Can You Cure a Headache Without OTC Painkillers?

22 June 2022
 Categories: , Blog


Over-the-counter painkillers like ibuprofen, paracetamol and aspirin have a wealth of uses; they're incredibly effective drugs and they're generally very safe. Long-term usage, however, can for some people lead to ongoing problems—including medication overuse headaches, which for obvious reasons cannot be treated using the drugs that caused them. If you get a lot of headaches but you'd like to cut down on how often you take these medicines, read on: there are a whole host of gentler, more traditional ways to relieve pain.

Heat and Cold

You've probably noticed before that temperature can go a long way to control and soothe pain. Heat-based and cold-based remedies are at the core of many drug-free pain relief strategies, and—despite how contradictory it might seem at first glance—they can both work, even for the same ailments. This is particularly true if your headaches are caused or contributed to by changes in your blood vessels, which is a common feature of many headache types. You don't need to buy any fancy temperature therapy devices to try this out, either; a bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a tea towel can help just as much!

Topical Massage

Stiffness and soreness in the muscles around your head and neck can cause or contribute to headaches, particularly for people who spend a lot of time sat at a desk looking at a computer screen. An ongoing course of professional massage therapy can be useful for people whose headaches are frequent or chronic, but you can also use self-massage techniques when the headache hits. Even something as simple as closing your eyes and rubbing your temples can help to ease headache pain—just be sure to listen to your body, and experiment with different techniques to figure out which work best for you.

White Willow Tea

Aspirin is composed primarily of a compound called 'salicylic acid', which is found in the bark of many species of willow tree—particularly Salix alba, which is the most common willow tree found in much of Europe and Asia. The kind of aspirin sold in pharmacies is carefully processed and highly potent, but the core compound remains the same as that found in the white willow. If you're not allergic to aspirin and you have no need to avoid NSAIDs, products containing willow bark—which include teas, tisanes, poultices, gels and more—can make a gentler alternative to the high doses found in OTC medication. Be careful, though: make sure you know roughly how much willow bark you're consuming, and consult a qualified herbalist with any questions you might have.

Contact your doctor for more information about natural pain relief