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 Homeopathy: Headaches 

Homeopathic Medicines for Headaches of All Types
Use homeopathic medicines at home when you or your children have mild to moderate headaches.

Itís often difficult to choose the right medicine for a headache. So many headaches are made better or worse by the same factors, and many remedies cover these common modalities. Often the personís general symptoms are your best guide in choosing the medicine. Use only the strongest, most definite headache symptoms in your case analysis, and compare them to the symptoms we list here. If you still have trouble picking the right medicine, we recommend you choose between the first three we cover, Belladonna, Nux, and Bryonia. One of these three medicines will help the majority who suffer from acute headaches that have few specific symptoms.

Casetaking Questions

Onset of symptoms:
Did anything seem to trigger the headache? For example, exposure to cold or wet weather or to a draft, eating too much or eating something in particular, alcohol or drugs, emotions, overwork, or lack of sleep?

Character of the pain:
Where in the head is the pain centered, and where does it radiate? What is the character of the pain (throbbing, aching, burning, etc.)?

Associated symptoms:
Has the headache affected the patientís appearance? Is the face pale or flushed red? Are the pupils dilated? How is vision affected? Have digestive symptoms such as nausea or vomiting developed? Does the headache seem related to the menstrual cycle, occurring prior to, during, or after the periods?

What time of day is the headache worst? What makes the pain better or worse? How is it affected by hot or cold applications, heat and cold in general, pressure, light, and noise? How does motion, and position (lying, sitting, or standing) affect the pain? Does motion of the eyes affect the pain?

Remedy Summary for Headaches
If you find it hard to select a medicine from those listed here, choose among Belladonna, Nux, and Bryonia.

Give the medicine: Up to every two hours; once improvement begins, repeat only when symptoms are worse again or improvement has ceased for an hour or so.

When to try another medicine: If the symptoms are no better after two or three doses of the first medicine you try.



  • Intense headaches with violent throbbing pains
  • Pain aggravated by light, noise, touch, strong or unusual smells, motion, or jarring
  • Pain begins and passes suddenly
  • Confirmatory symptoms
  • Pain most typically located in the forehead, from which it may extend to the back of the head
  • Face flushed or feels hot, sometimes with cold hands and feet
  • Dilated pupils
  • Relieved by sitting or firm pressure
  • Pain worse from climbing steps or descending a slope or stairway and in the afternoon



  • Headache aggravated by motion, even very slight motion of the head or eyes
  • Steady aching or sense of heaviness with little throbbing
  • Confirmatory symptoms
  • Pain worsened by slight touch, relieved by firm pressure
  • Pain worst in the morning, especially after first moving in bed or just after getting out of bed
  • Headache centered over left eye
  • Headache accompanied by nausea, vomiting, or constipation
  • Patient irritable, wants to be left alone

    Nux vomica


  • Headaches beginning after overeating; from alcohol, coffee or other drugs; from loss of sleep; or from excessive mental work
  • Headache accompanied by general sick feeling and by digestive upsets including vomiting, gas, or sour or bitter taste Confirmatory symptoms
  • Pain worst on first waking in the morning, improving after getting up
  • Pain aggravated by sounds such as sound of footsteps
  • Pain relieved by wrapping the head up or being in a warm room



  • Headache coming on after meals or after warm, rich, or fatty foods or ice cream -or-
  • Headaches in connection with menstrual period (before, during, or at end of the period) Confirmatory symptoms
  • Patient wants company and consolation
  • Relief with gentle motion, especially walking slowly in open air
  • Pain in forehead or on one side; or changes location frequently
  • Pain relieved by pressure, worsened by blowing the nose



  • Pain begins at the back of the head, extending upward or to the forehead -or-
  • Headaches preceded by dimness of vision or other visual disturbances Confirmatory symptoms
  • Sensation of a band or hood bound tightly around the head
  • Pain on the right side of the head
  • Relieved by napping or urinating
  • Aggravated by light, noise, motion, or jarring
  • Patient feels dull, tired, heavy, and apathetic; wants to be left alone but not markedly irritable



  • Pain in one side of the forehead, particularly the right
  • Migraine headaches that come on at regular intervals Confirmatory symptoms
  • Headache preceded or accompanied by dimness of vision or other visual changes
  • Nausea and vomiting following the headache; headache worse after vomiting
  • Pain improved by walking in the open air



  • Pain begins in the back of the head, extending to right side of the head or right eye
  • Headaches recur periodically Confirmatory symptoms
  • Nausea and vomiting; vomiting brings relief
  • Pain sharp, splitting, knifelike, or throbbing
  • Pain worse from motion, better from sleep and firm pressure



  • Stitching, burning, or pulsating pains, usually on the frontal part of the head, often on the left
  • Stiff neck and shoulders accompany the headache, making motion painful Confirmatory symptoms
  • Pain better by lying with the head propped up; worse from stooping, motion, noise, and cold stormy weather
  • Temporary relief from washing with cold water but the pain is worse later
  • Pain in and around the eyes or extending into the eye sockets

    Belladonna is indicated for people whose headaches are intense with violent throbbing pains. The headache causes an extreme sensitivity, and the least bit of light, noise, touch, strong or unusual smell, motion, or jarring brings on a new wave of throbbing and pain. The pain often begins suddenly, and it may go away suddenly as well. It may spread throughout the entire head, or it may be localized anywhere, but it is most typically focused in the forehead; from the forehead it may extend to the back of the head. Often the face is flushed or feels hot, and sometimes the hands and feet are cold. Belladonna is thus the most commonly given medicine for headaches associated with high fever. The pupils may be noticeably dilated during a Belladonna headache. Firm pressure applied to the head helps (other remedies also have this modality).

