In Ayurveda, Headache occurs due to the Dosha Imbalance: Pitta (fire/water), Vata (space/air) which is almost a universal symptom and one of the most common human complaint and the reason for consulting a Physician. It is rightly said that the differential diagnosis of a headache is probably one of the longest in all of medicine. Since it can range from a mild head injury to serious brain tumor or could be limited to itself like a migraine. Although most headaches in general practice are ordinary tension headaches. But the character of pain may vary as such the final outcome will, therefore, depend upon the correct diagnosis.

In Ayurveda, “ARDHAVABHEDAKA” is one of the shoola pradhana shiroroga [pain predominant headache] mentioned in the classics and symptoms of Ardhavabhedaka very much correlates to that of Migraine, which is a common throbbing unilateral headache due to multiple factors including diet, environment. Thus present article covers headache with special reference to Migraine.

Signs to Check While Headache


The brain contains no pain receptors [i.e. it is anesthetic], but the surrounding structures like meninges, periosteum and the scalp all have pain receptors. As such most headaches are not harmful [unless proved otherwise], even said that one should always check the following signs [ as routine] in every patient of a headache even if they seem to be of less importance or clinically insignificant to the patient. These are:

  • Check and measure blood pressure: and control if hypertension is there.
  • Look for any extracranial pathology like tenderness over paranasal sinuses, acute or chronic infection in teeth, ears, tonsils or involvement of temporomandibular [TMJ] joint.
  • Check for any painful neck movements for cervical spondylitis. [if the headache is associated with fever and stiff neck exclude meningitis ]
  • Check for eyesight in the young patient(s) since they usually have a refractive error, and/or for glaucoma if eye is painful/ red.
  • If the patient is known diabetic, check his/her blood sugar level to exclude hypoglycemia which can give recurrent and chronic headache.
  • If on examination there are associated neurological sign [weakness of limb, convulsions] then refer for Neurologist’s opinion and relevant investigation like X-ray skull, CT scan.


Dietary Regime:

  1. Pathya [wholesome diet]: black gram, brinjal, mango, pomegranate, black grapes, banana, garlic, milk, coconut water, figs, sesame seeds, head massage, rest, homemade butter, kanji [homemade rice gruel/porridge], drumstick, protein-rich diet, dark chocolate, dried apricots, egg, citrus fruits, honey, cooked green vegetables, orange, sweet potato, carrots, spinach, brown rice.
  2. Apathya [unwholesome diet]: millet/buckwheat flour, green gram, pigeon pea, peas, black chickpea, bitter gourd, betel, heavy food, irregular timing of meals, excess physical/mental exertion, stress and anxiety, fasting, change in weather, dehydration, red wine, alcoholic beverages, nicotine, yeast, beef, late night awakening, tomato, onion, cheese, soybean, chocolate, peanut, almond, pickles, Chinese/processed food, hot dogs, any visual [bright lights/glare], auditory [loud noise/music], factory [perfumes and certain odors] STIMULI.

Home Remedies for headache:

Ayurvedic Remedy-headache

Although for treating headaches one might need an analgesic [ which can cause side effects of bleeding/ulceration  in stomach and irreversible damage to the liver, and maybe a tranquilizer, which can cause dry mouth and drowsiness]. Thus Ayurvedic medicine/herbs typically prevents rather than relieve pain, and are often taken for a long period of time to achieve a better homeostasis among mind and body by improving blood flow and reduce stress and also correcting hormonal imbalance in females [menstrual migraine].

Remedy I

Black grapes are an effective home remedy [ crush ripe grapes and drink, do not add water].

Remedy II

Mix spinach and carrot juice in the ratio 2:3 respectively, alternatively mix beetroot juice and carrot juice in the ratio 1:3.

Remedy III

Rub onion paste to opposite feet.

Remedy IV

Put 2-3 drops of coconut water into nose.

Remedy V

Apply garlic pod paste on forehead.

Remedy VI

Put 4-5 drops of lime juice into opposite side nostril.

Remedy VII

Put 2-3 drops of white onion juice in eyes.

Remedy VIII

Intake of ghee [post meal].

Remedy IX

Lepa [topical application] of sariva [hemidesmus indicus] on head.

Remedy X

Lie down in a dark and quiet room.

Remedy XI

If possible apply ice bag over the head.

Remedy XII

Take 280 ml purified sesame oil, 10 ml each camphor – sandalwood – cinnamon oil: put the entire 310 ml oil in a bottle and massage on the forehead or put 4 drops in the ear.

Remedy XIII

Some of the drugs which are worth mentioning and can be available on prescription is/are:  valerian [tagar], brahmi oil, vrihat vata chintamani rasa, tribhuvana kirti ras, vasant malti ras, kamdudha ras, mahalakshmi vilas ras, godanti bhasma, Pathyadi kadha,  dashmoolarishta, cephagraine, anu taila, Panchakarma procedures like Nasya/Takradhara, feverfew, hawthorn, gingko, buckwheat, horsechest nut, lavender, thyme, rosemary, chamomile, lemon balm, ginger, horseradish, sage, black cohosh, wild yam, eucalyptus, peppermint.


To summarise this whole article that includes home remedies for headaches, we have a few points to mention that you need to note. Headaches due to hunger, sleep deprivation or hangover are physiological [unless proved otherwise]. A headache is a complaint where symptoms are more significant than the signs and investigations [if any] is an exception, not the rule. Eye problems and sinus disease seldom cause headaches. Patients tend to blame their headaches on eye strain or sinusitis, but in fact, these are rare etiologies. To bring relief from headache/migraine one can take medicine either in oral [as tea/tincture/syrup/pills] or as topical remedies [as creams, oils, bath, poultice]. Headaches can be primary under clinical examination and investigations where the patient continues to suffer from the complaint like migraine/a tension-cluster headache and secondary due to some underlying cause like a brain tumor, inflammation of meninges or hemorrhage. Thus you should diagnose a headache as Primary only after excluding any secondary cause of a headache. Orgasm is a rare cause of a headache [coital cephalagia]. Chronic daily headache can be secondary to depression.

Headaches that begin after the age of fifty should always be investigated to rule out organic causes. A tension headache is the commonest headache, it is more towards evening and the patient feels better on pressing over the scalp. If you can eat during your headache, it is probably not a migraine. In Modern medicine, ergotamines still remain the best treatment for migraine headaches. The last tip according to Ayurveda is to daily do neck exercise or Yoga for Headache.

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Dr Munish Sood

Dr Munish Sood

B.A.M.S, MD (Ayu) Kayachikitsa
He is an Ayurveda Specialist with working experience of almost 18 years as: Sr. Consultant cum Physician (M.D.) & Sr. R.M.O, JNANI Hospital: (An Undertaking of Tibetan Craft Community, Tashijong, Kangra), Paprola. Consulting (M.D.) & Sr. R.M.O, DTIL Hospital, Chimbalhaar, Palampur. Sr. Medical Officer, Simla Sanitarium & Hospital, Himachal Pradesh. Assistant Professor & Medical Officer, SUDAC & Hospital, Hoshiarpur.