I May Have Finally Found a Headache Cure

Last December I reframed my headache question. After almost 3 years of trying to prevent headaches, I decided instead to look into how to eliminate the headache once it arrived. The full list of things I’ve tried is on the post Headache Remedies That Work? but the takeaway is that the things that work for others do not affect me. That includes aspirin, Tylenol, Aleve, Ibuprofen, and numerous anti-histamine sinus medications.

Before I reveal what I’ve found that has been helping, I want to say that since I quit playing Candy Crush, my headache levels have dropped considerably. Candy Crush headaches have been reported by many people online. I am not sure if it’s head position, the fast-moving game layout, or some form of screen apnea. Screen apnea is a term coined by Linda Stone that means to have shallow breathing or unconsciously hold your breath while in front of a screen. It is also called email apnea. I know I sometimes have this problem.

What has helped reduce headache pain? Baking soda. I mix a teaspoon of baking soda in water and drink it. Within two minutes, my headache intensity drops. It is unbelievable. At that point, the headache usually just fades away. Sometimes the baking soda trick only lasts for a short period and then the headache intensity increases. But it never goes back to where it was, so I have a follow-up baking soda and water drink.

This headache hack isn’t perfect, but for me, it is the only thing I’ve tried that works. And it works quickly and it is dirt cheap. I also think I could stack this hack with the Amazing “Back to Sleep” Hack, which includes a pinch of sugar and salt mixed.


Why is baking soda working? Ray Peat and his followers like baking soda as a supplement for increasing CO2. From the article Protective CO2 and aging.

An adequate supply of calcium, and sometimes supplementation of salt and baking soda, can increase the tissue content of CO2.

If this is right then increasing the amount of CO2 in the tissues is a clue. When I was working on this post I found the page How Do You Increase The CO2 Level in The Blood? on the Peatatarian forum. User Kasra posted this:

When I asked Ray if carbonated drinks could increase tissue CO2, he replied “In a crisis situation, it (or baking soda in water) can be helpful, but it’s more effective to rebreathe in a paper bag.”

I’ll test the paper bag idea out next, but the good news is my headache level has been super low lately, so it may be a while before I can try it.


Add yours

  1. John (aka Wish I Were Riding)

    Mar 3, 2014 — 10:34 am

    Hey, Congrats on have less headache issues!

  2. John (aka Wish I Were Riding)

    Mar 3, 2014 — 10:36 am

    Apparently I can’t type. I wonder if Baking Soda will fix that? I actually tried Baking Soda on my head this weekend due to some uncool flaking. Hoping it works for me too.

  3. @John – Found this list of other baking soda ideas.

    Better typing isn’t on the list. 🙁

  4. Casey Leggett

    Mar 3, 2014 — 11:59 am

    Out of curiosity, have you ever tried using an incandescent heat lamp when a headache strikes? If you get the 250W ones (quite cheap) they put out a good amount of red and near infrared light that seems to have a variety of therapeutic benefits. I mention this because the mechanism of these wavelengths of light is said to be activating the mitochondrial enzyme cytochrome C oxidase, and I have heard Ray Peat mention in an interview that the activity of this same enzyme is increased by the buildup of CO2 brought on by bag breathing or baking soda. So you might find that they have a synergy of sorts in relieving your headaches.

  5. @Casey – I just got another comment on how red light might help heal my knee faster. Interesting.

  6. I used to get Shiatsu massage in the International District of Seattle for a bad back and when I was particularly tight he would have me drink some warm water with baking soda. I still do it today as it seems to help and he said the warm water helped it get into the blood stream faster.

  7. I enjoy the informative links from your blog. I just bookmarked the ark of wellness link. While I was browsing through the ark of wellness, I came upon this article… http://web.archive.org/web/20150701025735/http://blog.arkofwellness.com:80/fermented-food-a-no-go/

    What do you think of this? I enjoy fermented food, and I know you do too! I don’t want to give up my kombucha.

  8. @Bill – Thanks for the tip. I’ll try that next time.

    @Shelia – I think the Peat folks are wrong on fermented foods as they are on negative lifting. Too many health practitioners are getting outstanding results when introducing live food into the diets of their clients. Here is a post where I mentioned the concern (see #3).

  9. You should try qigong for better health. If you’re interested I can give you some information, let me know if you do.

  10. Great news, MAS. Glad you are making some progress. Out of curiosity, did you ever get around to trying the canned oxygen? Since increasing CO2 appears to be improving your headaches, I’m curious whether increasing oxygen had the opposite effect on you.

  11. @MikeTO – Seems interesting, but I likely wouldn’t stick with it. At least at this time. I recall checking out some YouTube videos a year ago and bailing on it.

    @Geoff – Yes I did try canned oxygen. Didn’t do a thing. If the Peat article is correct then lower oxygen intake would increase CO2 stores in the tissues, which is why he advises paper bag breathing.

  12. BTW. Baking Soda is also an old, traditional remedy for gout — many Grandma’s will know about it. 1 teaspoon in water 3 or 4 times a day during an attack. I have to say it does help a great deal.

  13. I am 61 and I have vivid memories of when I was young of my dad taking off the shade of a lamp and putting a heat lamp bulb in it and
    aiming it at my mom’s head(she kept a wash cloth over her face and eyes). I think me and by brother may have had it done to us also…This was around the late ’50’s to early ’60’s

  14. I’ve also found baking soda is the number one best reducer of my headache pain. It saves me. I’ve had headaches and migraines since childhood (after eating certain foods or food combos). My theory is that all of my headaches are linked to having too much stomach acid after a meal. The indigestion and stomach acid causes inflammation in the blood vessels, which leads to headache or migraine. The baking soda neutralizes stomach acid and the toxic gasses in the stomach. I think the acid neutralizing starts calming everything down and the pain is reduced. Often you can tell if it’s helping if you start burping.

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