15 Super Foods and Drinks to Help Get Rid of a Headache or Migraine Without Pills

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Pop a Pepper, Not a Pill: 15 Delicious Ways to Ditch Your Headache Naturally

Headaches and migraines – ugh, the bane of many a productive day! They leave you reaching for the nearest painkillers, willing the throbbing pain to just vanish. But what if we told you there was a tastier solution lurking in your pantry or fridge?

Nature offers a treasure trove of powerful foods and drinks that can be your secret weapon against head pain. Ditch the drugs and embrace the delicious power of your kitchen! This blog post unveils a mouthwatering arsenal of 15 super foods and drinks clinically proven (or anecdotally loved) to help banish headaches and migraines, without resorting to pills.

We’ll delve into the science behind why these superstars work their magic. From rehydrating heroes like water and coconut water to magnesium-rich powerhouses like leafy greens and almonds, we’ll explore how these natural ingredients can target the root cause of your pain.

But it’s not just about munching on raw vegetables (although there’s a place for that too!). We’ll also explore tasty and easy recipes incorporating these headache-fighting foods, from energizing smoothies to calming herbal teas.

So, the next time a headache strikes, don’t despair! With this guide by your side, you can discover delicious ways to conquer pain, get back to feeling your best, and prevent future headaches from stealing your sunshine. Let’s explore the yummy path to headache relief – your taste buds and your head will thank you!

What foods and drinks can help relieve a headache?

According to the International Classification of Headache Disorders, there are up to 150 different types of headaches. Most headaches fall within one of four main categories: migraine, hypertension, stress and cluster headaches. Certain foods and drinks can trigger various types of headaches, or they can help ease headache pain. Learning the best foods and drinks to consume can potentially reduce the frequency and endurance of headaches.

People ask how to cure migraines permanently. Unfortunately, and essentially because medical researchers have not yet pinpointed the specific cause of migraine headaches, there is no permanent cure. However, they have identified specific nutritional vitamins, minerals, and other elements that can bring headache relief from migraines and other types of headaches.

Though instant migraine relief is difficult to achieve, some foods can work rapidly, like ginger and nuts. Following are some foods that fight migraines, tension headaches, cluster headaches, caffeine headaches, and headaches in general.

1. Leafy greens

Leafy greens contain a variety of elements that contribute to headache relief. For example, research has shown taking magnesium can reduce migraine pain because many migraine sufferers have low magnesium levels (PMID: 9523054).

The Journal of Headache and Pain reported a study that found a combination of folic acid, B6, and B12 reduced migraine symptoms. The National Headache Foundation reported on a European study that found vitamin B2 could reduce migraine frequency.

Following are some of the leafy greens that contain all of these elements and a variety of other anti-inflammatory antioxidants.

  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Collard greens
  • Turnip greens
  • Broccoli

2. Nuts

Nuts are rich in magnesium, which soothes headache pain by relaxing blood vessels. They also contain a significant amount of vitamin E that research has shown can help control migraines with aura and migraines triggered by hormonal fluctuations. (PMCID: PMC4359851) For some people experiencing a headache, immediate relief is found by eating a handful of almonds or other nuts.

  • Almonds
  • Walnuts
  • Cashew nuts
  • Brazil nuts

3. Fatty fish

Fatty fish is rich in omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, which are anti-inflammatory foods. They contain B vitamins, including riboflavin (B2), which has been shown to help manage migraine attacks. Research also found that salmon contains coenzyme Q10 and vitamin D, which combined provided migraine relief. (PMID: 28854909)

  • Salmon
  • Cod
  • Mackerel
  • Halibut

4. Fruits

Some fruits are rich in magnesium and potassium. Research is continuing, but some studies suggest potassium may help alleviate migraine pain by contributing to healthier nerve functioning. Bananas are good for headaches because they deliver a dose of potassium, magnesium, B vitamins, and complex carbohydrates, all of which contribute to reducing headache pain. If a headache is due to dehydration, the fruits containing high water content can combat headache pain.

  • Apricots
  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • Figs
  • Raspberries
  • Melon
  • Cantaloupe
  • Watermelon
  • Honeydew

5. Seeds

The following list of seeds contains omega-3 fatty acids which fight inflammation. They also contain significant amounts of magnesium, which may help prevent blood vessel spasms. Medical research continues to explore blood vessel spasms due to constricted blood vessels as a possible migraine trigger.

  • Poppy seeds
  • Sesame seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sunflower seeds (without natural flavors)
  • Chia seeds

6. Whole grains

Whole grains contain complex carbohydrates, and they work to increase glycogen stores in the brain. They help relieve headache pain because low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) can trigger headaches. One study found a correlation between iron deficiency anemia and migraines in women. (PMID: 31649807) Whole grains provide a wealth of nutrients that include vitamin E, B vitamins, iron, coenzyme Q10, magnesium, and fiber.

