About half of us will wrestle with a headache at least once this year. But for up to 4% of the population, headaches will become a near-everyday occurrence.
So how do you cope with that annoying and sometimes debilitating tension?
With a steaming cup of tea!
These are the seven best teas for headaches to relieve the pain, induce relaxation, and rehydrate.
Why Tea Relieves Headaches
Home remedies often date back several generations. They tend to pre-date modern medicine and eventually become more folklore than truth. (We’ve all heard that taking Vitamin C helps a cold or that we should starve a fever — both are false.)
Science has yet to bust the headache-relieving promises of tea.
In fact, the practice — which is deep-rooted in Chinese medicine — has been proven to:
- Reduce inflammation and eliminate toxins (antioxidants)
- Lessen pain, throbbing sensations, and tension
- Improve relaxation and relieve stress
- Relieve common headache side effects, like nausea
- Better control neurotransmitter release (serotonin, in particular)
The average cup of tea also contains about 20–40mg of caffeine per serving. While this is a fraction of the caffeine in your standard mug of coffee, too much tea can trigger anxiety, the “jitters,” or a worsened headache.
Three words to remember: moderation, moderation, moderation!
Best Teas for Headaches
Coping with a nagging headache that even cold packs, dim lights, and hours-long naps can’t fix?
Fire up the burner, and boil a water-filled kettle ‘till she sings!
Then, try one of these delicious teas for some much-needed headache relief:
Willow Bark Tea
Willows are among the most picturesque trees on the planet. They stand at 30–80′ tall with graceful branches weeping peacefully toward earth. Their bark is also the inspiration behind the appropriately named willow bark tea.
Many compare it to OTC medications like aspirin because it’s filled with an active ingredient known as “salicin” and other flavonoids. The salicin converts to salicylic acid once absorbed into the GI tract.
Anti-inflammatory effects that can:
- Relieve cranial pressure
- Lessen osteoarthritis aches
- Ease moderate fevers
Tip: Rinse the bark well before brewing the tea, and subdue the overpowering earthy flavoring by mixing in honey, ginger, cinnamon, or lemon.
It’s Christmas-themed, delectably sweet, and offers that full-mouth chill with every sip. But peppermint’s cooling menthol doesn’t only freshen your breath or clear out clogged sinuses; it may also silence those pounding headaches.
Scientists believe it’s not the chilling taste as much as the sharp aroma. For example, rubbing peppermint oil along your temples can help relieve tension headaches as much as OTC medications like acetaminophen.
Others predict that peppermint’s cool odor widens the blood vessels, releases tension, and allows for greater blood flow through the body.
Lavender has become one of the most popular home remedies for anxiety relief, bug bites, and even insomnia. These brewed purple buds are also among the most well-respected in herbal medicine and science alike!
Lavender closely mimics the effects of benzodiazepines, earning a reputation for relaxing sensations and stress relief. But, like peppermint, experts suggest that we owe the pain-relieving perks to the oil’s calming aroma.
One study proved that, after 15 minutes with lavender applied to the upper lip, those suffering from a migraine attack experienced relief. So consider sipping this smoky, woody tea next time that aura settles in!
The feverfew plant resembles the traditional daisy. It has an orange center, white petals, and grows beautifully in large bunches. But once you phase out its bitter taste with mint and rosemary, the health benefits become apparent.
Here’s why it works!
Parthenolide is a well-studied chemical found in the feverfew plant. Its potent anti-inflammatory properties link to migraine and headache relief.
In fact, when taken orally, low-dose feverfew capsules can prevent migraine attacks. Deep-rooted in Chinese medicine, scientists are also studying parthenolide’s link to cancer prevention and diabetic neuropathy relief.
Brewed from the sweet and peppery ginger root, hot ginger tea pairs remarkably well with citrus fruits, mint, cinnamon, and even maple syrup. But this distant turmeric relative is reportedly a headache-relieving fiend too!
Why is that?
Scientists believe that ginger can encourage the release of serotonin within the brain. More serotonin can lead to constricted blood vessels, reduced inflammation, and — perhaps best of all — improved mood.
Chamomile comes with hints of apple, honey, and floral undertones. It’s a soothing and silky herbal beverage for early mornings and long nights. It’s also known for its reduced inflammation and overwhelming calming effects.
The other perks?
This calming tea is full of flavonoids that bind to receptors in the brain, inducing satisfying sleepiness when insomnia strikes. It also shares possible links to improved digestive health and anxiety relief!
Next to black tea, green tea is one of the most popular teas on the planet, served either hot or cold and offering a grassy, caffeinated kick. It also has just enough caffeine per cup, where 1–2 servings a day can provide migraine relief!
Caffeine is a stimulant known for constricting the blood vessels, limiting blood supply to the nerves sending “pain signals” to your body. It can also reduce inflammation when combined with OTC pain-relieving medications.
When that headache breaks through and has you wringing your head, grab a bottle of green tea, and let the pain disappear.
While it is a delicious, relaxing, and soothing nightcap, tea isn’t the only way to “cure” stubborn headaches.
Other methods worth trying — besides tea — include:
- Over-the-counter pain-relievers like Aspirin & Ibuprofen
- Caffeine (including coffee)
- Turning off your devices, dimming the lights, and lowering the volume
- Heat or cold compresses on your head/neck
- Regular exercise
Schedule an appointment with your physician if your headaches become more consistent or trigger other symptoms. Your doctor can help you identify your headache triggers, deliver a diagnosis, or prescribe medication!
Adam Marshall is a freelance writer who specializes in all things apartment organization, real estate, and college advice. He currently works with The Verge Asheville to help them with their online marketing.