shows that magnesium can be beneficial for people suffering from migraines especially with an aura, and also those with menstrually related migraines. (2)

Tip 9 - Move your body: Movement is a key to a well functioning body. A recent 2022 meta-analysis of available research showed that there is moderate evidence that regular aerobic exercise can have a reduction in migraine intensity while strength training can reduce the intensity of tension type headaches (3). In some people exercise, especially more intense exercise can be a trigger, so make sure that you don’t overdo it, especially if going from being a little more inactive. Start with some simple stretches, and a light 15 minute walk if you need to.

Tip 10 - Chiropractic: There is a growing base of research for Chiropractic care and headaches. In fact a 2011 systematic literature review showed that Chiropractic care improved cervicogenic and migraine type headaches (4). So book in to your Chiropractor for an adjustment.

If you got some benefit from this, or know someone (one of the 11 million people) that definitely could, please share this information with them so maybe they don’t have to keep reaching for the medications and can find a more natural approach for them.

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