Even a small headache can ruin your day, not to mention a splitting headache or even a migraine. Headaches can be caused by a number of factors: stress, sinus pressure, fever, etc, and sometimes they can linger even after you’ve taken pain relief.
I know this well. I have been living with constant construction in the apartments surrounding my own for the past year and a half, and am sadly familiar with noise induced headaches. When the noise in my home morphs from unbearable into a pounding headache, I want more than pain relief, I want tea.
These are some of the teas that I, (and the scientific community) have found helpful.
Chamomile has come up again and again as a treatment for insomnia and anxiety, which can both lead to tension headaches. Its relaxing properties are a result of the fact that chamomile is high in apigenin, which has been shown to lower anxiety.
In addition, a 2018 study showed that chamomile oil may help relieve some of the side effects that come with migraines, such as nausea and photophobia.
Chamomile is delicious on its own. It has a very mild sweetness to it that goes well with honey. Some great plain chamomile teas are Yogi Comforting Chamomile and The Tea Company’s Loose Leaf Organic Chamomile Tea.
One of the reasons people often turn to peppermint teas when they are feeling unwell is because of its tingling flavor and mild sweetness. It turns out that that tingling flavor, provided by a compound called menthol (yes, the very same chemical compound used in Vick’s Vapor Rub) has anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, and anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties.
Additionally, and specific to headaches, a 2016 study found that peppermint oil can help relieve tension headaches. Likewise, an earlier animal study showed that peppermint may have pain relieving properties.
Some of my favorite mint teas and blends are:
- Art of Tea Pacific Coast Mint Tea: This tea is made of a blend of spearmint and peppermint. It is bright, refreshing, and calming.
- Buddha Tea European Peppermint Tea: All peppermint, this tea is smooth and minty. As with all Buddha Teas, it is also 100% organic.
- Rishi Tea Lavender Mint: This blend contains mint, sage, and lavender for a spicy, yet floral herbal flavor. It is relaxing and soothing.
- Tazo Refresh Mint: As its name implies, this blend of spearmint, peppermint, and tarragon, is bright, and spicy, with a hint of licorice sweetness from the tarragon.
Ginger has long been used to treat a variety of ailments, and recent scientific studies have shown that ginger has broad antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, among others. Similarly, a randomized controlled trial showed that ginger powder is effective in treating migraines.
Though a ginger tisane is nice on its own, ginger can also be a component of tisanes with other ingredients for taste or health benefits. For instance, The Art of Tea’s Breathe Tea features ginger, bergamot, turmeric, and chili for a spicy, but rounded drink. Likewise, Tea Drop’s Citrus Ginger Tea goes with the tried and true combination of citrus and ginger to create a balanced and healthful tisane.
Willow Bark Tea
The bark of the willow tree, sometimes referred to as “nature’s aspirin”, has been used to treat pain since ancient times. It contains an ingredient called salacin which has the same chemical properties as aspirin. Studies have shown that it is an effective anti-inflammatory and that it has few adverse effects in comparison to other NSAIDs, including aspirin.
Willow bark tastes rather unpleasant- bitter and woody. I never drink it. Most mainstream tea companies tend not to stock it. You can, however, find a number of herbal companies on Amazon that sell willow bark.
It should be noted that people who are advised to stay away from aspirin, such as pregnant women or children under the age of 16, or people on blood thinners should stay away from willow bark as well.
Other teas that can be helpful for relieving headache pain are:
- Clove tea: Used to treat pain for centuries. It has also been found to be a powerful antimicrobial and antioxidant.
- Lime Tree Tea: Also known as linden tea, this tea is full of antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties.
What to look for in a tea for headaches?
Because headaches can be caused by so many factors, it may be hard to figure out which tea is best for you when. It may take a little experimenting. Ginger may be best for when you have sinus pressure, chamomile may be better for when your headache is stress induced, etc. Play around and figure out what works for you.
As usual, if you find that your headaches are persistent, recurring, or immobilizing, please check in with your doctor.