  • Quinoa
  • Barley
  • Buckwheat
  • Bulgur
  • Whole oats
  • Whole grain bread

7. Legumes

Legumes contain protein and fiber that help maintain blood sugar levels and magnesium and potassium to relieve blood vessel constrictions. Legumes also supply coenzyme Q10, which may, per a study, reduce the number of days a migraine lasts. All of these nutrients can help relieve headache pain.

  • Lentils
  • Beans
  • Peas
  • Soybeans
  • Chickpeas

8. Hot peppers

Hot peppers contain capsaicin, which numbs the brain’s trigeminal nerve and inhibits the neurotransmitter responsible for causing migraine pain. They may also relieve cluster, tension, and other headaches. Besides, eating hot peppers can help open up clogged sinuses, causing a sinus headache. Hot peppers also contain vitamins C, A, B, and E.

  • Jalapenos
  • Habaneros
  • Cayenne
  • Anaheim

9. Small amount of coffee or tea

One or two cups of coffee or tea each day may provide headache relief, especially if it is a headache triggered by a lack of caffeine. Caffeine can decrease the size of blood vessels, enabling better blood flow. The key is to find a balance and not consume too much caffeine. Too much caffeine can trigger a headache.

10. Ginger

Ginger contains a natural oil with chemical compounds important to helping headache sufferers find relief. It increases the chemical messenger serotonin, and that reduces inflammation. A medical research study on ginger powder found it significantly decreased headache severity in patients with acute migraines without aura. (PMID: 23657930)

  • Ginger spice
  • Ginger powder
  • Ginger tea
  • Ginger supplement

11. Chocolate

Dark chocolate that is at least 70 percent cacao contains a high amount of magnesium and riboflavin. Both nutrients help manage migraines by assisting with the relaxation of blood vessels.

A medical study also found that people who intake a higher amount of tryptophan (a serotonin precursor) daily reduced their odds of developing a migraine by 54-60 percent. Chocolate contains tryptophan and serotonin. (PMID: 32110888)

12. Beets

Beets are rich in nutrients like manganese, potassium, vitamin C, and folic acid. Studies showed that migraine patients who consumed 2 mg of folic acid, along with vitamins B12 and B6, experienced better results in reducing their migraine symptoms compared to those who received only 1 mg of folic acid with the same vitamins. This suggests that the folic acid content in beets could potentially contribute to managing migraine symptoms.

13. Mushrooms

Mushrooms may help with migraines and headaches due to their potential anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Some studies suggested that certain compounds found in mushrooms, such as ergothioneine and antioxidants, may have neuroprotective effects and help alleviate inflammation in the brain, potentially offering relief from migraines and headaches.

14. Avocado

Avocado are rich in magnesium which has been associated with a potential reduction in the occurrence and severity of migraines and headaches. Including avocado as part of a balanced diet may contribute to maintaining adequate magnesium levels, which could have a positive impact on managing these conditions.

15. Figs

Figs have been suggested to potentially help prevent migraines as they contain potassium, which has anti-inflammatory properties. Adequate potassium levels may contribute to reducing inflammation, a potential trigger for migraines.

Is there food to cure migraine headaches? The general recommendation by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is to eat foods that are generally known to not contribute to headaches in most people. A simple diet during the headache period can often bring relief.

  • Brown rice
  • Well-cooked green, orange and yellow vegetables, i.e. squash, carrots, spinach, etc.
  • Dried or cooked non-citrus fruits, like cherries and cranberries

Eliminating the Food and Drink Culprits

Since each person is different as to which foods and drinks cause and relieve headaches, it takes giving the special diet attention to determine what triggers headaches and what helps headache pain. It may be possible to link certain foods to your headaches, so you can eliminate them from the diet, or to link them to headache relief and add them to the diet.

Developing a healthy lifestyle is also crucial to headache management. You should not rely only on medications for relief. Many headaches are caused by stress and tension, so address the stress factors in your life. Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. Limit alcohol intake. Do not skip meals. Drink lots of water every day. Get regular good sleep. Exercise regularly. These are behaviors that anyone can control and will go a long way towards preventing headaches and/or minimizing headache pain.

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About the Author: Sasha Bayat, RD, LDN

Registered dietitian Sasha Bayat, RD, LDN.Sasha’s advice for easy, nutritious meals is to keep staple items that are shelf stable in your pantry and to practice having half a plate of vegetables, a quarter of protein, and a quarter of complex carbohydrates. She advises not to shy away from bagged, canned, or frozen foods, as they can still offer just as many nutrients!

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