Natural remedies for headaches like migraine include peppermint, ginger, and caffeine. That said, they can have side effects and may interact with medications, so always ask your doctor before trying.

If you’re one of the many people who experience migraine, you know they’re much more than just a headache. The intense throbbing, pulsing, and excruciating pain that accompanies a migraine can be debilitating.

In fact, more than 90 percent of people who get migraine attacks can’t work or function normally during an episode.

Most people who experience migraine opt for medication. However, many are turning to natural therapies such as relaxation techniques and herbal remedies.

Years before the introduction of modern medicine, cultures worldwide developed herbal remedies for headaches and other common migraine symptoms. Many of these herbal traditions have survived the passage of time.

Although most herbal migraine remedies haven’t been thoroughly scientifically tested for their effectiveness, many are rapidly gaining the support of the modern medical community.

Always use caution when considering herbal treatments for migraine. Many herbs interfere with other medications so it’s best to discuss your decision with a healthcare professional before beginning or stopping any medical or herbal treatment.

People first used feverfew, or featherfew, in ancient Greece as early as the fifth century B.C. to treat a variety of ailments, including fever, swelling, and inflammation. In the first century, people commonly took the herb to relieve aches and pains such as headaches.

The plant is native to the Balkan Mountains but can now be found nearly worldwide. Eastern European cultures traditionally used feverfew for headaches, insect bites, and other pain. More modern uses have extended to the treatment of:

  • migraine
  • dizziness
  • inflammation
  • breathing problems

People usually prepare feverfew by drying the leaves, flowers, and stems. This combination is also used to make supplements and extracts. Some cultures eat the leaves raw.

A 2023 study suggests that feverfew is an effective treatment for migraine, fever, the common cold, and arthritis. However, a 2004 Cochrane review of five clinical trials showed little to no benefit for most people who experience migraine.

Feverfew may cause minor side effects such as bloating, canker sores, and nausea. When discontinuing use, you may also experience moderate side effects, including difficulty sleeping, increased headaches, and joint pain.

Pregnant people, those taking blood-thinning medications, and those with allergies to the daisy family should avoid using feverfew.

Butterbur is found in wet, marshy areas of Europe, Asia, and North America. People once used the leaves of the plant to wrap and preserve butter during warm weather, which is how butterbur got its name.

It’s been used throughout history for a variety of purposes. The Greek physician Dioscurides originally used the plant as a skin ulcer remedy. Since then, it’s been used to treat:

  • headaches
  • asthma
  • allergies
  • cough
  • fever
  • gastrointestinal problems
  • general pain

Most butterbur herbal remedies use its purified root extract, Petasites, in pill form to treat headaches and migraine. A 2012 review supports conclusions from older studies that Petasites is effective for migraine prevention when taken in 50- to 75-milligram (mg) doses twice daily.

If you live in Europe, Butterbur might be difficult to obtain. The U.K. and Germany have both banned butterbur from being sold because of safety concerns with the leading manufacturers.

The main concern is the compound commonly found in the butterbur plant, pyrrolizidine alkaloid, can lead to hepatotoxicity, lung toxicity, carcinogenesis, and thrombosis.

Therefore, if you’re interested in Butterbur, it’s crucial you buy from reputable brands that follow the necessary safety and purification procedures.

A cross of spearmint and water mint, peppermint grows throughout North America, Europe, and Asia. Peppermint leaves and their essential oils are used for medicinal and culinary purposes. In addition to headache treatment, it’s also used to relieve:

  • spasms
  • toothaches
  • gastrointestinal problems
  • nausea

Peppermint oil and its active ingredient, menthol, are in liquid capsule form. Tea versions are also available for easy brewing.

A 2010 study found that menthol, in a 10% solution, was effective at stopping migraine pain and easing nausea when applied to the forehead and temples.

Research is limited on its clinical effectiveness, but topical peppermint oil may be a good herbal option for the relief of migraine pain. Peppermint oil is one of the easiest herbal remedies to try because of its prevalence in health food stores and pharmacies.

Willow bark extract was used to develop aspirin, a well-known over-the-counter (OTC) pain reliever, fever reducer, and anti-inflammatory drug. It contains an anti-inflammatory ingredient called salicin. A 2012 study suggests willow bark extract is also an effective antioxidant.

