Many people suffer from regular headaches and any of us have had at least a few in our lives. It’s really easy to pop an ibuprofen or similar drug to make it go away but people that are regularly affected may not be that comfortable taking painkillers as they may create a vicious cycle worsening headaches both in severity and frequency.
The more a painkiller is taken, the more resistant the body becomes to it and we then have to take a stronger one. When the medication wears off, there is often a withdrawal reaction, known as a “rebound” headache that requires who becomes affected to take an extra dose.
Luckily, there are quite a few natural remedies that can help alleviating headaches. These are five of my favourite ones.
In acupuncture needles are inserted under the skin in specific points to relieve symptoms.
It has been shown to be effective for migraine, tension, cluster headaches, and disease-related headaches that might be due to sinus problems, high blood pressure or sleeping disorders. In contrast to some over-the counter medications that can have side effects, acupuncture has virtually none and will never lead to “rebound” headaches.
Massage therapy and specifically head and neck massage can decrease the pain caused by headaches. It is able to reduce their reoccurrence and symptoms of discomfort. By massaging trigger points, especially the greater occipital nerve, the area in the back of the head at the base of the skull, muscle spasms relax and tension headaches especially are relieved.
Actually general body massage therapy can play a positive role alongside head massage. Reflexology for example can release trigger points in hands and feet. Give it a try!
Lavender and peppermint oils have been widely used to alleviate symptoms.
They can be either inhaled or applied topically. Two to four drops for every two to three cups of boiling water are recommended when inhaling vapours. Topically, they can be massaged to the skin with circular movements. A couple of drops of lavender oil to the temples or back of the neck area relieves migraines or tension headaches.
Peppermint oil is also beneficial in tension headaches as it helps to open blood vessels promoting flow to the area as many of them are in fact due to poor blood flow.
Certain foods have been shown to affect the frequency and severity of headaches and migraine pain, so keep track with a food diary and see if any are connected to an outbreak of symptoms.
These include dairy, chocolate for its caffeine content, certain fruits like avocado, banana, and citrus, onions, processed meats containing nitrates. Also foods containing monosodium glutamate (MSG) possibly due to the fact that it excites neurons causing pain to develop. This additive can be hidden in processed meats, canned veggies, and soy-based items. Another group of possible trigger foods are the ones containing tyramine, an amino acid found in red wine and cheese and fermented or pickled foods.
In addition, make sure to keep hydrated throughout the day as dehydration is a main cause for headaches. Coffee, alcohol, sugary drinks can dehydrate you and should be avoided. Start drinking water when the symptoms appear and gradually continue during the day and the intensity of pain should decrease.
And also ensure to eat regularly to avoid blood sugars dips which have been linked to headaches formation.
Headaches are often resulting from tight muscles and joints around the upper neck that put pressure on nerves at the top of the spine that then radiates pain to the eyes and forehead. Gentle stretching exercises can help alleviate the aches associated with tight muscles. They can be performed in the morning or during the work day when many tensions headaches develop because of desk jobs. They will only take a few minutes but have a real positive impact. So step away from your pc and stretch your neck, shoulders and spine!