Natural headache relief is a viable and highly effective alternative to expensive medical concoctions, but, sadly, it is used only by a tiny minority of us.

Most people, on developing a headache, reach for the medicine cupboard or call in at the local pharmacy or drug store for an over-the-counter remedy that can have undesirable side-effects.

The most common drugs used in treating headaches are aspirin, paracetamol, and ibuprofen. All these typically work by “tricking” the body into thinking the pain is no longer there and thenby causing it to become invisible to the brain's sensory system.

In a fashion typical of western medicine, they treat the symptoms rather than the cause of the pain, and this is often to the detriment of the body's requirements, being made known as they are by the very existence of the pain in the first place.

There are some simple alternatives that do not cause any health dangers, do not pollute the environment (as do most medicines after they've passed through the body) and do not cost anything. They all work by decreasing stress and tension, the main causes of headaches. Let's look at just four of them.

1. Lie flat on your bed, or even on the floor, and relax, breathing deeply and steadily. Tense your whole body for a few seconds, and then, starting with your feet, relax each part of your body in turn – your feet, your legs, your midriff, your fingers and hands, your arms, your shoulders, your back muscles, your neck and face muscles.

Do this a second time if necessary, but remember to control your breathing as before. This exercise is great for restoring your energy and well-being, as well as relieving headaches.

2. Give yourself a facial massage. Using the middle three fingers of each hand, gently massaging your shoulders in a circular motion, first in one direction and then the other.

Do this for a minute or so before changing location to your jaw-line, and then your temples. Experiment with different spots on your face, and extend it to your scalp and the back of your neck. Remember to relax and breathe deeply.

3. Kneel on the floor on all fours and imagine you're a lion. Open your mouth wide, as a lion does, take a deep breath and then “poke your tongue out”. Do this slowly, directing the tip of your tongue downwards towards your chin as far as it will go. At the same time breathe out slowly through your mouth, exhaling all the air in your lungs.

Bring your stomach in to make sure all the air is expelled, and hold it there for a few seconds if you can. Then, just as slowly, start inhaling, through the nose if you can, and bring your tongue back into your mouth, slowly.

When you exhale, focus your mind on getting rid of all the stress and tension you've been feeling. Relax your whole body, and repeat the exercise a few times. It sounds weird but it is a very effective exercise for eliminating the cause of headaches and recovering your energy.

4. Find the large hollow in the center of the back of your head, under the base of your skull, and press it with your right thumb, while at the same time using your left thumb and index finger to press into the two points that are in the upper hollows of your eye sockets near the bridge of your nose.

Do this exercise for a minute at a time, while breathing deeply and relaxing as much as you can. While, again, it sounds weird, it will bring relief from the severest headache. Try it next time you have a headache and experience the results for yourself.

All in all, better than a mixture of chemicals that over the long term can do just as much harm as good. The alternative of natural headache relief is something you just have to experience first hand to appreciate.