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Relieve headache fast: Why It Happens and How to Manage It

An acupuncturist and pain expert shares the 2 pressure points she uses to ‘quickly relieve headaches’

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Tension headaches are no joke. They typically feel like a tight band around the head, and can stem from muscle contractions in the head and neck, stress or even poor posture.

Many people take pain medications like acetaminophen and NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) to relieve symptoms. But overusing them without medical guidance can lead to harmful side effects.

As an acupuncturist with 10 years of clinical experience, I’ve had thousands of patients come to me for help with tension headaches.

In acupuncture treatment, pressure is placed on certain points of the body to relax muscles and improve blood flow. Here are some methods I use to quickly relieve headaches — without the needles!

1. Pressing at the base of your skull and neck

These acupuncture points are on the bony base of the skull, on the left and right sides. Placing pressure on them is not just helpful for relieving headaches, but also for neck pain and sinus congestion.

The two points are on the bony base of the skull. Each point is about one finger-width from the midline of the head, on the left and right sides.

Photo: Eileen Li


  1. Clasp your hands together behind your head, with your thumbs facing down.
  2. Position your hands so that each thumb presses into the ditch at the base of the skill (one on the left, one on the right).
  3. Apply light-to-moderate pressure and rub in small circles. You may feel some tenderness or tension in this spot, which is normal. 
  4. Do this until you start to feel some relief.

Position your hands so that your thumbs press into the ditch at the base of the skull (one thumb on the left side, and the other on the right).

Photo: Eileen Li

2. Pressing the space between your thumb and index finger

I call this the “painkiller button” because it relieves headaches while also delivering an “it hurts so good” feeling. (If you are pregnant, I recommend avoiding this method because it can be overstimulating.)

This pressure point can help relieve general body aches, headaches, facial pain, neck pain, and abdominal pain.

Photo: Eileen Li


  1. Turn your palm to face down and find the fleshy web space between the thumb and index finger.
  2. Press down on this point with the thumb of your opposite hand.
  3. As you press, gently push towards the bone of the index finger, or pinch it down like you’re grabbing a card from a slot.
  4. Hold with mild to moderate pressure for 60 seconds and adjust the pressure intensity as needed.
  5. Repeat two or three times on each hand.

Press into the space between your thumb and index finger.

Photo: Eileen Li

Other ways to relax tension headaches

Walking outside at a brisk pace for 30 minutes can decrease your stress and provide fresh oxygen, helping to treat tension headaches.

If you find it difficult to leave your desk completely, schedule short breaks every 30 to 60 minutes. Get up and walk around or stretch for five to 10 minutes to encourage more blood flow to the body and brain.

Drinking water can also help relax head and body aches. Fatigue is often caused by a lack of hydration, and studies have found that people who experience headaches and migraines often don’t drink enough water. I like to have my water warm with a slice of ginger or lemon.

Eileen Li is a licensed acupuncturist, Chinese medicine doctor and physical therapist. She received her clinical doctorate at Simmons University. From there, she worked in the physical rehabilitation field specializing in chronic pain research, pediatrics and geriatrics, inpatient psychiatry, and schools. Her research on chronic pain has been published in several journal publications. Follow Eileen on TikTok and Instagram.

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Scientists Reveal the Best Way To Swallow Pills

TOPICS:DrugsJohns Hopkins UniversityMedicinePopularStomach

By Johns Hopkins University
September 9, 2022

The researchers discovered that consuming pills while resting on the right side was by far the best, allowing pills to enter the deepest portion of the stomach and dissolve 2.3 times quicker than even an upright posture.

According to a recent Johns Hopkins study, how you swallow pills can impact how quickly your body absorbs the medicine.

You probably don’t consider your body posture while taking pills when you have a headache. However, recent research from Johns Hopkins University discovered that your posture can significantly impact how quickly your body absorbs the medication, as much as an hour longer.

The conclusions are based on what is thought to be the first model to replicate how a drug dissolves in the human stomach.

“We were very surprised that posture had such an immense effect on the dissolution rate of a pill,” said senior author Rajat Mittal, a Johns Hopkins engineer and an expert in fluid dynamics. “I never thought about whether I was doing it right or wrong but now I’ll definitely think about it every time I take a pill.”

Their findings were recently published in the journal Physics of Fluids

Physics of Fluids is a monthly peer-reviewed scientific journal devoted to publishing original theoretical, computational, and experimental contributions to the understanding of the dynamics of gases, liquids, and complex or multiphase fluids. Established by the American Institute of Physics in 1958, Physics of Fluids is a preeminent journal covering fluid dynamics.

” data-gt-translate-attributes='[{“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”}]’>Physics of Fluids.

In recent years, models that accurately represent the working of various important organs, most notably the heart, have been developed. The team’s model, StomachSim, appears to be one of the first to be able to conduct realistic simulations of the human stomach. StomachSim simulates what happens within a stomach as it breaks down food or, in this instance, medicine by fusing physics, biomechanics, and fluid mechanics.

