Headaches are a crippling problem. They cost millions of dollars in lost wages and medication costs. But medicating a headache should be done only in an emergency when head pain is debilitating. Otherwise, pain killers produce a cumulative damaging effect on the liver and kidneys. Natural solutions to headaches are your best bet for a long-term solution.
Fortunately, a wide range of natural treatments for headaches are available. Often, people use meditation, ice packs, massage, chiropractic, acupuncture, sleep and other methods to relieve their acute headache pain. But there are a few things you need to keep in mind when deciding which solution to implement. Indeed, each type of headache (sinus, tension, migraine, etc.) requires a different approach. The various interior body environments that trigger these differ significantly. What’s more, it is very common for people to experience more than one type of headache at a time.
Changes in blood vessels cause migraine headaches. The solution, then, is to get to the root of these vascular changes and prevent their occurrence.
Prevention Tips: Don’t eat foods with nitrates or preservatives and cut back on diuretic beverages (coffee, soda, tea). Keep the bowels moving regularly to prevent toxicity from re-entering the bloodstream by eating whole grains and fresh fruit and vegetables. Take fiber supplements if necessary.
Acute Pain Tips: At the first sign of a migraine coming on, you can interfere with painful vascular developments and stop them from getting worse. First, if you have not had a bowel movement in two days, use an enema to evacuate your bowels. Second, submerge your hands or feet in hot water, as hot as you can stand without burning your skin. This draws blood away from the vessels in your head and sends it to your extremities, taking the edge off the throbbing.
These headaches are usually episodic and their root cause easily identifiable. Psychological stress causes negative effects on the liver, digestion and breathing, as well as the free flow of oxygen and fluids in the body. Strenuous activity like heavy lifting or moving without properly warming up also stresses the muscles and oxygen circulation because of restricted breathing.
Prevention Tips: For headaches induced by psychological stress, you must either change your environment (home, work, social) to remove yourself from the stress or develop strong stress-management skills. Some concepts like “reframing” from neurolinguistics programming (which entails changing your point of view) or having “crucial conversations” (talking about central emotional issues) with those in a stress pattern can alter the attitude leading to the headache. For headaches induced by physical stress, the best advice is to warm up before performing demanding tasks; stretch and move cautiously. Don’t attempt too much, too soon.
Acute Pain Tips: If you are in the throes of a psychological-stress situation and a headache is looming, immediately begin mindful breathing to engage the relaxation response and normalize your system (click here for instruction on this method). You can begin the breathing while in the midst of the stress situation (conversation, meeting, driving), but this technique works best when you can sit alone in a quiet place for 15 minutes. For physical stress, simply stop what you are doing and stretch the area that is contracted. Taking a walk around the block also helps warm up the body before stretching. Apply heat to the problem area. If the problem is with the back or hips, lie on a tennis ball to help work out the spasm.
When the sinuses are inflamed, nasal passages narrow. This leads to pressure in the sinus cavities and provides a place for viral and bacterial infections to grow. This can lead to sensitivity and throbbing pain around the cheeks, nose and eye areas.
Prevention Tips: Make sure your work and living areas are free of dampness and mildew. Use a dehumidifier to dry the air. If you often suffer sinus pressure and congestion, take animal milk out of your diet. Adding more ginger to your diet can also help.
Acute Pain Tips: Research indicates that actual sinus headaches are rare, despite the media and product marketing surrounding this problem. Most often, what you think is a sinus headache is actually a migraine that just happens to correlate with sinus pressure and rainy days. The first step to relieving the acute pain, then, is to adopt the migraine advice above. This can be followed with a hot shower or compress to open the sinuses and a hot mug of ginger tea to break up the mucus and inflammation.
Diet For Sinus Headache
- Eat a lot of mangoes during mango season (generally January through September). Mangoes are rich in vitamin A and offer protection from various infections. Leafy vegetables, papaya, pumpkin, tomatoes, yogurt and milk are also very rich in vitamin A.
- Eat an apple with a pinch of salt every morning on an empty stomach.
- Avoid cold food, dessert and drinks.
- Drink hot soups.
- Drink ample water throughout the day and at bedtime. This helps drain mucus and provides relief from sinus pain.
General Headache Advice
The Neurological Clinic at University of Kiel in Germany recently conducted a study and found this general tip for reducing headache pain:
“The effects of peppermint oil and eucalyptus oil preparations on neurophysiological, psychological and experimental algesimetric parameters were investigated in 32 healthy subjects in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized cross-over design…. A significant analgesic effect with a reduction in sensitivity to headache was produced by a combination of peppermint oil and ethanol. The essential plant oil preparations often used in empiric medicine can thus be shown by laboratory tests to exert significant effects on mechanisms associated with the pathophysiology of headache.”
Overall, drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated is also important to flushing toxins out of your body and preventing muscular and vascular contraction. Get a solid eight hours of sleep per night to allow the body to repair itself. With these simple prevention and acute-relief tips, you should be able to get a handle on your headaches. Natural solutions are the best route; but keep in mind, many are successful only at the onset of the headache. If you allow the headache to get going, even prescription medications have a difficult time controlling them.