Willow is a tree found in Europe, Asia, and North America. It’s been used since the time of Hippocrates (400 B.C.), when people would chew the bark for its anti-inflammatory and fever-relieving effects.

Willow was later used in China and Europe for headaches, osteoarthritis, tendonitis, and lower back pain. You can find willow bark in capsule form and as a chewable bark at most health food stores.

Ginger is a tropical Asian plant. It’s been used in herbal medicines in China for over 2,000 years. It’s also been popular in Indian and Arabic medicines since ancient times. Ginger has traditionally been used as a remedy for:

Ginger has been well-documented as an anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial agent. In addition, a 2013 study showed that ginger powder’s benefits were comparable to those of sumatriptan, a common prescription migraine drug, but with fewer side effects.

Most people can tolerate fresh or dried ginger root, supplements, or extract. However, be careful not to combine ginger supplements with blood thinners because of potential drug interactions.

Ginger capsules and ginger tea are both relatively easy to obtain in almost any grocery store or pharmacy. You can also try drinking ginger water.

Caffeinated teas became common in China during the Ming Dynasty. They exploded in popularity in Europe during the 18th and 19th centuries.

In traditional Chinese medicine, people would use green tea in combination with other herbs for migraine pain. Coffee initially gained recognition in Arabia. Yerba mate, a less widely known caffeinated tea, originated in South America.

People in many cultures primarily consumed caffeine to help treat:

  • headaches
  • high blood pressure
  • stomach problems
  • sexually transmitted diseases
  • cancer
  • circulatory problems
  • inflammation
  • skin damage
  • kidney disease

Caffeine is also found in many OTC pain relievers today.

Although caffeine is frequently studied in combination with other pain relievers, it’s considered a useful and safe additive in pills for many people who experience migraine.

A 2012 study found that a combination of 1,000 mg of acetaminophen and 130 mg of caffeine is particularly helpful. However, caffeine withdrawal and intake can also trigger headaches and migraine.

Valerian is native to Europe and Asia. It’s now also commonly found in North America. The use of valerian traces back to ancient Greece and Rome from the time of Hippocrates. It was recognized as a remedy for insomnia a few centuries later.

Valerian was known as “all-heal” in the 1500s, as it was used to treat a multitude of ailments. These included:

  • insomnia
  • migraine
  • fatigue
  • stomach cramps

Today, it is used primarily used for:

  • insomnia
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • menopause symptoms
  • headaches

Although valerian is now sometimes used to treat headaches, there hasn’t been enough research yet to determine its usefulness in the treatment of migraine pain.

People usually take valerian as a supplement, tea, or tincture made from dried roots. Liquid extract is also available in capsule form. Valerian root capsules are widely sold in the United States.

For over 7,000 years, people across cultures have used coriander seed’s healing and seasoning properties. Coriander was lauded for its ability to treat ailments that ranged from allergies to diabetes to migraine.

Traditional Ayurvedic medicine uses coriander to relieve sinus pressure and headaches. It was done by pouring hot water over the fresh seeds and inhaling the steam.

Research on the seed’s medicinal effects is generally focused on its potential to treat arthritis and diabetes. More studies need to be conducted to determine if it’s useful as a remedy for migraine pain. However, coriander seed’s anti-inflammatory potential may prove beneficial for some people with migraine.

Coriander seeds can be chewed and used in food or teas. Oral extracts are also available.

Hailing from the same family as carrots, parsley, and celery, people have used dong quai root as a spice, tonic, and medicinal cream for more than 1,000 years. It’s especially popular in Japanese, Chinese, and Korean practices. Modern users often mix it with other herbs to treat:

  • headaches
  • fatigue
  • inflammation
  • nerve pain

Despite its history, researchers haven’t studied the root enough to recommend it as an effective treatment for migraine pain.

Known for its sweet smell, lavender oil (made from the flowers of the lavender plant) is highly fragrant and has long been used to perfume hygiene products.

Lavender is indigenous to the mountainous regions surrounding the Mediterranean. It’s now widely grown throughout Europe, Australia, and North America.

Lavender oil was used in ancient Egypt during the mummification process. Because of its antimicrobial properties and clean scent, it was later added to baths in Rome, Greece, and Persia.

The aromatic flowers and their oil were used to treat everything from headaches and insomnia to mental health complaints such as stress and fatigue. Many of these historical uses remain popular today.

