James A. Duke, PhD, author of The Green Pharmacy, offers five options for you to consider.
- Feverfew and ginger: Research suggests that regularly taking feverfew reduces migraine frequency, while ginger may soothe symptoms.
- Willow: The herb contains salicin, an aspirin-like substance. White willow (S. alba) is rather low in this pain-relieving stuff, so if you want more headache relief per cup of tea, look for species that are more potent, like S. daphnoides or S. fragilis. (Find out why aspirin is also a "brain pill.")
- Red pepper: Studies show that its heat-giving ingredient, capsaicin, may help prevent cluster headaches. (Here’s why you should add the food to an egg-white omelet.)
- Thyme: Thyme can be used in a compress to ease achy muscles in the neck, shoulders, and back that contribute to tension headaches. You can also drink thyme tea. (Check out how this herb can healthy-up a salad, too.)
Remember, just like pharmaceutical drugs, herbs can cause side effects or interact with medications. So before running out to the health-food store, clear your plans with your doctor, and ask about the appropriate dose. Take this quick mini assessment to learn about other uses for herbs.