Herbal First Aid: Part 1 - Headaches

by - September 17, 2011

By a raise of hands, whose first aid kit looks a bit like this: antibiotic ointment, tylenol, aspirin, ibuprofen, benadryl, antiseptic sprays, antacids, anti-diarrhea meds?

Ya, that is me. I'm not afraid to admit it. Many of us have been programmed to understand first aid to look like this. I've been slowly working my way to replacing these items with herbal alternatives. Slowly. My motivation was put into overdrive this past week when my daughter had a terrible allergic reaction to ibuprofen. She fell and hit the area near her eye on Sunday. Black, swollen eye. Ouch. When Monday rolled around, she was ok to go to school, but was still in pain from the incident. In a rush to get her out the door on time to school, I offered her a small dose of dye-free ibuprofen. An hour later, I get a call from the school nurse saying that her face was swollen, coughing, sneezing uncontrollably, red-faced and miserable. It wasn't until later that we realized many kids with asthma or other respiratory issues (my poor daughter) can often react to NSAIDs (non-steroid, anti-inflammatory drugs) in this way.

That led to a google search on ibuprofen and children, which led to a flood of information I wished I had known before. My resolution to learn natural, effective, drug-free alternatives in treating my family during first-aid situations was ignited. Join in my journey, will you?

Let's build our herbal medicine chest together, step by step. I'll provide easy to follow whats, hows and whys and share with you everything I've learned. Feel free to offer suggestions and please correct me if I'm wrong. I'm not a Dr. or pharmacist (my dad and brother are, tho!) I'm not certified in anything. My only credentials are being an impassioned mother of 3, who also happens to have a degenerative, chronic auto-immune disease. I know there are better things in this world than popping pills and sticking our heads in the sand, ignoring the true root cause of our health issues. I'm determined to help my family HEAL using the God-given gifts this earth has to offer.

With that said, let's break it down topic by topic. Today I'll touch on HEADACHES. Throughout the years I've known many friends and family members who have suffered with headaches and migraines. This post is dedicated to you.


Meadowsweet and willow bark tincture should be the first line of defense for headache pain management. Don't know what a tincture is? Click here. Meadowsweet and willow bark herbs both contain the natural glycoside salicin, which has a very similar chemistry to aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid). Salicin also has the same antipyretic (fever reducing), anti-inflammatory, and analgesic (pain relieving) properties as aspirin (source). Before the pharmaceutical industry began making aspirin with petrochemicals, they used white willow bark to make aspirin. Use these herbs in tincture form.  30 to 40 drops (about 2 dropperfuls), three to five times per day, that you drink in a little water until symptoms subside.

Lavender essential oil is best when placed on the temple for a stress or anger-related headache. Make sure you get "Lavandula officinalis", as seen here. There are many varieties of lavender, but lavandula officinalis is grown at higher altitudes, which adds an additional constituent to their medicinal uses that other lavenders do not have -- inhibits blistering that comes with burns. Lavender is very soothing and also analgesic (kills pain).

Chamomile is a great anti-inflammatory. Headaches are generally caused by an inflammatory response. After drinking chamomile tea, consider placing the used tea bag at the base of your neck and holding it there with a clean cloth. You may also use chamomile essential oil. Use lavender essential oil on the temples and tops of shoulders and chamomile at the base of the neck.


My-graine essential oil is a powerful blend of many essential oils (copaiba balsam, chamomile German, Grapefruit, helichrysum, lavender, marjorm, peppermint, zanthoxylum) that can significantly help a migraine sufferer. As discussed above, apply on temples, base of neck and tops of shoulders. Soak in the bath with 3 drops of the oil and place 8-10 drops on a cold washcloth placed at the back of the neck at the same time. Try to relax as much as possible while the essential oil takes effect.

Feverfew tincture is an effective migraine remedy, especially for those with light sensitivity. For some migraine sufferers it can be used daily as a preventative, and for others it only works as treatment for acute migraines. Feverfew is also an excellent anti-inflammatory, making it useful in many other first-aid situations, which we'll discuss later. 30-40 drops two-four times per day.

So let's summarize, if I were to get a headache, mild or otherwise, meadowsweet/willow tincture would be the first thing I grab. Easy and quick. If more treatment were required, get your water boiling to start your chamomile tea. Follow that with lavender essential oil applied to the temples. Drink your chamomile tea and apply chamomile essential oil or tea bag to the base of the neck and lavender to the tops of the shoulders. All of these options are safe for children, but it is important to note that children should not be getting headaches. Seek a medical professional if they are. '

For migrane sufferers, feverfew tincture becomes your go-to remedy, followed by the lavender and chamomile or my-graine essential oil blend.

HERBAL MEDICINE CHEST (with links on where to find it)
Lavender essential oil
Chamomile essential oil
Chamomile tea - any local grocery store will carry regular chamomile tea in their coffee/tea aisle
Meadowsweet and/or willow tinctures
Feverfew tincture

My-Graine essential oil

Keep in mind that the above remedies are helping alleviate symptoms (albeit all-natural), but not treating the source of the problem. Keep a record of food consumed and other substances exposed to near the time of the onset to help track the cause of the headache. I encourage everyone to continue on in their own personal healing journeys through diet and other natural self-healing opportunities. Find a good chiropractor, naturopath, homeopath, or a dr open to alternative treatments. Continue learning and researching and above all, moving forward. Take care, my friends.

Next post -- stomach ache/digestion troubles

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