Your posture when taking a pill makes a big difference in how fast your body absorbs the medicine. Credit: Khamar Hopkins/Johns Hopkins University

The majority of pills don’t start working until the stomach passes its contents into the intestine. As a result, the closer a pill falls to the antrum, the quicker it begins to break down and unload its contents into the duodenum, the first part of the small intestine. If you’re aiming a pill for this part of the stomach, your posture is crucial in order to take use of gravity as well as the inherent asymmetry of the stomach.

Four postures were tested by the team. Taking tablets while resting on the right side was by far the most effective, sending pills into the deepest part of the stomach and achieving a dissolution rate that was 2.3 times quicker than even an upright posture. The worst was lying on the left side. The team was astounded to discover that if a tablet dissolves in 10 minutes on the right side, it may take up to 23 minutes in an upright posture and over 100 minutes while laying on the left side.

“For elderly, sedentary or bedridden people, whether they’re turning to left or to the right can have a huge impact,” Mittal said.

Standing upright was a decent second choice, essentially tied in effectiveness with lying straight back.

The team also considered stomachs that aren’t functioning at full strength due to gastroparesis caused by diseases such as diabetes and Parkinson’s Syndrome meant for pill dissolution. Even a small change in the conditions of the stomach can lead to significant differences in the outcome of an oral drug, said lead author Jae Ho “Mike” Lee, a former postdoctoral researcher at Johns Hopkins.

The impact of stomach disease on drug dissolution was similar to that of posture—which underscores how significant a difference posture makes.

“Posture itself has such a huge impact it, it’s equivalent to somebody’s stomach having a very significant dysfunction as far as pill dissolution is concerned,” Mittal said.

Future work will attempt to predict how the changes in the biomechanics of the stomach affect how the body absorbs drugs, how food is processed in the stomach, and the effect of posture and gastroparesis on food digestion.

Reference: “Computational modeling of drug dissolution in the human stomach: Effects of posture and gastroparesis on drug bioavailability” by J. H. Lee, S. Kuhar, J.-H. Seo, P. J. Pasricha and R. Mittal, 9 August 2022, Physics of Fluids.
DOI: 10.1063/5.0096877

The study was funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health

Migraine alternatives: no pills

Headache can be debilitating. We will tell you how you can fight it without drugs!



Women Health


Disease prevention


Headaches are a problem many of us face on a daily basis. For some, the pain passes quickly, others suffer so much that they cancel meetings with friends, delay work projects and feel disgusting. Of course, pharmacies offer a wide range of drugs, but not all of them are harmless when taken regularly. You may want to try alternative ways to deal with pain.

Contents of the article

Do not self-medicate! In our articles, we collect the latest scientific data and the opinions of authoritative health experts. But remember: only a doctor can diagnose and prescribe treatment.

Make sure you don’t grind your teeth at night

Jaw tension is one of the most overlooked causes of headaches in adults. Nocturnal grinding of teeth, or bruxism, affects up to 70% of people. The small muscles that control your jaw are drawn to your temples, and their spasm can lead to headaches, especially in the first few hours after waking up.

Bruxism can be combated with stress reduction, relaxation practices and psychotherapy. You can also use a special dental cap, which is put on the upper teeth.

Drink water

Throbbing in the temples can be a sign of dehydration. Studies show that drinking plenty of pure water helps with headaches and migraines.

Perhaps you should prioritize drinking on time, with smart phone reminders or dedicated mobile apps. Don’t forget to increase your drinking volume in hot weather or after drinking coffee (caffeine dehydrates the body).

Try a massage

If your headache is caused by overexertion, a massage can help relieve your condition. During massaging, blood rushes to tense areas – to the neck, back of the head and shoulders. As a result, you may feel better.


Take a break to stretch

Not only massage helps with overexertion, but also yoga, stretching, Pilates. A stretch break in the afternoon can significantly reduce the frequency of headaches.

It is also important to keep an eye on your posture during work: sit correctly, take breaks and use a smartphone headset so that you do not have to press the phone with your shoulder.

Reduce your stress level

“All illnesses come from nerves”, and headaches come first. Try starting a diary, switch from drama to comedy, and learn breathing exercises. Yoga is also very effective, combining exercise with meditation and relaxation.

Consider Botox injections

Neurologists recommend Botox for those suffering from severe chronic migraines. Of course, we are not talking about cosmetic injections in the forehead, but about injections into the muscles of the entire head and upper shoulders, several times a year.

Be active

When you have a headache, it’s tempting to curl up in a cocoon of misery, but experts believe exercise can be more effective. Regular exercise for 20-30 minutes 3-4 times a week helps reduce the frequency of headaches due to improved blood flow and strengthening the cardiovascular system. Try light running, biking, or swimming.

Try to get deep and quality sleep

Lack of sleep is a known trigger for headaches, so getting enough sleep, 7-8 hours each night, is important. But don’t overdo it: the desire to sleep off the weekend for the whole week can backfire and exacerbate the problem.