A 2012 study suggests that inhaling lavender oil during a migraine may help relieve symptoms quickly. To use lavender oil, breathe in the oil or apply a diluted solution to the temples.

If you don’t dilute it properly, the oil may irritate the skin at the application site. Lavender oil can be toxic when taken orally at certain doses.

Rosemary is native to the Mediterranean region. Medicinal uses have included the treatment of:

  • muscle and joint pain
  • memory problems
  • concentration difficulties
  • nervous disorders
  • circulatory problems
  • liver ailments
  • migraine

You can dilute rosemary oil and apply it topically or inhale it for aromatherapeutic purposes. The plant’s leaves can also be dried and ground for use in capsules.

You can also use it in teas, tinctures, and liquid extracts. Rosemary is believed to have antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant effects. Still, its ability to reduce migraine pain hasn’t been well studied.

Linden, also known as a lime tree or Tilia, is a tree whose blossoms have been used in medicinal teas in European and Native American cultures.

People have used the plant to calm nerves and ease anxiety, tension, and inflammatory problems, among other issues. The blossoms can also be used in tinctures, liquid extracts, and capsules.

Linden has been shown to have sweat-inducing and sedative properties. People have used it to:

  • relieve tension and sinus headaches
  • calm the mind
  • induce sleep
  • relieve nasal congestion
  • lower high blood pressure

This tea is sometimes used in modern alternative medicine for the treatment of headaches and migraine. There currently isn’t enough research about the effect of linden tea on migraine to recommend it as an effective natural remedy.

The potato has been a part of European folk medicine for over 200 years. Country folk medicine has anecdotally supported the use of thick slices of raw potato in calming migraine pain.

Traditionally, people cloak the slices in a thin cloth and wrap it around their heads or rub the slices directly on their temples to ease tension and pain.

There is no current scientific research suggesting that raw potato cuttings can effectively treat migraine when applied topically.

Native to Europe, horseradish has been used in medicinal folk remedies as an oil extract or in dried or fresh root form. People have historically used it to treat:

  • bladder infections
  • kidney disease
  • respiratory problems
  • joint pain
  • arthritis
  • muscle strains

Its ability to narrow blood vessels may aid in treating migraine, but no clinical trials support the use of horseradish for migraine.

Native to Asia, the Japanese honeysuckle started taking root in North America in the 1800s. Some people use it in traditional Chinese medicine to treat:

  • wounds
  • fever
  • colds and viruses
  • inflammation
  • sores
  • infections

Along with honeysuckle’s anticancer and antimicrobial abilities, 2011 research has also identified anti-inflammatory properties in the plant’s leaves, stems, and flowers that can provide pain relief similar to that of aspirin. It may also be effective against migraine pain.

Since ancient times, people in Europe and Asia have been using mullein for medicinal purposes, treating inflammatory conditions, spasms, diarrhea, and migraine.

The leaves and flowers can be suitable for extracts, capsules, poultices, and dried preparations. Tinctures of the plant are used in modern homeopathic therapies for migraine treatment. Research from 2014 has shown that mullein has diuretic properties.

Believed to be named after Achilles, the Greek mythical hero, people have historically used yarrow to treat wounds and slow blood loss. Other folk remedies encourage the use of yarrow to treat inflammatory conditions, muscle spasms, anxiety, or insomnia. More recent folk remedies have used yarrow to relieve colds, flu, coughs, and diarrhea.

Yarrow has also been shown to have pain-relieving, anti-anxiety, and antimicrobial properties. Although more research is needed, the plant contains anti-inflammatory properties that may provide relief to people who experience migraine. Yarrow can be used in a variety of forms, including capsules and tinctures.

Teaberry, popularly known as wintergreen, is native to eastern North America. This edible plant, made famous by Teaberry gum, has long held a place in folk medicine for its anti-inflammatory properties. It can be used to make teas, tinctures, and oil extracts.

Teaberry also has been used historically as an astringent and as a stimulant to manage fatigue. Most important for people who experience migraine is teaberry’s potential to treat neuralgias and headaches as well as stomach pain and vomiting.

You can brew teaberry in hot water for 3 to 4 minutes and drink the mixture to experience its healing effects.

