Also see Headaches in Pregnancy
There are many causes of headaches including stress, anxiety, nervousness, tension, caffeine, alcohol, constipation, sinus pressure, eye-strain, hunger, flu, muscle tension, dehydration, hormone imbalances, nutritional deficiencies, exposure to chemicals and pollution, food allergies, low blood sugar and anaemia.
There are also more serious possibilities such as tumours and meningitis - if headaches are frequent, chronic and are 'unexplained', or you have any concern about them see your doctor.
If headaches are occurring often, you are certain it is not a critical problem, and the recommendations below are not helping consider seeing a registered naturopath, nutritionist or practitioner of radionics.
Try to deal with a headache as soon as you start to feel it coming on, it may make it easier to get rid of.
- To reduce the risk of headaches eat a healthy diet and include protein with each meal.
- Drink 6-8 glasses of quality water a day to avoid dehydration. If you do feel a headache coming on drink a large glass of water every few hours until it starts to go.
- Eat little and often to keep blood sugar levels balanced. This means small meals at mealtimes and healthy snacks in-between.
- Try avoiding foods that contain tyramine, which can lead to headaches. Tyramine is found in alcohol, bananas, cheese, chicken, chocolate, citrus fruits, cold meats, herring, onions, peanut butter, pork, smoked fish, sour cream, vinegar, wine and freshly baked yeast products. Also avoid aspartame (artificial sweetener), mono-sodium glutamate (MSG) and nitrites (preservatives found in processed meat products), which may cause headaches. Avoiding all processed and junk food would therefore reduce the likelihood of headaches occuring.
POSTURE & TENSION:
- Ensure that you maintain a good posture at all times. If you feel a tension headache coming on stretch the back of your neck gently by tucking your chin slightly towards your chest. This is actually the correct posture and is practised in yoga. Try to keep this posture as your 'normal' posture and you should suffer less from headaches. We tend on the whole to stick our heads upwards and outwards and this can cause tension headaches.
THERAPIES: if your symptoms do not improve consider seeing a McTimoney Chiropractor who will gently re-align your skeletal structure as required. Massage is beneficial if you are suffering from tension headaches so consider seeing a professional masseur. Acupuncture has been proven to dramatically reduce the occurrence of tension headaches in some people - follow the Complementary Health link above for all these practitioners.
Relaxation - practice deep-breathing exercises to ensure adequate oxygen is reaching the body, and consider talking up yoga or meditation to make sure that you are getting proper relaxation time.
Compresses - use a hot water bottle, or heated pad, to relax neck and shoulder muscles. Or apply a cold gel-pack, or damp cloth that has been left in the freezer for ten minutes, to the point where the pain is radiating from - this constricts the blood vessels and can relieve muscle spasms.
Essential Oils - the most effective essential oils for headaches include eucalyptus, lavender, melissa, neroli, peppermint and rosemary. Or try the 'Headache Roll-On', which is a combination of organic essential oils - refreshing, circulatory and calming - to help reduce temperature and clear your mind - see Essential Oils.
Herbal tea - peppermint, ginger, and chamomile tea can all help relieve a headache. Take whichever one you feel would be comforting - see Herbal Tea.
Homeopathy - there are many remedies for headaches and here are those most commonly used:-
Belladonna 30c for sudden, severe, throbbing pain, worse on the right side of the head, for a throbbing headache during menstruation, after washing hair or from too much sun; Aconite 30c for sudden, violent headaches, which may come on from getting chilled; Arsenicum 30c for headaches from over-excitement or exertion, and throbbing pain generally over the left eye, or which occur after vomiting or diarrhoea; Nux Vomica 30c after too much rich food or alcohol; Pulsatilla 30c for headaches that are a result of emotional upset or overwork, and are better for walking outside; Arnica 30c for trauma to the head; Bryonia 30c for a headache that comes on slowly, a desire to be quiet and left alone, with dizziness or fainting on rising; Nat Mur 30c for tension headaches, if you wake with a headache over the eyes which is hammering and blinding, for migraines and for children who don't want to go to school because they have a headache - see Homeopathy for all these remedies. See the Homeopathic Kits for sets containing a range of different remedies.
Take one dose every half an hour or an hour depending on the severity, and then three or four doses a day as required. If your symptoms match two different remedies alternate them.
NB. It is important to touch the pills as little as possible, ideally tipping them into the lid and then directly into the mouth, and also to avoid eating and drinking at the same time as taking the remedy.
The stronger the symptoms the stronger the potency required, so if you are unsure, if any of these remedies are not working, or you feel you need a higher potency contact a professional homeopath.
NB. This information is in no way intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you are unsure as to the suitability of any of the products or recommendations with regard to your condition please consult your doctor. If your doctor does not approve of complementary medicine it may be helpful to find one who does.