    Belladonna is unique, in that it suits headaches that are definitely relieved by sitting. Belladonna is one of a number of medicines that cover headaches made worse by climbing steps, but it alone fits those also aggravated by traveling down a slope or stairway. Afternoon is most characteristically the time of worst pain.

    Bryonia is best used when the most prominent characteristic of the headache is aggravation with motion. Both Belladonna and Bryonia cover this marked sensitivity to motion, and many other remedies also fit headaches made worse by motion. For the Bryonia patient, however, this is the outstanding characteristic. Even slight motion of the head or eyes worsens the pain. The pain is made worse by slight touch but made better by firm pressure. It is generally worst in the morning, and though it may be felt immediately upon waking, it is just as likely to come on only after the person first moves in bed or after she gets out of bed. There is little throbbing with Bryonia headaches, unlike those of Belladonna, and the pain is described as a steady ache, sometimes with a sense of fullness or heaviness. As with Belladonna, the headache is likely to be located in the forehead, extending from there to the back of the head, but it is commonly centered over the left eye, a symptom not shared with Belladonna. Nausea, vomiting, and especially constipation may occur in connection with Bryonia headaches. The Bryonia patient is irritable and irascible and wants to be left alone.

    Nux vomica is also a good medicine for irritable people with headaches. The apparent cause of the headache is most often the best indication for Nux, since this medicine frequently suits the symptoms of headaches brought on by overeating, the use of alcohol, coffee or other drugs, or staying up too late and missing sleep. The person with a typical morning hangover headache, who often has indulged in all of these pursuits, frequently is gratefully relieved with a dose or two of Nux. Such headaches are generally accompanied by an overall sick feeling and by digestive upsets. The sufferer may have a sour or bitter taste in the mouth in the morning, queasiness, nausea or vomiting (dry heaves and gas are especially typical Nux symptoms). The Nux headache may also be brought on by concentrated or prolonged mental work or by cold air or cold wind. In contrast to Bryonia headaches, those of Nux are worse in the morning, particularly upon first waking, and tend to get somewhat better after the person is up and about. As with most headaches, motion may aggravate the symptoms, but shaking the head is particularly painful (as in Belladonna). Lying on the painful side often makes the pain worse, and the sound of footsteps is particularly irritating to the Nux headache patient. Wrapping the head up or being in a warm room may relieve the pain.

    Pulsatilla headaches have also been associated with digestive upsets. They often come on after meals and particularly after eating warm, rich, or fatty foods or after eating ice cream. Nausea and vomiting frequently accompany a Pulsatilla headache. Pulsatilla is also a good medicine for headaches that occur in connection with menstrual periods (before, during, or especially when the period ends) or those that result from a frightening experience. The pain is most often felt in the forehead or on one side of the head and may change location frequently (as it does with Sanguinaria). Throbbing accompanies the headache. Although walking briskly may make the pain worse, generally there is relief from gentle motion, especially walking about slowly in the open air. Pressure relieves the pain and blowing the nose aggravates it. The Pulsatilla individual is emotionally mild and sensitive and may weep from the pains. Though a little irritable, the person is likely to want company and consolation.

    Gelsemium headaches generally begin at the back of the head, often extending to the rest of the head or to the forehead. The person may feel as though a band or hood were bound tightly around their head. These symptoms are, of course, characteristic of muscle-contraction headaches. But Gelsemium is also one of the fairly few homeopathic medicines that clearly suit headaches preceded by dimness of vision or other visual disturbances, symptoms of migraines. Localized pain on the right side of the head is also covered by this remedy. The Gelsemium headache is not much affected by changes of temperature, but other environmental factors (light, noise, motion, jarring) aggravate it. Napping or, curiously, urinating relieves the pain. The person feels dull, tired, heavy, and apathetic. His eyes droop and he looks exhausted. He is not particularly irritable but wants to be left alone. The headaches of Iris are also preceded or accompanied by dimness of vision or other changes in eyesight. The pain is felt in one side of the forehead, particularly the right side. Nausea and vomiting ensue, and the headache is worse after the vomiting. The pain is made better by walking in the open air. Iris has helped many people with periodic migraine headaches, such as those that return every weekend. Even if visual disturbance does not accompany the headache, Iris may help if its other symptoms fit.

  • (Excerpted from Everybody's Guide to Homeopathic Medicine ISBN: 0874776414)
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     About The Author
    Dana Ullman, MPHDANA ULLMAN, MPH, is one of America's leading advocates for homeopathy. He has authored 10 books, including ...more
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