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Tension Headache: 5 Natural Treatments That Work

Tension headaches are the most common type of headaches. It's estimated that 80-90% of the population suffers from tension headaches at some point in their life. (1) While some reach for medication to lessen the pain, tension headache natural treatments can work to reduce the frequency and severity of headaches. Tension headache causes include stress, heightened emotions and a heightened sensitivity to pain. (2)

Stress headache symptoms include:

  • Dull, aching head pain
  • Lots of pressure and tightness across the forehead
  • Muscle aches or pains on the sides and back of the head
  • Muscle aches and pains running down the neck
  • Sensitivity to loud noises
  • Tenderness when you touch your hair line, scalp, beck and shoulders

Tension Headache Natural Treatment

1. Manage Your Stress Levels

Stress is believed to be the main cause of tension headaches. It can cause a hormonal imbalance that makes you more prone to pain and discomfort. Finding ways to reduce your stress may help reduce the frequency of tension headaches. (3) Drink herbal tea, try aromatherapy or yoga, write in a journal or clear your schedule and pencil in some "me time!"

2. Eat A Healthy Diet

Your diet plays a role in tension headache natural treatment. Eating anti-inflammatory foods can help your body cope with stress, while staying hydrated and eating a healthy diet can support your energy levels and reduce your chances of developing a headache. Be sure to avoid headache triggers in your diet, such as caffeine, cigarettes, alcohol and sugary snacks. (4)

3. Improve Your Posture

Believe it or not, poor posture could be causing your tension headaches. Slouching can cause tension and pinched nerves that lead to headache pain. (5) Consciously work on your posture by holding your shoulders back and your head parallel to the ground, instead of slouching forward. If your job involves sitting for long periods of time, use a supportive chair that helps your muscles relax and keep your computer screen at eye level.

4. Exercise

Exercise is often one of the best forms of tension headache treatment, because it helps reduce stress. Staying active has positive effects on your blood pressure levels, sleep patterns and your overall health. Studies have shown that moderate exercise can help reduce the frequency and severity of strong headaches in some people, especially when combined with a nutritious diet and a good night's sleep! (6)

5. Try Acupuncture and Massage

Many people swear by acupuncture as a tension headache natural treatment. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, acupuncture ignites a positive energy flow in the body and works to relieve chronic headache pain. (7) Tension headache massage therapy may also work to reduce stress and relieve stiff muscles. A study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that massage therapy over a two-week time period reduced frequency, duration and intensity of headaches. Sources: 1. I Hate Headaches 2. Mayo Clinic 3. Greatist 4. Cleveland Clinic 5. Livestrong 6. Web MD 7. Acupunture Today