Best Headache Treatments without a Prescription
Sometimes, when I feel very brave, I actually think back on the period of my life when my migraines and tension headaches started. It is hard to think about that time, because during it, I was in so much pain that sometimes I literally wanted to die.
And the worst of it was … nobody would give me anything to take for the pain. I went to the doctor. I went to several doctors, actually. None of them were sure what was wrong with me. In fact, most of them refused to believe anything was wrong with me.
The headache was invisible, and they could measure no other symptoms. All they had were my reports of agony, but I looked fine. Sometimes they would ask me if I was depressed, and I would tell them “no.” I was of course, but I knew the moment I admitted it, despair would take over.
I asked about painkillers each time, and each time, they all gave me the same dark look. It took me a while to figure out what that look was, but eventually I did.
They didn’t believe I had headaches. They thought I was an addict, and that I was trying to con them into giving me drugs to fuel my addiction.
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Health Professionals Regularly Turn Down Migraineurs for Prescription Medication.
In this article, I am going to teach you some non-prescription treatments you can try to manage and reduce headache pain. But first, a little more on the story I shared above.
There is no way to adequately convey the anger and helplessness I felt at the fact that nobody would prescribe me medicine. Here I was in pain that was so intense I could hardly stand breathing, and nobody was willing to take me seriously.
Just the thought of five minutes without pain had become the stuff of unattainable dreams.
In any case, one thing was obvious to me, and that was that this had nothing to do with me personally. Evidently there must be a lot of addicts who do use the excuse of “headaches” to try and get prescription pain meds.
While I can sympathize with the predicament, I do not think this issue excuses health professionals from ignoring people who really are in crippling agony and who can barely function. There were days that the pain was so intense that I had to pull over on the side of the road to avoid passing out behind the wheel of my car.
For whatever reason, nobody seems to take torture seriously when it is being inflicted on you by the indifference of nature rather than by a person.
In any case, if it does happen to you that you are rejected for prescription meds, you are in the same boat I was then, which is realizing that you and you alone can make a difference in your life. The system abandoned me, and it abandons a lot of other migraine sufferers.
Nobody wanted to treat my pain, and nobody wanted to get to the bottom of why I was in pain to begin with.
If you are going through this, you probably are not going to get the help you need from someone else.
But you can help yourself.
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Looking on the Bright Side …
If you are feeling desperate because you cannot get the prescription meds you feel you need, it can help to try and look at the potential positives of your situation. It probably doesn’t feel like there are any, but there may be more silver linings than you realize:
You can avoid the nasty side effects and long-term health consequences of prescription meds.
Ergotamines for example may cause dizziness, nausea, vomiting, numbness, pain in muscles, cold hands and feet, anxiety, and nasal irritation. Opioids are highly addicting. Triptans can cause nausea, dizziness or drowsiness, and so on.
Many migraineurs wonder and worry about what effect using these medications could have on their health decades down the road. At least if you never start using them, you do not have to deal with these issues. Look at it as one less thing to worry about.
You can become a veritable expert in pain management.
Obviously this is something none of us want to have to become experts in, but think how valuable this may be to you in the future, not just with migraines, but with other things that may go wrong with your health.
You will also get to know your body very well along the way, and will discover what tricks work for you and which ones don’t.
You now will have even more motivation to treat the cause of the problem and not merely the symptoms.
Being in pain is awful, but if you have a low psychological tolerance for it, it will spur you to action. Ultimately, this may lead you to treating the underlying problem and sparing yourself from some worse suffering down the road.
You will have a chance to help others.
In a world where pain is ultimately unavoidable, this is a given. Somewhere along the way, your knowledge will help bring somebody else the relief you are desperately seeking right now.
So I hope with these points in mind, you feel encouraged. Now let’s look at what you can do to tackle your pain at home on your own without a prescription.
Headache Treatments without a Prescription
1. Don’t overlook OTC medications.
First of all, if your headaches are incredibly severe, you may find yourself wanting to throw your Ibuprofen in the waste bin. It felt pretty useless during the initial months of my suffering as well.
I noticed though over time that this was not the case. In my case, there was a gradual reduction in my pain over time as my body restored some internal balance. After several months, taking Ibuprofen did make a difference.
It was always a struggle for me debating about when to take it, how much, and how often. I was lucky in that rebound headaches were never an issue for me, but they may be for you, so that is something you will have to weigh into your considerations.
But one thing I learned was that sometimes it is worth it to take three or four pills out of a bottle to experience a day with only mild or moderate pain rather than severe agony, especially if you have plans. These milder days are sometimes all you have to cling to when you need to scrape together the resolve to survive another day of torture.
So try not to write off what these medications can do for you, even if they cannot provide you with the full relief you wish you could have.
2. Try drinking coffee.
Another thing you can do to curb your headaches is drink coffee or another beverage which is high in caffeine. Taking caffeine with a medication can make that medication up to 40% more effective than it would be by itself.
This is something that took me years to figure out, despite how often I had heard that caffeine makes a difference with headaches. But this was because I derided caffeine drinkers, because I had known quite a few when I was younger who suffered from rebound headaches.
So you need to watch out for rebound headaches with this tactic too. But so long as you use caffeine only when you need it most, you can get some powerful relief.