Give your eyes a rest

Headache is often associated with vision. Many of us feel it after a long day in front of the computer, watching TV for a long time, reading, or even after driving long distances. Such a headache is more likely at the end of the day, after a busy work week, and less likely in the morning and on weekends. To help relieve eye strain headaches, try taking frequent breaks from your computer.

If you are reading, stop from time to time and focus on a distant object in the room to give your eyes a reprieve. If that doesn’t work, it might be worth getting your eyes checked by an optometrist. There is a chance that your vision has fallen, and now you need glasses (or new lenses in your existing ones).

Try acupuncture

Research has shown that acupuncture can help people with frequent tension headaches. During the session, the acupuncturist inserts needles at certain points on the body (usually on the back or neck). There is evidence that acupuncture reduces the frequency of pain in people living with migraine, and the effect is comparable to taking medication. This therapy redirects blood flow in the body and, by stimulating the peripheral nervous system, trains the body to reduce pain.

Do you practice mindfulness?

Science is constantly working to make our lives better and healthier. Remember to visit your doctor regularly, he may recommend new ways to deal with regular headaches. Some experts talk about the effectiveness of low-dose antidepressants in the treatment of migraine – and who knows, maybe soon they will be included in the standard protocol for treating headaches. In the meantime, don’t forget about water and yoga.


Osteopath’s advice: 7 ways to relieve a headache without pills (with video)

Headache is familiar to every person. More often than not, it takes us by surprise. What are we doing? We usually take painkillers. But, firstly, there may not be any pills at hand, and secondly, if headaches appear regularly, there is a risk of harming the stomach with a large number of analgesics. In addition, do not forget that any medicine is a poison, and its neutralization requires increased work of the liver and kidneys. Therefore, everyone needs to know at least a few non-drug ways to get rid of a headache. This is what I will tell you today.

First question: why does my head hurt?

If, suffering from constant headaches, you went and had an MRI, and you did not find any aneurysm or tumor in the cranial cavity, then the reason is most likely related to the severe head bruises you suffered earlier, which you can even do not remember. For example, because they received them in early childhood. Such injuries cause numerous consequences in the form of an increase or decrease in blood pressure, compression of blood vessels, blocks in the cervical region, glaucoma and much more. For most modern people, headaches and migraines are exacerbated mainly due to tension in the neck muscles that occurs during daily sedentary work, as well as due to numerous stresses.

Second question: is it possible to get rid of headaches for good?

Of course, without identifying the exact cause and the necessary treatment, seizures cannot be removed. But you can remove or significantly reduce pain on your own. During the next “episode” try the methods I have suggested below. I am sure you will find some of the most effective for yourself. Everyone will have their own. It depends on the individual characteristics of the person. To perform these exercises, it is enough just not to be distracted by anything. By the way, I provided the last three methods with video instructions to make it easier for you to understand all the nuances.

1. Firmly grasp the back of the neck muscles with the whole hand or pinch with the thumb and forefinger and “pinch” them properly.

2. With your hand (or you can ask someone else) quickly squeeze the shoulder girdle, first on one side, then on the other. Both in the first and in the second case, you need to act quite energetically and rhythmically. Thus, you will increase blood circulation in the muscles of the neck and in the trapezius muscle. Quite strong, acute, but short-term soreness is possible – this is normal.

3. Move the fingers of both hands from the back of the head down the back of the neck, applying firm pressure. The hair should be lifted and touched directly on the skin of the neck. Thus, you will stretch the muscles somewhat and help to relieve excess blood from the cranial cavity.

4. Sitting in a chair, relax completely. Gently and slowly tilt your head back and comfortably lean on the back of your head. It’s better to close your eyes. Stay in this position. The points of attachment of the suboccipital muscles in this position are as close as possible, and the muscles relax. Slowly bring your head to a vertical position.

Video instructions for the next three methods

5. Grasp the hair with your hand close to the skin and then clench your fist several times until it feels tight and slightly sore. Walk in this way over the entire scalp. After that, you will definitely feel lightness. The effect is achieved due to the fact that you stretch the tendon helmet that covers the skull from above through the hair, which leads to an increase in the mobility of the sutures of the skull and an improvement in the blood supply to the entire head, including the brain and facial skin. At the same time, the vessels of the scalp are released, and the hair follicles receive an influx of fresh arterial blood, which has a beneficial effect on the condition of the hair. I recommend performing this exercise not only to relieve pain, but also as part of hair care, as a technique for improving overall well-being and with intellectual stress.

6. Lie down on a soft surface and relax your neck. Then, using the tips of your thumbs, find two clefts symmetrically located under the lower edge of the occiput, about three centimeters to the right and three centimeters to the left of the midline. Press on them: you should feel a slight soreness. Hold your fingers in this way until this soreness “melts” and a feeling of warmth and softness appears under the fingers. After that, plunge your fingers deeper to feel a slight soreness again. Do the exercise until the pain is completely gone. You can perform this technique while sitting, leaning back in your chair.

7. Take a cotton cloth, like a kitchen towel, and fold it several times to make a fairly voluminous compress. Wet it with cold water, lie comfortably on the bed and put a wet compress on the forehead so that it covers both the eyebrows and the temples.