Hops are native to Europe and Western Asia and can now be found throughout North America. Once used as a food in ancient Roman culture, this flavorful plant also has significant medicinal properties. Hops have historically been used to treat:

  • sleep problems
  • inflammation
  • infections
  • neuralgia (pain from nerve damage)
  • fever
  • cramps
  • spasms
  • anxiety

Modern medicine acknowledges the sedative effect of hops, but hasn’t thoroughly studied it for its impact on migraine pain.

You’ll find this perennial herb throughout Europe and Asia. It’s been used as a medicinal plant since classical times. People traditionally use this plant to relieve headaches, facial swelling, and pain. You can use the leaves as a juice, poultice, or ointment.

The plant’s mildly sedative properties may treat headache and migraine pain, menstrual cramps, stress, and tension. It may help alleviate sinus headaches and congestion when used in combination with lime flowers and comfrey.

However, there have been no human clinical trials to demonstrate the plant’s effectiveness against migraine pain. It’s not always easy to find betony in health food stores, so you may have to grow your own or buy it online.

Betony can have a slower effect on the body. It’s also important to avoid the herb if you’re pregnant.

This deciduous tree is native to China and has been used in Chinese medicine since the first century A.D. Evodia has traditionally been used to treat:

  • abdominal pain
  • headaches
  • diarrhea
  • vomiting

The tree’s fruits may also reduce blood pressure, and their anti-inflammatory properties may help ease migraine pain.

Although many herbal remedies can be safe when used correctly, they may also have side effects like any prescription medication would.

Some herbs can interact with medications, such as oral contraceptives or heart drugs. Herbs can be dangerous or even deadly when misused. Some have little research to back claims, verify toxicity levels, or identify potential side effects.

There are several types of migraine. Speaking with a healthcare professional about your migraine symptoms may be best to help create a personalized treatment plan.

Migraine without aura

This is the most common kind of migraine headache. It builds over several hours before the pain of your migraine peaks, usually lasting up to 72 hours.

People who have these kinds of migraine tend to experience them a few times per year. If they occur more often than that, a doctor may diagnose someone with chronic migraine.

Migraine with aura

Some people experience disturbances of the nervous system, called aura, during their migraine. Auras can include:

  • bright spots in the field of vision
  • tingling sensations
  • vision loss
  • hallucinated odors
  • uncontrolled movements

Retinal migraine

Retinal migraine involves vision loss in one eye. Unlike migraine with aura, the visual disturbances are usually contained to that eye.

Chronic migraine

Doctors define chronic migraine as having migraine attacks that occur on more than 15 days per month for 3 months or more.

This frequency can be debilitating. Medical evaluation is required to obtain a treatment plan and to identify if something else is causing the migraine to occur so often.

Certain behaviors, emotions, hormones, and foods can trigger a migraine. For example, caffeine or chemical withdrawal can cause migraine. According to the American Nutrition Association, the most common dietary triggers for migraine include:

  • chocolate
  • food dyes and additives
  • preservatives
  • aspartame
  • cured meats

Food allergies and sensitivities can also activate migraine as a symptom.

A high stress, competitive lifestyle can sometimes lead to recurrent migraine. Emotional stress from chemicals released during emotional situations can also provoke a migraine. Hormones may be a notorious migraine trigger.

For women, the menstrual cycle is often connected to when their migraine occurs. You may want to consider if there are migraine patterns or triggers that you can identify before you decide to try an herbal treatment.

In addition to herbal treatments, significant research shows that diet can play a major role in migraine frequency, duration, and intensity. Potential preventive measures and treatments for migraine include:

  • eating a low fat diet
  • eliminating or limiting foods that show IgG antibody production
  • improving gut flora content
  • eating consistently to minimize low blood sugar

Just like medications, herbs can have significant side effects on the body. Some can interact with other medicines and be dangerous or even deadly when misused. It’s a good idea to discuss all treatment options with your doctor before use.

Consider tracking your triggers, symptoms, pain intensity and duration, and other related factors in a migraine journal or migraine app. Whether you choose pharmaceutical treatments, natural remedies, or a combination, having a thorough record of your experiences will help you and your doctor find the best treatment options.

It might also be helpful to talk with others about their own experiences with migraine. Our free app, Migraine Healthline, connects you with real people who experience migraine. Ask treatment-related questions and seek advice from others who get it. Download the app for iPhone or Android.