3. Herbal remedies can be very powerful.
Moving beyond OTC medications and coffee, another option which can have even more powerful results in some cases with fewer side effects is to take herbal remedies.
Here are a few herbs you can try:
- Boswellia: This herb is useful in treating a variety of different headache types, including severe cluster headaches.
- Feverfew: Check out this study on 72 patients. Researchers found that feverfew treatment helped to reduce the frequency and severity of migraines, the degree of vomiting, and the duration of each episode.
- Butterbur: Multiple studies have shown promising results for this herb as a treatment for migraines. See here and here.
- Ginger: The prophylactic and abortive effects of ginger can help in the management of migraines. Indeed, used in conjunction with feverfew, it can help to prevent mild headaches from turning into moderate or severe ones.
- Chaste Tree: This particular herb is effective in treating migraines which are associated with hormonal imbalances. Here is a study which found that Chaste Tree (also called Vitex) helped reduce the duration and frequency of migraines in women with PMS. I have also found it works well for migraines resulting from estrogen dominance (like mine).
You can try taking these supplements individually, or you can purchase a product which contains a blend of these powerful ingredients. All of them are safe and well-tolerated going by current research, and each is a promising natural treatment for migraines.
I am a success story when it comes to herbal migraine treatment. You already know what my life was like when my migraines started—it was hardly a life at all. Nowadays I am fortunate enough to live what is more or less a normal life. I still get migraines on a regular basis, but I feel normal and pain-free much of the time.
What made the single biggest difference is that I started taking Vitex. Within days, my entire life took a turn for the better. I cannot even begin to tell you the relief I experienced, which only continued to increase over the successive months. So give herbal remedies a try. You may find that they can do far more for you than a prescription medication ever could have.
4. Massage therapy, chiropractic treatment, acupuncture, and other alternative therapies can help with headaches.
If you can afford it, consider seeing an alternative health practitioner about your situation, especially if you have reason to believe that tension plays a role in your headaches. For my part, I have both migraines resulting from a hormonal imbalance and tension headaches resulting from TMD.
Massage therapy and chiropractic treatment can both help to relieve tense muscles. A chiropractor can correct problems with alignment and help you improve your posture. Acupuncture for migraines is controversial but worth checking into.
5. Use ice, heat, sleep, exercise, meditation, and other simple remedies at home to manage pain.
There is a lot you can do on a daily basis to manage and reduce your pain. Exercise, sleep, meditation, and stress reduction techniques can help with acute attacks and with prevention.
To get the best results with these methods, you need to do them on an ongoing basis. Do not just exercise once in a while; do it several times a week. Do not just meditate once in a while when you are stressed.
Instead, resolve to meditate for a few minutes every day. Establish regular sleep patterns, and do not diverge from them. Get six to nine hours a night—whatever you need to function at your best.
Ice and heat are valuable treatments as well.
Try using them throughout the day to numb your nerves and loosen up tense muscles. The more willing you are to incorporate this into your regular routine, the more effective you will find it.
6. Knowledge is power.
Finally, the single most important thing you can do to treat your headaches without a prescription is figure out what is causing yours.
To that end, you should conduct a lot of research, maintain a headache diary, and experiment with different treatment methods.
Knowledge truly is power. When I saw a chiropractor and found out my jaw is out of alignment, I knew from then on what I needed to do to keep my spine aligned and my muscles as loose as possible.
When I experimented and logged observations and realized I had a hormonal imbalance, I knew that Vitex could help balance my hormones and reduce my migraines.
This is something a prescription medication can never do for you. Pain meds treat only the symptom, not the source. And treating the root of the problem is important, not just to reduce your migraines, but also to safeguard your overall health.
And this is where I wrap back around to “looking on the bright side.” Yes, my migraines are a hassle, and sometimes they are horrible. Yes, I did endure years of straight-up torture, and sometimes I worry about the future.
But I also know I am better equipped to face it because the pain forced me to identify underlying health issues. Pain is not meaningless. It is a message from your body, and it is always worth checking into it and seeing what that message says. Your doctor may choose to ignore it, but you never should.
Maybe my chiropractic treatments will prevent me from getting arthritis someday. Perhaps treating my hormonal issues will stop me from getting cancer. If so, all of the pain I have been through would obviously have been worth it.
So try and look at treating your headaches as an investment in your future. You fight a tough battle today, but it may be what enables you to win—or prevent—a catastrophic war tomorrow.
Conclusion: Treating Headaches At Home Without a Prescription is Tough, But There Is a Lot You Can Do to Minimize or Eliminate Your Pain
Few moments in your life are more frustrating than when a doctor tells you, “I can’t find anything wrong with you. Get some rest, and good luck.” And then, to add insult to injury, he or she looks at you like you are scum—a drug addict who is just looking for a fix.
But you know and I know that migraine pain is very real, even though it is invisible, and even though its causes may not always be obvious to mainstream medical providers. So if you cannot get a prescription, try and take heart in knowing that lots of migraine sufferers are turned away by doctors, and still manage to find ways to take control of their life back.
When I first started treating myself at home without a prescription, I had strong doubts I would achieve any improvements at all.
But here I am today, doing better than ever. And I am here to tell you that you too can triumph. So try following my recommendations.
Experiment with different treatments, keep a log, identify your migraine triggers, and never give up. Eventually, you too may wake up to a glorious day without head pain.