There’s nothing like an aching head to put a damper on your fun in the sun. Unfortunately, research shows that for every nine-degree increase in temperature, you’re 10 percent more likely to get a headache — which likely doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s ever suffered from a summer headache. Luckily, there are a number of natural summer headache remedies that might work even better than meds to nip a summer headache in the bud. Next time you feel that telltale twinge, try one of these:
Add ginger to a smoothie to ease a migraine.
“Ginger has anti-inflammatory effects similar to NSAIDs like ibuprofen and naproxen, without side effects,” says Jeffrey Landsman, M.D., of Mercy Personal Physicians at Lutherville in Maryland. Indeed, scientists recently found that just 1⁄8 tsp. reduced pain and inflammation on par with Advil. And a separate study found that the spice blocked pain signals as well as doctors’ prescription migraine medicine sumatriptan. Tip: Peel, grate and add to a favorite smoothie.
Add lavender to laundry to tame a tension headache.
Research published in the journal European Neurology found that inhaling nature’s most calming bloom — lavender — relieved headache pain for 71 percent of study participants within 15 minutes. “Breathing in lavender may decrease blood pressure, heart rate, and skin temperature, all of which can contribute to relieving headaches,” says Dr. Landsman. Add a few drops of lavender essential oil to a clean washcloth and toss in your dryer with your sheets to infuse them. The moment you feel a headache coming on, lie down and breathe slowly and deeply.
Add an ice pack to your lie-down to cool down a heat headache.
Is the heat going to your head? Recline in an easy chair and place an ice pack or a bag of frozen peas on the front and sides of your neck. “Cold therapy cools blood flowing to the brain and slows down messages in the nerves that signal pain,” explains Dr. Landsman. University of Hawaii researchers found this simple trick made pain scores plummet for 77 percent of folks in 30 minutes or less.
This story originally appeared in our print magazine.